Stories that Shine on an Awesome God

Archive for the ‘Giver’ Category

Writing Prompt

Oranges…  I see. I feel. I taste….

Oranges as a creative writing prompt?

I could turn this into a blog. I’ve needed to blog for months. Fallen way behind, doing other writing and editing and living. Blogs are important for writers to keep up. Mine is particularly important, because I’ve dedicated it to sharing God, in little “penpoints” of light.

Why not?Oranges

I was nine, just home from school, and ready to play. The garden patch with its tangle of dried plants and weeds beckoned my little brother and I into a game of Hide-and-seek.

Run and disappear into the weeds. Wait for footsteps. Jump up. Run. Repeat. Laugh a lot.

Trip. Fall down. Scream. Leap up. Scream some more. Swat at yellow jackets angry that you landed on their home. Dash to yours.

Mom met me at the door, stripped off my clothes, and prepared a tub of water and Epson salts. As she sponged the healing potion over my seventeen stings, my tears subsided.

“You stay here and soak,” she cooed. “I will bring you something to help you relax.”

Enter oranges.

A plate of orange wedges placed, eye level, on the edge of my tub. A whole plate of expensive and therefore, scarce and carefully doled out fruit, all to myself. To be savored in private. One at a time. Each section glistened with succulent promise. Mom smiled, turned, and closed the door.

oranges 3

My nose touched the plate. I sniffed the tangy, citrus burst, then closed my eyes and took time to inhale the smell of comfort.

The surface of the wedge of orange between my fingers pressed firm yet pliable, smooth yet dimpled. Most of the wedges included the globular flesh of the orange’s navel. I would tug them off to savor their peculiar texture and their enhanced sweetness. Under the skin, a layer of white cushioned the juice. Perfect. The pith of a navel orange would extend the pleasure.

I sank back into my very first luxury soak, and brought the orange to my lips. As the elixir slipped between my teeth and over my tongue, the stings on my body receded. I sucked the wedge dry and reached for another. And another. Life was again worth a game of Hide-and-seek.

As my friend, Grand Andrew wrote and sings, I was “living in the luxury of the little things.” (Check out his music, here. Grant Andrew Music )

To this day when I’m in pain, and if I’ll remember, there is comfort in the little things. There is luxury and solace in the smell, the taste, the feel of the oranges in my life.

 “The [orange] trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.” – Psalms 104:16

If I take the time to relax and enjoy God’s simple gifts, so are my days.

Food Distribution Centers

“They need help unloading a trailer of food.” The coordinator at the flood response crisis center handed me, my husband, and a local friend a work order. “It’s a church, or what used to be.” She shook her head of gray hair as she turned to the next group of volunteers.


Inside our truck, we followed her directions through an isolated river town in the heart of the West Virginia mountains. Flood cleanup had been going on for over a week. Soggy possessions piled along the streets next to homes that were now empty shells, filled, not with children’s laughter or a mother’s prayer, but with mud and mold.


Mounds of dirt and debris lined the sides of a strip mall’s parking lot. Outside the town’s only grocery store, shopping carts tangled with twisted metal shelving. The nearest food store was nearly an hour’s drive away.

Connected at the far end, the church shared the mall’s disaster, but this flood casualty was undeniably still a church. I have seen strip mall churches before, with their flat fronts blending into the mall’s length of bland architecture with perhaps a small sign above the door, but evidently, this church had never planned to hide. Its church-y facade with cupola and cross still proclaimed its identity. From the outside.

We parked the truck, asked how we could help, and walked through the doors.

Church – padded pews and stained glass windows. Songs of worship, words of praise. Prayers. A place of respite in a week of stress. A place for spirits to be fed with the Bread of Life.

But not this one. Not now. Not after the river had risen and with a roar, claimed its interior. Walls, ceiling, and floors, already stripped clean by volunteers, offered no such sanctuary.

Interior of WV Church

“We will use this pile of boards to keep the food up off the wet concrete,” the pastor instructed, seeming resigned to his tragedy.

We started hauling lumber to turn a church into a food distribution center, and, in the process, constructed a real life object lesson.

Church – Sometimes, no more than a social club where members jostle one another for position and recognition. Judgement without mercy. Pride. Politics. Splinter groups. Holy Spirit grieved. Pantry shelves devoid of the Bread of Life.

“I am weary of bearing them [your assemblies, festivals, and feasts]. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:14-17

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is NOT a church. It is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. It is to keep oneself unspotted from the prideful, me-first mindset of the world.


I plunked my end of a board onto the concrete floor. I straightened my back. One American Christian church, gutted of its plush interior, had changed into a food distribution center.

Hopefully yours will too, but does it have to take a crisis?

“I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35-36

A Thousand Ways

(This story, shared after last Thursday’s blog, “Partial to Kids,” is a present day — as in last week — God-timed event. Thank you, Breta, for sharing. It’s been a crazy full week for me. I’ve been praying for a story or not, as the Father provides. I have not rewritten this. The story is worthy as is. So is the One who opens his hands and provides every good thing!)

image of Sunflower with Ps 145:15,16 caption

Breta writes:

What a timely message! What an awesome God and what a godly heritage. If you don’t mind I would like to share a current events story from my life that has the same theme–long-range answers, godly heritage.

Two weeks ago, I was really stressed over our finances. When one has cut all the corners they can see and carefully worked out a budget and there is no way that income matches need, then what? Like Bruce’s parents, I’ve been trying to make the difference in children’s lives. One in particular has added multiple financial challenges lately. So I wrote it all out and “mailed” it to God. I spent about a week struggling to trust that my “mail” was received. I added a page to my prayer notebook simply titled “God’s Thousand Ways” where I can record all the financial ways that God provides for my needs. Almost immediately, I had several simple answers and then…

On Thursday, the 11th, I had a call from a lawyer in Tyler, Texas. “We are looking for the heirs of [he gave the name].”

“Yes, that was my grandfather.”

“Did you know that your grandfather held mineral rights to a 26 acre farm in Marion County, Texas?”

“Yes, I know that.”

image of Car Oil splashing

A half hour of intense questions followed: What other heirs might exist? Where is your mother’s probated will? Where is your sister’s death certificate recorded? By Friday noon, all the legal papers had been signed and notarized. I should have a lease check before this week is out from a company planning to drill for oil on a piece of property near Jefferson, Texas.. Additional monies to be accrued if and when they find oil.

That may or may not be a long-range answer to the letter I mailed. I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but at least I will get through another month and my strength has been renewed to believe the rest will be covered in God’s own way, and in His own time.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12&13

“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:3

Promise Power image of road through Woods & Jn. 15:7

You, most likely, have your own story of God’s perfect timing, answered prayer, or how he showed you a new glimpse of himself.  Please share! Make KNOWN his deeds!  Click here and share your God story.

Partial to Kids

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14

The year was 1954.

Clara raised her three children in the apartment above the garage while Hartman, her husband, ground out hours of labor establishing a business below. Most weeks the help was paid more than the boss.

Image of Roses

Late at night with their three little ones tucked into bed, the two of them sat at the kitchen table and calculated income by lamplight. Barely enough. Just like her depression-era childhood when her family of nine gathered around a table to eat popcorn and milk. The only food in the house. Giving up was not in Clara’s genes.

Hartman shouldered another day’s work. Clara prayed and sang while she cooked, cleaned, and loved her babes. At dusk, she heard her children’s prayers.

“Dear Jesus.” Six year old Bruce’s innocent voice diffused a warmth that radiated her heart, setting it aglow. “Dear Jesus, we need more money.” The word had gotten out. “Please give Daddy one hundred thousand dollars.”

Image of Prayer-Boy kneeling at bed

Bruce finished his prayer and crawled between the sheets. “That’s lots of money, huh, Momma?”

“Really, sweetie, it’s not a lot of money, not with what your Daddy is trying to do.”

Another day passed. Clara spent it deep in thought. God, I know you can answer my little boy’s prayer, but how?

Another night. Another bedtime.

“Dear Jesus, Daddy needs lots and lots of money. Please give him a million, zillion dollars.” Bruce had been thinking his own thoughts.

His eyes, full of trust, opened. His earnest face turned to hers. “I know Jesus can answer my prayer, Momma. I know he can.”

“When Jesus gives us this money where do you want him to put it?” Perhaps logic would prepare him for disappointment. Prepare her.

“Oh, he can put it back by the rose-bush. Back in the property behind the garage.” He waved his hand. “Back there.” Catching his hand, she kissed right over his grubby fingernails and hugged her only son goodnight.

The year was 2009.

Bruce hunkered over a sheaf of estate documents, wills and such, with the names of Clara and Hartman written all over them. Both parents gone within one year. Gone, yet the impact of their full lives on their loved ones, the prayers they had answered for students struggling to get an education, and the endless donations and personal time they had spent for the good of others would never be forgotten.

Bruce sighed as he leafed through the papers and shouldered this new responsibility. It was huge, but giving up was not in his genes.

A lease contract caught his eye. One with a substantial, steady flow of income on a piece of what was now his and his sisters’ property. His parents had bought it when he was six or seven. He couldn’t remember.

image of Roses

“Want to buy this piece of land behind your garage?” Their neighbor had asked his dad. “Just make the payments and in a few years, you’ll have credit and can get a loan to finish the purchase.”

Bruce took off his glasses and brushed the moisture from his eyes. Like a child at his mother’s knee, he reached out in humble trust.

“That was your answer, wasn’t it, God? That piece of property, back behind the rosebush, that land was your answer. Never thought of it before, but right now, when I need it most, you remind me. You open my eyes. Now I see just how you answered a little boy’s prayer.”


“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15

Image of Jesus and children

The Giver of Cherries

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:16 & 17

image of Bowl of Cherries

A mound of cherries still warm from the orchard waited in a bowl on Grandma’s table. Glossy and dark they tempted my teeth to pop their taut skins so that their sweet juice could fill my mouth.

“You’ll have to wait until everyone comes to the table.” Grandma said. That meant I had to share them. I could have eaten the whole bowl. It would have been the perfect gift.

Today, some fifty-five plus years later, I could still eat the whole bowl. In fact, I often do. Now, instead of fresh from the orchard, I buy my cherries at Costco. Or Giant. Or Farmer Johns. I’m not picky as long as I can get my cherry fix. Often they never make it home. No joke. This has gotten serious.

My husband is not much better. Together our cherry consumption has reached, well . . . . . I haven’t added all the receipts. I have plenty of grocery money. It’s my personal first world problem, and if I calculated the cost I would be coming out of denial. That’s never fun. Besides, after all, cherries are a good gift from God.

It’s not just cherries. Today, in town for one short errand, I got ambushed. Flat out ambushed at the sales rack in Kohls. A sale! Yep, another good gift.

Young children are climbing over fences so they can be fed while the cost of my perfect cherry gift from God adds up. Fellow human beings in a far off country  fight a plague while I indulge. Hungry neighbors in a housing development wait for their Social Security check while I rifle through a dress rack.

image of cherry stems in heart

In case this is beginning to sound like some well-healed, old woman’s guilt trip, l want to quickly add that my monthly budget includes charity. It does. I just write the check and send it off. Another personal first world problem. But if I did without a cherry’s succulent flavor for a few months, now that would be a sacrifice — close up and personal — an addiction not easy to break.

I wonder, just maybe, if I went cold turkey and stopped eating cherries, who I might benefit. What would happen if one by one, like a society slowly learning to recycle, we would all choose just one thing, especially one addictive thing, to do without and give its equivalent value to someone in need?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” But what is “poor in spirit”? I’ve been unsure for many years. This week in his podcast, (Here’s the link.) Herb Montgomery answered my question:

“The poor in Jesus’ day were one of the groups who were considered to be living contrary to the Torah and who were therefore being punished by God. The poor were oppressed and marginalized by the rich. Rather than feeling compassion for the poor, those who were better off simply felt morally superior. Why else would God be blessing them economically while withholding blessing from others? To be poor in spirit simply meant to stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor, those who were economically oppressed.”

Do I stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor?

Even though God’s gifts are good and perfect it doesn’t mean I get to hoard them. It means I get to share them.

I’m going to try to get on the wagon. I think I’ll start with cherries.

image of sharing a bowl of cherries

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