Five for the Plate

Five for the Plate

Ever been on mission to have it abruptly interrupted? On my way to a meeting, my enthusiastic foot pressing hard on the car’s accellerator got me a signed, suitable for framing warning from local law enforcement. I was traveling 10 miles over the speed limit on a Saturday morning, 8:25am.

“Driver’s license please?” I texted my husband. I may be late for my meeting. I waited for what seemed 30 minutes. The officer approached my car shaking his head side to side. Dread filled my heart. “This time, I’m giving you a warning, I see your husband was cited at a stop sign some time ago. You are in the system now,” he said. I thanked him, driving slowly away, placing the Warning Notice above the passenger seat visor.

Whew, a narrow escape for me. Then I thought, I should have mentioned that I would put an extra $5 in the offering plate on Sunday for him. It was too late, I had to drive fast so that I wouldn’t be late for my 9am meeting. The phone rang. My husband asked, “Did you get a ticket?”

I described the watch I was wearing to my husband, a guardian angel watch with an inscription on the back. I had no doubt that several guardian angels swirled around me at 8:25 as the officer took my driver’s license.

When my meeting ended, rain was flowing like a lawn sprinkler. I pulled a shawl over my head stopping at a market to pick up something for dinner. The butcher said, “It’s raining, be careful out there.” Rain pounded my car all the way home.

On Sunday morning, the wind whined like rolling turbines on a jet engine. As the offering was being collected, I handed my husband $5 whispering, “This is for Officer Middleton*.” I silently prayed for him.

The officer said that he encouraged drivers to focus on driving instead of their GPS, cell phone or music on the radio.

Driving to the meeting, I thought of Psalm 91:11,

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

Angels are all around us Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Angels are all around us
(Photo courtesy of unsplash.com)

When I prayed for Officer Middleton*, I prayed for his protection. I try to remember to pray for first responders who risk their lives every day to serve the community. I give thanks for them. Even if I would have received more than a warning, I thank God for those who serve.

 

*Name changed

 

 

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A man from Argentina looking for a dialysis center rang the door bell. I gave him directions to where he needed to go, silently praying for him as he walked back to his car.

A young girl asking for olive oil for a recipe rang the doorbell. I welcomed her into the kitchen, filling her measuring cup with more oil than she might need.

A woman asked for directions. I described how to get to the place she was looking for.

We decorate and light our homes in preparation for the coming of Immanuel. The light of Christ shines through us every time we open a door, pray a prayer for a stranger or give more than asked.

Someone recently described a GPS tool as God’s Positioning System. God’s system doesn’t black out in the darkness of tunnels or get interrupted by solar flares. God lights our paths equipping us to serve others for Him.

It is seven days before Christmas. God counts on each of us to light the path so that others will see his glory. Can he count on you?

Be the Light Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Be the Light
Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Shake It Off

I think many of us want to shake off a few of the latest news reports.

A jury convicted peanut butter company executives of fraud and conspiracy. The company’s CEO reportedly directed subordinates to “Just Ship It,” though they were waiting on contamination test results for batches of product prior to shipping. The company’s tainted peanut butter killed nine people and sickened hundreds.

Volkswagen has admitted to blatant cheating on US emission tests. The stock price plunged. CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned. Consumer confidence has gone the way of the stock price.

Martin Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a drug that has no generic competition. Online HuffPost Business reported, “Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals attracted widespread negative attention this week after The New York Times reported the firm hiked the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 in a single day. [Emphasis added] The medicine is more than 60 years old, but has no generic competition, mostly because so few patients need it. Those who do must take the drug to fend off a deadly infection called toxoplasmosis, which afflicts people with AIDS, babies born with HIV, and those with some kinds of cancers. According to Slate, Retrophin implemented a similar price increase for a kidney medicine when Shkreli ran the company. (Note the update: 7:35 p.m. 22 September—Shkreli said Tuesday that Turing would lower the price of the drug an unspecified amount “in response to the anger that was felt by people.”)

Consumers should be angry. Tainted food, pharmaceutical price gouging, emissions cheating by a respected automobile manufacturer. Have corporations’ integrity gone into the toilet?

Victims of tainted peanut butter can’t shake off the death of loved ones. HIV babies and cancer patients can’t shake off diagnoses. Volkswagen’s image and trust is tainted. Once loyal customers are shaking off a brand they used to trust.

Watching for Stop Sign Runners

Watching for Stop Sign Violators

Local Sheriff Deputies were out in force today giving tickets to violators who routinely ignore a four-way stop. The officers positioned themselves in strategic locations to catch violators. We must be strategic and vigilant consumers, identifying and calling to question violators of trust who are eager to take our hard-earned money.

(Note: the officer pictured is strategically on the sidewalk, not roadway).

Jesus said to his disciples, “Look, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be wise as snakes and innocent as doves,” (Matthew 10:16).

Who are the Strays in Your Life?

Two “preachers” came to visit him. A stray dog appeared. The preachers made unkind remarks about the stray dog while they were talking. Their comments did not sit well with the host. He said, “Do you know that dog spelled backwards spells God?” The two told him they never had thought about that.

He gave the preachers money for their cause. After they left, he gave the stray dog food.

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Many times, one with a humble heart touches one of God’s creatures, by nurturing a heart without a home or providing food to soothe a hungry belly. Sometimes, one reminds others of the value of all of God’s creatures.

Who are the strays in your life? Who are the ones who have no home or the ones who have lost their way, hungry for love and acceptance, who need to be nurtured?

Just Enough

Just Enough

Your heart melts, looking into her beautiful green eyes watching her lift each of three young friends to the table to choose a donated danish, cinnamon roll or chocolate chip cookie. She is nine years old, but acts more responsible than some adults. She steers another child to the front of the line, “She’s new. She doesn’t know what to do,” she says. Nine people are in her family. We give her a loaf of raisin bread dusted with powdered sugar to make French Toast. Walking away, she is smiling. Your heart melts a second time.

Today, there was just enough bread and pastries for everyone. A woman, a regular, was missing. We wonder where she is. Has she moved?

“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, Common English Bible)

You are the Light

You are the Light

A green-eyed child taking care to see that other children get a sweet treat on a hot Florida evening is a light in a dark world. Her light shines in spite of the darkness of poverty around her. Just enough good things shut out darkness.

You Don’t Want That Dog

Every evening I look up, watching lights go on in a third floor corner condominium diagonally across the street from my home. Nola used to live there, her terrace filled with tomato plants, basil, other vegetables and herbs. Ten years ago this month, Nola began a 6-week seminar in my home teaching Dr. Joel Furhman’s “Eat to Live” program. Fourteen women gathered every week to listen to Nola’s wisdom.

Nola

Nola

We watched videos, discussing material, enjoying fellowship. Nola passed away August 25, 2012.

A photo of a rescue Chihuahua named Nola living in Virginia is mounted on my refrigerator door.

April of 2013, a beloved friend’s dog named Francois passed away. She notified me of the passing by email. Condolences were sent. I didn’t hear back from her which was unusual.

A lengthly letter arrived August 25, 2013 a year to the day of my friend Nola’s passing. The letter described my friend’s recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her chemotherapy, surgery and radiation she had gone through the past months. Her letter included a photo of Nola, a newly acquired rescue Chihuahua to help her heart repair from the loss of Francois.

One day she and her husband went to the pound around closing time. She saw a Chihuahua. She was advised not to take the dog, being told, “No one can handle this one.” She asked to take the dog outside. The dog immediately warmed to her, jumping into her lap, sitting peacefully. It was closing time. She decided to take the dog home, naming her Nola, for her love of New Orleans (NOLA) and family ties going back several generations. Two weeks after adopting the Chihuahua, she received the earth-shattering pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

When I read her letter, I shuttered in unbelief. On the anniversary of my friend’s death, I learned of my friend’s diagnosis and learned about a dog named Nola comforting her during a severe medical crisis.

We met later. I shared this with her. It gave her comfort. She is in remission. Her dog Nola does have her challenges with the rest of the family pets, but she is a comfort to her master.

When the lights go on in the third floor condominium, I think of Nola. Angels are among us. Some may be covered with fur.

Furry Angel

Furry Angel

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

How Many Jackets Do You Wear?

How Many Jackets Do You Wear?

An eighteen year old watches us set up tables of donated bread as wind whips through the parking lot. Children’s clothing covers another table. I asked the eighteen year old if he needed a jacket. Motioning him to follow me to my car, I showed him a few men’s jackets. He selected a red fleece pullover, smiling as he took it into his hands. After receiving the pullover, I sensed he felt more at ease with us. 

Donated bread can bridge differences, equalizing deliverer and receiver. For a few minutes, we meet in Christ’s love. Helpful children place bags of bread on tables, talking to each other as they sort through clothing. Grateful to receive some bread and newer clothing, wind gusts carry their many thank you’s into the air, including the thanks of a shy eighteen year old, now with a red fleece pullover to keep him warm.

Can you spare a jacket?

Can you spare a jacket?

Do you own extra jackets? Have you considered giving one to someone who needs it more than you? When you give anything away, Christ’s love will fill your heart.  

  “He also said to them, ‘Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread  because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’  Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’  I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness.’” (Luke 11:5-8, CEB)

Like an eighteen year old young man, some people are too embarrassed to ask for help. If called upon, some people will get up in the middle of the night, maneuvering through a house full of people to help.

What if people helped the needy before they had to ask?