Monthly Archives: March 2015


Several years ago, I fell at a restaurant. As quickly as I could, I got up and assured all around me that I was fine. We continued the meal and my friends and I said our goodbyes as we went to our separate vehicles. I crawled into the Explorer, being careful to keep my left shoulder as still as possible. It hurt; I hurt. And, I was more than a little embarrassed.

I drove away from the restaurant, headed back to work. I made a right turn out of the parking lot and a few minutes later realized that I did not recognize the buildings on the street. After a quick U-turn, I again started toward the office. But, I didn’t recognize the buildings going this way either; clearly, the first U-turn wasn’t the right thing to do. Another U-turn and I settled down, positive that I was going in the right direction. It was after the third U-turn that I began to appreciate that I was in trouble. I decided that I needed to continue going one direction. Eventually, I found my way back to my office.

Later, we understood just how badly I had injured my shoulder and surrounding tissue and muscles. It took more than 2 years of time, surgery and physical therapy to get “back to normal.”

But, the experience on the road that day taught me an important lesson: people in pain make poor decisions. I don’t remember my shoulder hurting that bad as I drove that day when in reality the pain had short circuited my thinking. I did not recognize a familiar area. I vacillated from trusting myself to having no trust in anything I did. I was embarrassed and did not ask for help that I needed. I made bad decisions.

People in pain may look just like they have always looked to us. They may speak and act as if nothing has happened. They may not ask for help; they may not even know that they need help. They may say over and over again “I’m fine.”

What can we do for them?

  • Be patient.
  • Be there.
  • Be understanding.
  • Be forgiving.
  • And, as much as you are able, be Jesus.

John 13:34-35 says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


When your name is called, reply “Present”

A phrase has been going through my mind all day; ever had that happen? I just cannot get away from it. It might surprise you. Here it is: “You must be present to win.”

It’s a simple concept. Even if you have the winning ticket, you do not get the prize if you are not in the room when your number is drawn.

Too often I have left the room early and missed out. Sports fans know what I mean. Leave before the final tick of the clock and you may not see the very best plays of the game. (Recall this year’s Super Bowl?)  Readers of mystery novels can relate. Ignore sections in a book and the answer to the mystery makes no sense. Sales people have been there. Pull back your sales pitch early and the sale is lost.

So, why aren’t we present, why aren’t we there when the “big event” happens? Maybe the lure of a warm bed kept us from getting to work or to church on time. Or, perhaps the attraction of the internet kept us from paying attention during that important conversation. It could be that the green eyed monster (i.e., jealousy) stopped us from seeing the beauty around us.  Or, could it be that our self-conscious behavior quelled a budding romance?

Perhaps greatest treasures will come to us only because we got up a minute earlier or stayed a little longer.  Don’t miss out on God’s gifts.

The parable of the ten virgins, five wise and fives foolish is a great illustration of “you must be present to win.”

The song, “He’s There By Me”

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in music. My first solo was in church at age 5 or 6. And, my first “big” solo came just a couple of years later, when I was in 2nd grade. The audience numbered about 300 and I sang a solo called “The Wedding of the Painted Doll.” I remember that it was 6 pages because when you are 7, the number of pages you have to memorize is important! With my “Shirley Temple” curls and my “fru-fru” dress, I stood at the front of the stage, stage left, while first graders acted out a wedding scene behind me.

Many years later, Poppa told me that his thought that night was, “Well, we never have to worry about her in front of a crowd.” I just remember being a bit irritated. You see, as the heavy curtains opened, the microphone stand got caught up in them and started to fall. I rushed my entrance a bit, grabbed the stand before it hit the floor, and set it aright. I remember hearing the audience gasp, worried that the young girl might be upset or frightened by the incident. No problem; I was just a bit put off that my song might be ruined because of that silly mic stand.

The only explanation I have for that early confidence is my parents. Mom and Poppa never pushed us, but they did teach us to practice, work hard, stand up straight, and to do our best.

Even with that great upbringing, I haven’t always felt comfortable being in front. And that brings me to my dilemma this Sunday. My music training was very traditional. I played classical violin; I played hymns on the piano; I sang four-part harmony; I even appreciate 4/4 and 3/4 timing!

A few years ago, our choir director turned to me one Wednesday night and said, “Jill, why don’t you take the solo in this choir song?” What on earth was she thinking?!?! This particular piece requires the soloist to be able to sing off the beat, to do a little ad libbing and to “be out there.” Was she having a mental break down? Didn’t she realize that she had pointed to CARLA JILL MULLINS STEIN???

I knew that there was no possible way that our director (whom we call “Fearless”) could know that I loved to sing American spirituals when alone in the car. But, those are songs between me and God. This performance was not going to be a private “car” song; this was a solo to be sung in church with the full choir. And so, I started practicing. But, it wasn’t until I stopped practicing and started praising that the song became a song between me and God.

I believe in giving our best to God. And so, singing this song isn’t something that I am casual about or approach in a sloppy way; it is just outside of my training, my experience, and (yes, I can hear you saying it) my comfort zone.

I love singing the song and, although it still makes me a little nervous, I am praying that our choir will “rock God’s house” with it this Sunday morning.

My desire is to quit being concerned about what I haven’t done before and to become fascinated about what God has for me to do today. Why don’t you and I agree to stop reliving, rehearsing, remembering what once caused hurt in our relationships and focus on the memories we can build today. Let’s stop holding back and start letting go. How about we tear down every barrier we have built to keep others at bay. And, while we’re at it, let’s give up worrying about how others see and think about us and just love them!

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” (Psalm 126:2)

p.s. Want to have some fun? Join us at the 9:00am service this Sunday at the Pensacola First Church of the Nazarene!!