Ms. Abby

Matthew 18:10-11

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Thought for the day:  Show Christ’s love to children

She walked around her garden each day checking on her plants and watering them when needed.  As she walked, he watched.  He watched her every day and admired her.  One day, he walked over and began talking to her and she enjoyed their conversation.  He was five and she was an elderly lady who lived next door.   Each day he made is way over to “Ms. Abby’s” yard to talk to her.  After a period of time, they became very fond of each other and on one special day she invited his mother over to give her something.  When his mother arrived, “Ms. Abby” gave her a jar of pink applesauce that she had made.  That evening, the family enjoyed dinner including that pink applesauce.  A wonderful bond of a five-year old boy and an elderly lady became special.  From that time on, all of the children made their way to Ms. Abby’s house in the afternoons to enjoy her company.  The boys enjoyed eating her cookies and items she baked.  The little girl enjoyed her and began watching everything Ms. Abby did.  Watching Ms. Abby  brush her long gray hair and then pulling it up in a beautiful bun on the top of her head was something special.  Watching her can applesauce was something that the little girl thought was incredible.  Ms. Abby gave these children love and attention, and without knowing it gave them memories that would last a lifetime.

Ms. Abby was our special neighbor who lived in the old house next to ours in Atoka, Tennessee.  She lived alone and was probably surprised when that little red-headed, five-year old boy came up to her in her yard.  My brother, Coble, was intrigued by her and her love drew him to her.  This was when we were very small, and before my brothers were confined to wheelchairs.  This was when life was normal for my family and Ms. Abby made that time special.  Ms. Abby was a gift from God to those children and to this day I remember her pink applesauce whenever I taste any type of homemade applesauce, and I think of her as I see my gray hair and especially on those occasions when I pull my hair back in a bun.   Ms. Abby showed the love of Christ during those days by being willing to let these children into her life and showing them love.

Prayer:   God, thank you for giving us those precious people in our life walk who show Your love through their touch.  Help us become like them to show Your love to others.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those growing older


Memories from Around the Table

John 15:12-13

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Thought for the Day:  Pray for those serving in the military

Memorial Day, a special day given to us each year to remember so many who served our country.  About 18 years ago, not long after my husband and I were married, we invited several older couples from our church over for dessert after our Sunday evening service.  His parents were in town so we thought that would be the perfect time for us to have these friends over.  As happens during these times, the women congregated in the kitchen and the men found their places around the dining room table.  I enjoyed listening to the women as they shared with me about the church and about the new town I had moved to.  My husband sat with the men taking in all of their words.  After a few minutes, the conversation changed and Mark found that he was in the midst of a group of World War II Veterans, including his Dad.  Mark had never heard his dad talk about the war except when he explained his duties and rank, and never pushed him to talk about it.  But, when his dad and this group of Veterans began talking, Mark heard stories about their experiences in the war.  As he listened, he began hearing his dad share stories from that time that were heartbreaking as well as from the others.  He also heard stories from that war time that were enjoyable and this group laughed as they remembered those times.  That evening, as that impromptu dessert time happened, a group of Veterans who had similar experiences of war were put together and with laughter and tears shared those stories together.  That evening enlightened that son on his dad’s memories of war and brought us both great admiration for the Veterans sitting around the table as well as all who have served our country.

Today, as I remember that evening, I am more thankful and have more admiration for those men and women who have and are serving in the military.  That evening was “Memorial Day” for those Veterans who sat around that table as they shared their memories of war days.  Today is Memorial Day as we, my husband and I, remember those special men who gave us a glimpse of what really happened to them in wartime.  They are a special group of people and we should remember them with great respect and love.

Prayer:   God, thank you for the men and women who have served our country in the past and who are serving today.   Thank you for their service in helping to bring freedom to our country.  Be with those serving today as they continue the work of so many who have gone before.  Help us, God, to appreciate them more and to show our love and respect to them.  Amen.

Prayer Focus: Memorial Day

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Was, Is,Will Be

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Thought for the Day:  God is always with us

For the first time since we moved into our new house in late December, I was able to begin opening some boxes that had been stacked in corners.  It was encouraging to be able to finally open some of our memory items and place them on shelves.  At one point, I opened a box of my mother’s music and pulled out a misplaced folder of papers.  As I began looking at the contents, I realized it was a folder of writing assignments I had finished in college/graduate school.  Several of the papers written were about my family and living a life that included telling about my handicapped brothers and about my struggles with shyness.  As I read I realized that my writing style then was very much as it is today, and I realized that even at that young age I had a story to tell.  There was a part of me that felt I was reading writings from someone other than myself, but each part of the writing brought back vivid memories of the childhood I lived.  That young writer didn’t know at that time that she would live through many more tragic moments in her life, but in reading her words I could see that even then she had the faith in God that He would get her through.

Today, as I write on a daily basis, I wonder what it will be like to read my words many years from now.   If I wait thirty-five years to read what I have written now I think I will say, “That ‘young’ lady had a lot going on in her life.”  I might think, “She was old when God gave her the boys.”  But, the words I hope I say those many years from now are, “She kept her faith through everything that happened in her life and continued to show the love of the Father.”  Looking back on those papers from the past was a time of precious memories and I know God was with me then, is with me now, and will be with me in years to come.

Prayer:   God, thank you for surprises in unpacking.  Thank you for the words we read from our past that help us know who we are today.  Thank you for the reassurance that you are always with us.  Remind us daily that you have always been there, are with us today, and will always remain with use as we go through this life.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those going through memories


To Make People Laugh


Psalms 126:1-3

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. 

Thought for the Day:  God gives us laughter

As the school year comes to an end and we begin our summer fun, memories of school years past have come to me.  Well over 20 years ago, I had a student in my classroom who was, well, the “class clown”.  He made jokes that made people laugh, he made faces that made people laugh, and he did “goofy things” at recess that made people laugh.  There were many days that I wondered what I was supposed to do with this child.  I saw the other students affected in their work and I knew something needed to be done.  One day, we worked on an assignment in the classroom that asked the question, “What makes you special and what are you wanting to do with your life?”  After the students wrote about their thoughts, we went around the room letting each student share their reflections.  Being the “concerned” teacher about what this child was going to say I waited as long as I could to call on him.  Then, it was his turn (oh, no).  This little boy stood up and said, “I believe God put me on earth to make people laugh.”  I’m not sure of the look on my face when he said this, but I do know there as silence for a period of time as I had no idea what to say in that moment.  All I know is that in my heart I felt completely in awe at his answer that this cute little kid loved making people laugh because God made him that way.  In my teacher’s mind, I thought “Okay, so now what am I supposed to do with that?”

God works in mysterious ways through the different personalities of people and this kid had something special – a smile that brightened any room he walked in and the dream of making people want to laugh….for God.  Now, I think of someone else….my daddy was known as a “class clown” when he was in school and his nickname was “Red”.  He was a tired little guy who each morning was up at 4:00 milking cows and doing chores before getting ready to go to school.  At school, he didn’t take things very seriously and he did make people laugh.  As a United Methodist pastor many years later, my Daddy had the knack of making people feel better because he made them laugh.  He had a laugh that was contagious and that could be heard a long way away.  “He was put on earth to make people laugh.”  He was a great minister “to the people”.  He never thought of himself as a great preacher, but I would argue that.  He probably never knew how he affected the people he ministered to, but he did affect people in a beautiful way.  Back to that little boy in my classroom.  I have no idea what that child is doing today and I probably will never know, but I have a feeling he is making people laugh for God.

Prayer:   Father God, thank you for giving all us different personalities to share with those around us.  Thank you for those funny people who can make people laugh, especially when they do not feel like laughing.  Be with us to find our way to help the children in your kingdom who need to feel loved.  Help us use the gifts You have given us to bring people closer to you.  Amen

Prayer Focus: Those finding their God given gifts


Passing Through

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Aha’va, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a straight way for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.

Thought for the Day:  Be happy that you were there.

“Don’t be sad about leaving, be happy that you were there.”  Oh, my…..when these words come to you as you are in tears ….from your 12 year old son, you have to look at things differently.  I will forever remember him standing on the balcony looking down toward me and saying those words.  I actually had him repeat them where I would be sure what I heard.  That was an attitude adjustment for me and it made me feel more admiration where I had been over the past few months.  During five months I became very close with several people.  Some of these relationships came while we had chatting time waiting for a copier. Some came in the hallway as we greeted and talked during the time students were coming into the classroom.  Some happened because they worked and taught my youngest child, and loved him.  Our talks about my sweet boy brought us close together.  There were the retiring administrators who shared wonderful conversations with me about where I came from and where I am going.  One even shared with me why she thought I was brought by God to that school.  There were two on my grade level who understood my needs and helped me along my way.  Both listened as I asked them questions about upcoming deadlines and then “showed me” how to accomplish those deadlines.  One sat with me as I did assignments and walked me through step by step.  Another said, “Here is what I would do if I were you…”  Then she would show me examples of how each document was supposed to look.  From there she would write down and then show me how to use websites to accomplish each goal.  I found myself understanding most of what I was supposed to do because someone showed me the way.  I needed the plan in front of me, not just someone telling me that I had to do something by a deadline without explanation.  I am so happy and elated that I met a group of people in a special place in my life.  I was only passing through, but I will cherish those memories.  “I am not sad about leaving, I am happy that I was there.”

A plan…..God has His plan for my life in control and He is working on getting His plan accomplished for my life.  As I go along the way, I hear from people near me what I have to do and I listen and take it in.  Then there are those I feel God has led my way who say, “This is what I would do if I were you…” then give me exact directions about how to accomplish it.  I feel those are the words that are a part of God’s plan and that those are the things I need to do.

Prayer:   God, thank you for letting us pass through different places in our lives where we can find special friends to remember along the life journey.  Thank you that those friends help us through and probably teach us something that You will use to fulfill You plan in our lives a little later down the road.  Help us remember not to be sad in the leaving, but to be happy that we were there.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those passing through


Hearing God’s Will

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thought for the Day:  Ask God how you are to serve Him.

“Prayer is one way we have of serving God. It is not our means of getting God to do our will.” These are the first words in today’s “The Upper Room” devotion, and they really hit me in a thought provoking way. In the midst of a time when I am searching for a new teaching position for the next school year, these words have instantly made me begin thinking about how I have been praying. Have I been so wrapped up in getting what I think I want that I haven’t seen where He might be leading. I want to serve God and I want to do His will, but when I think I know what His will is do I hear Him when He is trying to tell me something different. The devotion also reminds us that we must ask in order to receive. My thought about this is that I need to listen to God first and pray to hear His will for me. Then, I can ask to receive. I feel that I have been asking for a lot recently. Although I have been saying the words, “Speak, Lord, I am listening”, I have still put my personal wants ahead of what He wants for my life.

Today, I want to listen more to God where I can know what to ask for. Today, I know that God’s will is better than mine, and that God’s wisdom to know what I need is much better than anything I can come up with in my heart and mind. I want to serve God, so I will pray. I want to do God’s will, so I will pray. I want to listen to God, so I will pray. God is the only voice I need to listen to today.

Prayer: God, thank you for words of wise people to bring attention to how we need to pray. Help us pray in a way that will lead us to the service You would have us do. Amen.


Sharing God’s Love with Children

This devotion was written a long time ago but I thought it appropriate on the last day of school for 2015-2016

Luke 18:16

Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

Thought for the Day:  How do we show God’s love to special children.

The school year was ending and as a teacher my thoughts went to my students and what they had achieved during the school year. Many students thrived in my second grade class, but a couple of students had continual struggles. One child, who became a student in my class late in the school year, was one of them. Each year the teachers on my grade level give the students scrapbooks to remember the school year, but this student did not have much in the way of scrapbook memories. In concern, I prayed for this little boy and what I could do to make his scrapbook special. This child is very special and has been loved by many of our school faculty as he has shared time with them in times of need. One morning, I awoke and thought of the love each of those persons had for this little boy so the thought of a scrapbook of letters and pictures came to my mind. I simply asked those special persons to write encouraging letters to this little boy and told them I would be coming around with the little boy to take pictures with them. All who were asked wrote very loving notes of encouragement. The letters were all written perfectly for his reading.

The day came when the scrapbooks were given out. Most of the students had parents in attendance but this one child had no one present to share his special scrapbook. The school counselor saw what was happening and went over to share time with him. After a few minutes, the students and their parents went to my classroom for a class slideshow. Again, this little boy was alone. A few minutes into the slideshow, I looked over to where he was sitting. As I watched, he picked up the scrapbook and came over to my desk and laid it down in front of me. He gave me the most precious hug and I noticed tears in his eyes. He then started flipping through the pages as if to show me every special word the faculty members wrote to him. Toward the end of our special few minutes, he found the first page of the letter special section. He pointed to the words, “__________, you are loved at Crosswind”. He again looked at me with tears in his eyes and hugged me one more time. Throughout the rest of the day, he wanted to go to these special friends to give hugs of thanks for their special words. This little boy had received the greatest gift on that day, special encouraging words from God through special people.

“God loves children. I repeat. God loves children.” God loves children so much that He puts people in their lives who can show His love to them. I truly believe that on that morning not long ago, when I was awakened in the early morning hours, that God was telling me of His idea and was giving me instructions for giving something special to this little boy. I am thankful that He gave me the names of special friends who could write to this little boy and could share their love for him in a special way. Today, I pray for that little boy as well as the other children who were in my class this year. I pray that he remembers the words spoken to him in those letters and that he knows how much he is loved. “God loves children. I repeat. God loves children.”

Prayer: God, thank you for loving us and especially for loving children. Thank you for people who show Your love to them. Be with us as we go through our lives to find special children who need Your love and help us know what to do to share Your love with them. Amen.




God is Working Calmly in our Lives

Philippians 1:9-11

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Thought for the Day:  God Calmly Fulfills His plan for our lives.

Early morning, before any alarm sounded, I awoke thinking about my day and all the things that needed to be done before the end of the school session. I found myself rustling the sheets and blankets, and turning my pillow where I felt the coolness of the other side. I felt cold and closed the windows that I keep open through the night. Then I felt hot and turned more. I realized as soon as I awoke that all of this was simply anxiety. I began to pray for God’s clear guidance through all that needed to be done. I asked God to give me the clarity of thought and mind to be able to finish items on my list where I wouldn’t leave anything out. Through all of the tossing and turning, I was also excited about an interview coming up that could be for an exciting position. I prayed again for God’s clear guidance in how to dress, how to carry myself when I walked in the room, how to listen to the interviewer to discern the questions, and mostly how to answer those discerning questions in a way God was leading.

This morning, in the Upper Room devotion, the writer wrote and then prayed for God to help us “relax in the knowledge that He never rests or hurries when He is working in our lives.” It also gave me the instruction to remember as I go through the situation that God is always “unresting and unhasting” in developing His plan for me. In other words, I need to go into any situation knowing that God is already there in his “unstressed” way to lead me calmly through. He already has His plan and He will calmly put that plan into place.

Prayer: God, thank you for always being unresting and unhasting as You show Your plan to us. Help us to recognize that You are already there in any situation before us and are taking care of leading us to Your plan in your unresting and unhasting way. Amen

Prayer Focus: Those Feeling Anxious

God’s Got This

Matthew 19:26

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Thought for the Day:  God’s Got This

Overwhelmed with excitement and emotion, I walked through the building still under construction that will soon be our Sanctuary and ministry building. My husband is the Minister of Music and Worship so when I saw the area he will soon be working in I was overjoyed and proud. This was not being proud of him in that moment, it was being proud for him that God had laid out this clear and sure plan for my husband’s still new ministry in this great church. As I became more and more emotional at each new room view, I became more and more sure that God would soon be opening up for me the place he has planned for me in my career as well.

As I read a devotional in “The Upper Room” this morning, I read the scripture, “Jesus looked at [the disciples] carefully and said, ‘It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.’” When I read those words, I thought about my mindset as we have gone through this transitional time. Most of the time I have felt sure, without a doubt, that God had led us to this place. Then, those human thoughts have come in giving me just enough doubt that, for a moment, things seem impossible. My husband, in his loving way, reminds me often that God has got this. My faithful praying friends have reminded me often that God has got this. God told me yesterday, as we toured the new building, “Donna, I’ve got this!” Hey, God’s Got This.

Prayer: God, thank you for assuring us in your special way that You have a plan for us and in time, You will show us what you have in store. Help us remember daily that Your plan is beyond anything we can imagine and that “All things are possible with You.” Help us believe more in You and know that “You’ve Got This.” Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those looking for jobs


Uncontained Joy

1 Chronicles 16:9

Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works!

Thought for the Day:  Show uncontained excitement when praising God.

Each time we call our “Lolli” and “Pop”, we have a wonderful conversation and just love seeing their faces on Facetime. Most of the time, I talk to Lolli first for awhile before we get on Facetime with the whole family. That time is when I share with her all that is going on with the boys, my husband, and with me. I ask her about how they are doing and of course she says, “We’re fine.” She is my mentor, friend, mom, and so much more. After awhile, I call everyone together to “talk” to the two of them. At this point, the excitement begins. At this point, the boys want to show off something they have been doing and the conversation “battle” begins. The boys may work together to find what they want to show Lolli and Pop, but when they are given the opportunity to talk, they each try to be first. I am pretty sure Lolli and Pop have no idea of what they boys are really trying to show them. They then go off with our phone to walk around and “show” Lolli and Pop our house and outside. Last night, our oldest took our phone into our backyard to show the area to them but it was dark and they couldn’t see anything. The youngest was still on his heels following every step. I’m sure that part of our Facetime conversation is frustrating to Lolli and Pop, but the boys love them so much that their excitement when we call takes over. They have pure excitement and joy in their hearts for those special “grandparents.”

What kind of excitement do I have when I call on God? What kind of joy is in my voice when I talk to Him? Is it a calm voice sharing about my day, my problems and needs? Is it asking for God to do something for me? Am I thanking God and giving Him praise? As I think about my last few conversations with God, I have a mix of all thanks, questions, expressions of concern, and questions about needs. But, do I have the excitement in my heart and voice, do I have such an excitement that I want to show God everything wonderful in my life all at one time. Do I have such an excitement that I cannot contain it. I want that innocent excitement that my children show their grandparents, that excitement that cannot be contained (Trust me, as a parent trying to control them in that moment – it definitely cannot be contained). I want to tell Him everything going on in my life – all at one time!

Prayer: Thank you, God, for loving us and for listening to us as we go on and on about our problems and needs. Thank you, God, for bearing with us as we go through life having only calm conversations with you. You are, God, awesome. You deserve our praise. So, God, we praise You today – we praise You in that uncontained excitement of a child. Amen.