For who hath despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10 (KJV)

Every morning at the same time, Frances and Edward (my mismatched dogs) and I leave our house through the wooden gate at the drive. We cross the road and head for the nearby nature preserve—but that’s not the goal of our walk. We make a right onto Crescent. The traffic is still light, and the sun hasn’t yet peeped over the trees. Soon we approach a tall white Frank Lloyd Wright-ish home that’s set in the woods, and we pause so the puppies can have a little drink at the pond—but that’s not the goal of our walk. Further on, I see the fairy-like playscape that a young family has created for their children after pulling down a century-old three-story home—but that’s not the goal of our walk.

We slow our pace as we get closer to the path that crosses the preserve, and we walk back and forth. It will not be long now. And within minutes I hear a vehicle coming around the curve, slowing as it approaches. This is what I’ve been waiting for.

My son and two small grandchildren take this route to school every day, and if I leave at a certain time, our paths intersect. The windows of the car roll down, and I see three sets of hands waving, two very small and one larger. Greetings and smiles are exchanged. And then we part. It’s only a moment of time. It’s just a small thing. But it’s intentional sharing and reinforcing love.

How little effort it takes for lives to be touched with God’s love. Being present. Offering a smile. Giving a hug. Pouring out and giving away the joy he pours into us with abandon. Little things that bring great joy.

Father of all creation, you shower us with so many precious little things that brighten each day.  We all have something to give.  Help us, who have so freely received from you, freely give. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

With five grandchildren, I am pretty well familiar with all the Disney movies and songs. But my hands down favorite is Beauty and the Beast, the old tale of the handsome prince whose beast is cleverly hidden beneath the trappings of privilege. When he refuses to help an old woman (a fairy in disguise), she turns him into the beast that he already is. The only cure is true love—within a specified time frame.

You know the story. Beautiful Belle gets lost and winds up in his castle. Of course, she is terrified when she first sees the Beast, but in time, she gets to know the person inside that dreadful shell, falls in love, and watches the Beast’s transformation. Part of the lyrics say:

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bitter sweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast.

Edwin Markham once wrote: “He drew a circle that shut me out-Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him in!”

Father, this world is full of people who are ugly when they do not know love. Strengthen us to get beyond ourselves and our affinities to become transforming agents through your love. And, Father, we confess that in loving others, we ourselves are transformed. In Jesus name. AMEN.


Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)
Besides being a judge, my husband was an artist who had a sharp eye and collected Oriental rugs. His very favorite was a lush, red Heriz. To ensure its safekeeping, I put it in a guest bedroom where it would get little traffic, and the dogs were not likely to soil it.
One afternoon a friend was in that bedroom, and she called out, “Marthe, there are lots of little white butterflies in here.” I had no idea what that was about but rushed in to see what might be going on. We looked to see where the “little white butterflies” were congregating, and, sure enough, they had found the dark, secret place under the guest bed. Gloria and I quickly pulled the bed out and saw where the swarm of diminutive moths had nibbled their way right down to the rug’s foundation. We vacuumed to see the extent of the damage—it was widespread and much worse than I thought.
As I waited that afternoon for Peter to return from work, I tried to formulate a rationale for neglecting this family heirloom. Would I be subjected to days of silence or, even worse, berated for my stupidity? The wait was long and uncomfortable. I could think of nothing to say.
I briefly greeted Peter at the door and took him upstairs. He took one look at the damage, turned around, and shrugged his shoulders. That was all. “We’ll see if we can repair it,” he commented. I stood in a state of shock as he casually dismissed one of his treasures. His whole attitude was, “It doesn’t have eternal life. It gave us pleasure for awhile. Put the bed back; forget about the damage underneath; and we’ll enjoy what we see.” There was never a word of condemnation.
From that time till this, I’ve tried to model Peter’s attitude about things that break or get spoiled or stolen or ruined. Do they have eternal life? Everything temporal has a shelf-life. Only those blessings given us by God are eternal.
P.S. The rug was irreparable with its extensive damage. Even then, my husband never looked back, preferring to live without judging or regrets.
Father, help me to hold all things loosely knowing that they are only with us for a while. Let my treasure be securely in heaven, invested in eternity. In Jesus’ name. AMEN


But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you… Job 12:7 (NIV)
As an animal lover, I’ve always been intrigued by the many references to animals in the Bible. From the time my brother and I were small we had turtles, birds, fish, dogs, and cats, and my children had many of the same varieties including white mice. Now my daily companions are two sweet mismatched dogs.
A donkey was used to deliver God’s message to a stubborn prophet (Numbers 22); every species was saved during the Flood (Genesis 6:19); cows were a sign of the times to Pharaoh (Genesis 41); another donkey carried Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11); doves were symbolic throughout the Bible; a big fish transported Jonah (1:17); and the lamb portrays our loving Savior in many passages. In fact, nearly 100 different animals (including fish, birds, land creatures, and insects) are mentioned in God’s Word.
In the United States 65% of American households have pets, and the majority of those people consider their pets family members. (My vet told me that most of his clients refer to themselves as Mom and Dad when speaking of their animals.) If we are not among the 65%, we can still understand why, in our fractured society, people here enjoy pets. In fact, pets have become so necessary to us that we spend over $1 billion every year caring for them, feeding, and entertaining them. And then we grieve for them when they leave us.
After the deaths of two of my well-loved pets, Victoria and Albert, I began researching to learn what the Bible says about animals. Apparently, animals can teach us a thing or two (see Job 12:7 above), as most pet owners will attest. For example, I’ve learned a lot about loyalty, attentiveness, and unconditional love from my pets. But the really hard part about loving pets (and people) is when they leave.
Along with my research, I began doing interviews: Do you think pets go to heaven? I asked numbers of people. My favorite answer came from my clergy friend David. David asked me a simple question, Do pets sin? I did some pondering, and then David told me, If pets didn’t sin in the garden or throughout history, they lived under grace and didn’t need a Savior. Therefore, they will have a home in heaven. Really thought provoking.
And I’ve looked at all the ways God used animals throughout the Bible: doves, dogs, bears, bees, camels, flies, frogs, goats, gnats, etc. They certainly have been his instruments for millennia. I am not a theologian, but David has given me something to think about. In the meantime, I’m grateful for all the loving animals God has given me.
Father, every good gift comes from you. Thank you for all the sweet animals that have enriched my life. And thank you for the way you teach us through those special messengers. I am grateful. AMEN.


Give to everyone who asks you… Luke 6:30 (NIV)

Some of Jesus’ sayings are hard to understand; others are harder to do. Occasionally, I struggle with the latter, thinking that perhaps Jesus doesn’t really mean what he says…

I had just rolled my cart into the parking lot and was filling my trunk with plants when she approached.

“Ma’am, I need to get home to Corpus Christi,” she said.

I listened, wondering what that had to do with me.

“My husband and I had a fight, and I left him and the children. But I know I need to go back,” she elaborated. “Can you give me money for a bus ticket?”

Quickly, I processed what I was hearing. She says she made a mistake and needs to get home to her family to straighten things out. But what if she’s scamming me and wants the money for drugs or something else? But Jesus told us to reach out generously. BUT WHAT IF… I argued with myself in the milli-seconds as I stood listening.

“You need a bus ticket to get back to Corpus?” I repeated.

“Yes,” was the hopeful response.

After a mental struggle I found myself shifting into automatic, and a voice inside said, “You wait here, and I’ll go to the bus station and buy your ticket.” Caution had been thrown to the wind. If necessary, I would err on the side of foolish generosity. I closed the lid of the trunk and walked around to the driver’s door.

“Ma’am,” she stopped me. I turned to listen. “I’m lying to you. I just want a drink, and I don’t have any money.”

With that we began a short conversation about the help that was available to her. “I know someone who can work with you and who would walk with you through this,” I offered.

“I’m not ready,” she responded, letting me know the conversation was over.

“What’s your name? At least I can pray.”

She looked up sadly and gave me a sweet smile, “Lanae.” And then she left me.

Lord, do not let fear keep me from obeying your commandments. Remind me that YOU will keep me from harm while I follow you. And, Lord, heal Lanae. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:7 (KJV)

An amusing story is told of a visit T. E. Lawrence, the famed “Lawrence of Arabia,” paid to his good friend Thomas Hardy, the poet and novelist. At the time, Lawrence was serving in the Royal Air Force and was dressed in uniform when he showed up at Hardy’s house for tea. The mayoress of the village also happened to be a guest and was horrified to be in company with a common soldier. She looked over at Mrs. Hardy, addressing her in French, and said that she’d never in all her life had to sit down to tea with a private soldier. No one said a word. Finally, Lawrence with grace spoke to the mayoress in perfect French, saying, “I beg your pardon, Madam, but can I be of any use as an interpreter? Mrs. Hardy knows no French.”

Oops. Are we ever guilty of looking at people and forming judgments based on what we see rather than waiting to see who they really are? Many people in Jesus’ day did just that. They didn’t wait to see what was behind the humble man with calloused hands who called sinners and publicans friends. They didn’t take time to learn who Jesus was.

Lord, open my eyes so that I see the people you created behind the shapes they inhabit. Give me a heart to love and to serve and to touch all those you bring to me. Remind me that you love me, warts and all, and help me to do the same with others. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


[He] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Cookie is home to renew her visa. She has to return from Haiti every few months so that she can go back to work with orphans in their hillside sanctuary. Two years ago she responded to God’s call to go – just for a few months – and now she finds herself returning again and again.

Cookie is an English teacher committed to helping every one of her students learn to communicate in English. She knows that speaking English in Haiti is almost a sure guarantee of a decent job in the stressed economy. But that’s not why Cookie continues to return to Haiti after every break. This afternoon she elaborated on one of the many ways she sees God at work.

Some months ago a young mother came to the orphanage to confess that she had thrown her newborn into a garbage dump—about twelve hours earlier. Cookie and her fellow missioners had become inured to finding little ones who were discarded for one reason or another, but it was unusual for a mother to come with such news.

The small group of missioners hurried to a large trough, sixteen feet deep, where the baby had been tossed earlier in the day. One of the young men was able to climb into the pit, rummage around, and find the plastic bag that contained the baby. He hauled it up and put it on the ground as the others gathered round to pray. An inert little arm fell out of the bag, and as they prayed, they heard the sound of a massive intake of breath and then a cry. Miraculously, the baby girl was alive, unscratched, unmarked.

The missioners brought the little one back to their compound and cleaned her up, all the while thanking God for sparing her little life. One of the missionary couples was moved to adopt the baby and named her Faith, and she is now a thriving six-month-old toddler who is loved and coddled by all the missioners on campus.

And so, Cookie keeps going back to Haiti.

Father, thank you for reminding us of your great power as we call to you in faith believing. Thank you for Cookie and all those who reach out to touch lives in your name. Help us to faithfully “touch the one in front of us.” In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Job 38:22 (KJV)

Here in South Texas I can enjoy the winter vicariously with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a blazing fireplace. And every year, without fail, we hope that we will have a White Christmas. (There are even companies that produce fake snowballs so children can indulge in a friendly “fight.”) It’s only in our fertile imaginations that we have the blessings of a white landscape without any of the accompanying challenges.

The last snow we had was in 1984, and it shut down the city. Everyone had an unexpected holiday (even the weathermen). That is the benchmark to which we point. If only we could have a Christmas like that…

Our missions ministry currently has a team of young professionals working in an orphanage outside Nairobi. Last year when we were there, we were privileged to attend the school’s Christmas program. How bemused, yet delighted, we were to hear the whole school sing Jingle Bells. “Dashing through the snow…” I would be surprised if even one of those little guys knew what snow was really about.

And so, I think that perhaps snow and Christmas enjoyment are linked together in many cultures. But then I read God’s question to Job (above v. 38:22). He describes snow as a treasure that is kept in a storehouse. What a lovely image. Even God regards snow as special and something that can be enjoyed world-wide without cost.

God distributes his gifts freely and says that he gives us all things to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17). Every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). Let us be thankful and enjoy all the treasures of nature that freely come from God’s loving hand.

Father, sometimes we can be grumpy about the weather. Discipline us to accept all things from your hand, and help us to learn to be content, if not enjoying, your providences. Thank you. AMEN.