Author Archives: Dr. Carla Jill Stein

About Dr. Carla Jill Stein

I am a child of God, learning everyday. Tomorrow, I want to be a better teacher, speaker, coach, learner, leader, friend and servant because I did what I was supposed to do today.

What have we missed?

I apologize for missing several days in this holiday series – just too much going on. In truth, I have been stewing about an insight. Maybe this little blog will prompt some different thinking and planning for you too.

A little over a week ago we were blessed to attend an evening social event and a luncheon that were part of the annual meeting of an international business organization. Before the event, I knew little about the intricacies of this profession but learned as I listened.

It was not the business that caught my attention, it was the organization’s response to the years they had missed gathering in person due to the pandemic that startled me. Do you know the feeling? It surprised me that everyone else seemed to have recognized a reality that I had missed.

Let me back up a few paces. My father’s celebration of life service was held just a few days before the world shut down; we were able to gather and mourn together. But so much happened afterward.

We missed celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and very single holiday during that shutdown period. And, worse, we were unable to gather and grieve the loss of loved ones. I will never forget watching funerals on the computer screen. It was all so very, very odd and disturbing.

But, the organization in front of me changed that. They decided to honor, in person in 2022, those they had been unable to honor, in person, in 2020 and 2021. They brought them to the stage; gave attention, time and respect to their accomplishments; and cheered and clapped just like they did for the 2022 honorees.

Oh, I have sent cards and texts. I have called and zoomed. But, I have I given the right attention to those I should have lifted up during those years of separation? Have I told them again that I despised being apart during those years?

What did we miss?

Maybe when we see friends and family over the next couple of weeks, we need to recognize the times that we missed since March 2020. Maybe this Thanksgiving as we share our blessings, we need to remind others that we are proud of their graduation, thankful for that new job, or still praying as they are working hard to rebuild a new life.

Let’s make extra cookies, send more cards with notes of love and hug a little longer. We have so much catching up to do.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)


Who have we missed?

We attended a wonderful weekend of events honoring Rick Curry, John’s brother-in-law, who passed earlier this year. John’s other brother-in-law, Tim Baldwin, passed a few years ago.

I never spent a great deal of time with either man, but they were giants in my eyes. Both were amazing husbands, dads and grandfathers. Both were caring men, hugely successful in their careers. And both were confident and kind in the way that the treated others, folks they knew and loved, and others who needed their help.

My favorite memory of Tim and Rick is from the day of the funeral of our father-in-law, “Pop” Stein. The three siblings, John, Judy and Susan never left their Mom’s side. Mom Stein was small in stature but a strong woman; however, on that tragic day, she was frail and needed the presence and assurance of her kids.

The memorial service had ended and we were preparing to go to the graveside when I realized I didn’t know what to do. John, at that moment was busy with his grieving mom, and had jumped in the car with her and his sisters. I headed to the vehicle of one of our kids to ask for a ride when I saw Rick and Tim.

They were walking across the parking lot heading right to me, smiles on their faces, saying something like “Come on, we’re the three outlaws.” I hugged them both, realizing that they had come to rescue me.

The rides to the cemetery and back to the church were, in spite of the sadness of the day, were joyous experiences. These two men, having been in the family much longer than I, knew just what to do. And, I realized that day in the car that they were truly my brothers – I could depend on them. They had adopted me into their families and into their hearts.

In all of the years that I knew them, that never changed.

Would you sit with me for a bit? Maybe we will see that one in front of us who needs a ride, a hug, a helping hand.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Planes and babies and pacifiers, oh my!!

On Tuesday I had two flights, the second not landing until about 11pm.

That late night flight began in Atlanta (no surprise to those who live in the south). While standing in line, I met this delightful mom and her 5-month old baby. The baby was smiling and looking at everything. The mom (looking a bit like a pack mule) was tired but hanging in there. I stifled a giggle when she said in almost a whisper, “we probably shouldn’t have waited until I was almost 40 to start our family.” Poor gal – and the fun is just beginning for that household.

As I made my way to my aisle seat near the back of the plane, a little hand reached out and grabbed the handle of my bag. This 2-year old was wrestling her mom and looked like she was winning.

A couple came down the aisle a few minutes after I had sat down, they took the two aisle seats just in front of me. Mom was pregnant (probably less than 7 months along) and they had 18 month old twins with them.

As soon as they sat down, the passing of things and babies across the aisle started. Neither child was sleepy or happy with what they had or where they were. I am sure Mom and Dad were pleased that the flight was going to last less than an hour.

As we took off, the “singing” started. The 5-month old begin with that song of old “I am unhappy (or in pain) and you cannot sooth me.”

That must have been what inspired the 2-year old to join in with her head banging with mom. Mom would move her head to the left and the baby would swing to that side landing a loud “thump” on mom’s forehead. It was painful to hear and watch!

The twins were not “singing” but running their parents through an upper body workout. Once a twin had been secured in one parent’s arms, they immediately reached to be held by the other parent. Back and forth and forth and back.

About 10 minutes into the flight the kids calmed down. It was then that I saw twin 1 drop their pacifier onto the floor. (Unlike many parents, this couple had not secured pacifier to child via a clip and rope. Rookie mistake.) Dad picked up the pacifier, asked mom if she had a wipe already out of the bag, wiped off said pacifier, put it into his mouth and then popped it back into twin 1’s mouth.

Dad seemed to be in charge of dropped pacifiers. Twin 2 joined the game and pacifier after pacifier flew to the floor. Dad stayed calm (Mom not so much) as he retrieved pacifiers and returned them to the twins.

I then witnessed the shift. Dad abandoned the wipe and simply took pacifier from floor to his mouth to the twin’s mouth.

In this airplane where just a few months ago, we were all masked, sanitized and sterilized, Dad had changed the game. He had decided that his body, bigger than all others in his family, would take the risk. Pregnant Mom and beautiful little ones were going to be as protected as he could make them.

Sound familiar?

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Would you sit with me for a while? Let’s think who might need for us to leave behind our selfish concerns and help them. Just a thought.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

We Gather Together

The title of this blog is “We Gather Together” and that isn’t just because I like the song.

In the early 1600’s, the Dutch were fighting for their freedom from the King of Spain. And to control the people, the Catholic King prohibited Protestants in the Netherlands to meet together in worship. The song was penned by those experiencing this religious persecution.

(By the way, I believe that the Spanish king is NOT an example of other Catholics, particularly the amazing Bible believing Catholic brothers and sisters I have today.)

So, under persecution, Christians gathered and wrote stirring reminders of God’s faithfulness like “He forgets not His own” and “beside us to guide us, our God with us joining.”

Would you sit with me for a couple of minutes and consider those who are feeling persecuted or unconnected? Our list might include those who are:

– Experiencing health issues

– Struggling while serving in ministries with dwindling participation and giving

– Filled with anxiety stemming from the problems of today

– Bond by fear

– Alone

– Feeling unwanted, unloved, unappreciated.

There maybe be someone who is desperate to gather with you or with me in worship and friendship.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

Ps. As we reflect, consider the words of the persecuted Dutch Christians as they met in secret to worship our Lord.

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!

Mom is 94!!!

Mom turned 94 yesterday. And she is doing great!! Many family members were able to gather around a dinner table on Sunday to share a birthday dinner. Others sent cards, called and emailed. And Mom’s community of fellow retirees celebrated even more! They sang happy birthday to her in the pool before a water workout and again when dessert was served at lunch. It was a fabulous celebration of a woman who continues to reach out, to minister to others, to love, and to pray.

I love celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and…well, I just like celebrating!

When our granddaughter, Zara, was pretty young, her Mom and I surveyed our great room late one Christmas morning. It was a disaster with paper and presents and ribbons and boxes. Kiz looked at me and said something I will never forget, “It’s too much.” She went on, “Jill, next year we need everyone to hold back.”

Little Zara probably had not been listening to all that we were saying but her ears perked up when she heard “hold back.” She immediately ran to her Mom and me pleading “don’t hold back, don’t hold back.”

We too often think like the very young version of Zara – holding back means we get less stuff. But, at this time of my life, holding back has nothing to do with the material world and more about relationships. When we celebrate the love of Christmas and the unbelievable gift of Jesus with others, the wrapping paper fades away in the brilliance of real joy.

When we think about it, we both know that it isn’t the amount we spend or the time it takes to make a celebration joyful for others. It can be the simple things.

– Enjoying an ice cream cone in the McDonald’s parking lot watching traffic.

– Standing outside amazed at how the harvest moon lights up the sky.

– Sending a short text with a silly picture.

– Making a quick phone call to say “do you remember that time when…?”

– Softly patting the back of that almost-adult, but still frustrated teenager, as they walk by.

– Sitting through the concert/play/recital of a budding star (or not so budding).

There are so many ways for us to bring joy that don’t involve a credit card or wrapping paper or hours in the kitchen. During these remaining 61 days, let us not “hold back” our love for others.

Would you sit with me for a little while? We might each be able to think of a way to celebrate a moment of God’s joy with someone.

Love, Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.” PROVERBS 21:21

And so it begins…

It is that time again. Summer is over. The school year is moving forward. Teams are matched in the World Series. And, the leaves are turning colors and falling. We have just 62 to enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Just 62 days. Only 1488 hours.

What will we do with these precious days? These relatively few hours?

During this week, I will be encouraging you to make plans to savor, to use well, to invest in these days.

I’m not talking about taking on a “miracle” diet or even “finding ourselves”. I am suggesting that instead of rushing into holiday madness that we consider our ways.

Proverbs 27:19 advises “As water reflects
the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

The last evening that my Poppa and I spent together he fell asleep in his chair three times. Twice I waited for a bit and then woke him, suggesting that we call the folks who would help him into bed; I knew that sleeping, sitting up, would get uncomfortable eventually.

When I woke him, he smiled, patted his leg and said “Just sit with me for awhile” and so I did. It was quiet and the air in the room seemed fresh and sweet. We didn’t talk, we just sat together. The last time he woke of his own volition and told me it was time to say good night, his “team” was coming in.

So, before we start wrapping presents and thawing turkeys, would you sit with me for a bit? It might be good for us both to think about our lives and the condition of our hearts.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19

St Patrick’s Day Musing

Today is St Patrick’s Day. So are you wearing green? I used to; I didn’t want to be pinched. I suppose with all of the COVID-wrought behaviors we aren’t getting close enough to anyone to pinch them. And, then again even a light pinch might be considered assault in today’s excitable litigious society!

I have friends who proudly wear the green to honor their family heritage and present. Happy St Patrick’s Day to you!

When I was in school, I also wore a bit of the orange. Our family heritage of Irish blood was from the Orangeman (Protestant) side. So, I wore green to be socially acceptable and orange to honor my heritage.

It’s a bit like team t-shirts. You cannot assume that someone who wears University X went to school there, knows anyone from there, or ever watched a team sport played by students attending there. Perhaps they got the shirt from a great thrift store find or as a gift. Ask them about the team and they can’t tell you much.

Others wear team shirts to honor their team. They are dedicated, faithful fans. Ask them about the team and you should plan to sit down as the lesson begins. You will hear about why their team is the best, why their coach is making the best or worst decisions, the team history and its future.

But, it is very unlikely that either group was ever on the team. Doubtful that they ever ran drills on the practice field or arranged their schedules around “two-a-days” or early pool/late gym availability. No sweat was given to wear their t-shirts.

I’m wearing a team t-shirt as I type these words. I am a faithful fan, but I am not a part of the team nor will I ever be.

So what’s my point in pointing all of this out.

Well, I can wear a cross and have no idea what it means. I can say God bless you and say that I am a Christian but have never been on the team. I may have lots to say about church music or preaching but my heart is still on the sidelines, never having gotten close to being in the huddle or pushing for that goal line.

My Friend, until we acknowledge our need for God, praise the name of Jesus for forgiving our sins and turn from our wicked ways to lead a new life led by God Himself, it doesn’t mean much more than wearing green or orange on a day in March or our favorite team t-shirt.

Sitting on the sideline, wearing that pretty cross, displaying that bumper sticker or wearing that t-shirt do nothing to get us into heaven. We have to get onto the field, follow the directions of God, and do as He leads us.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

Just a thought

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


The poem came to mind as I penned yesterday’s posting.

Showing up – it matters.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:4

Second fiddle

Sunday morning, I was alone in the car, driving to pick up kids for church, when the radio station started playing sections of “The Messiah.”

From time-to-time, people have asked me about singing that marvelous piece of music – every time, I smile and reply that other than a few bars of music inserted into a Christmas cantata or singing to a recording, I have never been in a choir of voices praising God through the “Hallelujah Chorus” or “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” But, I know nearly every part of the work.

You see, I played the violin as a member of orchestras for so many performances of “The Messiah” that I cannot recall them all.

When I hear “The Messiah,” my ears are tuned to the first and second violin sections playing those amazing passages in “For Unto us a Child is Born” and “Comfort Ye, My People” and “The Trumpet Shall Sound” and many, many other songs. As I listen, I can hear the play between the string and the woodwind sections. I love identifying both the active and the pastoral passages. I treasure the power of emotion brought about by fingers and bows dancing across four strings, tense over a wooden box.

I asked my college “stand mate,” Kathy, if she also listened for the violins when she heard “The Messiah.” She said that she did but went on to note that because she often played tympani after we graduated from college, that she now hears the tympani.

Fascinating. I love the melodies and harmonies of “The Messiah,” I know nearly all of the words, but I most often listen for the violins. It isn’t pride, it is familiarity.

I have played first and second violin, but I love listening for the second violins, the underdogs of the violins.

What if the second violin section never showed up? We would miss so many complex passages where string sections play against one another, the beauty of counter-balance. The powerful music of violins playing in unison would be cut by fifty percent, making those passages sound weak and thin. We would never hear the melody in passages where the second violins take the lead and the first violins go wandering about in the upper ranges.

Ever feel like a “second fiddle”? Never, ever forget that second violins make beautiful music. They are critical to the sound of the orchestra.

When we serve in community, every part, every player matters. If you don’t show up, it changes everything. This year, as we gather together, let’s agree to do our part.

Let’s show up.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10


Two years ago yesterday, my dear friend, Tena, left this world and met our Lord face-to-face. I miss her.

Tena was unique. I have never met anyone like her and doubt that I will ever will. She was an intelligence officer, a security clearance investigator, an alto, a fashion icon and a kick. She could embarrass and delight and frighten you in a single moment. You never knew what she might say.

I have never been so proud of my church as I was those last eight months of Tena’s life. It started when we learned that she was in the hospital after having a seizure. Within a month, we had all heard of the diagnosis – a brain tumor that was most likely cancerous. It explained a lot.

She was scared as were all of us who loved her. She wouldn’t show it most of the time – keeping her tough exterior and witty tongue at the ready. But, she knew that the prognosis wasn’t good. The docs debated and tests were run and we watched as our dear friend got sicker.

Eventually she needed someone with her round-the-clock and she seemed to think that moving into a care facility or hiring a professional was too huge a step. And she was unreasonable with loving family members. Her church friends stepped up.

We stayed with her for every moment for almost two weeks. She had always been very independent and brain cancer didn’t change that. I told her that we were going to stay and she wanted to approve the list of names.

One woman drove over an hour to spend shifts with her. Another became an expert in helping with medical procedures. Another talked with her during one shift and remained silent during the next one after Tena, sick and confused, had said in frustration “too much talking!!” I worked to keep the schedule working for everyone. It was amazing, woman after woman called me to see how they could help. I have never seen such love and care and sacrifice from people, many of whom who barely knew Tena.

Yesterday John and I visited another friend who likely has only a few days left on this earth. As we prayed with him in that front porch, the sun shining and our friend struggling to pay attention, my heart thanked God again for God for His church.

My church was there for me at every step of my walk with God.

Don’t define the “church” as only those who gather with you for worship.

– “Church” includes that friend who prayed with me at work.

– “Church” includes distant friends and relatives who are only connected to me via Facebook but care about me when I struggle and celebrate with me when there is victory.

– “Church” includes that special lady at the self-check-out section of our Walmart; she and I have shared so many words of faith together.

– But, mainly “church” is, for me, that group that gathers together and praises, prays, learns, serves and grows together at Pensacola First Church of the Nazarene. They have been there for me, in good times and in bad. In times of struggle and in times of growth. They are my church and I am theirs. And, we welcome anyone and everyone who seeks Jesus.

The church was created by God to give us a place to worship, to learn, to share, to care and to serve. Church isn’t about the hospital visits or casseroles or even the fellowship. Church is about seeking and serving God together. Church is the Christian community of faith.

Are you struggling? Go to church and get involved. Don’t go to church and sit, waiting for something to happen. Talk to someone. Share your heart. And, if it doesn’t help you get closer to God, go to another church.

Go to church, Friend. I will meet you there.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11