Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Gentleness Goes a Long Way

A number of years ago we took our family to a ranch in Montana. It was a camp for families but upscale as we had our own cabin and walked over to the main hall for meals.

A big feature of this Ranch was the horses and horse back riding. The horses ranged from very frisky down to the one called Snowy. This horse was white and had a wide back. The most interesting thing about this horse was the youngest child could safely ride on Snowy. He never bucked or startled. He was a large, beautiful horse in size but once on top, the rider could be a real cowpoke!
Gentleness is not something that we seem to value much. We might think of gentleness as weakness but that is not what it is. Gentleness comes out of the inner being and includes being mild mannered which means not over reacting to someone else's anger over issues but rather understanding them and saying things at the right time, right way, right tone, the right content or noting at all, but never to hurt.

Gentleness also includes being kind, tender hearted and thinking of the person in your path. That includes being outgoing as much as your nature allows but also not rushing on with your life because you are so entitled and important and the other person isn't.

Snowy never rushed. He plodded. Children could take the reins on top of this powerful, strong horse and he let them guide him. Snowy exhibited humility. He was majestic but he was willing to walk or jog slightly if appropriate but he waited for the small person on top to direct.

If we value something like gentleness, we will be more open to ask the Lord for the fruit of gentleness in our lives. When we aren't being gentle, we will have the error before us and we may hurt others. We can correct our attitude and learn to walk on in gentleness, blessing others with our calming air.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Years ago, we decided to double the size of our house to accommodate our growing family. Part of the plan was to extend the kitchen and dining room to make a walkway to the new family room. This extension and the family room required extensive knocking out of walls, and tons of digging up of dirt and reinforcing all kinds of mysterious things I didn't understand. What I did learn about is the foundations. It took longer than anyone could predict. It was messy and sometimes seemed endless.

The same can be said of Christian work. Foundations must be laid down carefully. The digging done in the quiet of prayer is essential. It may be unseen and sometimes prolonged but there needs to be this foundation laid and continued if a work built is to survive. Prayer is not an accessory, it is pivotal and powerful to be discerning, empowering, encouraging and even directing the coming edifice.

So much has been forgotten about this necessary part of building that I want to moan and cry. We see great works fall down easily without prayer.

God's ways are not man's ways. A work for the Lord is only as strong as the ongoing real, heartfelt prayer of the saints.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Sprinkles of Love

Have you noticed how much children like to chatter? From the time they learn a few words and they use them. It is easy as a parent to tune out on some of this chatter, but in order to teach them to listen, we need to give undivided attention, one at a time if possible.

When our children were young, I would take each one out, for what I called "special time". It was something fun for the child and what he or she was interested in. A favorite place was a large toy store. And after a little shopping, we would go for ice cream and I would listen. Special time says "You are valuable and I like being here with you."

On a daily basis, the time at bedtime for each can be important, especially for younger children. Listening about their day. Hearing their hearts about what was important. We never underestimate the impact of these moments on children as we are telling them: you are valuable and important.

I know parents get tired and this is a trying time with them, when they are with them all the time. But, the ingredients for building some strong relationships for later starts now, plus you can imprint children with solid values as well as learn a little yourself.

Sprinkles of love start with two ingredients: Time and Patience. We give the time and God gives us grace for the rest.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Open Door

In winter the doors are shut where we live. It is cold! But in spring, it is a delight to open the door, let in fresh air and to look at the new green leaves on trees.

We shed coats and gloves and go through open doors to take a walk without all the layers of winter. Plenty of us are walking more than ever because that is what we can do with gyms closed. Walking can give a great uplift to our spirit; and how we need to get away from all the bad news and take in the beauty of spring. We can feel renewed like nature around us stretching and producing something new for others to see.

Because God is infinitely creative he can restore us in surprising ways. Today on a long walk by a river I paused on a bridge and looked down to see on the small shore a couple of women with their children in swim suits frolicking in and mainly out of the very cold melted snow water. They were having a wonderful moment, and the mothers were enjoying sitting on chairs just watching them and nodding to each other.

It was a glimpse of a mini vacation, and I realized it was just what I needed from what has seemed an endless time of constant demands. I can't get on a plane or go away, but by putting myself in a relaxing scene, it can be a time to feel the warmth of the sun and hear the rushing river beneath my feet: A river that, like the spirit, keeps moving us from one place to another. And that river knows where it is going and is powerful to lift and move us onto paths that are ordained for us. 

God has set before us an open door. Let us boldly go through the door we need today and into His marvelous light.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


A small hummingbird came to visit me early this morning. I watched quietly as it took sips of water off a rose leaf outside my window. Such a small bird requiring only a few drops of water to be refueled. And then in a second it flew off at top speed.
I felt watching that this was a little visitor from above, perhaps with a message. The birds are free to fly. They come visit in season, and they have to stop to have a sip of pure water now and again.

We, like hummingbirds, especially in this season, need to find where our drops of refreshment are. We need to stop beating our wings and flying around at a terrific pace in order to benefit from the times we are in. We are in a place where we can find new places to pause and rest and rehydrate, drinking in all the drops of joy and peace God wants us to have.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Open Skies

It is spring all over with blossoms and trees showing new leaves. A walk is a good thing to lift our spirits in this trying time for America. And yet, there are some very encouraging things happening.

This week, I found out that some pastors from different churches that proclaimed Christ as Lord mentioned this and prayed for our area using a video conferencing by This to my knowledge has not happened in the Boise area.

The church is starting to be visible as force outside buildings. This is the new normal. Open skies can mean more people being open to spiritual messages all around you.

Today on my walk, I noticed a young woman who had about 80 medium boxes packed on her lawn. "Are you moving?" I asked. "No," she said. "These are from my dialysis and I no longer need them." The boxes led to a spiritual conversation with her about Jesus as the healer. I encouraged her to read the gospels Mathew, Mark, Luke and John to see Jesus healing.

She nodded, listening across the correct distance of more than six feet, for I was walking in the street. I could see she was wide open to what I was mentioning, and I was so was bold enough to suggest a prayer to receive Christ with her.

Here it is: 
"Thank you, Lord Jesus for healing me. I ask you to forgive my sins. I invite you into my heart and thank you for dying on the cross for me."

"I will pray that with my parents," she said quietly. "Good." I said. 

Let's not miss any opportunity to share our faith under the open sky above us.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Quiet Moments Out

So, we all are staying inside our homes even in Idaho. My big gym is open to ten people at a time. Put your name on list and we can connect...  or you can head to hills to exercise or go to drive through coffee.

It is a good idea for all of us to get out of our homes while complying with health rules. Somehow being outside on a spring day can lift our spirits. The sky is still up there. The big cumulus clouds are beautiful to behold as they change shapes and colors.

The ducks still swim on the pond and chase each other. We can find moments like these in each day. The family can take a hike together and weather permitting find a spot for a picnic. PICNICS are just one of my favorite things. So, I may not be hiking up Mt. Everest but I can take a refreshing walk and get out my picnic LUNCH and EAT it quietly and deeply relax.

Getting ourselves in balance requires meditation. "Be well balanced."  Can we practice this today and feel peace and quiet come into our hearts?

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Red Box

My friend, Amy's grandparents lived in a big farmhouse in small town in Indiana, that nobody would know it's name. I always thought the farmhouse was scary.

She invited me to sleep over there when we were in junior high. This was a surprise because she never talked much about where she lived. She was there for a few years with her mother and something have happened to her Dad.
Amy was cute, smart and quiet. All the things I was not. I was awkward, not so smart and sometimes people told me I talked too much. Maybe I still do. 

Now I am grown up, I drive a rental car with a GPS. I found myself getting lost twice and not quite trusting the map on the dashboard. I stopped at a gas station to get redirected by an attendant who looks like he might still be in elementary school. No help there. Fortified, I ordered a super large soft drink, donuts in plastic bag and candy. I am on the way to Amy's.

As I munch and sang an old song, I remembered the sleepover. My parents dropped me off looking slightly concerned by the remote old farmhouse. "Don't worry. All is fine." I took my gear and gave a grand wave from the porch almost falling off in my eagerness to get rid of them.

Of course they stayed until the door opened with a big creeking noise and I tried to turn and get away but a calloused hand caught my shoulder and dragged me inside.

This was Amy's Granddad and he was big and scary. (I told you I talked too much) but when he was dragging me I couldn't even say, "where's Amy?"

As it turned out, she was by the fire with her grandmother. Grandmother Tess. This story is about her and her Red Box. Of course I didn't see it that night. Grandma Tess had cookies and not chocolate for us after a fried chicken dinner. Then we went up to Amy's room and did important things like telling secrets to each other. Talking about teachers and jumping up and down on the twin beds.

Grandma Tess must have heard us because she just opened the door and put her finger to her lip. We got to bed snuggling under the coverlets filled with chicken feathers. 

So now here I was almost at the farmhouse. Why was I here? Simple because my friend, Amy texted me to tell me her grandmother had died and that she couldn't face it without me.

I almost turned around but then I didn't, because Amy and I had been friends and kept in touch like forever. It wasn't a superficial relationship. She knew things about me no one else knew. And I thought I knew her but I was in for some surprises especially the Red Box but that didn't come up until later.

I stopped the car. Shook a few crumbs off my clothes, popped the trunk, and grabbed my bag. It was like replay. I felt nervous hoping her Granddad's ghost wasn't around. The door still squeaked and so did I. "Eeeeeeeek... " I said, as puzzled Amy stood before me.

"Caffeine!" I said and other stuff. "Come on in," she said. "I am so glad you came." She took out a Kleenex and I could see she was in grief. I'm so sorry about Grandmother Tess. The kitchen had been updated. We sat and talked and I won't bore you about all that but I just felt it was right for me to come.

Over ice cream, I know, it was chocolate ripple, she gave her news. "I can't believe it " she said. She left me this house. "So generous."

"Yes," I said, as a trickle of ice cream fell out of my mouth. She laughed at me. "You always were one for sweets." The next morning I said. "I am ready to help you here." So I got into the kitchen and you can't believe how many canned things she had put up were there.

Amy had disappeared into Grandma's bedroom. After a few hours I decided to see how she was doing. I opened the door Amy was sitting on the floor sobbing her heart out and between her legs there was a large Red Box.  I approached carefully. My friend seemed to be having a breakdown. She didn't notice me. I touched her shoulder and she only said the Red Box. "Do you want me to call a doctor, dial 911 or bring you a Coke?"

She choked one last sob and started to laugh. I got down on the floor and went along. Soon we were having histerics together and the Red Box just sitting there. I put out my arm and pulled it between us, then lifted the lid. "It's empty!" I said, of course it was, as we emptied it that Christmas.

I knew the Christmas she meant. It was the one that almost everyone was broke. Farmers at least had food. "Tell me about this Red Box," I said handing us both cokes.

Here is what happened. We were living here that awful year. My mother had no work. Grandma had her chickens and she sold the eggs. My Grandfather worked and worked but the crops were bad. I never knew people could be so poor and scared of their shadows.

People came knocking on our door saying they would take any kind of work. My grandfather just sent them away but I would see Grandma Tess go for a walk with her basket, and I just knew she was giving some of them our eggs, and I felt a little mad. Maybe we would not have enough. 

How little I knew. She started to sniffle.

It was three weeks before Christmas and I opened the door and here was this cardboard box and inside Grandma Tess opened it. "How lovely," she said. "I am going to fill this right to the top with presents for everyone."

She was so happy that she started to do a little dance and sang "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." You have to understand that my grandmother was a real Christian who put what she believed into action. She visited the sick. She was always baking a little extra cake of biscuits for someone.

Of course that year things had slowed down because she didn't have all her supplies. No one had. That is why I left her singing with the Red Box thinking that everyone was going a bit crazy. And we were. But, strange things started happening. I would hear the front door. Soft whispers. Then quiet. It was the door that made me think I was cracking up. I would fall back dreaming of chocolate cake with butter cream icing. 

In the morning, I would go down and have cereal with no butter and go to school with a slice of bread and an old apple.

Grandma Tess was mysterious in those weeks. She would have a neighbor take her to see the same sick friend who had been dying the week before and most suspiciously, she put a pretty red scarf around her worn coat. The red scarf meant she was up to something. I was afraid she had started a life of crime.

I tried to tell my mother and she burst out laughing. Your grandmother is the most generous woman in the world. Who else would take all that on, after he left her, the way he did. And that was all she would say.

The red scarf disappeared. I knew it was made of Scottish wool and one of her most cherished items. But Grandma's happiness continued and it was contagious. We all just stopped being afraid.

People from church brought in a large Christmas tree and we made popcorn chains and got out ornaments. The radio was turned on and we sang along and got merry. The fire made a special glow. I felt warm inside and out.

It was only a week to Christmas, Grandma Tessa looked tired. I even saw her sleep in the afternoon with her Bible on her lap. The night before Christmas, we had chicken soup and there were no presents under the tree. "Never mind, my dear," my mother said, "we have each other."

Well, I did mind but did not voice anything out loud. Early the next morning, I did smell something baking. When I walked into the kitchen, there was this Red Box and beside it was a big chocolate cake with icing. "Merry Christmas!" Grandma said, "Please take the Red Box and put it under the tree." 

By the time Amy finished, I was crying like a baby.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Taking the Right Attitude

Dear Readers,
I absolutely believe that being still and bring more aware of God right now is important for each of us. (See previous post.)

As that is put into place in your life and even if it is new to you, spending time in quiet and Bible meditation will help you more than you can know.

Also, I want to add some very practical things to help you endure however long this might take.

We need to examine how our own attitude is about our situation. Change is never easy. So many closed doors that used to be open.

Here are some suggestions
Call on the phone and have a leisurely visit with a friend or family member.
Set the time up ahead. Maybe these are people you only send a holiday card to. Now is the time to share and help each other by listening and praying for each other.

If your attitude is all BLACK AND BLUE over what is happening, you need to change your focus.

Do some things you like to do. If you can't exercise in the normal way, you can still walk, or jog outside or just exercise in house. When we were snowed in a few years ago, a neighbor who regularly walked 3 miles a day, changed her program. She walked inside her own house. Of course, she drove her husband a bit crazy.

Rather than think. "I am stuck. Can't fly. Can't etc," start to think about what can I do here in my place. Maybe it isn't creative like writing or art but if that is something you have thought about, maybe this would be a time to explore. Maybe you have wanted to try a new recipe that took hours. Go for it! You have time.

Kids thrive on attention. You can now read more than a bedtime story. Or, if you like music, you can enjoy an opera or symphony or entire album.

I have found music a real help in keeping the mind positive. And remember the old fashioned letter? Why not write a really good one to someone at this time. So get out the old quill pen and ink pot!

You can change your attitude, but you are the only one who can do that. 
Let's help each other by showing our love and concern.

Keep safe and love each other,
Joyce Dueker

Keep Your Focus

Let's face it. If the last few weeks haven't rattled you. You must be dead.

Yes. A little C-19 virus has become the prime culprit that has set off a crazy volatile world. This has caused within a short period of time world wide trouble and distress.

In America, for now, it is somewhat stressful. There is a toilet paper shortage in grocery stores. We are not used to empty shelves are we? We are used to having it all when we want it. But, that little virus has caused people to fear and stockpile.

The stock market has taken a swan dive into an empty pool. Trillions of values have been lost. Painful to say the least. Good companies are struggling. The government is trying to pump money in. The chaos is scary.

Workers have been told. "Go home and work there. Children have been told "Go home. School is closed." The poor have been told. "Sorry, no job here for you."

I do not really need to go on. We are all living in this new war-virus zone world of fear and uncertainty. These certainly are our enemies.

David, in the Bible, had to run and hide from Saul who had sent out people to kill him. He had very real enemies, but David had a vital relationship to God. What did he do when he was in distress? David – Cried out to God. "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my cry came before him even to his ears,"

Read Psalm 18. What happened after that?  Click the link and see for yourself!

The way to get through this is certainly the path of faith in the Lord who wants us to praise him as know him as "my rock and my fortress" also "my deliverer" and the God who is deserving of our praise as David knew him.

Have we neglected our God and forgotten that He alone is our strength and help in times of trouble?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Be Still and Hear the Voice of the Lord!

We live in a very noisy world. It honks at us, demands speed from us, robs us our centering stillness.

This world is filled with words. We are inundated with one wave of information after another and hardly can stop the flow.

The Bible says. "Be still and know that I am God." It is our job to find stillness in this world today.
We could go for a walk without any phone on us.
We could listen to music, especially classical, without words.
We could get up early before the noise starts and spend time in quiet.
We could find a way to be still if we really tried and valued stillness.

It is our job to "BE STILL". If we have lost the most important voice of the Lord we must train ourselves to tune out and tune in.

Jesus also withdrew to pray. How much so do we, his sheep, or his wandering sheep, or his lost sheep, need to feed ourselves in the balm of stillness?