The Rest of the Story

I have seen many crosses this week–on church lawns, in sanctuaries, inside display cases, even on the corner of a car dealer’s lot.  I join other Christians in commemorating Good Friday and remembering Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion, but I don’t want to get stuck there.

I don’t want to become near-sighted, focusing only on the pain of the cross and forgetting the joy and glory of the Resurrection.  This story has a glory-filled conclusion.

I have been challenged by a recent Christianity Today article.

Don’t focus on the suffering of Jesus to the extent that you neglect the glory of the Cross in and through the Resurrection.

The authors (Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor) remind us of Jesus’ journey from God and His return to the heavenly Abba.

Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

John 13:1,3   NIV

Jesus’ return to the heavenly Father was a return to glory!

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.   John 17:5   NIV


I can’t comprehend that.  The closest parallel I can imagine is leaving my home and family on a trip and coming back years later, but that’s a dim candle compared to the bright splendor of heaven.

This familiar verse in Hebrews

For the joy set before him he endured the cross   Hebrews 12:2   NIV

reminds me of something I can understand:  the process of giving birth.

“Remember to breathe.”



“Congratulations! It’s a boy–9 pounds and 13 ounces!”

Why do we endure the pain of childbirth?  For the delight we feel cradling our newborn,


 for the joy set before us.

Barb spring crocus (2)

My prayer for us all this Easter season:

may we remember Jesus death and suffering for our sins

Barb spring flowers (2)

AND the glory and joy of Jesus’ resurrection.

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I’m ready to celebrate!

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

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Thanks to Barb Briggs and Rachel Joy Nieuwsma for allowing me to use their photos.

  linking with Jennifer Lee Dukes

  linking with Emily Wierenga

  linking with Laura Boggess



I should have transplanted the cactus to a larger pot a long time ago.  The plant was top heavy, and it tipped over as I scooted it to one side in order to water a small succulent.   Without thinking, I grabbed the cactus before it toppled off the edge of the shelf.  I screeched in pain and surprise.


Now I wear heavy leather gloves to work with cactus.  After having to use a magnifying glass and tweezers to get all the fine spines out of my hand, you would think I’d remember to wear the leather gloves when I pruned the rose bush.  But I didn’t.

I foolishly thought the long-handled lopper would keep my hands a safe distance away.  But it didn’t.

A thorn pierced my thumb and drew blood.  You can’t handle spines and thorns unprotected and come away unscathed.  Blood will be shed.


As I cleaned the small wound, I remembered the crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers had made in the hours right before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

John 19:1-3   NIV

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The soldiers mocked him with their parody of royal raiment and royal greeting.

The robe, thrown across Jesus’ raw shoulders, was the color of nobility.

The staff in Jesus’ hand was a parody of a king’s scepter.

They spit in his face–perhaps a mockery of the kiss of homage customarily given to royalty.

Their “Hail, King of the Jews” was a salutation of ridicule, not the honorific greeting “Hail, Caesar!”

They knelt in front of Jesus and then rose from their knees to crack the staff over his head.

[The soldiers] twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.  They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.

Matthew 27:29-30   NIV

I thought about the Roman soldiers who made the crown of thorns.  Why go to so much trouble to ridicule someone?  It’s not easy to make a crown of thorns.

I tried to weave together pruned raspberry canes (too brittle) and cut-off rose bush branches (too inflexible).  Working with heavy gloves was too clumsy, but working without them resulted in more scratches on my hands.  I gave up.

IMG_3604 (2)

How did the Roman soldier make the crown for Jesus, and what was he thinking as he wove it?

How much of the blood from his pierced hands mingled with Jesus’ when the thorny circlet was placed on Jesus’ head?  You can’t handle spines and thorns unprotected and come away unscathed.  Blood will be shed.

Maybe the soldier meant the crown as a mockery of the Romans’ “civic crown,” which was made of oak leaves and worn by the emperor.  Roman soldiers would present the award to someone who had saved the lives of citizens.

Or perhaps the soldier thought of the “grass crown” (a Roman military decoration higher than all others) given to a commander who saved an entire legion or army.  The “grass crown” was made of grasses, flowers, or grains found of the battlefield.

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What happened to these battle-hardened soldiers when they watched Jesus die?  They knew something was different about this man that they had just crucified.

Perhaps they realized that every cynical mockery they had inflicted on Jesus–the staff, the robe, the crown–might have the echo of truth.

IMG_5795 (2)

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!

Matthew 27:54   NIV

Their hearts were pierced by the thorns they had forced onto Jesus’ head and by the nails they had driven into his hands,

because you can’t handle spines and thorns unprotected and come away unscathed.

*          *          *          *         
My prayer for us all:

that we have a tender and changed heart (like the centurion!) when we remember how Jesus suffered and died for us.

*          *          *          *

crown of thorns photos by Barb Briggs

  linking with Jennifer Lee Dukes

  linking with Laura Boggess








Stars and Spring Rain

I was nine or ten years old, and I was lying on my back in the grass in the yard, gazing up at the stars in the velvet blackness on a summer’s night.  Even then, as a child, I was in awe of creation and believed there must be a Creator.

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:1,3-4   NIV

I didn’t find it hard to believe in an all-powerful God, who made the beauty around me–

dark, starry nights,

sweet, apple blossoms in spring,

wind sighing in the top of the elm tree,

soft down of newly-hatched chicks.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.   Romans 1:19,20

I didn’t understand at the time that other parts of God’s divine nature–His love and kindness–could be seen by looking at the sky, too.



This week I watched the clouds pile up, as a cold front tumbled in from the west.

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.
Acts 14:17   NIV

The blue overhead was quickly overtaken by steel gray cumulus, extinguishing the glorious sun’s rays.

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.
Zechariah 10:1   NIV

  The first heavy drops of much-needed rain chased me inside, as thunder echoed in the distance.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.

Matthew 5:45   MSG

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:45   NIV


The downpour was brief, the line of storm clouds narrow, and soon a gusty wind  swept the showers eastward.  Through the rain-splashed window, I spotted the second gift of the thunderstorm–a rainbow, the ephemeral sign of God’s eternal promise.

“He pulls water up out of the sea,
    distills it, and fills up his rain-cloud cisterns.
Then the skies open up
    and pour out soaking showers on everyone.
Does anyone have the slightest idea how this happens?
    How he arranges the clouds, how he speaks in thunder?
Just look at that lightning, his sky-filling light show
    illumining the dark depths of the sea!
These are the symbols of his sovereignty,
    his generosity, his loving care.

Job 36:27-31   MSG


I hurried into chore boots and ran outside to capture the rainbow before the brilliant arc faded.

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

Genesis 9: 14,15   NIV


Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

Psalm 147:7   NIV


As the sun began to sink behind me, the last rays illumined the upper parts of the cumulonimbus.


“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise.”

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:8   NIV


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  linking with Laura Boggess

      linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee



I stood in the plumbing aisle of the hardware store, trying to decide which kitchen faucet to buy:

chrome or stainless steel finish?

sprayer in the main faucet or separate?

longer warranty or lower cost?

As I debated, I noticed the words on a faucet box that transported me from the plumbing aisle to my high school Spanish class:

“escutcheon plate optional.”


I was having trouble remembering a new set of Spanish vocabulary words, one of them escuchar, which means “to listen.”  I found a way to associate a word I knew with the Spanish verb that was new.

Escuchan means “they listen” in Spanish, which reminded me of the English word “escutcheon” (an ornamental or protective plate around a keyhole, drawer pull, light switch, or faucet).  So I imagined someone listening to a conversation behind a closed door by pressing their ear to the keyhole set in the escutcheon.  IMG_6319 (5)

While the words “escutcheon” and escuchan are somewhat similar in pronunciation, they come from different Latin roots:

  • “escutcheon”–meaning “a shield”
  • escuchar–meaning “to listen to, to heed or obey, or to overhear or listen secretly”

It was a complicated way to remember one Spanish verb, but it worked, and I still remember it these many years later.


*          *          *          *          *

For the third week in a row I’ve been thinking about what God has to say about taking care with the words we speak.  I’ve studied Bible verses and written two posts:  Careful and Fragile Wings:  Careful, part 2,  but I guess I needed to hear more on the subject.

Last Sunday I was surprised to learn that the text for the sermon was James 3:1-12.  Our pastor spoke about the influence of the tongue and how powerful words can be.  Wicked words can be like a spark that sets a whole forest on fire.  Our tongue can “run wild” and be “full of deadly poison.”  Our words have the potential for evil or blessing.

A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

James 3:5   MSG

Yesterday Jessica Turner, writing for (in)courage, shared a post called “The Difference Your Words Make,” recalling a time she spoke words of appreciation to a co-worker.  Jessica concludes:

Kind words are balm for our souls. We need to both give and receive kind words.

Too often I find myself going about my day so quickly that I miss opportunities to extend a simple kind word. Perhaps you do the same?

Have you heard the story about the pastor who preached the same sermon Sunday after Sunday?  When confronted by a member of the congregation, the pastor explained that he would move onto the next topic when the people started living out the current sermon.  Maybe that’s me–hearing the same message repeatedly until I get it.

God keeps leading me–again and again–to pay attention to my words and be careful what I say and what I write.  I don’t have to press my ear to the keyhole to hear what He has to say; God’s words have been pretty plain.

But I do need to listen and heed what God is saying.  I need to obey.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22   NIV

Escutcheons may be optional on my kitchen faucet, but listening–followed by obedience–is not.  I need to remember Jesus’ words (in Spanish and English).

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”   Luke 11:28   NIV

Él contestó:  —¡Dichosos más bien quienes escuchan lo que Dios dice, y lo obedecen!   Lucas 11:28   Dios Habla Hoy (Spanish)



  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

linking with Emily Freeman ( at What We Learned in March





linking with Michelle DeRusha

Fragile Wings: Careful, part 2

I love it when I see a theme developing–a God prompted theme.  Since I posted Careful about taking care with the words we speak to others (and ourselves), I’ve noticed other bloggers and websites have had something to say about the subject, too.  Sometimes it wasn’t their main point, just peripheral,  but I heard the still, small voice.

I think God is still trying to teach me something.  Join me as we look again at the effect our words can have on hearts–hearts as fragile as butterfly wings.


Words matter, and they should edify.

Read what Patty has to say in “Words” at Flirting With Eternity, a post about “how every word matters and how we’re meant to build up and not tear down.”

What will you contribute to your world today?  Endless-mindless chatter or pontifications or soliloquies or slams against anything or anyone with whom you don’t agree?  Or life-giving words that build up and challenge and leave the hearer wanting more?

“Edify” means to instruct or benefit, to uplift. The Latin source words are  aedes  “a dwelling, temple” and facere  “to make.”  So when we speak edifying words to others we have the privilege of helping to construct the dwelling, the temple for the Spirit of God in another human being.


Watch your tone or Lessons from a lab

Heather of True Life With God wrote “Heel” about her dog, Rose, and obedience training. These sentences (among many others) stuck with me:

I watched our trainer use positive vocal tone and food rewards.  She never once used physical force or harsh words.

Maybe if I spoke words of love more often than complaints and demands, my family and friends might respond differently.

Rose obeyed her trainer.  Why?

Because she associated the call to come with good—with pleasure—with reward.


Warning:  Fragile Hearts Ahead

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.   Romans 12:15   NKJV

Thanks to Shelly Beach.  I saw this video on her post If We Could See…Profound Truth.

What if occasional hurtful words become a pattern of humiliation and abuse?

Focus on the Family recently did something out of the ordinary.  Due to the huge response to a show on emotional abuse, they aired it again only a few months after the first broadcast.  The show’s guest, a licensed clinical social worker and author, Leslie Vernick said

The Bible is quite clear that reckless words pierce like a sword …. God validates the reality of our harsh words on someone’s soul, spirit and body. And I think we as Christians need to validate that, too.

Need to learn more about emotional abuse?

By reading this article series [on the Focus on the Family website], we hope you will help you learn to listen to your friends’, neighbors’, relatives’—or maybe even your own—waspish, hurtful words. And if you are a recipient of this type of domestic violence, first hold yourself in high esteem, re-evaluate your relationships and then ask for help.


Handle With Care

Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience shares The 1 Thing You Have To Stop Doing If You Ever Want a Harvest and talks about mudslinging and angry words.  We need to remember to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Read all the angry and sign up for the culture wars and pump your angry fist and you sign up to take down the very people that Christ took nails for.

Read all the angry and go ahead and sling a bit of mud and you find yourself the one going a bit blind. Been there, done that: You forget how to see people as souls, you forget that you’ve never once talked about a mere person, but always and only about God-fashioned souls so handle with care.

You forget that the person you’re slamming is a person who Jesus loved so passionately for, He busted open His heart and bled for.


In a Facebook conversation about these words from Ann Voskamp, I read of my friend Berny’s desire:

Constraint of pen and mouth . . . and keyboard.

I pray for grace and gracefulness.

I don’t want to harm . . . only bless.


*          *          *          *          *

Photo of dogs and trainer by Heather MacLaren

Photo of cross and shadow by Barb Briggs


I skim.  I read titles, headlines, and first sentences quickly and go back later to fill in details.  Usually this allows me to summarize a post or an article before reading, but sometimes my first, cursory glance isn’t accurate and has startling results.

Skimming the name of a post featuring a ground beef recipe, I misread the title (“Frugal food – savoury mince”) on Donna Hetzel’s blog, Down to Earth.  I left out the “n,” making the title read “Frugal food–savoury mice” and then went on to see this in the first paragraph:  “This is a good dish that uses a small amount of meat but it’s still very tasty.”  Hmm . . . perhaps a little too frugal for me.

I need to read more carefully.

Sometimes my lack of care in reading titles leads to letters addedPiercing The Fog: How To See Past The Gloom Of Despair in Of Dust and Kings became “Piercing the Frog” in my slapdash scanning.  T E Hanna’s serious commentary on despair and the life of David turned into a puzzling mix in my mind of amphibian cuisine, meat forks, and depression.

I need to skim with more caution.


Recently I saw this news story title:  “Wisconsin Town Uses Explosives on Frozen Creek.”  I misread one word, however, and accidentally turned the The La Crosse Tribune’s story into “Wisconsin Town Uses Expletives on Frozen Creek.”  I presumed it referred to citizens in Wisconsin venting their frustration with a long, cold winter.  Words can be powerful, but I don’t think they’ll have much effect on icy creek beds.

Words really are powerful, though, and we should be careful with them.

A letter or two can make a big difference.

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A few weeks ago we visited a glass house conservatory with a butterfly wing.  Before entering the butterfly area, the docent warned us no plant material was allowed; neither were food and drink, large bags, or strollers.  She explained that we shouldn’t touch or grab the butterflies to prevent their fragile wings from being broken and the scales from being rubbed off.  Unfortunately, some of the butterflies we saw did have damaged wings.

DSC_2660 (2)

We also needed to watch where we stepped because the butterflies often sat on the walkway.  Before leaving we were to make sure we had no butterfly hitchhikers.  In short, we needed to be careful.

*          *          *          *           *

Look at the people around you.  Walk carefully; watch where you step.  There are many fragile hearts needing a kind word, a sweet and healing word.  Words are powerful.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24   NIV

Words are full of power, and we should be full of care and consideration as to when we say them.

The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,

Proverbs 25:11   MSG

Words are able to build up hopes or dash down dreams.  Remember the children’s Sunday School song?  “Be careful little mouth what you say.”

Just as a letter or two inaccurately read changed the whole meaning of a story, a single word or two can hurt or discourage.

Speak instead words that encourage, that build up to your family, your friends, the people in your pew at church, the stranger in line at the grocery store.  Speak them to yourself.  Words that comfort, that cheer, that console.

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG

Speak the words of the God who loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), who will never forsake us, who loves us enough to die for us.

 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6   NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8   NIV

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My prayer for us all:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.   Psalm 19:14   NIV

  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Coffee for Your Heart 150   linking with Holley Gerth



The white shed doors reflected the cotton-candy pink and baby blue of a February dawn.  Although an imperfect reflection, it was still a glorious way to start a winter’s day.


The setting sun is sliding north along the western horizon as we near the calendar boundary of winter and spring.  White garage door panels were transformed one evening by echoing the day’s last golden and rosy rays.


Windows do a better job at reproducing the image of the sunset.  Hints of clouds and brush strokes of branches paint the glass, but the picture is warped and imperfect.


The side mirror of my car captures the glowing clouds just minutes after the sun has dropped over the snowy horizon.  The picture is clearer (and would be sharper still if I’d cleaned the surface of the mirror), but still flawed and incomplete.  The image comes with a warning:  “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.   1 Corinthians 13:12  LB

As Christians, we are living “images,” reflections of the character of Christ.  The word “reflect” means to bend back.  However imperfect we are and whatever substance we’re made from (metal, painted wood, glass, or mirror), we are to “bend back” the love and glory of God so that others may see glimpses of His nature and pictures of what the Good News can do in our lives.

It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.   2 Corinthians 4:6   MSG

When we gaze on a reflection, despite the beauty that may be there, we’re missing the original.  We have to change our perspective and find the source of the light.


And who wouldn’t want to turn around and see this,

the source of the machine shed’s glow?


Or this gorgeous sunset reflected in a mundane garage door?


Or the broad, cloud-spashed sky above darkening fields,

painted with gold and lavender and aqua

that was incompletely captured in a jumbled likeness on a west-facing window?


Or the grand beauty of the whole of the western sky lit bright,

cooling jet trails and lavender clouds alike?

How exquisite your love, O God!  . . .
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

Psalm 36:7, 9   MSG

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linking with Jennifer Lee Dukes

Fruit Stands and Orchards

Banana Joe's Fruit Stand 1-20-2014 7-04-009

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.   Galatians 5:22,23   NIV

I’d like to walk up to a fruit (of the Spirit) stand and place my order.  “One pound of joy and peace today, and a one of those ripe kindness fruits.  No, you’d better make that two–I’ve got a church committee meeting tonight.”

Banana Joe's Fruit Stand 1-17-2014 9-36-043

I’d like to plunk down my cash and walk away with a basketful of fruits of the Spirit already grown. I’d like somebody else to do the hands-in-the-dirt, protracted orchard work.

I confess.  I don’t like the hard, long, waiting times, the-start-small-and-watch-it-grow times, but God does.  Fruit is grown, not materialized in a science fiction replicator.

Banana Joe's Fruit Stand 1-17-2014 9-35-002

*          *          *          *          *

We used to have an apple tree in a low, sheltered spot in the corner of a field.  The tree was covered by handsome, red apples every year.  The walk from the dirt road and along the fence was short, and the low branches made it easy to pick.  However, this tree had a major flaw.  The apples didn’t taste good.

The seedling had probably grown from an apple core thrown out a truck window.  The fruit had the  attractive shape and color of a Delicious apple, but no pleasant taste or aroma.  It is extremely rare for a tree grown from an apple seed to have desirable fruit.


So how are apples grown?  Branches or buds from a tree selected for its good qualities (the scion) are grafted onto another tree. There are many methods of grafting, but all take advantage of the tissues of the two types of trees growing together, ending with the characteristics of the scion tree being transferred to the other.

The two parts are joined together and become one tree within a matter of months.  The two parts–me/you and Jesus–are stuck together and grow together.

The Spirit of God in us changes our wild, weedy, undesirable ways and gives us God’s own character.  We get the good fruit that we couldn’t grow on our own.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Galatians 5:22-23   MSG

My prayer for us all:

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!    Romans 15:13   MSG

Banana Joe's Fruit Stand 1-20-2014 7-03-032

photos by Barb Briggs

  linking with Jennifer Lee Dukes

Small Beginnings

I confess.  I want my life, my faith, my ministry, answers to prayer full grown.  I want them now.  I don’t like the hard, long, waiting times, the-start-small-and-watch-it-grow times.


God, however, seems to be perfectly happy with small things and small beginnings:

a small tribe that births a Messiah

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2   NIV

small coins given with a wide-open heart,

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”  Mark 12:4243   NIV

small fish, small loaves given to be multiplied,

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”  . . .

They all ate and were satisfied.  Matthew 15:33,34, 37


small seeds that grow into mighty plants,

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”   Matthew 13:31,32


small children presented to be blessed,

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16   NIV

small bricks stacked and mortared together to build a mighty wall.

. . . the Word of God came to me: “Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!”   Zechariah 4:8-10   MSG

Who dares despise the day of small things . . . ?  Zechariah 4:10   NIV

Who, indeed?  Lord, teach me to give thanks for small beginnings, as you did, and help me to wait for the miracle.

When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied.   Mark 8:6-8   NIV


sunflower photo by Barb Briggs

Five Minute Fridaylinking with Lisa Jo Baker

(five minutes of writing, extra time to add Scripture quotes and photos)

linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Coffee for Your Heart 150

linking with Holly Gerth

Hearts and Scars

Hearts . . .


Hearts are in every shop window, but in two weeks a new display will be hung.


Hearts shout at us from every magazine, newspaper, blog, and TV show, but soon they’ll be relegated to the “trash” to make way for something new to catch our eye.


Heart-shaped pizzas, heart cookies?  They are consumed and then forgotten.

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Heart shapes in nature?  This snowy shape sheltered in a wind-blown nest is already buried in a drift.


Hearts sparkling from the jewelry counter?  Surely precious metals are more enduring than snow, but gold bands wear thin, and silver chains rupture at the weakest link.

Where can we find something of real permanence to speak to us–every single heart-beating day–the language of Love?

Maybe if we look to the heavens, there will be something more permanent like these nebulae (called Heart and Soul), but even nebulae are changing from and changing to.  They are the birthing and dying chambers of stars, and we only see a slice of their slow motion, life dance.

Where can we find a way to remind us of Love, to burn in our minds an unchanging icon that will tell us about a Love that last forever?

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The knife slipped as I was chopping cabbage for coleslaw, and I sliced my finger instead.  My daughter, who was beginning to learn the alphabet, recognized the shape of the curving red gash.  She said it looked like the first letter of her name:  a “J” written in flesh and blood.  A fine, white line is still visible.  Although the “J” was accidental, the scar does remind me of my beloved daughter.

One faint mark, that fades each year.

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In the Old Testament the garments of the High Priest were described in detail.

 Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord.   Exodus 28:11, 12   NIV

Twelve names were engraved in gem stone. Twelve sons of Israel to be remembered by Aaron. Twelve reminders to the Lord of His beloved children. Twelve stones that can fracture or be lost or stolen.

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We need a living reminder of Love, one that can’t fade away.  We need a heart that speaks Love day after day, one that beats forever and never wears out. We need a Savior, the Savior who was crucified, hands and feet nailed to a cross, out of love for us.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5   NIV

Do you remember Isaiah’s prophetic words of a love that endures forever?

I have engraved you on the palms of my hands Isaiah 49:16   NIV

Engraving isn’t ink that fades. It isn’t a pale scar that dims with passing years. It’s not carving on a stone that can shatter.

Engraving is permanent.

We are engraved on Jesus’ two living hands.

Look closely, and you’ll see that the scars spell your name.


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Heart and Soul Nebulae photo by Leonardo Orazi.
Thanks to Mr. Orazi for allowing me to share this photo. You may view a high resolution image on Mr. Orazi’s site.
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