My friend Debbie and I were chatting over cups of coffee when the topic of prayer came up. She mentioned my recent post* about my annoyance when a stranger stopped to bless me, and then asked a thought-provoking question:

“What would have made the blessing easier for you to receive?”

I immediately recalled another time, eight years ago…

My daughter Angie and I were shopping for groceries when a petite, dark-haired woman approached us and timidly asked, “Would it be alright if I prayed for you?”

She could see that I was undergoing treatment for cancer, since I was wearing my chemo cap and mask. The kind woman shyly explained that she normally would never do this, but an overwhelming feeling had prompted her to ask. I noticed her discomfort, but I also saw her humble and earnest desire to bless me. I willingly accepted.

So, in the middle of the produce section, we held hands and she quietly prayed for me. I don’t recall her words, but I vividly remember the feeling. She seemed like an angel, and the moment became sacred as our connection deepened beyond the two of us. Her gentle presence and her heartfelt concern left me glowing as we went on our way. I felt truly and genuinely blessed.

My blessing at the park was audibly proclaimed through a courageous loudspeaker.

My blessing at the grocery store was quietly transmitted through a humble conduit.

I trust that God loves us beyond our limited understanding, beyond our human prayers. But if our intention is to truly bless others, it seems that we should first be attentive to them. Our prayers might be better received if they come from a spirit of grace and humility, and from thoughtful care for another’s hopes, needs, and comfort level. A genuine blessing will avoid assumptions and confrontations and instead, await discernments and invitations.

A blessing truly blesses when we can help someone feel uplifted by our encounter–and assured of God’s love through our sensitive and caring presence. I will always tenderly remember the stranger who did this for me.


Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash. Thank you.


As I travel on life’s journey
(maps and schedules in my hand),
most days go as expected,
well-organized and planned.

But when I encounter detours,
or life becomes a mess,
or the road just stops before me,
I feel the wilderness.

I think of you, then, Jesus,
for you entered and endured
the wilderness before you,
both tested yet secured.

Please give me fresh perspective
in this dry and weary land,
for in these lost and lonely times
I trust you’re close at hand.

Where I see desolation,
show me simplicity,
and let the barrenness become
a spaciousness so free.

Where there is utter silence,
speak your tranquility,
and in the vast, unending sky
reveal eternity.

When the wolf howls in the night
(and I cry softly, too),
please take away my fears and tears
as only you can do.

I know I’m never homeless,
nor lost, nor all alone
for you’re with me in this wilderness;
you’ve made your presence known.

I may call myself a nomad,
but yet I keep in mind
that we journey on together,
one small step at a time.

And like your servant Abram,
each time I stop to rest,
I will place another altar
in humble thankfulness.

Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom on Unsplash


I was walking at Valley Park with my usual slight limp that has developed over the years (the pain in my hip is from my crooked spine and the usual aches of aging). As I strolled around the pond, I smiled and greeted an older gentleman passing by. We walked on, but then he suddenly stopped and called back, “Ma’am?” When I turned around, he raised his hand and proclaimed, “I bless you in the name of God that the demon causing your discomfort be removed from you.” I graciously thanked him and went on my way.

If I stopped here, this story would remain a tale of kindness from a stranger along my path.

But here’s the thing…

Even as I appreciated his concern, I resented his action. My judgmental spirit was annoyed that he interrupted me, that he presumed he could bless me without knowing me or my story. My indignant soul was irritated that he called the reason for my pain a “demon.” My inner skeptic was doubtful, because even as I know that prayer can be powerful, it seemed as if his prayer was more about his glory than my healing. After all, I know that my hip is physically impaired and will need more than prayer to remedy.

And here’s the next thing…

When I headed on down the path, my hip actually began to feel better.

And here’s the honest and ugly and (I hope) humorous thing…

I continued to limp. I didn’t want him to believe that his blessing somehow worked. I didn’t want to encourage his presumptuous behavior, nor did I want him to have a mistaken testimony.

And here’s the rest of the story…

As I continued to reflect on this incident, my thoughts moved from my hurting hip to my broken self. I sensed God revealing new and humbling insights. Was my relief simply from endorphins sparked by his blessing? Or could I remain pain free if I truly believed in his prayer? Did he have a genuine charism that guided his actions and insights? Was I too easily defensive? Should I open my heart and soul to healing and mystery more often? How much more could I have blessed him if I had admitted, “I think you may have helped”? How often do my pride and obstinance hinder me from receiving or blessing others?

Chastened, I continued around the soccer field and considered the variety of ways that healing can happen. Perhaps the blessing didn’t heal my hip, but it may have healed some of my prideful spirit. Perhaps I didn’t bring as much joy as I might have, but the gentleman may have been healed by my smile and words of gratitude. Perhaps his courage to proclaim the blessing fulfilled and healed a need of his own. Perhaps my skepticism had been healed by an invitation to greater mystery.

Perhaps more healing had taken place than I initially imagined.

That’s when I found this necklace, with a cross and a pendant that looks like the world. Hanging it on the fence post so someone may find it more easily, I thought to myself…

I don’t know how all of this works, but I do know that God is at work in all of this.

(Photo by Karen)



Before the green tangle
of the vines and the brush,
there was a time
when students would rush
over the creek to their school each day.

And I was their bridge
built sturdy and strong;
the passage to follow
as they walked along,
laughing and talking while going their way.

Then–a roadway, a fence
around the school ground…
soon life became quiet;
a new route was found.
My role as a bridge was suddenly finished.

The students then walked
in a different direction;
I no longer served
as their useful connection.
I was a bridge, but my purpose diminished.

The chatter is now
a quieter hush
of critters and insects,
and the soft gentle rush
of the wandering stream as it passes beneath.

Although it is true
that I’m covered with vines,
and now rusted and worn
from the passage of time,
I’m still the same bridge that lies underneath.

My mission has changed,
but I’m blessed to know
I’m providing a trellis
for new life to grow.
My purpose may differ, but my essence remains.

I’m now a connection
between earth and sky,
a place for a rest
as birds learn to fly,
for vines to reach upward and sunlight obtain.

The years will keep passing,
and I may keep fading,
but if I can be helpful
without hesitating
to serve yet another, I’ll not be defeated.

Through every season
of life, I’m connecting
one to another,
supporting, protecting.

I may be old, but I am still needed.

We should be in constant evolution and adapt to the new without ever losing our essence or our integrity.
~ Pedro Capo

(Photos by Karen)


We have a large, often unsightly drainage basin across from our house. Two years ago, as our neighborhood community considered using chemicals to reduce the weeds and foliage, I asked if I could plant flowers instead. I had recently seen a few rain gardens while staying at a spiritual retreat center, and I wondered if this wet basin could serve as one, too. Everyone graciously agreed, and three of the men offered to mow the grassy rim and trim the sides while I maintained the bottom of the basin.

During my not-too-thorough research, I learned that blue flag irises like very wet soil and will quickly spread. I soon began envisioning a big bowl of beautiful blue-purple irises right outside our door! I ordered the seeds and scattered them as best I could in the muddy bottom.

The irises can take at least a year to mature and fully flower, so when we had no blooms last year I was not discouraged. This year, I have been watching for any thin reedy stems or other signs that even a few have taken root. I have yet to see any irises, but my hope remains that they just need a little more time, that one day, a few will bloom. If there are no blooms next spring, I will try a different flower.

In my watching and waiting, I have gleaned another insight:
I may never find a blue flag iris, but I have found the joyful heart of a springtime gardener.

The springtime gardener…
~ plants seeds of promise and potential
~ envisions the future with hope
~ stewards, protects, and enhances the beauty of creation
~ sows good seed today without needing a guaranteed harvest tomorrow
~ is not intimidated by the possibility of failure
~ savors the work itself, the purpose of the moment
~ remembers the greater intention behind each small action
~ notices the gracious supply of God when personal efforts fail (notice the white wildflowers on the left).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep the heart of a springtime gardener for all the seasons of life?

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. — Robert Louis Stevenson

(Photo by Karen)


Now the day gently rises
upon early dawn
and the choir of creation
soon bursts into song.

May I join with the praise
of each songbird chorus
and in giddy delight
applaud with the forest.

May I glean inspiration
through nature, your teacher
proclaiming your presence
and kinship with creature.

May I speak of your hope
and divine mystery;
let each word of comfort
be a kind liturgy.

May I seek out the sacred
with deep reverence,
through holy, awed silence,
and sweet penitence.

May I share the communion
of human connection
through the breaking of bread
with love and affection.

May I sense you are moving
in breezes that blow,
in the smile of another,
in the soft morning glow.

May I savor the rituals
that order my day
with the walking, the writing,
the moments I pray.

May I feel benediction
as day becomes night,
when I peacefully thank you
and turn out the light.

May I find each day holy,
a blessed sacrament,
and so honor each moment
with sacred intent.

(Photo by Karen)


The dreary dawn reflected my spirit – gloomy, discouraged, downhearted – as I walked this morning. Even as I felt grateful for the many blessings in my personal life, I grieved for the world. Every day it seems there is something new to grieve, a new story of tragedy and heartache that is yet a repeat of yesterday’s story… and the story before that…

Jesus did say, “In this world you will have trouble…” and his words of truth have given me a broader perspective and deeper wisdom when troubles come. But on this morning’s walk, I felt such frustration and futility that I didn’t want to be reminded of this truth. I didn’t want any more perspective or wisdom. I wanted hope.

And then, upon reaching the hilltop, I saw the glow on the horizon. Yes, the clouds covered the sun’s brightness. Yes, the glow beneath the clouds was faint. But there was a glow.


The rest of Jesus’ words came to me: “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). There he was, revealing hope through the faint glow above the hills. Today may not be filled with the full light of a bright and infinite eternal joy – but a soft glow is all I need. There was just enough light, revealed in a perfect moment, to assure me that hope is always present. We can trust in this unfailing hope of God.

And we can help with sharing this hope in our world.

Eternity promises the full, bright light of love. But in the meantime, with one small kindness, one tender response, one genuine service, one encouraging word, we can become that soft morning glow on the horizon. We can offer enough light to help another face the next moment, to see God’s love a little more clearly, to glimpse the joy that is yet to come. We can become the gentle light of hope that brightens a dreary moment and radiates with quiet assurance that a new day will dawn.

Bible verse found at
Photo by Karen


(Today’s poem was inspired by this prayer blanket, lovingly fringed together by a few friends of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and given to me during my time with cancer.)

May my life become a blanket
made in your love, to share
your peace and gentle comfort
with soft and soothing care;
a cozy blanket that surrounds
with warmth and healing prayer.

Let me not become a blanket
only used by self to hide
the things I find displeasing;
instead, help me decide
to face what needs addressing
with you here by my side.

Let me not become a blanket,
like a universal law,
a rule with no exceptions
that covers one and all,
but allow for contradiction,
for mystery and awe.

May my life become a blanket
like the snow upon the ground,
sheltering the tender earth
so new life can abound;
providing rest and quietude
where new hope will be found.

(Photo by Karen)


I recently read a thought-provoking blog post that has remained with me. The blog writer, Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, asked this question in her recent post on the continued existence of racism (her link is below):

If people knew better, would they do better?

I first contemplated “if people knew better” and my own ignorance about racism…

My childhood home was in a largely white neighborhood community; I didn’t know any black people until I went to college. So, my lack of awareness may have stemmed from this lack of diversity in my life. Racism didn’t seem to impact me or anyone I knew, so it was a topic but not an issue. Fortunately, my parents were loving and gracious, but I did occasionally hear racist remarks – and racial misunderstandings – from other adults and youth. I also understood the term, “racism” as solely describing the hateful words and acts from individuals, not aware of the larger systems that have continued to harm and oppress people of color.

In more recent years, as I became concerned about the injustices against LGTBQ+ people, I also began reading and learning more about racism. In her posts, Rev. Dr. Smith has shared some of the shocking incidents and issues that I had not previously known. This new (to me) information has enlightened, upset, and compelled me to do more.

And so, the second part of her question, “would they do better?” really struck me.

I am only beginning to understand the pain that black and indigenous people have suffered for so long. Perhaps my first step is to grieve not only for my ignorance but for the pain and injustice they have suffered. I also plan to continue learning, so that I can vote accordingly, write to leaders, donate to the agencies working for justice, address misunderstandings, and help spread the awareness of the injustices that prevail.

This is the reason for my post today. I have found that my regular readers are people of faith who want to deepen in God and in love, to listen and learn, and so I imagine that most of you have already been aware of these issues. But if you have been like me – on the outer edge of awareness – I hope you will welcome my sincere invitation to learn more about racial history, policies, abuses, and injustices.

Reading about racism has made me quite uncomfortable at times (one afternoon I had to close the book and regroup for a moment), but my discomfort is nothing like the suffering that others have suffered. When I experience feelings of guilt, defensiveness, or dismay, I regard them as lessons to learn, as well as opportunities to do better – now that I know better.

I am listing a few of the helpful resources I have found – if you have additional resources to share, please add them in the comments!

Peace, dear friends. Thank you for reading these thoughts today. (Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith) (also found on Instagram)

How to Be an Antiracist (Kendi)

Not So Black and White: An Invitation to Honest Conversations about Race and Faith (Dabbs, Driver)

(Photo by James Eades on Unsplash)


Grandchild so free
small size
immense glee,
playing the game
and undaunted, attempting
numerous times
yet never to score.
Finding the joy
and insightful, beholding
how both game and life
hold so much in store.
You have become
an example for me.

Grandchild so wise
great example
small size,
facing each challenge
and determined, pursuing
with smile on your face
and glint in your eyes.
Tossing the ball
and hopeful, abiding
with no stomping feet
no pouts and no sighs.
You are a mentor
to teach and surprise.

Grandchild so dear,
small size
no fear,
regarding the hoop
and delighted, enjoying
the fun of the toss
the love of the game.
Looking above
and peaceful, inspiring
this awe-filled Grammy
to then do the same.
You’re joy, heaven sent
to be with us here.

(Photo by Karen)