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As usual, we were waiting for one last person to show up for Bible study.  After all, someone is always going to be the last one there.  One of the women was running late but we had unlocked the door for her.  Then another woman’s phone rang.  She answered, said a few words and hung up.

“She’s in the parking lot but there is another car there.”  Apparently, someone had parked beside the condos next door.  He was standing outside his car, changing his shirt.  “That’s suspicious.”

Unfortunately, everyone looked at me.  I say unfortunately because I was sincerely underwhelmed.  The condos are right next door.  People park on one side of our lot and then walk the 20 or so feet to someone’s patio door.  It happens all the time.  Changing his shirt didn’t even phase me.  What if he was going to his Mom’s for dinner but had just gotten off work.  He wanted to wear a clean shirt.

Or he could have been meeting a condo owner to give them an estimate for a new kitchen.  He didn’t want to go in wearing a coffee stained shirt.

To quote Captain American, I can do this all day.  There are so many innocent explanations.

Until someone gives me a rock solid reason to question their motivations, I try not to be suspicious.  Instead, when I look at them, I try to see a Child of God, a mother’s son, a daughter’s father, a bearer of God’s light.

And I also try to remember the several dozen times in the past week that I’ve done something that could look “off” if someone was determined to see it that way.


There is power in the ability to bring people together. I was lucky enough to get to see this at work yesterday.

This weekend was my city’s annual spring festival.  There a huge carnival and an equally huge parade.  I feel confident saying that.  I think we had position #86.  Cars with queen candidates.  Floats.  Shriners.  Marching bands.  Horses.

I’ve never ridden a float before and I honestly dreaded the thought.  Five hours in direct sun when you are cave fish white is not a recipe for a good time.

But I really had fun.  I was with a girlfriend who towed me along to meet the driver of the 1958 Edsel.  He bought the car new off the show room floor.  We met emergency responders and their dalmatian.  And that was before the parade started.

During the parade we met the marching band from one of the high schools.  They were right behind us.  We serenaded residents of a nursing home to wild cheers. My friend had several discussions with people about her guitar. I saw scout families and swim families and tons of super friendly people I didn’t even know.

It is so easy to think negative thoughts huddled up in front of a screen that is full of bad news.  But in the spring sunshine, I got to see the people who live around me.  Like Miss Ruth would tell you, I have a lot to be thankful for.



Some time ago, I decided to conduct a prayer experiment.  Yeah, I’m that kind of person.  Faith and science.  Prayer and experiment.

I had been having problems with someone to the point that every time he walked into the room, my shoulders tensed.  I ducked my head and held my breath. I was ready for a fight.

That isn’t exactly how I want to greet people, even annoying people, so I decided to pray for him every day.  I knew this would be tough because my tendency would be to pray that he would be “fixed.”  Oh, Lord, please let this goof see things my way and quit being so abrasive.

But on my better days, I know that that is not how prayer works.  Instead I prayed that whatever was bothering him might east.  I prayed that in stressful moments I could remember his sense of humor and his questioning mind, so like my own.  I asked God to help me see this person as a child of God.

What I discovered was that even though his attitude didn’t seem to improve, mine sure did.  Instead of snapping back at him, I could sincerely tell him that I was sorry he felt that way.  I could see his frustration and his own annoyance at how things were.  I had a lot more sympathy.  And I was no longer prepped for a fight.

He hadn’t changed but I sure was seeing him differently.  So why not join me in a little experiment.  What is stressing you out?  Maybe it is your job or your spouse or the state of our country.  For a week, at least once a day, offer up a sincere prayer.  Don’t pray that someone else undergo a miraculous attitude adjustment.  Pray for their emotional and mental health.  Pray that they feel safe and secure and within the sheltering arms of God.  Pray that the scales should fall from your own eyes.

It isn’t easy but if you do it for at least a week, my theory is that you will see a change.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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