July 27

In the past few weeks the nation has been troubled by the outrage and violence occurring in our cities across the country. Each day unfolds more sadness in the world.  What can each of us do? I work in Baltimore City and regularly interact with people of different races and backgrounds. This week, I have made it a point to be intentional and show acts of kindness during the day. My acts have including these and others;  smiling at someone , holding a door, offering a greeting, providing an answer or direction, thanking for help, leaving a small tip, offering a compliment,  and ????  Each time I do one of these small gestures, I am saying to someone “I respect you as a person.”  
Start each day with this simple prayer:
Dear God,
Provide opportunities for me to show simple kindness and respect to others. Direct me to those who would benefit from a simple act of generosity or kindness. Help the words I say and the actions I do, change my heart as well as the hearts of others.

“If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Romans 12:8New International Version (NIV)


July 19

            Every one of us has at least one irrational fear of something. It may be of spiders; it may be of heights; it may be of flying. In my case, my big irrational fear is of thunderstorms. There’s even a name for it – brontophobia.
            There’s no real reason that I should be afraid of thunderstorms; thunder is just a loud noise, and the chance of being struck by lightning is very small. Nevertheless, there it is. I’m afraid of thunderstorms.
            Thunderstorms are certainly no fun if you’re caught outside in one of them. They can do tremendous damage and leave a wide patch of destruction in its wake. I recently saw a tree that looked as if a giant had taken a huge ax and chopped it down with one blow. Definitely not something you’d want to mess with.
            But even after the most horrifying of storms has passed and things return to normal, there is one thing that renders it a thing of beauty. If you look in the sky in just the right spot, at just the right time, you’ll see one of nature’s most beautiful sights – the rainbow.
            We know, essentially, that a rainbow occurs when white light from the sun passes through water and emerges as colored light. Many cultures, however, saw the rainbow as a bridge to heaven, an idea that lives on the Rainbow Bridge, a bridge which – after we cross it – will see us reunited with our loved ones, both two-legged and four-legged.
            I like the idea of a rainbow being a path to heaven. After all, in Genesis 9, God put the rainbow in the sky as the sign of the covenant that He would never destroy the world by flood. That would have been the worst storm in history. I’m sure nobody would want to go through that. The rainbow is a gentle reminder for us that no matter how bad the storm was or is, it will come to end, and we can come out stronger and more beautiful for it.

            All we need to remember is to place our trust in the One Who put the rainbow up there in the first place. He didn’t promise that we wouldn’t have storms in our lives, but He can take the worst of it and make it into something beautiful.


July 9

This past weekend was full of Fourth of July celebrations. I am so thankful for those men and women who sacrifice so much for their country every day. Often we hear them share their stories on these patriotic holidays. One article I read was written by a young soldier who was a triple amputee
caused by an IED incident in Iraq. He talked about how he almost gave up soon after he returned to Walter Reed Hospital for rehabilitation. Fortunately for this young man, his mother came daily to be with him and encourage him to keep moving forward during this difficult time. With the encouragement of his mother and prayer, he was able to be successful in his rehabilitation. These days he works for a wheelchair company that designs wheelchairs for amputees, and he is also an inspirational speaker for returning servicemen and women. God sent his mother to encourage him at a critical time in his life, and now he encourages others. We can all give encouragement even in a small way, and it can make a difference in someone's life. Look around you, is there someone who needs
your encouragement today?


July 7

It seems that violence and hatred are all that I see on the news.  I encounter it on Facebook. Most of the personal encounters I have, though, are loving and kind.  Many express sadness at the violence in our world. It does grieve us, and I believe that it grieves God.

Merciful God, it is your will that the all of creation be in harmony and that love is the chief character of all that we do and say. We join you  in grieving for brothers and sisters who suffer loss and injury from the violence that comes out of hatred and fear. We grieve with you for those who turn to violence as a response to their pain.  Heal our world. Help us to join you in that healing. Amen.


July 3

            I have a friend who, along with his son who lives along the coast some distance away, had spent a good bit of time eagerly making plans for a week-end visit at the home of that son and his wife. They had a good relationship and this promised to be a special time for all of them. Then a medical problem erupted in the son’s family, shattering those plans. The trip was just not possible at this time. On that all were in agreement.

            But I felt very sorry for my friend. I knew he’d looked forward to some much needed time with family. I’d be happy to try to do something with him, but I was a friend, not family.  And family was what his soul needed just now.  But when I called to offer whatever I could, I found him already buoyed up.  His brother, who lives some three hours away, had called in the midst of all this, and knowing nothing about it, was wondering if he and his wife could stop by and see my friend in two days, staying about three hours and having lunch with him. It was just the kind of thing my friend needed.  He was still sorry the  carefully laid plans had fallen apart under the weight of illness; but he was ecstatic he’d be seeing his brother and sister-in-law. He said to me “You know, it’s just amazing how true the words of the 23rd Psalm are; God does restore our souls---just when disappointment seems deepest. My brother had no idea what was happening here. He just called on the spur of the moment to see if these plans could work.  Behind all of that, I see the grace of God at work.”

            How true! God’s grace comes to heal, bless, and renew in such surprising ways!  Be ready to have some way, some connection, some grace-filled surprise fall upon you when you least expect it and most need it.