Sunday, February 16, 2020

Knit Cap from a Stranger


Summer Sun Can Be Plenty Hot
It was summer in southern Arizona when I had chemo treatments for breast cancer. It produced an immediate problem. When I lost my hair, my head felt cold and I was not sleeping well.

I hoped to find a knit cap somewhere in my metropolis. Sales associates gave me some mighty strange looks, and I finally got the message---this was a lost cause.

A square cotton scarf tied behind my head felt comfortable. I didn’t realize people could still tell I was bald. Believe me, ignorance was bliss.

One day I renewed a prescription at the pharmacy, then wandered through the store. I felt I was being followed, but saw no one.

At last a lady said, “I noticed you at the pharmacy. I hope you won’t be offended, but would you be interested in a knit cap?”

My response was, “Would I! I’ve been trying to find one without success.”

Lavender Is A Pretty Color
She said, “I belong to a group that knits caps for chemo patients. The only one I have left is lavender. Would that be OK?”

“Color doesn’t matter,” I said, “I’d just be glad for a cap. My head gets really cold at night.”

After a quick trip to her car, she handed me a skull cap, knit in the softest lavender baby yarn. What an unexpected blessing. It was easy to smile as I expressed my appreciation.

That night, and for months following, I enjoyed good sleep with a warm head. Thanks to a small tag pinned to the cap, I was able to send the group a note of thanks.

I was impressed that the ladies not only knit caps, but put forth individual effort to distribute them. To me it was a perfect illustration of Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . 

Here I am, thirteen years later, still thankful for a knit cap from a stranger.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

One Very Bad Hair Day


I think most people have a bad hair day now and then. But in 2007 I experienced the worst hair day ever!

Hair Comes in Great Varieties
As I was brushing my hair, clumps fell into the sink. Chemo, surgery and radiation were my prescribed treatments for fighting breast cancer. Though I’d been warned of hair loss, my day of reckoning came after only two chemo treatments.

I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw no sparkle in my eyes, no bright smile, just an incredible amount of sadness.

A hand mirror helped me survey more damage. I called my husband and he came in. “Would you cut off the remaining patches of hair,” I asked, “why put off the inevitable?” It was a hard day for him, too, but he kindly gave me the help I needed.

To me, a wig on a bald head was uncomfortable. My head also felt cold when I tried to sleep, but it was summer in southern Arizona. Air conditioning was a necessity.

One thing I tried to avoid was looking in a mirror with my head uncovered. My favorite head gear was a square cotton scarf knotted behind my neck.

I found timely comfort in 1 Peter 3:3-4. It says beauty is not to come from outward adornment, but from your inner self.

The Book of Proverbs Is Full of  Wisdom
One inner beauty secret is discretion. On this issue, King Solomon was quite blunt: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).

He wasn’t easy on men, either. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

It was easy to smile when my hair grew back, but I still have a bad hair day now and then. The difference is my focus.

First, I look in the mirror and try my best outwardly. Then I turn away, and remember that true beauty comes from the inside.

Next Week: Knit Cap From A Stranger

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Who Needs A Break?


You do . . . I do . . . that’s no surprise. But did you know that God took a break?

Beautiful Water and Sky
Let’s get to the point by taking Genesis Chapter One at face value. In the beginning, “evening and morning” made a day. Each day God reviewed His work and declared it “good.”

But on the sixth day, God looked over ALL His work and declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Satisfied with His six-day work week, God declared the seventh day holy, or set aside as a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3).

It became known as Sabbath, which comes from the word shabbat. Its prime meaning is to cease or withdraw from work. He later emphasized its importance by including it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11).

While leading the Exodus out of Egypt, Moses gave further insight into the
Sand and Sky Has Beauty, Too
importance of this day. It was to be a restful and holy reminder that God had brought them out of slavery
(Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

Sometimes I think we simply slave away on our own. So much to do, so little time. Rest? Later! But Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:23-28).

No matter which days you work, the principle is the same: You need a day of rest. If you are wise, it will include honoring the One who declared it important in the first place.

Balance Your Life With Work and Rest
Who needs a break? Us earthlings! But it does not happen automatically.

God commanded a day of rest because He cares about us. The question is, do you care enough about yourself to follow His instruction?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Variety: The Spice of Life


Trader Joe’s advertising always draws me in. I believe variety is the spice of life. I mentally travel the world while I read where their products originate. Here are six examples: 
Grass Fed Angus Beef - New Zealand
Tri-color Bell Peppers - Baja & Central Mexico
Sprouted Red Rice - Thailand
Ahi Tuna Steaks - Off the Coast of Spain
Chia Seeds - Australia
Fromage - Burgundy Region of France

Sailing ships have always been major players. But with air travel, merchants today have some quicker options.

Camels Are Perfect For The Desert
Desert dwellers have found camel caravans efficient for moving goods. 1 Kings 10:1-13 tells of King Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba, a desert land.

She had heard of his great wisdom and came to test him with hard questions.

Many attendants along with a caravan of camels accompanied her. They were loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels.

People spice up our life, too. In one large church I attended we had people from Japan, Africa, Indonesia, Europe, Mexico and Spain, to name a few. I always called it a “world class” church because of the variety.

What Is God's World View?
Have you ever stopped to think of God’s world view? 

John 3:16 says God loved the world so much that He was willing to give His Son, Jesus, for our good. Everyone, or anyone, choosing to believe in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life.

This is confirmed by a heavenly scene in Revelation 5:9-10. A praise song is being sung about people from every tribe, language, people and nation in the Kingdom of God.

I’m so glad variety, the spice of life, is not earthbound. We’ll enjoy it in God’s eternal kingdom, too.  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Giving Quotient


Some people think of giving only in terms of money. But it’s so much more than that.

Consider these words by Fred Rogers (of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood):  . . .Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.

Share from a Happy Heart
I knew a family generous in spirit, in spite of personal lack. Needy neighbors would come for a handout and the mom would always respond.

One time when she was gone, someone came and asked for food. The daughter simply said, “Sorry, we can’t help you,” and closed the door.

Returning home, the mom was appalled. “Didn’t you even check the refrigerator or the cupboards?” The girl said, “Mom, our cupboards are bare!”

“No,” the mom replied, “there’s always something we can give.” She looked around and produced a few items to prove her point.

But giving is not limited to money or food.

Consider this thought by movie producer, Vince Allen: I have learned the true value of kindness and persistence in everything I do . . . Some people may not be deserving of this kindness, but at the end of the day, we have to realize that we are all equal.

Did you ever stop to think that you can give a good attitude? Sometimes a smile or simple kindness can really brighten someone’s day.

I read this thought in my Daily Bread devotional: “You don’t have to feed the five thousand. You just have to bring your loaves and fishes.”

Which Face Is You?
It’s based on the story of a little boy who tagged along with a crowd to see Jesus. When Jesus asked if there was any food, the little boy gave his five loaves and two fish. All four gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record the miracle of Jesus multiplying these few items to feed an enormous crowd.

Wise King Solomon said: The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped (Proverbs 11: 24-25, The Message). 

Giving quotient results are always up to you.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Beware the Bitter Root


One day, out of curiosity, I asked mom, “What’s your favorite verse?”

Curiosity Creates Questions
Without hesitating she replied, “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV).

She had been a minister's wife for many years, but this surprised me. “Why is that important to you, now, Mom? You haven’t worked with a congregation for several years.”

She just said, “It’s very important to me.” No further explanation was given and I respected her privacy.

You Don't Have to be an Owl to be Wise
Anyone who has worked with people knows there are plenty of opportunities to lose your peace by becoming offended. 

I haven’t met a perfect person yet. Neither have I nominated myself for that category!

If we think of life like a garden, we are constantly planting seeds of contentment or discontentment. Rarely, however, do we consider the relational roots of the seeds we plant.

There is some wisdom in Hebrews 12:15 that I think underscores mom’s verse. It says, “See to it that . . . no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Bitterness is not a very pleasant character trait and it never leads to peace. Bitter people often come across as angry, harsh or vindictive.

Like a taproot, bitterness can remain hidden yet affect everything which can be seen above it.

Roots Are Important to Life
Pull up a baby carrot with a thread-like root and you think that’s nothing. But left to grow, the root becomes stronger. 

Eventually you have to pull harder to get it out. Even then, you won’t enjoy the carrot until the dirt is removed.

Self-absorption is fertile soil for a toxic root of offense. That’s why I say, “Beware the bitter root.”

Awareness and forgiveness both go a long way toward producing a harvest of personal peace.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Communication: Proceed With Caution


Two-way Communication 
Counselors try to follow this rule. That’s why they often give feedback on what they think they heard. Even the short range from your lips to their ears leaves room for miscommunication.

Whether we choose to talk things out or write them out, there is a catch. It’s our eyes and ears. Sometimes they fail us.

For example, you may not listen extremely carefully while talking with a person you fully trust. That’s what happened in a story I wrote called *Duped by One Letter. 

Listen Carefully
Years ago, between places of ministry, my husband was seeking some temporary work. After prayer, he met with a Christian business man regarding a job that would fit his non-ministry skills.

After hearing the job requirements, my husband shared what he was looking for in the way of an hourly wage. When the man said, “We could do that,” my husband accepted the job.

On pay day my husband received less than expected. He went to talk to the owner and was shocked to hear him say, “I said we COULD do that. I didn’t say we WOULD do that.”

Letters Come Before Words
Young children can be excited to learn that cat can be turned into bat, pat, or sat. But in the adult world, changing one letter can lead to large consequences.

Filling the financial gap was a challenge, but so was dealing with our attitudes. We felt deceived. But we had our own one-letter challenge. We needed to turn bitter into better.

Thumbs Up to a NEW Year 
Anyone familiar with the Lord’s Prayer knows that as we forgive those who do us wrong, God forgives us the wrong we do against Him. On that basis we chose to forgive. We prayed over our finances, my husband did his best on the job every day and the money stretched to meet our needs.

In this NEW year of communication, proceed with caution. Listen carefully, speak truthfully, and if deceived don’t be bitter. Move forward with forgiveness and make it better.

*REFLECTIONS: Inspirational Stories from Everyday Life
Darlis Sailors,, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-63491—730-8.