Monthly Archives: November 2019

I want to be like Ryan

A few years ago, I volunteered to run our church’s live nativity (“Love’s Story”). It is a blessing to share the story of Jesus with our community. Even though it isn’t cheap in time, money or labor, it is so much fun.

About two months before we hold the event, I ask local businesses for donations. And, they are so very generous and kind. But, to be honest, I dread making these requests. It feels a lot like begging; and, standing at the office or customer service desk or hallway can make me feel like an interloper. This year, Ryan changed all of that.

I took my business cards, letter of introduction and smiling self and went into Ryan’s place of business, a large, box store with hundreds of employees. I have been here before. Most of the time, this company gives us a kind donation of a gift card to be used at their store.

The nice lady at the counter greeted me and I explained why I was there. She said, “Let me call Ryan.” I handed her my letter with business card attached and she read parts of it out loud as she talked on the phone “Ryan.” It was a quick call; she turned to me and said, “I’ll be back.” I stood there feeling awkward, trying to find products with labels to read.

In just a few minutes, the woman I had spoken with returned with “Ryan.” We shook hands and he said, “I remember you well; of course, we will help again this year.” Then he smiled and handed to me a gift card that was double what they had donated last year. What??  I was shocked.  I didn’t have to make multiple visits to Ryan’s business; I didn’t have to explain over and over why I was asking for their help; I didn’t have to beg.  I asked and Ryan said yes and yes again.  It still gives me chills.

Ryan gave us what we needed and then he gave us more.

(You need to understand that the donation was only $50, but that is twice what it was last year.  You might think that a large business would do more – I don’t worry about that at all.  A gift doesn’t have to “big” to give me chills.  Generosity has nothing at all to do with the dollar amount.)

What a wonderful reminder of what the holidays should mean. This year, I want to be like Ryan. I want to be generous. I want to give people what they really want and need. I want to give with grace and ease and style. I want giving to be fun and unexpected and joyful.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”      (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

Image result for giving hand


He did what with the gravy??

Mom and Poppa never turned down someone who looked like they needed a meal. And, nearly every Sunday dinner our dining room table included people who had nowhere else to go.

In 1962, Reverend C. J. Garrett lost of the love of his life, Grace. I was 6 when she died, but I remember the two of them together. Reverend Garrett lived alone for a while and then moved (or was moved?) to the Good Samaritan Nursing Home. I remember visiting him there many times. He would hand us kids his Bible and offer $1 if we could find a page that did not have a note that he had written in the margins. He was clear, the page could not simply have a section underlined, it had to have a note he had written. It was fun to try, but I never got a dollar from him! Reverend Garrett was a man of God who read and studied and digested and loved the word of God, his Bible.

Often, Mom and Poppa would invite Reverend Garrett to join us for Sunday dinner. We would pick him up at Good Sam, take him to church, take him back home for lunch, and then deliver him back to Good Sam. It was a fun day for us kids. He was a delightful addition to the table and always added a lot of laughter to the conversation.

We didn’t see him for a while — he had been sick. And then, he was back. A week or two later, Mom and Poppa asked him to Sunday dinner and he was sitting at our table just like always. It was then that I saw what he did with the gravy boat. My mouth flew open and Mom did one of those silent looks my way that said, “Do NOT say a thing.”

Reverend Garrett had filled his plate with delicious food. I would imagine it was roast beef with carrots and potatoes, a green leafy salad, probably two side dishes of vegetables, and a biscuit. The gravy boat was passed to him. He filled the ladle with Image result for turkey gravygravy, raised it over his plate, looked at the food in front of him, and proceeded to cover the entire plate of food with gravy. And, he dipped the ladle and did it again. What shocked me was to see the salad of lettuce, tomatoes, celery, and dressing disappear under spoon after spoon of gravy.

And then, Reverend Garrett astonished me.  He sat back and he ate it all.  No, that is wrong, he didn’t eat it, he savored it, he enjoyed it, he relished every bite.  He ate until his plate was nearly empty and then he took another biscuit and sopped up every morsel that remained.  He sat back from the table, patted his belly, smiled and said that he was ready for dessert.

I am not sure that I have ever seen anyone enjoy gravy more!  Mom told me later that it might have made him sick that evening.  We will never know.  But, his pleasure of eating Mom’s homemade gravy was a thing to remember.

This holiday season, don’t forget to enjoy the “gravy” in your life.  Heap it on.  Relish every moment.  Don’t skimp.  Don’t feel guilty about enjoying something good.  Just sit back and experience the joys of the season.

Ok, I can feel the stares of some of you boring into my head.  Yes, we have to be careful about what we eat.  And, yes, too much gravy can be bad for you.  But, enjoying the good “gravy” this holiday season will give us memories of “gathering together” that we just can’t get when we are stingy or “too careful.”  Could we all (myself included) please stop counting the calories for a minute or two and take in the rich things of the season?


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!!” (Psalm 118:24)



We Gather Together – and so it begins…again!!

Hi!! I have missed you! Are you ready to have some fun as “We Gather Together?” My hope is that we will be gathering together (virtually) to consider some joys, challenges, opportunities, moments and surprises of the holidays.

The hymn “We Gather Together” is one of my favorites. It is a Dutch hymn, written in 1597 to celebrate the Dutch victory over the Spanish. The song is particularly poignant because the Spanish had oppressed the Dutch, with the Spanish King refusing Dutch Protestants freedom of worship. Americans adopted it as a song for the Thanksgiving holiday in the 1930’s. And, during World War II, Americans sang the hymn, considering the Germans and Japanese as “the wicked oppressing.” This song has legs!

I love the hymn for my own reasons. Some of these come for the first two lines of the song.

  • It is “we” who gather together. We are equal; there is no discrimination among “us.”
  • “We” decide to gather together. It is not an accident nor an activity that is forced upon us. We make a conscious choice to associate with one another.
  • Our purpose is not prideful. We do not gather to pretend to be more than we are. Nor, are we focused on making others feel bad (or good). Instead, we gather together to “ask the Lord’s blessing.” This statement might put some of you off. If you are unsure of either the truth or value of that goal, please stay with me through this year’s musings. I am praying that there is something for each of us to learn here.
  • God’s intention is to “make His will known.” So often, you and I, our community, our family, raises our faces to the sky and asks “God, what on earth is going on?” Or, “God, surely You are not paying attention.” Or, “God, are You even there?” The writer of the hymn tells us that God “chastens and hastens” (in other words, He is pushing hard to get it done) His will to make known.

(Do you feel like you are back in Junior High/Middle School with the teacher reading some obscure poem and asking, “What does this mean to you?” No worries, this is just the introduction to this season’s musings-it gets better!!)

So, as you and your family, friends gather together or as you gather your thoughts and enjoy/exist/suffer-through this Thanksgiving, consider what it might to “gather together.” Join me – it will be fun!!


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

Gathering photo

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;  He chastens and hastens His will to make known. The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own. 

“Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine; So, from the beginning the fight we were winning; Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

“We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant, and pray that Thou still our Defender will be. Let Thy congregation escape tribulation; Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord make us free!”