Friday, December 29, 2006

Revisit, Rethink, Revise

During Abraham Lincoln’s terms of office, he and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln held regular receptions at the White House on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Also on January 1st, the President and Mrs. Lincoln received guests, both old friends and new faces. People were a priority.

This is their typical New Year’s Day schedule: Near 11:00 A.M., officials and diplomats arrived and went through a reception line, greeting the President and Mrs. Lincoln. About 2:00 P. M., the public streamed in, some had prepared short speeches. By the time Lincoln’s gloved hand found theirs, they had time only to shake his hand and utter a few words.

Mr. Lincoln usually wore a black broadcloth suit, called a “clawhammer” suit. He wore white kid gloves in the reception line, and shook so many hands that his own hand swelled afterwards. Eyewitnesses reported his glove “always looked like it had been dragged through the dust-bin.”

Abraham Lincoln, not only invested time at these orchestrated events, but in everyday life he identified with the oppressed and tried to relieve their distresses.

On December 31 at the strike of midnight, the year 2006 will be history. New Year’s Day is a good time to shake hands with the old year, revisit, rethink, and if needed, revise plans.

Carl Sandburg’s book “Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years and The War Years” is one of my favorite biographies. In it are many stories of personal encounters between Mr. Lincoln and many races. Although he rose to one of the most powerful positions in the world, he didn’t forget his roots or that his best investments were in the welfare of others.

An old Chinese proverb states: If your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.

God’s clarion call is for people to love Him with all their hearts and then to love each other. The Ten Commandments outlined respect for God and fellowman. When asked what commandments were most important, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). He also said when we do something for others it’s like doing it for the Son of God.

In 2007 plant wheat to feed your neighbors, plant trees to shade your neighbors, and grimy your gloves from working with people. Because, when you lend a hand to people, you touch the face of God.

You may reach Cathy at

Friday, December 22, 2006

Leftovers or a Feast

Hope is Born

Recently, two grandson-sayings blessed and enriched my understanding about God-instilled hope.

The first grandson-comment occurred on Thanksgiving Day. Our dining table creaked, weighted by luscious food, but it wasn’t a dream feast for six-year-old grandson Adam. Cranberries and cornbread dressing don’t have the same appeal as Ronald McDonalds’ menu.

An hour after our 20 family members feasted on bountiful Pilgrim food, Adam opened the refrigerator door. With a voice steeped in doubt, he asked, “Grandma, do you have anything to eat in here?” He’d bypassed a feast and ended up searching for leftovers.

The second insight came from eight-year-old grandson Jack. My grandchildren know that I’m a soft touch when we’re running errands and they’re hungry. I’ll fly through the fast food lane at Long John Silvers quicker than the down of a thistle.

Jack accompanied me to Wednesday night Bible classes, and afterwards, Jack said, “Grandma, I’m really hungry.”

Teasing I said, “Well, if you’re that desperate, we’ll drive through and get you something on the way home.”

After a thoughtful pause, Jack asked, “Why did you say I’m desperate? Doesn’t desperate mean without hope?” And then we had a nice conversation about expectation of better things, and the One who supplies us with hope.

After these encounters with grandsons, I was reminded of the daily feast of opportunities to over-indulge in God’s hope. A Bible proverb states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (13:12). Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrased that proverb in “The Message”: “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.”

Life is often described as mountains and valleys, but I recently read (can’t remember where) that life is more like railway tracks. Parallel of sad things are such good things as the next breath, food, friendships, income- producing-work, and family.

Life consists of dual moments of sunshine and rain. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the time they were without hope, without God in their lives, and reminded them that hope entered when they embraced Jesus Christ.

Grandsons Jack and Adam often refresh our lives with antics, unusual wisdom, and little boy embraces. This Christmas reflect on another little boy -- the one born in Bethlehem, the Son of God destined to bring personal peace.

Don’t settle for leftovers because Jesus sets a banquet table before the world, laden with individual servings of hope.

Merry Christmas.
You may reach Cathy at

Friday, December 15, 2006


The World is a Cathedral

The guys fished all night without success, not for fun. This fishing mattered because it put bread on the table. Their work included casting cumbersome nets and moving their boats by hoisting sails and straining at oars.

Throughout the night, again and again they cast bulky nets over the inky lake. Each cast brought the same disappointing results. Empty. Empty. Empty. Their shift ended without profit. Or, so they thought.

Dawn found them anchored on shore. Weary. They washed their nets, searching for tears and snarls from lake debris. Also at lakeside that morning, Jesus drew the usual crowd to hear his teachings. Finally, Jesus asked the fishermen Simon Peter to launch his boat into the surf as a pulpit.

Peter moved the boat just offshore where Jesus sat down and taught from a watery platform. When Jesus finished he said, “Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Peter answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” On the lake, Peter felt the familiar drag of a catch, a huge catch. Checking the nets, he saw teeming fish and the weight of them causing tears in the sturdy rope lacings.

He motioned to partners on shore to join them, and James and John oared out and hauled in fish after fish. The weight of the fish soon leveled the boat railings with the water surface. One more fish wiggle and water might spill into the crafts.

But water didn’t flood in, and fishermen, scaly catch, and The Teacher came ashore. That’s when Simon Peter recognized God’s divine hand and fell at Jesus’ feet saying, “Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man!” But Jesus didn’t leave.

Instead, Jesus consoled Simon Peter and said, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch men. Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Luke 5).

On this day, the lakeside became a cathedral. Once more, God used the earth, his footstool, as a setting to showcase the Son of God, to show his overflowing compassion for Simon Peter and all men.

Chapels, cathedrals, church buildings are formal places of worship where body and mind can be stilled, but God dwells in everyday happenings, too.

Fish, boats, a starry host, stables, shepherds, sheep -- all are stage props for the Savior. Today, as in times past, a car, a rented room, wooded acreage or a mall can be a cathedral if Jesus is there.

You may contact Cathy at
Need a gift for the holidays? Cathy’s devotional book The Stained Glass Pickup is a thoughtful gift that will continue to encourage throughout the year. Read reviews at and

Autographed copies available at Cathy will discount purchases of two or more – for details contact Cathy Messecar at

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maria's Christmas Eve

Maria's Christmas Eve

With permission, I share Maria Skinner’s reflections of a Christmas Eve:

I watched flurries of white flakes settle on the mountaintop. The small house for our missionary assignment in a high mountain village in Mexico had no heat. Wind stabbed through gaps around the windows and door, chilling the indoor air. It would be necessary for my husband, Dave, and me to keep our children, Shannon and David, fully clothed throughout the night.

“This is our first Christmas on the mission field,” I thought to myself. “No one in this village knows us. No one will visit or call. The children's grandparents live more than a thousand miles away. They will not be dropping by with surprise gifts.”

My daughter Shannon looked out the window, “Look Mommy, the children run so fast, even without shoes. And they aren't even wearing sweaters!” I tried to smile as I wiped tears from my face.

"Tomorrow is Christmas," I offered an explanation for my weeping. Shannon knew we had no money to buy a Christmas meal, not even a single gift. “It doesn't matter to me, Mommy," Shannon said. "We can mother the children."

Her words took residence in my heart. "Mother the children?" I repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Those poor children have no shoes. They need some gifts for Christmas."

"Oh, but how are we going to give them gifts?"

"I want to give them my things! They can have my shoes and dresses." Now she was very excited! "It is better to give than to receive. Remember what Jesus said!"

"Oh, yes, Shannon, He did say that!" I gave her a hug. My daughter ran to the cold, damp room she shared with her brother, and I helped her neatly fold her clothes. We wanted each item to look as much like a gift as possible. That night, we trudged through the snow, going house to house, giving what we could.

At village homes, children peered from behind the doors. They jumped up and down with eagerness. "Let me see, let me see!" At each home the parents reacted in disbelief and shock. Finally, they said, "Gracias, gracias! God bless you!"

That night we slept with smiles on our faces. We received far more than we had given. On Christmas morn, still excited from our Christmas Eve visits in the village, Shannon jumped from bed and ran to the door to look outside. We saw the snowy landscape sprinkled with the darting colors of village children squealing and laughing, wearing their "new" Christmas clothes.

“Thank you, Lord,” I thought. "You sent little angels to dance for us at Christmas!" That Christmas Jesus showed our young daughter how to bring joy to her family and an entire village on a high mountain in Mexico.”

You may contact Maria at or Cathy at

Friday, December 01, 2006

Daniel Diet

Need a gift for the holidays? Cathy’s devotional book The Stained Glass Pickup is a thoughtful gift that will continue to encourage throughout the year. Read reviews at and Autographed copies available at Cathy will discount purchases of two or more – for details contact Cathy Messecar at

This is a terrible time to tackle the subject of being overweight. First, because I am several pounds over my desired weight, and second, in the USA, Thanksgiving just passed and some of us didn’t pass on second helpings. We’re drowning in gravy guilt.

Recently, The World Health Organization labeled the world’s obesity problem as pandemic. No pun intended, but that means widespread. For the first time ever, statistics show that the number of overweight people outnumber the undernourished.

Approximately 1.6 billion adults age 15 and up are overweight and 600 million are undernourished. By the year 2015 the number of overweight people is expected to rise to 2.3 billion. This preventable pandemic is threatening to overwhelm every medical system in the world as cases of diabetes and heart disease increase.

Affluent countries are no longer the only ones facing this problem. Middle and lower income populations are gaining weight at an alarming rate. In any public setting, it’s plain to see that many struggle with regulating their intake of food.

Many of us avoid exercise or changing eating habits and follow J. Loveland’s idea: “An alternative to losing weight, I use when all else fails; Tho’ I’m unable to stay on a diet, I can stay off the scales.”

Daniel is a Bible hero who instills hope and gives helpful dietary guidelines. Captured in Jerusalem, he and many others marched to foreign Babylon. There, young men of Israel, who showed intelligence in “every branch of wisdom” (Daniel 1:4), were chosen to serve the king. As part of the royal wining and dining, they were given the king’s choice food (literally the fat of flesh) and wine.

However, Daniel and his three friends wanted to follow the dietary laws of the Hebrews. To remain faithful to God and for consciences’ sake, Daniel requested water and vegetables for himself and friends. At the end of ten days their countenances reflected vitality and health, more so than the others who ate the king’s buffet.

Daniel’s faith, wisdom, food choices, and his regular prayers illustrate how one can be under extreme stress and maintain a clear conscience before God. His good choices still inspire today.

Several years ago to get on a better eating regimen, I followed Daniel’s lead and limited my intake to fruits, veggies and water for a couple of months. This December, I’ll do the same, because the weight of the world is bothering me in a personal way, and with God’s help, I’ll do something about it. I’m off to peel an orange for breakfast and scrounge for a celery stick . . . how about you?

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, November 24, 2006

1000 Gifts

Need a gift for the holidays? Cathy’s devotional book The Stained Glass Pickup is a thoughtful gift that will continue to encourage throughout the year. Read reviews at Amazon and Autographed copies available at Cathy will discount purchases of two or more – for details contact Cathy Messecar at

Christian Women Online Magazine is encouraging their readers to begin a list of 1000 gifts from God. Ann Voskamp, author of the article, wrote “I am daily jotting down items on my ‘Thousand Gifts List.’"

Ms. Voskamp says the discipline of writing down her gifts is opening her eyes to things unseen before. She is “working, one-by-one, up to a thousand gifts. Not of gifts I want. But of gifts I have.”

I liked her idea and started my list a few days before Thanksgiving. The first 25 are family and friends and in that mix, near the end, is a warm bed and a place to shower — such luxuries. Over the years, my list will grow.

A home-schooling mother (nearly a dozen children) has taken the challenge and appearing on her list are such blessings as “fluffy towels, the cry of a newborn, and gathering warm eggs.” She also lists “old books discovered for pennies at a garage sale and the still small voice of God.”

Gratitude is the warm friendly feeling toward a benefactor, thankfulness because God or a person bestowed kindness. Melodie Beattie said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” Also, she said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” The first American settlers had the same attitude.

H. U. Westermayer writes, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

God, the ultimate benefactor, told Moses about himself: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness and sin” (Exodus 34:7).

Ms. Voskamp says she is writing down her gifts “as they happen, as they arrive, as they are unwrapped . . . the daily graces that He gives in an infinite number of ways that stir me.”

I’m thankful for readers of this column and you’re number 21 on my list of tailored blessings. On Monday, I’ll pack away the Pilgrim and turkey trinkets, but I will not shelve appreciation.

Join me in keeping Thanksgiving alive year round with a Thousand Gifts List. Are you ready? Number one, number two . . .

You may contact Cathy at

Helping out a friend: Joan Anderson, author of New York Times bestseller Where Angels Walk, has lost some of her mailing list. To sign up for her newsletter, contact her at

Friday, November 17, 2006

Family Table Time

The Kitchen Table

A friend told me about her paratrooper cousin. During practice, all went well and his chute opened, but the next man didn’t have that good fortune. His chute failed to open. Somehow, he managed to grab hold of the cousin’s legs, and they landed in-tact under one parachute.

The kitchen table is a parachute for the family. Do you remember the kitchen or dining table in your childhood home? The evening meal is when my family ate together. The television was off, and after Dad prayed, we ate and shared the happenings in our days.

We often had orphans at the table, someone who had latched onto our family. Not necessarily persons without parents, just those needing a temporary home. We hosted a woman receiving treatments at M D Anderson Hospital and our grandmothers for extended visits.

Often, though, we had neighborhood kids and parentless children at the table. Rare, but two of my best friends were motherless, one killed in an automobile accident and the other taken by cancer. To this day when I see these two women, they mention our kitchen, and specific foods eaten there. One remembers the Russian salad dressing.

Today, home meals are sacrificed on the altar of busyness. Single parents are making a living and rearing children. In some dad-and-mom families, both parents work, besides chauffeuring kiddos to a plethora of activities. Too many family meals are eaten at 55 mph, fast foods eaten in minivan bucket seats.

The National Center on Substance and Drug Abuse lists ten positive results for families who regularly eat together at home. They can be found online. To help recapture family time around the table, follow this advice: One, clear off the table. Make it inviting. Find other places for school projects, junk mail and laptop computer. Shoo the napping cat from the table surface.

Second, on the weekend, plan the week’s menu and dining times. Buy ingredients, and prominently post menu and meal times. Third, during your together-meal, turn off electronics and have light-conversation. Don’t nag. Instead, say “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Eph. 4:20).

Fourth, in your prayer time, briefly roll-call the names of those gathered, giving thanks for their presence. Fifth, serve a light dessert and keep family and guests at the table a few more moments. Keep dessert simple. Serve fresh fruit or angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream.

In your home, bring back family meal time. Someone could be descending without a parachute and your table-time may rescue a precious child or the gathered “orphans.” Happy Thanksgiving!

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Face is a Lamp

“Omore taya.” It’s a Luo proverb. Luo is the second-most spoken language in Kenya. Cecil Murphey, co-author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, often heard the phrase while he was a missionary in Africa. Cecil is a smiling, compassionate man, and his love for others naturally shines through his countenance. So, the Kenyans often shouted at him, “Omore taya” meaning “A happy face is a lamp.”

The Online Etymology Dictionary says the word “countenance” means a "facial expression betraying a state of mind." As a very amateur photographer, I’m always delighted when I’ve captured an expression of one of my grandchildren that matches their heart-personalities.

Our family has a face-mood puzzel. The children have jig-sawed it together again and again. It depicts dramatic moods that alter the landscape of a face. The cardboard pieces show faces that are happy, sad, angry, frightened, worried, embarrassed, bored, silly, and tired.

The Bible has a lot to say about faces: “Cain was very angry” with his brother Able—ready to murder him—and he had a “downcast” face (Genesis 4:5). Joseph saw his brothers for the first time in many years, but they didn’t recognize him. Overcome, Joseph left the room, washed his face, and gained control over his emotions (Genesis 43:31). Moses’ face was radiant after being in the presence of God (Exodus 34:29).

The first Christian martyr Stephen looked at his false accusers and they saw that his face was like the “face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). Quite a few times, Jesus’ face is described as “the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:16).

Need a facelift? Spend time with God reading the Bible or kneeling in prayer, and like missionary Cecil Murphey gift your companions with the sight of a face lit from within.

This week as many of you make early preparations for the coming holidays with family, enjoy this blessing: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you: the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

You may contact Cathy at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

People Everywhere

When my children were young, each week for a year, my mom and dad sent them a Bible lesson. The Bible based lessons taught such things as treating neighbors with respect. With the steadily rising world population, families will have more opportunities to guide the next generation to love their neighbors.

The United States populace reached 300 million about mid-year. Statisticians aren’t sure of the exact moment. Finding baby number 300 million would be as difficult as looking for a unique grain of sand. Somewhere, little child, you’re it. But, you’ll probably never know you were the milestone-kid.

In 1915, this country reached 100 million. In 1967, we doubled our family tree. Branches sprouted from Boston to Bakersville. The sheer numbers along with advancements in health care have changed the demographics of this nation.

What do all of the statistics have to do with the local church? A lot. Many churches are experiencing phenomenal growth among their young families. Someone is having all those babies. My congregation’s nursery program doubled in size in the last few years, creating more teachable moments for parents and Sunday school teachers to instill passion for God.

For a person born in 1915, the expected life span was 54.5. However, if you were born in 1967, your life expectancy could reach 70.5. Babies arriving in 2006 are very likely to reach the age of 77.8. What does the aging population have to do with church? Plenty.

Over 12 percent of the American population is over the age of 65, around 37 million senior citizens. Because of longevity, churches have broader experienced-based knowledge than ever before. Paul knew the aged are capable of passing along valuable insights. He wrote to young preacher Titus saying, “teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live. In turn, the mature women were to teach “the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-5).

This can happen between a mother and daughter or other familial connections, or it can occur in church classrooms. A couple of young women meet around my kitchen table once a week, and we study, pray, and talk about all our struggles and successes. Paul knew the best way to “catch” life-lessons is from someone who has counted a few birthdays. Been there. Done that.

Men are not exempt from Paul’s guidelines for mentors. He wanted older gentlemen to be “temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” To the young men he urged self-control and that the young Titus would set a good example for them (2:2, 6-7).

The World Population Clock at the United States Census Bureau Website says 6 and a half billion people inhabit Earth. By 2050 that number will rise to 9 billion—more relatives, more neighbors, more mentors, more young ones to teach. Are you ready to “love your neighbor as yourself”? (Matthew 19:19).

Barbara Barr had a Habitat for Humanity project going on next door and she said: “Oh happy day, that is what comes to my mind when I think of Habitat for Humanity. I have envisioned the day when others would care about our neighborhood as much as we do. As I am listening to your hammers and saws and your laughter, I am filled with hope."

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, October 27, 2006

Journey to Jesus

The first time my children and grandchildren uttered Jesus’ name gave me an incomparable thrill. There’s just something about that name.

Learning about Jesus can start anywhere in life. Children and grandparents can acknowledge Jesus. Recently in my son’s congregation, a senior citizen made a confession of believing in Christ and was baptized. Some seek God in a time of crisis, and Mark records such a story about a woman ill for 12 years who hunted for Jesus.

On that day, the woman tried to reach Jesus in a desperate effort to be healed. However, he was surrounded by a shoulder-to-shoulder, tight knit throng (Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8).

Contending with a draining illness for 12 years, this woman joined the press of people. Energy depleted, she had few resources left. Doctors had tried to remedy her illness, but “instead of getting better, she grew worse” (Mark 5: 26). Fragile in body and emotions, she inched her way into the swarm.

A kid in the crowd might have complained “Mama we’re squashed together.” Luke describes the crowd as body-to-body, so close they nearly crushed Jesus. No air space. Somehow, despite the pressing crowd, she pushed forward.

She’d thought earlier, “If I just touch his clothes I will be healed” (Mark vs. 28). Finally, within tagging-distance, she shoved an outstretched arm toward Jesus. Wiggling her fingers a few inches closer she made contact with his clothing. The second her finger tips touched cloak-fibers, good heath returned.

Getting to Jesus is a journey. Throughout a lifetime, heart wounds, soul scars, and mind-boggling dilemmas add up, but Jesus-seekers receive divine attention when they set out on the expedition to find him.

During my teen years, I heard the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” I didn’t have a clue what that meant. Although the phrase isn’t found in the Bible, it’s a biblical concept. Christians call God “Father” and Jesus becomes our brother and friend—very personal connections, relationships.

A God-message billboard encourages this journey to Jesus: “C’mon over and bring the kids—God.” Parents, start your children on their journey early. Like the woman who was ill—press on. Press in. And here’s God’s promise to journeyers: “Let us press on to acknowledge him . . . . he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

You may contact Cathy at

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Cathy’s hardback gift book The Stained Glass Pickup is an inspirational gift for the holidays. Regular price is $10.99 plus S&H. If ordered from her Web site, she will autograph and mail anywhere in the United States. For discounts for two or more

Check out what folks are saying about The Stained Glass Pickup and at

Faith of Our Fathers

An article title stated, “God Has No Grandchildren.” Most of us know that faith isn’t as easily bequeathed to children as a set of silverware. While children may keep inherited silver, they may not embrace their parent’s faith.

In Abilene for the ACU Lectureship, I attended a lecture by Darryl Tippens, who recently authored Pilgrim Heart. The subtitle is “The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life.” It’s about modeling and experiencing the Christian disciplines.

Two statements in his foreword shined a little light in my soul and caused me to give further thought to this faith community’s part in ensuring that there is another generation of devoted Christians. Darryl Tippens mentioned in his book and lecture a probing question Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes again, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The second challenge came when Tippens told statistics from author Charles Williams. Because generations die off physically, faith is reestablished through new converts and Christians’ children. Here are the staggering facts: In just 30 years of passive living, not reaching out to neighbors and not teaching children, the church could die in a locale.

Love for God is both taught and caught; following are suggestions for parents and grandparents who long for their children to inherit more than earthly estates:

• Be a “taught and caught” adult role model. Model Jesus’ justice and compassionate living. Talk about your devotion to God’s Son.
• Act like God acts. Forgive like God forgives. Repent in your home before spouse and children when you do wrong.
• Kick the world out of your home. Make a safe shelter where children learn godly virtues, not the latest ad campaigns that draw them into the U.S. rampant consumerism.
• Read scriptures to your children. Memorize with them. Where do your kids get most of their Bible learning? Home should be their primary “Sunday school.”
• Talk about your faith and your struggles. Do your children know your salvation story? Share how you came to know the Lord.

The best news is when God gives us a task such as “go and make disciples” he also equips us for the work. Pray, grab hold of God’s promises and his hand because we have plenty of work assignments during the next 30 years. Each day, assist God in founding faith in this community and in the next generation.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, October 13, 2006

Workplace Chaplains

Workplace Chaplains

Local chaplain Carol Hurley, employed by Marketplace Chaplains USA, makes bi-monthly visits to several businesses in Conroe, TX. On visits to Taco Bell, Choate Ceramics, and Cargo Blue Magic, Ms. Hurley gets acquainted with employees. The service she most often provides is “listening.”

Marketplace Chaplains USA Gulf Coast Division Director, Brian Horner, said Marketplace chaplains serves public and privately owned companies. Companies range from 10 to 43,000 employees, in the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Because chaplains cover a large geographic area, employees can make requests for out-of-state chaplains to visit hospitalized relatives or family in prison. With immediate attention to needs, Marketplace Chaplains live up to their description as “America’s Employee Care Program.”

Founder Gil Stricklin, for 23 years, has run the chaplaincy on a military model and has a three-fold goal for the company: 1) for the male and female chaplains to visit workplaces and regularly interact and build relationships with employees; 2) for the program to be proactive by effectively dealing with problems in the early stages, not just a “crisis response”; 3) to offer a broad range of services: home, jail, hospital visits, encouragement by phone or mail, and conducting weddings and funeral services, and to provide those services for all employees, immediate family members, customers and suppliers.

Pilgrim’s Pride, with 43,000 employees, is one of the largest companies contracting the services of Marketplace Chaplains. Pilgrim’s Vice President of Human Resources, Jane T. Brookshire, said, "People need to be cared for, and continually the biggest issues people go to our chaplains about are family-related issues, and those things that go on regardless of your faith."

A chaplain’s typical visit to the workplace does not interfere with an individual’s work, and if an employee desires a longer consultation, a time outside of work is scheduled. At job sites, the friendly contact and chats last only a few minutes, but build a trusting relationship based on care. Companies who avail themselves of chaplaincy services have experienced improved “morale and teamwork” and increased “loyalty and commitment” to company goals. Fraud and absenteeism diminish as well.

Marketplace Chaplains USA actively seeks new companies to serve, as well as hiring chaplains for part time work. They have a training program for prospective chaplains, but request that trainees have some type of ministry experience and have commerce experience, such as business savvy about production deadlines and payroll.

Local chaplain Carol Hurley says, “Sometimes we just listen and pray, sometimes we refer them to government or local aid.” Chaplains answer questions about what employees are seeking, and provide help to those who have no church affiliation. “Basically, we are there to provide support in any way we can.”

Brian Horner, Division Director, said in a phone interview that they welcome the participation of local churches because many employees are eager to renew their faith or find a church home. “Over a year’s time, hundreds rededicate their lives or start attending church for the first time.”

Chaplain Carol Hurley summed up the program, “The employee care program is a benefit that we pray helps them get through the bumps in life.”

A hearty thank you to Marketplace Chaplains USA and the help with all those “bumps in life,” the bumps we all have.

Businesses and prospective chaplains may visit

You may contact Cathy Messecar at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fill up God-voids

At home, I rarely have my television on, but Monday I was out of town and turned on FOX news in our motel room. When I heard the breaking-news-words, I experienced trepidation.

As you already know, Monday’s grim news reported a school shooting in an Amish community, the third school in seven days to have violent fatalities on property dedicated to higher learning. Violence in the place of knowledge. Violence near a playground. Violence near the heart of Americans.

Violence, killing, and hatred are woven into the human fabric, but I’m ready to start some unraveling. How about you? In the earliest family in the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, Cain and Able were separated when Cain, in a jealous rage, slew his brother Able. Thousands of years later, we’re still puzzled that anyone could assign themselves the role of robbing life from another.

In an interview on Dateline NBC, notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was asked what he felt while committing his crimes? His reply: “I felt that I didn’t have to be accountable to anyone,” he said. “Since man came from slime, I was accountable to no one.” If you followed Jeffrey’s story, you know that in prison he eventually came to a belief in God and had remorse for his horrific crimes.

Recently, I read Dark Journey Deep Grace a book by Roy Ratcliff (with Lindy Adams) about Jeffrey Dahmer’s prison life after his sentencing. Minister Roy Ratcliff was told that Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to be baptized and while arranging for that to take place, he had weekly studies with Jeffrey, before and after his baptism. When God filled voids in Jeffrey’s life, he began to respect life again, his life and the lives of others.

Hate of self or others is complex, and that kind of hate takes supernatural intervention to turn a soul from evil to good purposes. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Easy to write. Easy to say, but it’s impossible to do on our own. But, when God calls us to love a neighbor or a serial killer, he then equips us to carry out the command. How?

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He offers help and rest to nominal Christians, to those who hate, those who suffer depression, guilt, or sorrow so profound their chests feel like 80 pounds of cement. His invitation is for those who have wearied of living, to those who have wearied of taking one more breath.

Jesus’ solution is supernatural. It goes beyond the love a human being can muster for a spouse, child or neighbor. When Jesus pardons an individual’s sins, he moves in, abides with that person for a better future. He sticks closer than a brother, and he brings God’s kind of love with him—a limitless amount of out-of-this world compassion for fellowmen.

Jesus didn’t just preach love messages. He lived them out by embracing lepers. He forgave adulterers. He taught us not to pick at a neighbor’s splinter when we need to take care of a two-by-four problem of our own. And one of his finest lessons came while he was dying at the hands of the wicked. From his death-cross, even in agony, he expressed forgiveness to those who sanctioned his innocent death. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

A God-void produces an empty space that can become a devil’s workshop. But Jesus is ready to move into empty places, relieve disillusionments and instill a healthy respect for life—respect that allows doing good to a neighbor not harm.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, September 29, 2006

Entertaining Angels Unaware

I left my home by the back door to go to the rural mail box and met a stranger coming up my sidewalk. She wanted directions because while trying to find her cousin’s home, she became lost. She didn’t say why she looked for her cousin until I pried a little.

Why did I meddle? A few days earlier, I’d asked God to place on my path someone who needed Him. I literally said, “Lord, you know my schedule this week, if someone needs hands-on care, you’ll need to bring them to my door.” So, I paid special attention to the stranger on my sidewalk, literally a few feet from my back door.

After a roadmap consultation, I sensed she had deeper needs. Modest and humble, she told me of her current struggles. God revealed several ways to help her, so I invited her into our home and we talked a few minutes and then she had to be on her way. I followed her down our sidewalk, knowing our paths might never cross again. Spontaneous, she whirled around and clenched me in a bear hug, saying “Thank you.” A chance meeting, I don’t think so.

Here’s another story about what I believe to be an “arranged” meeting. Reader Jan Tickner contacted me in response to an article several weeks ago about Robert Hamm, who on a missionary trip gave his pants to a poorer man, The column prompted a memory for her. She remembered a similar happening while on a trip with her husband, Russell, to Russia. Years ago, they went on a missionary trip into Russia and Jan said Russell, who was tall, and the tall preacher disappeared before church.

Jan thought they’d gone off to pray, but when they returned moments later, they had traded clothes. The Russian preacher had a fine made American suit, and Russell had on the preacher’s worn slacks. Jan said it’s one of her most vivid memories of her late husband—his broad smile after giving away his suit. A chance meeting of tall men, I don’t think so.

When I returned indoors after seeing Angie off, I wrote the date and her given and last name in my prayer journal. And I smiled all day. I’m still praying for Angie and still marveling at the similarity of her name and the scripture: “Don’t forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

St. Francis of Assisi once saw a leprous beggar beside the road, he stopped and put his arms around the shunned man and hugged him. He said two sensations overcame him, a sense of nausea, but also a sense of sweetness and well being. He gave of himself and expressed God’s love, even though it caused a bit of personal discomfort. A chance meeting, I don’t think so.

God trains his children’s eyes to pasture-watch. Jesus said fields, and that includes where you live, are ripe and ready for harvest. I know life gets busy. We all have different versions of the same old time-pinched schedules. Prayer can and will bring strangers who need Jesus into the crosshairs of life. Ask for an opportunity.

Then, watch. Be ready. Soon, an “Angie” may land on your doorsteps.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mayberry Boy

Slender, tiny, about five, he could have been an extra in Andy Griffin’s Mayberry. Star quality. Dressed in light blue overalls and T-shirt, he waited in a grocery store line to purchase a package of toy cars. Eyeglasses perched atop the bridge of his nose.

When his turn came, the female teen clerk scanned the barcode and announced the amount of $6.48. Solemn faced, he reached into his overall bib pocket. Out came a child-size zippered wallet. With great care, he took out one dollar at a time, laid each bill down and counted. “One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five.”

In his depleted wallet, I caught the flash of coins. He needed at least a dollar more. Silent, I mouthed to the clerk that I’d cover it, and passed a dollar over his head. She asked him for “Forty-eight cents.” He could count dollars, but coinage counting baffled him. His pennies didn’t add up to his need.

Another dollar from me passed above his head and covered the gap. Sale closed out, her cash register spit out 52 cents change. Silver coins slid down a chute into a metal receptacle. He heard the coins hastening his way, peeked into the silver bowl, scooped up the change and zipped it in his wallet.

The clerk looked at me. I whispered. “Let him have it.” By then, I’d have paid ten dollars to watch the scene play out all over again. He was that cute. He walked toward a woman in another check out line, probably a grandma, to show her the purchase he’d made all by himself.

But nothing in life is done all by self. When Paul engaged the Athenians in conversation about their objects of worship, he zeroed in on their generic altar labeled TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. These cautious worshipers had paid homage to all gods.

After Paul introduced these Greek philosophers to God, he explained, “For in him, we live and move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28). Every eye twitch, every flexed muscle, every breath, powered by God. No cell, DNA, soul, or goings-on exist without him. Darryl Tippens in his new book Pilgrim Heart says, “All of life is the proper arena for divine activity.”

When Mayberry boy showed his purchase to the adult he knew, his joy surfaced. Accomplishment. Job completed. Goal fulfilled. But at the moment of his rescue, he didn’t seem aware of the larger supply-hand that passed over his head.

The apostle Paul tells the Athenians that God made the entire human race from scratch and made the earth “hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.” He further says, “He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!” (The Message)

After the insightful moment with Mayberry boy, I thought about God’s nearness. On ordinary days or those when extra energy, time, talent, money or mercy is needed to make it through until quitting time, God is near whether we consciously remember or not.

Great things can happen through this community because God is near. Be alert. Be thankful. Now, and in the coming months, watch for the hand of God, his redeeming, hospitable, creative hand, the one that even lets us gather up the spare change.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, September 15, 2006

Miracles in Baskets

“There are no miracles, of that I am sure” Pearl S. Buck wrote in “A Bridge for Passing.” Shocked by her words, I read further to see what she based her statement upon. Near the end, I’ll share her explanation.

Baskets of miracles dot the pages of the Bible, literally. The first basket miracle rescued a baby. Born into an enslaved family, this baby would become the Hebrews’ savior. Centuries earlier, the Hebrews lived in freedom on Egyptian grazing lands, but when their population grew to staggering numbers, a domineering Pharaoh bound them into servitude.

Despite hundreds of years of harsh treatment and living conditions, the prolific Hebrews kept adding names to their family Bibles. Finally, the Pharaoh issued an edict that all the young boys were to be thrown into the Nile River. But at least one Hebrew mother kept the secret that she’d birthed a third child, a son, and, prudent, she kept him hidden.

In private, she wove a tiny bassinet of reeds and coated it with pitch. She placed her infant son inside, most likely christening the tiny boat with prayer. Then she launched the water-worthy vessel into the Nile, and guided by Divine current the baby drifted right into the path of an Egyptian princess and her entourage.

Discovered by royalty, the baby was named “Moses” because he was drawn “from the water.” Spared by God, Moses grew and was tutored to read and write. Later he would record the early history of mankind, from the beginning of the world through God’s lawgiving. One miracle in a basket.

Much later when Jesus multiplied a few fish and loaves, there was a hearty catch of leftovers. Matthew 15:29-39 relates that the disciples gathered up seven basketsful of God-grown fish and God-baked bread. More baskets of miracles.

Even later, the apostle Paul encountered hostile religious leaders, who didn’t want to hear about the Christ. Their minds closed to any discussion of religious thought other than their tradition, they thought only to kill Paul. However, ingenious friends helped Paul escape at night by lowering him outside of the Damascus city walls. Another evil plan foiled, another miracle escape aided by a basket.

The rescues of baby Moses and the adult Paul happened because God worked and kept them alive. Because of their leadership and teaching, others would also escape captivity. At God’s command, Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt. God-commissioned, Paul preached to non-Jews, leading many to believe in the Christ.

By definition, a miracle is “an event that appears to be contrary to the laws of nature and is regarded as an act of God,” according to the Encarta World English Dictionary. When Pearl S. Buck wrote “There are no miracles, of that I am sure,” she followed with this explanation.

“If one walks on water and heals the sick and raises the dead to life again, it is not a matter of magic, but of knowing how to do it.” What we observe as extraordinary, the by-passing of the natural laws of the earth are no feat for God. Miracles are simply God’s natural work.

A baby rescued in a basket, a cancer patient healed, thousands fed from a pittance of food, a prodigal returns home, an apostle survives to tell the good news—all engineered from God’s blueprint—because He is able.

You may contact Cathy at

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Response to Pant's Post

The following three responses I received from my widowed writing friend and mentor: She is a dear woman and has about 23 years experience beyond me--writing, life, Christian living. After her notes, I asked her to send me the e-mail she sent to her children and grandchildren. She has a beautiful habit of sharing with her children and grandchildren--having one adult, single grandson over each week, sharing study of the Word, having all adult grandsons over for a meal and a gentle where-are-you going-in-life session. Also, she frequently sends emails sharing a moment of current faith or a remembrance. Her family has a treasure in her and the Lord. Here are her three emails to me.

1st note to me-- Cathy dear, when I read this morning's column (very good - as was last week's) a long-forgotten incident came to mind. Russ did the same thing. When we were in Estonia (concluding our tour of Russia during the communist regime) we knew the pastor, Heigo Ritsbek, and Heigo had asked Russ to speak in their church.

I saw them go back somewhere (I thought they were going off to pray) but when they walked out Russ didn't have on his suit and was wearing a different pair of slacks and his white shirt. He had given the suit to Heigo, they were both large men!

This whole episode had escaped me -- even the place, so I got down my big scrapbook, looked at all the photos and, teary-eyed, re-read all my resulting Courier columns. When you come next time I would love to loan you the album so you and David could see a tad of what the Soviet Union was like at that time.

Blessings! Jan
Rooted in Love - Growing in Grace

2nd note to me-- There's more! I was in such a hurry this a.m. that I didn't realize the date -- It wasn't until I wrote my check at the beauty shop -- it's Sept 8th -- our 61st wedding anniversary (more tears) and that remembrance I related was probably the most vivid I've had of Russ except for occasional dreams. I could just see that wide grin of satisfaction on his face. And, no, I didn't write of that at the time -- unless I entered it in an old journal. I'm going to check that out. But, I think this is the first account and I'm sending it out to my family right now.

3rd note to her family and shared with me, too--My dear young writer friend and accountability partner,Cathy Messecar, wrote a neat piece in this morning's Courier column. It was about a man (Robert Graham) visiting churches in Uganda when he met Sauti, a native, wearing tattered trousers that dangled from his waist.

The elderly man couldn't stand it and to the protests of his guide (a former Ugandan missionary) insisted on giving the man his trousers. He went to the friend's pickup, slipped off the pants handed them out the window to his friend, who in turn gave them to Sauti.

As they drove away Robert saw Sauti grinning, the proud owner of Robert's breeches. And I'm certain Robert was also grinning.

When I read this I was touched but suddenly caught my breath. I had totally forgotten an incident when Russ and I toured the Soviet Union. Communism and all the respective shortages were still very much in effect.

One of the highlights for us was our last major stop before leaving the Balkans, a short stay in Tallinn, Estonia where we visited our friend, pastor Heigo Ritsbek and his darling family. On our one Sunday there we were visiting Heigo's church and he asked Russ to speak on behalf of our small travel group.

Before the service, however, I saw Russ and Heigo slip away from the platform and I thought it was probably to pray together. But when they returned there was Heigo wearing Russ's suit and Russ was wearing Heigo's trousers. Both were beaming.

This caused me to dig out my big scrapbook to revisit that trip -- looking at photos and reading my Courier columns. I both laughed and cried. It was such an intense memory.

But I didn't know until I wrote my check at the beauty shop at noon that today's date is September 8th -- Russ's and my sixty-first anniversary!

Cathy's column ended with this very appropriate, meaningful scripture: "Love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God" (1 John 4:7 The Message).

I would only add to that another passage from The Message "By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us---set us right with Him, make us fit for Him---we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."

The writer continues, "There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary---we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:1-5)

Have a great day -- I am.

Blessings! Mom
Rooted in Love - Growing in Grace

Friday, September 08, 2006

Greg Taylor's Pant-Story

What the World Needs Now

Five years ago on September 14, 2001, my first column debuted in newsprint, only three days after the attack on America. Today’s column, like that first one, revisits the theme of choosing to come alongside our fellowmen.

Greg Taylor a former missionary in Uganda, said that he often saw his boyhood preacher Robert Hamm model ways to love God and others. While Greg was in Uganda, Robert and his wife Loretta Hamm came to visit the village churches there.

On that visit they met a Ungandan man named Sauti, who had on tattered trousers. Away from shops and stores, this village church was two hours back in the bush, reached by dirt roads. Greg tells of Robert’s compassion:

“When Robert saw Sauti’s shredded pants dangling from his waist, he decided to give the man a pair of pants right then and there.” Greg shrugged off his offer, “I’ll bring him a pair another day.” But Robert Hamm insisted, and Sauti’s need overrode propriety.

Greg said, “Robert is a compassionate and kind man. Robert would give you the shirt off his back . . . or his pants.” At first Greg thought Robert Hamm was kidding. But “he suggested going to the pickup, slipping off his trousers, and giving them to Sauti.”

Greg finishes the story: “He went to the truck and took off his trousers and handed them out the window to me. He stayed in the truck until we left a few minutes later, and as we drove off, Sauti was grinning, a proud owner of Robert’s breeches.”

Thirty amazed onlookers saw a “respected elder American man . . . serve a poor village man by giving him his pants on the spot.”

Bruce Marchiano tells a similar story about hospitality, but this time the gift passed from poverty to a rich man. In a poor region of a foreign country, Marchiano’s Jeep had a flat tire. He replaced it at roadside where a local man noticed his dirty hands and invited him to wash up in his home.

In his hut were few possessions, but he had a bar of pristine white soap, his only luxury. The man insisted that Bruce wash his hands and use the soap, and then he made a gift of the soap.

Today, the change agent to terrorism, hatred, envy, and strife is love. The apostle John wrote: “[L]ove each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God” (1 John 4:7 The Message).

Come alongside your fellowman; it’s what the world needs now, love, sweet love.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hollow Hallelujahs

Reaching the Brokenhearted

What if Isaiah reappeared and stood on the steps of the courthouse in your home town? What if he preached his prophecies again? His messages were earmarked for a people who had strayed from serving. Oh, those long ago hearers did perfunctory worship-rituals but void of meaning because of their daily lives.

Isaiah cautioned about offering habitual sacrifices on holy days and then living like they wanted to the rest of the time. My Sunday school teacher Bill Owens says that kind of burnt sacrifice disturbs God, gives him “heavenly heartburn.”

Isaiah, God’s messenger for that long-ago age, told Israel: “Stop doing wrong and learn to do right!” Not ever vague, God then gave examples of “right”: seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Today, when non-church-goers look at church work, what do they see? Do they see us housekeeping? Do they see us tending a building, grooming a lawn? Or is the church known for seeking justice and encouraging the exploited? The churches in every community are called to assist those who have hard lives?

A Christian lecture I attended had a shocking title: “Can You Preach a Prostitute into Heaven?” The teacher told a true story from his congregation: a known prostitute, who had several children started attending church. We’ll call her Susan. The congregation welcomed her, and she came to know the grace of God, repented, and was baptized. For over a year she attended every service, helped fellow strugglers and volunteered when she had time off from her now honest work.

But her honest odd-jobs only paid minimum wage, and she and her babies continued to live far below poverty level. While the congregation rejoiced that she had turned her life around, they didn’t assist her with enough help to feed and cloth her children. She had the heart to belong to God and a young inexperienced faith. When her children became hungry, she returned to her former life to put bread on the table. Her life ended that night at the hands of a drunken man.

What if that church had attached themselves to Susan and her kids like an umbilical cord? Perhaps her outcome would have been different if a sponsor-family watched for needs, helped out, sheltered, fed her family, and trained her for better paying legitimate work?

Christian churches are like an Army unit. Some members prefer clean, orderly command post work, but there is a battlefield of casualties outside the safety zone. In What Jesus Did / 365 Devotionals from the Gospel of John, Phil Ware asks if the community sees “us doing predictable ‘church stuff’?”

Phil Ware then reminds his readers that Jesus said the church would do greater things than he did! Profound! Are we asking that God to do a greater work in 2006 than Jesus did while on earth?

If churches are to represent Jesus, if we are to be Jesus to the needy in our community, we can’t hide in our sterile church kitchens or on our padded pews. The brokenhearted and the Susans need more than a hollow “hallelujah.” They need the embrace of a church, of a church that has the heart of Jesus.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, August 25, 2006

Trashy Clutter

We have a roving trunk. I’ll explain. It’s a child’s trunk, from the late 1800’s. Nearly 40 years ago, I scavenged in the family’s barn and found this discarded treasure.

I brought the chest indoors, most likely a child’s camel back trunk. It became serviceable after the leaf and vine tin motif, leather handles, metal latches and wooden tray were cleaned. The trunk stored a passel of books, antique linens, and family mementos.

A trunk travels, right? So, it relocated in our house more times than an Army brat. Why? Because we kept stubbing our toes on it.

After a night of painful toe whacking, I’d relocate it. Then other moonless nights came along. Thirsty, dear hubby or I went to get a drink of water, and groggy we collided with the trunk. OUCH!

For the past few years, the little chest has given us no trouble because it’s no longer near our house-paths. It’s been delegated out-of-the-way. Our carpet-ways are clear, no obstacles.

A proverb is quoted in Hebrews 12:13: “‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

A call is made to clear a path to make travel easy. I’ve especially been thinking about the youth in our nation and the many obstacles that greedy adults deliberately place on their paths through the media or bad life choices.

In regard to that, one scripture is especially potent: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place” Ephesians 5:3-4.

For Christian young, old or married, the task of remaining sexually pure and greed-free is a challenge. Media, the work world, and school are strewn with course talking, joking, and blatant acts of sexual immorality and greed gone wild.

The Christian life is to be counter culture. Not even an insinuation of sexual immorality or greed is to mar Christian homes. They can be the sanctuaries where “hints,” insinuations, innuendos can be removed from the path. No more stubbed toes.

What happens when steamer trunks full of trashy clutter leaves the home path? The writer of Hebrews said healing occurs. Let the healing begin.

You may contact Cathy at

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Worry Warts

Do not fret because of evil men. Psalm 37:1

Are you a worry wart? I am at times.

The original meaning of the word “worry” is to strangle or choke. Anxiety attacks, agitations, fretting, hand wringing, sleepless nights, illnesses — all may be seedlings of worry.

Many Bible heroes had difficult tasks; did their faith ever wobble, causing them to agonize? Did Noah worry in the years he prepared the ark of refuge? Did Mrs. Noah fear losing her solid-foundation house? Was she disturbed about shipmates, about floating with elephants and tigers? Oh, my!

God gave an exact blueprint for the huge ark but did Noah’s clan doubt their ship building skills? And, water falling from the sky, what would that be like? Worry invades and destroys.

A friend shared an observation from their cardiologist friend Lindsay. In his home for 13 years he cared for his wife Mary Jo, who had Alzheimer disease since her late 40s. Right before her death at age 62, he wrote: “It is truly amazing how well a youthful appearance is preserved in the absence of stress and worry.” He explained, “She has no gray hair or wrinkled skin and looks to be 20 years younger.”

Jesus wasn’t simply instating an eleventh commandment when he said, “Do not worry about this life.” He assured his listeners and today’s readers that the heavenly Father knows exact needs of food, drink and clothing. Jesus encouraged trusting God for the bread, so minds, hearts and hands could seek the will of God on this earth.

To eliminate worry, use the preventive measures of daily Bible study and prayer. The Bible is busting at its seams with stories of God’s saving interaction with mankind, often prompted by a prayer-knock on God’s door.

Jesus gave excellent advice: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (7:34). A wise person quipped, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”

Worry warts are contagious. Don’t inflict friends and family. Songwriter Bobbie McFerren had a hit when he wrote “Don’t worry, Be happy.” Or as Charles Schultz said, "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.”

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, August 11, 2006

Training for Christ

This week in a college town, three pleasant young men sat at the restaurant table next to us. With no music in this eating establishment, my husband and I couldn’t help but overhear their clean conversation.

At first they talked of ordinary things: favorite foods and entrées at restaurants. When the conversation turned to furnishing their apartments, they agreed that a fabulous place to get furniture is curbside on garbage day.

One boy said, “Dude, that’s exactly how I got my couch.” He gave details: After a drenching thunderstorm, he saw someone about to pay to have a soaked lime green sofa hauled off. He offered the sofa a good home, and loaded it into his truck. Later, he dried out the cushions and aired the rest of it. He heralded its value, “It’s so comfortable I’d rather sleep on it than my bed.”

The next table topics were classes, scuba diving, and getting certified to dive. Then one young man asked if, that evening, the rest would like to hang out with some “dudes from China.” He said the students and their professor would likely never travel to the states again due to costs.

Then the college men surprised us. They talked about God and sharing their faith. One of them told how he’d befriended a student while abroad, answered hundreds of his questions about God, and the questioner became a believer. To this day, he stays in touch with the Texas student.

When we were through dining, I introduced myself to the young men, and told them they’d furnished info and a slant for this newspaper column. Their response: “Awesome. Cool.”

Greg Steir, founder of the Dare 2 Share Ministries in Colorado, reports an estimated 50 per cent of teens will abandon their family’s faith by their senior year of high school.

To avoid this high failure rate, he advises covering teens with prayer. Second, he counsels adults to model Christianity because “more is caught than taught.”

His third recommendation is for parents to teach Bible in their homes. Too many parents outsource this responsibility to Sunday school teachers. The fourth recommendation is to “unleash” teens to be evangelistic. In China, 80 percent of the evangelists are 18 years and younger. Their passion is to reach others for Christ.

From what we heard, the three college men had disproved the 50 percent failure rate. Instead, they proved the proverb: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (22:6).

Cathy Messecar

Monday, August 07, 2006

Help me meet them

I'm home a lot. No, I'm not ill, unable to drive (but when gasoline is five dollars a gallon, who knows), or have agoraphobia, the fear of crowded places. We operate our trucking business from our home and I write here, too.

I'm not fond of shopping, even grocery shopping. And I always feel a bit guilty that I don't swoon when it's time to go to the market. We have money, transportation, and appetites, shouldn't I be eager to go? I usually say a prayer of thanksgiving at some juncture of the trip.

Anyway, all that to say I'm home a lot. I don't get a lot of opportunities to meet people outside our church fellowship who are seekers. One day recently, I told God that if he had anyone in mind that needed help, if he could send them by, I'd pay attention.

A few days later, I walked out my door and a woman was coming up the back sidewalk. Now, we live in the country, and strangers on your backdoor steps is a rare occurrence. She was looking for an address of a cousin. From her description, he should have lived right next door to me. Nearby neighbors I know, and he wasn't one of them.

She was upset to not find him. Didn't seem to want to say why. She finally admitted that he was to loan her money for gasoline that week. I invited her in, and I gave her enough money to buy a bit of gasoline. When I went to get the money, I also grabbed my book and signed it and gave her a copy. Her hug and profuse thanks stayed with me, is still with me a month later.

I really don't know who needed to be reminded of God's part in our daily happenings, me or her. I've been praying for Angie J. I've also been asking God to place more Angies on my back door steps, or even in a grocery store aisle.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Backwards Day

Three grandchildren were coming for a day-visit, and I wanted to make it special. In the ‘50’s my mom and dad were invited to a Backwards Party. The words on the invitation had to be held in front of a mirror to read the date, address, and time.

The night of the party Mom wore a yellow blouse backwards. I’m not sure how Dad got into the theme. I don’t think he drove to the party in reverse. Also, I recalled a fun fiction story by Guida Jackson, the theme, a backwards day at grandma’s house. My plan jelled.

The morning I picked my grandchildren up, the front motif of my blouse faced the back. When Jack age 8, Adam age 6, and Jolie age 2, greeted me, Jack said, “Grandma! Your shirt is on backwards.”

“Yes, because it’s backwards day at my house.” Each child got a hug, kiss and greeting, “Goodnight. I’m happy to see you.” Although it was early morning, I further teased them. “We need to get back to my house because it’s almost supper time.”

When we arrived home, I announced it was time for evening prayers. Eager little boys, right then, in the middle of the kitchen, said their prayers aloud. Even little Jolie folded her hands. Then at the breakfast hour, we had macaroni and cheese, juice, and steak fingers.

Our grandsons are known to get into a tussle from time to time. Imagine that. On this day, I warned if any punches flew, we’d implement the opposite. Yes, I told them they’d be hugging each other, a kiss included. No punches were thrown that day.

When the noon hour arrived, Jack said, “It’s time for our midnight snack.” Throughout the day, we reversed “Thank you” and “Your Welcome.” Six o’clock in the evening found us seated at the breakfast table dining on scrambled eggs, toast, strawberry jam, bacon and applesauce.

Our fun day with the grandchildren didn’t cost a lot of money. I’m not against spending money to have fun, but I am against spending money on entertainment and substituting the bought amusement for family fun.

Home settings and quiet times create sanctuaries where God’s values can be passed down. One of the main conduits for growing faith is families. God wants “generational goodness” passed down, not hate, bitterness and bad habits.

The psalmist Asaph said, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4).

When I drove the children to their Grandma Olga Bazan’s house that evening, I looked in my rear view mirror, exclaiming. “This was the worst day of my life! You boys behaved miserably!” At first, shock registered, and then Adam said to his brother, “Jack, that means we were good.” Cute grins covered their faces and lit their eyes with delight.

At their other grandma’s house, I kissed them goodbye and said, “Good morning.” Later, I discussed backwards day with the boys, telling them that next time we’ll even take the day one step further. Early in the morning at our breakfast meal, we’re going to have dessert first!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

You many contact Cathy at

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rabbi Jesus

Did you know that some of the first and last words Jesus spoke to Peter were “Follow me”? Beginning and end. Front and back. Peter’s discipleship was lived in the context of Jesus’ follow-me-parentheses. After he stepped into the non-hypocritical footprints of Jesus, Peter’s life was never the same because Jesus not only taught good lessons, he demonstrated his sermons.

He told stories then he lived them out. In several teachings Jesus told earthly stories about shepherds who constantly watched over their flocks. Then Jesus characterized the shepherds in his stories. He nurtured his band of disciples, both men and women. And others with sin-problems and health issues came to him for care and received his administrations.

Only one person on earth ever matched their talk and walk—Jesus, the Christ. He said if someone hits you on one cheek, don’t hit back but rather “turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). At his undeserved trial, he was struck and did not strike back.

During his day, Roman soldiers could require ordinary citizens to carry a soldier’s belongings for one mile. Jesus said go farther down the road. Do extra. Carry the soldier gear two miles. Rabbi Jesus taught the right way to act even when one is treated disrespectfully. That kind of extending-mercy living can take you down the road.

Jesus mirrored the Father who continually gives to this earth. Jesus taught followers to do more than required, travel extra with your enemy, your spouse, your employer. Demonstrate the unselfish nature of God.

About 100 years before Jesus’ time, a powerful proverb said, “Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself with the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.” Author David Biven in New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus wrote that the words “cover yourself with the dust of their feet” have traditionally meant to sit at the feet of a rabbi and learn.

But Mr. Biven also said for a long term disciple, such as Peter, who would have followed his teacher around Galilee and Judea, those words take on a literal meaning. As the disciples trailed around after the non-hypocrite Jesus they would have been covered with the fine dust of the roads and the dust from rabbi Jesus’ feet.

To have a perfect pattern for anything is remarkable. I don’t know of anything perfect—no recipe, no home, no auto, no government, no person, no business. The only perfection I’ve ever experienced is Jesus Christ who came to give mankind a faultless demonstration, an exact replication of God.

. The word “hypocrite” comes from Greek and means actor or one who is pretending. Several sayings that oppose hypocrisy have arisen in the past years. One is “practice what you preach.” Another is “walk the talk.” Then there are admitted hypocrites who choose not to let go of bad habits, but to their credit, discourage followers. Their motto is, “Do as I say, not as I do”?

To any who are burdened and weary of following Hollywood’s stars or imperfect sports’ icons, or putting their trust in any frail human, Jesus still issues the call to come to him. He promised rest for the soul. He said about himself, “I am gentle and humble in heart . . . my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29ff).

Jesus is not a hypocrite. Grab someone’s hand and get in line to follow him. Follow his examples. Stay up close, so you’ll be covered in his dust.

(I read that the term rabbi, while in use when Jesus was on earth, did not become a formal title until after 70 A. D. )

Friday, July 21, 2006

Celebrate Marriage

A book is titled Life is Short, Wear Your Party Pants. It reminded me of celebrations and joyous marriages.

Barely in our twenties, Dave and I attended a lot of weddings. Then a diaper bag full of baby shower invitations arrived as friends started families. Birthday cake frosting came next. When our children were in elementary school, we ate our way through pounds of Ball Park franks, mustard, chili, and Crisco-laden sugar in back yards.

Lately, we’ve received many wedding anniversary invitations, commemorating 25, 40, 50 years of marriage. In this short-attention-span world, those are occasions worth the party pants.

Since summer is a favorite time for weddings, here is a practical suggestion for newlyweds or long time married couples: Create everyday customs that keep you connected to each other.

After many years, one couple performs a wedding tradition each morning. At wedding receptions, couples often toast each other with their arms linked. This couple continues to do this each morning with their first sip of coffee. If this is too starry-eyed for you, read on.

Our marriage-odometer will roll over 39 in a few days. One of those years, we fell into the habit of shaking hands as we leave the breakfast table. It’s a friendly way to start the day. Of course kissing hello and goodbye are age-old choices of staying connected, too.

A favorite married couple, Donn and Mildred, have learned the secret of honoring each other. Let’s just say they’ve had their wedding rings for a few years.

At a mall the other day, and in the few moments we were together, I heard Donn compliment his wife. Mildred replied with her classy smile. He also undid the foil from the top of a Hershey Kiss and offered it to Mildred. She never had to lift a finger. What a man!

And when we finally said goodbye, they strolled out hand-in-hand. Nothing is tarnished about this couple’s love for each other.

Jacob worked seven years to marry Rebekah, and they “seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20). Agatha Christie suggests that a woman marry an archaeologist because the older she gets, the more interested he gets.

Not married to an archaeologist, try good manners, genuine compliments, sweet rituals and practicing God’s unconditional love. They can add up to a 50th Wedding Anniversary. Bring them on. Press your party pants. Let’s have more of those “until death do you part” marriages.

You may reach Cathy at

Friday, July 14, 2006

Prayer Pagers

Due to cancer, Janice’s father had a stem cell replacement. After I said a prayer for him, I dialed his prayer pager then entered my zip code and hung up. A Baptist church loaned Janice’s dad the pager.

Her dad’s pager beeped over 100 times one day, alerting him that at least that many prayers were said for him. Some churches and hospital chaplaincies offer these pagers to seriously ill patients.

Zip codes pop up in the pager digital display letting patients know where prayers originated, and if a person is gravely ill, family members are given the pager. The pagers can be set to beep or vibrate.

Born with a spinal problem, Brandon Culp from Pennsylvania became paralyzed from a high school sport injury. He recovered and again walked. But in 2005, on his way back to college in Texas, an automobile accident once more paralyzed him. The accident occurred in Mississippi, and he remained in ICU for 11 days.

His dad and mom went to his aid and strangers came to theirs’. A Mississippi Christian placed a prayer pager in their hands. Even in ICU, Brandon’s dad Jack Culp held the pager against his son’s wrist. “Brandon, every time this pager vibrates, somebody’s praying for you. It’s people that you’ve never met. And they’re just praying that God will do just the best for you that he can.”

In 2002, Cordele United Methodist Church in Asbury, Alabama began a prayer pager ministry, now spread to many other states. Joe, who received a pager, had inoperable throat and neck cancer, requiring a year of radiation and chemotherapy. Throughout setbacks and pain, his pager remained with him. Just at times of grueling trial, he would hear a gentle beep, and his spirits lifted. Someone, somewhere just prayed for him.

The apostle Paul often heartened fellow Christians by outlining his prayers for them and letting them know he prayed, but he did it through letters. Friends often carried his letters to others. To reach their destination, they traveled in boats, on donkeys, or walked — extremely slow transport to Ephesus, Corinth, and Philippi.

In one letter to the Ephesians, he sketched his prayers letting them know he gave thanks for their faith, prayed for their enlightenment about God, and that they might come to a fuller knowledge of Jesus (Ephesians 1:15-23). Notice of his prayer support took days and days and more days to reach their ears.

Now, almost as fast as God hears a prayer, activated prayer pagers can notify the ill — someone, somewhere just prayed.

You may reach Cathy at

Friday, July 07, 2006

When Visitors Come to Church

While the Lord sees into Christians’ hearts, an un-churched visitor’s first impression of a church most likely will come from superficial elements: building, greeters, church slogan, location, Website, type of cars in parking lot, “dress code,” signage, leaders/ministers, ethnicity, worship style, and vocabulary. In today’s computer savvy world, church Websites are fast becoming the determining factor of “to visit or not to visit” a congregation.

I recently read Church Marketing 101 by Richard L. Reising and gained the above insights from his book. I like his subtitles better than his title because they better reflect the content of the book: Preparing Your Church For Greater Growth / A Revolutionary Blend of Corporate Marketing Strategy and Biblical Wisdom.

Since the world’s first impression of a body of believers most often comes from outward appearances, Reising, formerly in corporate marketing, points out church-stumbling-blocks that may keep visitors from returning. In one church, members became accustomed to a pink sanctuary with gold bows but male visitors found it overly feminine.

The author demonstrates from scripture how Jesus and Paul managed people’s perceptions, to help guide them to God—Jesus, who prayed outside Lazarus’ tomb for the benefit of the hearers, Paul, who became weak to those who were weak to win them to Christ (John 11:41-42; Acts 17:22-24; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Reising compares modern visitors to the Queen of Sheba, who first heard about Solomon and “his relation to the name of the LORD,” and “she came to test him with hard questions.” When she journeyed to his kingdom, Solomon answered all her questions, but the text says she also saw the order of his kingdom, “the servants in their robes, the cupbearers,” and “the food on his table and the seating of his officials.” The combination of hearing, seeing, and experiencing caused the Queen of Sheba to proclaim “blessed be the LORD your God” (1 Kings 10:4-10).

Reising, not a fan of surveys, watches people at churches, airports, malls, etc, enabling him to give sound advice. He was hired to consult with an affluent church, and in a later session with them, he said they literally spoke in brand names; they discriminated in areas of quality. Instead of hiking boots they said “Timberlands,” instead of sunglasses they said “Oakleys.” One leader kept referring to his drinking water as “my Evian.” Reising explained that a visitor whose basic need was to feed his family would have a difficult time relating to that prosperous congregation. They wouldn’t feel included.

Every church is marketed—from negative to positive, planned or not—visitors and communities receive messages. However, Reising makes this concession: most visitors are willing to overlook an outdated building or inane campaign slogans if when they meet the Christians they see Christ in the people and leaders.

Richard Reising’s first passion is to reach those who need Christ. So, his advice to congregations is straightforward. He encourages churches to better understand people. He urges congregations to prayerfully consider which segment of the masses they are called to reach, and confirms that when God calls God equips. Reising calls congregations to reflect the nature of Christ and to be relevant to the communities they are called to serve.

Friday, June 30, 2006

"Be nice to your sister"

“Be nice to your sister.” In the home of my youth, my mom spoke that command. Or she would say, “Be nice to your brother.” Niceties also belong in social etiquette.

A few days ago, the summer heat neared 100 degrees, and my car battery refused to start the engine. In a very crowded shopping strip with cars jammed together like sliced bread, I phoned two males in my family for advice.

Both out of town, one advised bumping the battery cables in case they were loose. The other advised calling a wrecker. Battery CPR did no good. I phoned a wrecker.

The sun beat down. Sweat beaded. With the car hood popped open, I avoided eye contact. I didn’t want anyone to think they had to stop and help in that heat. High humidity moistened my clothes but not my throat.

I waited in store-awning shade and watched shoppers jockeying for close-to-the-store parking spaces. My car was only three spaces from the sidewalk. Heat waves shimmered above the pavement. The car next to mine backed out, so I ran and stood in the vacant spot so the wrecker could conveniently pull alongside and use jumper cables.

But he was another six minutes arriving. Thirst mounted. More sweat dribbled. Where is the ozone layer when you need it? I hoisted my black umbrella over my head and politely turned away shoppers who tried to swing into the close-to-the store-vacant spot. Actually these were cousins. I read that all humans are kin by no more than a 50th cousin relationship.

At least 20 cousins drove by looking for that illusive close-parking. Nineteen were polite, courteous, and conversational, even asking if help was on the way. Thank you to all those 30th and 40th considerate cousins.

Then the exception to the rule rolled up. One person forgot her manners, pounded on her steering wheel, shook her head and fist and mouthed angry words from behind her rolled up windows in her air conditioned car.

Those 19 people who gave warm smiles equaled 19 cups of cold water to me. James, a follower of Jesus, wrote “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (2:8).

When any of us come upon someone experiencing trouble, we can add insult to injury or we can alleviate suffering. A smile, a kind word, or the loan of a cell phone may be all needed. Or we can choose to invest more.

We’re one big family. God narrows the family relations down to brothers and sisters when he calls us children. If someone needs help this steamy summer, remember, “Be nice to your sister.”

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, June 16, 2006

Heroes Memorial Garden

The man-made waterfall spilled over the mountain’s edge and seemed to disappear into the Pacific Ocean. On a recent visit to Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, I spent a quiet half hour atop the highest point of the campus in the Heroes Memorial Garden, dedicated to the memory of freedom’s heroes and Thomas E. Burnett Jr., an alumnus of Pepperdine, who died on September 11, 2001 aboard United Flight 93.

The day my sister Sherry and I visited the memorial, the sun warmed the air to a perfect 68 degrees. Waist-high rock walls separate the garden into airy rooms, and a hilltop breeze rustled the branches of exotic plants. Placed throughout the garden are large inscribed rocks with quotes from past and present heroes. Their words ushered our thoughts.

On September 11, Thomas Burnett phoned his wife Deena four times within 30 minutes. During that half hour, the airline passengers suffered the grim realization that the hijackers on Flight 93 were on a suicide mission to attack national targets in the United States. In his third phone call to Deena, he said, “We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together.”

In the fourth and final phone call, Thomas Burnett said, “We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane.” Deena, a former Delta Airline flight attendant, responded in the exact words taught in training. “No! Sit down, be still, be quiet, and don’t draw attention to yourself!”

Her husband replied. “We can’t wait for the authorities. We can do it.” Accepting his decision, Deena asked what she could do; he said, “Pray, Deena, pray.”

Her final words to him were, “I love you.”

His final words to her: “Don’t worry. We’re going to do something.”

In speeches, Deena Burnett says about her beloved, “I want you to know, while he will be remembered as a hero, he was much more than that. He was a man of heartfelt compassion, deep convictions, love, and had a keen sense of right and wrong, and he believed that morals and values were not debatable. To have died with such honor and valor is befitting of my husband.”

She also says, “He was a loving husband and father who adored his three young girls. He worked hard, was respected by his colleagues, and, on a daily basis, practiced quiet acts of integrity, honesty, respect, and kindness toward those with whom he came in contact.

She goes on to encourage audiences to honor the heroes of Flight 93 by living each day true to their convictions. The following words from Deena Burnett are etched in stone in the Heroes Memorial Garden: Remember that heroes can give their lives all at one time, or they can give a little each day.

On this weekend of honoring fathers, I salute all the everyday heroes: the dad in Africa who carries his child out of a war torn region to a refugee camp; the corporate-working dad, who remains devoted to his wife and children; the dad who is now known as Grandpa; the dad who has made mistakes but seeks another opportunity with his wife and kids.

Etched in stone on the path leading out of the Heroes Memorial Garden are these words: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Dads who are heads of state, and dads who collect household garbage, you have our admiration. You are everyday heroes. You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and it does not go unnoticed.

You may contact Cathy at

To read more about Thomas E. Burnett Jr. Family Foundation visit

Friday, June 09, 2006

Plunging into Possibilities

Order Cathy Messecar’s The Stained Glass Pickup, Glimpses of God’s Uncommon Wisdom at -- a hard back gift book, $10.99 or order by mail at P. O. Box 232, Montgomery, TX 77356
(S & H 3.00 -- Texans add .69 per book). Email orders to Outside United States order from or at

What others are saying:

"Cathy Messecar finds temples wherever she goes: in a chapel on a
university campus, at her children's bedsides, in a church full of
rustling Bible pages... or on a bale of hay, in the cab of an
eighteen-wheeler, in the aisle of a grocery store. Like a long-ago
Teacher walking the dusty roads of Galilee, she can spot the outlines
of the sublime camouflaged by the ordinary. Her images will touch your
imagination; her words will touch your heart; her visions of eternity
will touch your soul." ---Thom Lemmons, co-winner of the 2006 Christy award for Christian fiction King’s Ransom


Bread and water set off thoughts about faith. In The Message by Eugene Peterson, two phrases helped deepen my understanding and belief. First, in chapter 16, Jesus told his disciples to be careful of the “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The disciples witnessed Jesus supplying bread to thousands, but when Jesus mentioned yeast they thought he was reprimanding them for forgetting to buy bread. In the KJV and NIV, Jesus tagged their belief as “little faith.” Even though they witnessed bread miracles they were still bread-worriers. Peterson’s term for them is “runt believers.”

The second phrase is about Peter’s faith. He alone tried to walk on the water to Jesus, welterweight-faith but only Peter and Jesus did it. When he faltered and was up to his ankles in lake water, Jesus reached out his hand saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peterson’s language says, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

Is that the gentlest question you ever read? Jesus wasn’t angry about runt-faith. In both instances, he simply wanted his disciples to think into the realm of God’s possibilities.

God's plan for the church soars above our faint-hearts, above our imaginations, steering us to unimagined opportunities. Learning to pray beyond the sights we see and plunge into the possibilities of God's foresight is a faith journey.

In my past study of these scriptures, I made the mistake of spotlighting the “little faith,” the “runt believers,” the “faint-hearts.” The main character is the Savior supplying bread, standing on the water, giving lessons, fanning embers of faith, blowing on the coals of trust.

Jesus constantly taught and interpreted God to the disciples and by the end of their lives they had forest-fire faith. The message about the Christ was heard around the world because of their teaching.

How much do we want the world to hear about Jesus? Do we long for our friends, relatives or neighbors to see Jesus interpreted through our lives?

Whatever level of faith, God has granted you — dare to dream big. Pray big prayers and expect over-the-top results. God can do great things through folks who step out of the boat.

Plunge into his possibilities because even a faint-heart walked on water.

You may contact Cathy at

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Found 84 cents

I found 84 cents yesterday. In the daylight when I got out at the night deposit, because the funds I was depositing didn't immediately need posting, I saw change. Lots of dimes, nickels and pennies around and under my front driver-side tire.

Plenty of people were in line at the drive-up tellers. I didn't care that they were watching. I tell you, I was on my hands and knees scooping up those coins like a penniless pack rat. I even backed my car up a bit, so those few rubber bound coins under the tire could be retrieved.

Who loses that much change unless it's on purpose. Tacky little coins, heavy metal, weighing down the big bucks in our pockets. Just toss them away. Or maybe someone accidentally spilled their coin purse and didn't take the time to pick them up because they were in a trot, an unstoppable hurry.

In our culture, we often trade money for time. The benefactors: McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dry Cleaner/Laundry? Can you think of other money exchanges you make, shoving that debit card into unfamiliar hands so you can gain time?

Are you the type who picks up a penny, or do you leave it for the next person (with good knees that don't crack and pop when they bend that low)?

Sometimes you have to stoop down for blessings.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Knocked Down, Not Out

Order Cathy Messecar’s The Stained Glass Pickup, Glimpses of God’s Uncommon Wisdom at -- a hard back gift book, $10.99 or order by mail at P. O. Box 232, Montgomery, TX 77356 (S & H 3.00 -- Texans add .69 per book). Email orders to Outside United States order from or at

What others are saying:

"Cathy Messecar finds temples wherever she goes: in a chapel on a university campus, at her children's bedsides, in a church full of rustling Bible pages... or on a bale of hay, in the cab of an eighteen-wheeler, in the aisle of a grocery store. Like a long-ago Teacher walking the dusty roads of Galilee, she can spot the outlines of the sublime camouflaged by the ordinary. Her images will touch your imagination; her words will touch your heart; her visions of eternity will touch your soul." ---Thom Lemmons, co-winner of the 2006 Christy award for Christian fiction King’s Ransom

Knocked Down, Not Out

Roy Alexander gives presentations about an atrocious boating accident that occurred on March 7, 1987, and he begins with a Bible quote. “I may be knocked down, but I am not knocked out” (2 Corinthians 4:8, J. B. Phillips Translation).

An ordinary fishing trip with a group of five coworkers almost cost Roy his life when a pipe dislodged from its mooring, crushing open his right front cerebral lobe.

After four months in the hospital, Roy lost a lot — his position as Associate Executive Director of Conroe’s Mental Health/Mental Retardation Agency, his company car, and his speaking engagements. His confidence waned. He worried if his wife Judy could still love him, if he could love himself.

Roy said the sunken state of his skull was a constant reminder of his altered life. “I would catch people’s eyes not connecting with mine, but with the sunken skull.” During a fifth surgery (cranial plasty), the right side of his skull was filled to match the left side.

On the same day Roy was injured at sea, friends surprised my husband, David, with a 40th birthday celebration. They stood in our hallway, all 30 of them, trying not to giggle. Unaware, David, in his pajamas, lay on our sofa watching a sitcom when people rushed into the den shouting, “Surprise!”

After Dave changed into jeans and rejoined his party, one of the guests shared about Roy’s accident. Party plans were laid aside. We huddled together, prayed for our Christian friend, his wife and son.

Our minister’s sermon the next morning centered on Psalm 8 and that God’s mind is full of his people. God is at the helm of the universe, but his thoughts are still full of our goings-on. On March 7, 1987, God had many things in his mind, but he was intimately aware of a boating accident, a birthday celebration, and whatever happened in your life on that day.

Roy, now resides in Lubbock, Texas, lives a full life, and has a passion for helping head injury patients regain skills and confidence. He recently addressed one such group. A favorite line from his speech: “God never sees any of us as failures; he only sees us as learners.”

At the end of his speech Roy returns to the foundation of his belief: God steers individual lives. Because of his convictions, Roy encourages others and with confidence says, “I may be knocked down, but I’m not knocked out.”

You may contact Cathy at