Those Who Mourn

July 7, 2022

Here’s something weird that happened to me today. I have a sweet 90-year-old neighbor who wants to have her windows cleaned. She gave me a flier a few weeks ago for someone she was hoping would do the job. I made a call and what I thought was an appointment. Nobody showed up. I called the number on the flier again today. Short version: the guy who answered told me he was busy, that I should wash the windows for her myself, and then hung up on me. So, yes, weird. And, for a few too many moments, insulting and upsetting. Fortunately, I remembered that people sometimes have bad days, and I let it go.

A few hours later, I got a text that a dear friend had that very morning passed away too young and too fast. Now I’m the one having a rough day. But I don’t look any different. If I stub my toe, I’m probably going to break out in sobs. If I have to wait in a long line, I will probably look impatient. And if someone wants to have a deep conversation with me, there’s a good chance they’ll wonder why my face shows such obvious distraction. They won’t know unless I tell them.

  • If you’re having a rough day, please be willing to tell those who love you or who need to know so that they’ll understand what’s going on inside your head.
  • If someone treats you roughly, please be willing to make allowances, since you don’t know what may be going on inside that person’s head.

My grandchildren have been learning to list the fruit of the spirit, creating a perfect opportunity for me to review and remember that list as well:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

If you’d asked me to name them a month ago, I would have gotten about seven out of nine. The two I think I would have missed were goodness and gentleness. Those are the subtle ones, ones that are all about how we treat others, and the ones I urge you to consider today. Please, go about your day today with goodness and gentleness, letting the rough edges of those around you become beacons of need. We have the Holy Spirit within us, equipping us to make allowances, even when they seem undeserved. We may never know the full story…

Photo credit: Fa Barboza via

Patience, Trust, and a Watchful Eye

The man I met in high school and married six years later is 100% Greek. During our first Thanksgiving together, Steve’s mom graciously spent the weekend teaching me to cook the ethnic delicacies of his childhood. I still make a mean avgolemono soup and a terrific pan of spanakopita, but the dish we’ve eaten the most over the years is rice pudding. I made it again this morning, partly because it’s one of the only foods my very pregnant daughter finds appealing right now.

But Greek rice pudding is a bit tricky. It requires patience, trust, and a watchful eye.

First, according to the recipe, you have to simmer (and stir frequently) a rice, milk and sugar combination for about 20 minutes. Simmer, not boil. Boil it, and you’ll have a milky mess flowing over the edges of your pot and onto your stove. Forget to stir it, and some of the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch. And as for that 20 minute cooking time, it’s not to be trusted. At about the 19 minute mark, you’ll have to start dipping into the pot to test the rice, looking for that moment when it’s just soft enough, not too firm, and not too mushy.

Next comes the adding of the eggs. This is not a cake you’re making. If you just dump in a couple of eggs and stir them around, you’ll get a disappointing mess of creamy rice shot through with hard little lumps of scrambled eggs. Instead, you must do what my old Betty Crocker cookbook calls “tempering the eggs.”

  • First beat the eggs in a bowl.
  • Then slowly, slowly add a small stream of hot milk and rice to the eggs, continuing to beat them.
  • When half of the hot liquid has been added to the eggs, slowly pour the pudding back into the pot, still stirring and simmering for another couple of minutes.

Then, finally, you can sprinkle on a little cinnamon and eat it, right? Nope. Not unless you want to burn your tongue. After all that, you still have to wait for it to cool. And, truth be told, before it cools it won’t look done. It will look like a sloppy mess. You’ll be pretty sure you did something wrong. But it thickens into creamy goodness as it cools.

As I made my most recent batch of rice pudding, I thought about how our spiritual lives also require a great deal of patience, trust, and a watchful eye.

We set out to make something of our day, or of our lives, seeking to do as our Lord leads us. Much of the time it seems to take forever to get where we think we’re supposed to go. Rushing almost always makes a mess of things. Patient, prayerful attention goes against our hurried natures, but it really is the only way to go. And so we wait. We pray. We attend to our tasks, following the instructions he gives us along the way. We trust, as things simmer, that God is turning them into something wonderful (no matter how they may look at the start).

Photo credit: @rasmusgs via

What’s on Your Plate?

Raise your hand if you’ve:

  • Already read the book of Colossians several times.
  • ‘Done a Bible study on it?
  • Heard countless sermons where the text is taken from that popular letter of Paul’s?

Then join me in being somewhat astonished that there’s always something new to learn there. Here’s what I read today:

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’” (Colossians 4:7).

Now, I’m just guessing here, but since Paul saw fit to include that line in his letter, maybe Archippus was tempted to quit. Quit what? Who knows? But whatever it was, it was a task the Lord had given him, and one he was meant to complete. And, evidently, he needed a bit of solid encouragement and direction to do just that.

The work you have received from the Lord. What work have you received from the Lord? Ah, yes, we all take on tasks we shouldn’t, maybe out of pride or greed or simple American ambition-on-steroids. That’s a lesson for another day. I’m talking about work you know in your heart the Lord wants you to do. It might be a life’s work. It might be an afternoon’s calling. Some versions of Colossians 4:17 use the word “ministry” instead of “work” to describe what Archippus needs to keep doing. I believe all work the Lord calls us to do, whether lofty or lowly, is really our ministry. So, no matter what the task might be, don’t quit!

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Crossing Bridges

I’m writing this in mid-March as schools are closing and grocery stores are running out of toilet paper. Mid-sentence, I’ve stopped to wonder what the world will be like by the time you read this. Maybe better. Maybe worse. Either way, the lessons I’ve learned in the last few days will be important.

“Don’t borrow trouble.” This is a favorite line of my mom’s from my growing up years, and one I wrote about here long ago.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” While that line sounds trite and irresponsible, I’ve come to embrace it. Why? Because I was spending multiple hours planning out every possible virus-influenced scenario.

  • Should we spend Easter in California with Jake and Elizabeth?
  • Should I move my parents to my home? Or just have them over a lot?
  • When should I go back and buy more groceries?
  • Should we take that pre-planned, pre-paid trip to the beach?
  • Do I have enough Tylenol?
  • And on, and on, and on.

Then one day I read a blog that said, “How much brain space are you giving to the virus?” Ouch. I wasn’t wallowing in worry. Really, I wasn’t. I know our days are in the hands of our Lord. I know that whatever path this thing takes, I will be walking that path with Him. BUT (and this is big for me) I was still allowing way too much of my brain power to be devoted to over-planning too far ahead. It was my way of deluding myself into thinking I could be in control. (Hint: We should be prudent and do a bit of planning, but we should never think we can be in control.)

So, the day I read that blog, I spent some time in prayer, and asked for prayer back up from my husband and my sister. I needed direction for the imminent, and I needed to relinquish the future—the bridges I hadn’t come to and didn’t need to cross yet.

Before very long, pieces started to fall into place. Some of the activities I wondered about became impossible. Some became urgent—a solid push to action within my spirit. Many, though, became currently irrelevant. What I mean is that I couldn’t know what to do yet. I didn’t need to know yet, and it was a waste of mental energy, a bent toward borrowing trouble, to try to figure out what to do. Then, by the grace of God, I stopped.

The next day I “happened” to read Isaiah 30:21, written to the Israelites, who were forgetting to listen and trust, but applicable to me as well: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

And now, by God’s grace, I’m learning the balance between prudent planning and obsessive control. The right response to decisions that loom in my future is often simply, “God will help me cross that bridge when I come to it.”

Lest you think I learn lessons quickly, you might take a look at the first time God tried to teach me this lesson—over forty years ago. See here. I hope you’ll spare yourself a lot of heartache and learn that lesson now.

With Love to All of You, Brenda

I Need Internet!!!

She looked to be about six years old, sitting there in the Sacramento airport (which, as airport terminals go, is really rather nice.) I don’t know her name, but for the sake of this story, let’s call her Emma. She was with her family, had a carryon next to her that looked a bit like a pink and gray elephant, and was holding an ipad. A few moments earlier, I’d heard her say, “There’s no internet!!!” I must admit I chuckled a little at her juvenile frustration. But when I heard that second line—“I need internet!!”—that’s when I began to think about how far we’ve come. 

“I need….”

What do you need that you don’t already have? What do I need? For most of us, the honest answer is, “Not much.” Little Emma was comfortably dressed, spending her time in climate controlled comfort, and surrounded by access to plenty of food, clean water and sanitation. I can say the same of myself today. Chances are, so can you.

Yet still we clamor.

Our basic needs satisfied, we come up with new ones, false ones that keep us from contentment. Worse yet, those trumped up “needs” keep us from thanking our Heavenly Father for his generous provision, time and time again. What a shame!

And here’s another twist to my story. The Sacramento airport provides free high speed internet all over its two terminals. All Emma needed to do was apply a little patience, and maybe ask her dad for help, before her rather unnecessary want would be fulfilled.

Analogy alert! How often does our Lord even desire to fulfill our wants—those in line with his wise will—if we’ll only ask him and then apply a little patience to the situation?

Here are the verses that come to mind as I type:

  • “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
  • “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:8).
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

I’m asking you (and myself as well) to take action in three ways this week:

  • Assess your needs and notice how well the Lord has met them.
  • Tell the Lord your wants as well, then be patient as you wait for him to fulfill the ones that are best for you.
  • And give hearty thanks for all that you’ve been given!


Olivia Montgomery is going to marry my daughter-in-law’s brother! In some sort of delightful but hard-to-define way, we are about to be related. And, of course, we are Facebook friends. That’s how I found the wonderful post I’m sharing below. She is young, but wise for her years. I hope you’ll soak up a bit of her wisdom today!


I have a confession. I am not very good at being still. Before I got into nursing school I was anxious about the nursing entrance exam, and when I got through that I was anxious about getting through the first semester, and after barely getting through that… I didn’t even celebrate, because I was so anxious about preparing for what the next one would bring. The list goes on… and on…

No, being still is not something that I am very good at. However, being still is something God has laid on my heart, and in this season of stillness, here is what He is teaching me.

This season that I am in, the season that I have been in, and the season that I am one day going to be in… these all come from a God who is all-knowing, and these all come from a God who is GOOD. To quote Lysa TerKeurst, “God is good all of the time, and God is good at being God.”

  • Certainly, we can put our hope and trust in a God who knows the stars by name.
  • Certainly, we can put our faith and uncertainties in a God who spoke everything into existence with a single word.
  • And, certainly we can put our insecurities, doubts, and worries into a God who took dust and from it breathed all of human anatomy and physiology—a heart that pumps blood, a brain that sends thousands of chemical signals throughout the body firing at every second, lungs that breathe fresh air in and out, and skin that regenerates itself in approximately every 27 days.

We don’t need to worry about tomorrow, because we know who HOLDS tomorrow, and He has not only big plans for us, but GOOD plans for us.

Want to ready more of Olivia’s thoughts? Just check out her blog at this link:…/f…/