July 29

My grandsons and I like to play UNO. It is a simple card game that anyone can play from kindergarten to seniors. The games are usually quick, so we play several games in a sitting. After the games the winner is required to do a victory dance and the others shake hands and say congratulations.  None of this competition involves “trash talk” or demonstrations of poor sportsmanship from either party. What a fun way to practice what it means to have fun that is not at the expense of another person.
Hopefully these simple opportunities to practice civility will spill over into other parts of their lives. Isn’t that what God asks us to strive for no matter where we are?

Dearest Lord and Savior,
Help me to pay special attention to the way I treat others during this day. I want to recognize opportunities to speak and act in a loving, civil way.  I want to remember how you sent your son, Jesus Christ, to be the ultimate example of love and civility.
The caring and acceptance he offered those who needed help are the example I want try to emulate daily. When I stray, bring me back to your word as a reminder of your desire for us to be more like you. I ask this in your Holy name.



July 27

Recently I was visiting my friend who moved to a new home. She knows the move was the right choice for her family, but there are days she misses her old neighborhood and friends. Her new surroundings are not familiar. She wanted reassurance that she will meet new friends and feel more comfortable. Waiting is hard. Many are faced with waiting for an answer, a diagnosis, an opportunity, a change, a healing etc. Waiting requires faithful prayer to God and asking him to guide you through the uneasiness.

Dear Father,
Help me understand the path you have chosen for me. Give me the skills I need to follow your direction. Each day provide comfort when I feel unsettled. As I wait, show me what you need me to do to prepare myself.


July 25

I was reading the story where Jesus curses the fig tree.
Mark 11:12-14 and 11:20-25[2]
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

What I took away from this passage is that Jesus believed that the fig tree represented something more than just a tree without fruit. It resembled the attitudes of the people in the city below. He did not like that people lived their lives without the real fruit of the Spirit. They lived and judged others based on their outward appearance, rather than their important traits of character. In the Jewish temples, people were coming to be seen by others as religious and active in their temple, rather than coming to renew their faith. He later drives out the evil lurking inside of the temple by turning over tables and yelling at several greedy people including money changers and salesmen. He thought it was irreverent to exchange money in God's house.

The main point of this passage is to bear fruit on the inside through faith.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


July 23

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

C.S. Lewis


July 21

I had the opportunity to visit a neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) of a large hospital. There, babies who are born early or have other threatening conditions are given wonderful care and the best resources to allow the babies to flourish.

Despite all the medications and monitors and oxygen therapy and temperature control, and other modern miracles of medicine, the treatment that seems to do the most good for all of the tiny patients is a protocol named “Kangaroo Time”. The baby is given to its parent, who sits and holds the baby in a way that allows for “skin to skin”. The baby’s face and chest and arms and legs are nestled up tight to the uncovered chest of the parent, in a way that allows contact of the baby’s skin to the parent’s skin.

After cuddling in on their parent, I saw the babies immediately calm down, and their vital signs, as registered on the digital monitors, eased into a more natural rhythm. And the parent also relaxed and was soothed. This skin on skin continues for at least an hour. The parent does not have to move or speak. Often the baby and the parent fall asleep together, and have to be aroused when it is time to go.

Babies that have the benefit of this Kangaroo Time generally get well faster than babies without this care. The NICU that I visited insists that the parents come and give their baby this time together to bond and communicate their mutual love.

It occurs to me that a prayer could be considered “Kangaroo Time” with God. You go one on one with God, and get as close to God, through Jesus, as you can. Your body may not go skin on skin with God, but your mind can reach out and get energy from God in that experience.

Dear God, thank you for this prayerful time together with you. Thank you for helping me solve my problems, and to reach peace and comfort. I love this time with you because there is nothing more important for me than to reach out and touch you. You are my strength and comfort in all ways.  Amen 


July 19

Our church has experienced an unusual number of deaths in the last month.  One lady was over a hundred years old, but another was quite young.  It can be hard not to be weighed down by the sorrow and pain of such loss.  We need to to feel the hurt of losing those whom we love.  One service was particularly painful, but another was actually surprisingly uplifting.  The gentleman who died was a strong believer for many years.  He had participated in the church, but not on every committee that existed.  He was a hard worker who loved his family.  He was an ordinary man.  The joy that shone through all the conversations and witnesses of his life was clear evidence of his relationship with the Lord.  He had been a loving man who welcomed everyone without judgment, yet he held people accountable for right living.  He was an extraordinary man because he was a follower of Christ, who lived what he believed.  I pray that the same can be said of me someday.

Gracious God, you hold each of us in your warm embrace.  Grant peace and consolation to those who mourn.  To all those in sorrow, grant comfort.  Help us to live so that others will know you through our words and actions.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.


July 17

Gracious God, I thank you for the life which you have given me.  I thank you for this day.  I thank you for the people I will meet and those with whom I will work.  I thank you for my family and my friends.  I thank you for work to do which makes a difference in the world, and I thank you for the ability to do that work.  I thank you for the tasks which I am unable to complete, because then I am blessed to work with others who have skills and gifts which I do not have.  I thank you for all that I am not good at doing and the blessing of humility which my inadequacies grant me.  In gratitude, I pray, Amen.


July 15

We have certainly been having storms lately!!  I was visiting my mother and it seemed as though every afternoon, thunderstorms rolled through with crashing and flashing and reports of tornadoes.  I came home and encountered the same.  Limbs fall; trees topple; roads close; traffic lights and power lines snarl rush hour driving.  We huddled last night in basements and inner rooms amid warnings of tornadoes, then called loved ones to make sure they were safe.  Whew!  We have been praying through it all- may God keep us safe. May God walk with those who are injured or suffer loss.  May God uphold emergency responders.  May God grant us peace.

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken."   Psalm 62: 1-2


July 13

As a child, I loved to play "pick up sticks" at my grandparent's house.  All those long colored sticks that you would pour out of the tin can.  You wanted to see how many sticks you could pick up without moving the others.

As an adult, picking up sticks is not near as much fun.  With the rain and wind, our yard has had many sticks in all different shapes and sizes.  Most of these sticks are plain but some of the branches even show the beginning of the tops of acorns forming.  Last year we had so many acorns under our oak tree.  The squirrels had such a good time gathering those acorns getting ready for the winter months ahead.  It was like they were on a treasure hunt to see how many they could find.  Sometimes they stopped along the way to eat a few.  The acorns were the food for the winter that the squirrels knew they had to collect to survive.

We have been given many treasures from God to take care of and we need to be good stewards/keepers of those treasures.  The job of caring for God's treasures is not a job for just one person but for everyone.  Unlike our game of "pick up sticks" where we don't want to move any others' sticks, let's bundle up our sticks. There is strength in working together!


July 11


I took this picture of my tomatoes this afternoon.  It's been weeks since I planted and I have been anxiously waiting for fruit.  And today, one of my green tomatoes is red, but not ready for picking!  I still must wait.

When I think about my anticipation for my tomatoes to grow -- wondering if I have given them all the right-stuff: the right amount of fertilizer, the right soil, the right location for rain and sun, the right posts to grow upon, and the right way to keep the rabbits from eating my fruit -- I thank God for this opportunity.  

While I wait to see if any of my plants produce, I know that God has given me something greater, and that is GRACE.  I don't have to wait for it.  Sometimes I wonder, though, because I am a person who isn't perfect nor all-knowing and, most time, too stubborn.  It is something that I don't realize until after the fact ... that God granted me the GRACE before I needed it, while I need it, and He will continue to grant me grace, even when I am not anticipating it.

May you realize that God has already granted you His grace; it is already there.  You don't have to wait in anticipation for it!


July 7

Be Positive

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Thank you for this day.  As it unfolds, help me to be a more positive contributor to this world and my little corner of it.  Help me to lose any negativism and to see the best in the people and circumstances that I encounter.  Help me to be conscious and respectful of others and to show the loving kindness your Son has taught us.  Open me to the positive way to do what you would have me do today, knowing that all I am is from you, and, in your care,  I can demonstrate by my attitude and actions your daily support, guidance, and power.  In the name of your loving Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.


July 5


It took me a couple of weeks to get ready to go away with my family.  I say a couple of weeks, but in reality, the planning started almost a year ago.  Then a month before we go I am looking through my clothes - what still fits, what do I need to update?  We check our "gear" to make sure there are no leaks in the boats and that the crab pots are tight.  We will need to take sheets, towels, soap, toilet paper, paper towels, Old Bay Seasoning, and food and drink for the children as well as the adults, and of course toys.  The extended family comes from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Maryland, all heading to the Delaware beach and bay.  It's exciting.  We re-connect, even before we gather, asking who's bringing the hair dryers, and what size sheets do we need, and who's bringing their bicycles, boats, and fishing gear?

The week came.  It was beautiful.  The family played games, played in the ocean waves, ate good food, especially the crabs and mussels we caught, taught the children about the wildlife in the bay marsh and in the ocean, and watched the sunsets - together.

When our time at the beach was over, each leaving at different times, we cried.  We had to get back to our lives, anxious to see each other again in 51 weeks!

Dear Lord, thank you.  Thank you for giving me the blessing of family and for the opportunity to experience your beautiful, fascinating creations.  I will continue to try to be a good steward of your creations, and share the bounty.


July 3

O God of all the nations, we come to you with gratitude and a plea:

We thank you for all you have given us - for family and friends and our church community, with which you undergird us; for the beauty of your earth and the joy of living; for strength to meet the problems of our lives.

We do pray for those we love in their needs.  Give them hope and comfort and strength.  Make us agents of your grace to them.

Be with all who are in need.  Keep us sensitive to each other's needs and open to the suffering of others.

Thank you for your loving grace.

In Jesus' holy name.  Amen.