All posts by carolsandlessons

Blessings & Lessons

Sometimes when I’m thinking about my pen pals, I worry that I’ll die and they won’t know it. They will wait and wait and no one will tell them I’m not late, I’m dead!

Well, of course, I do know that death is definitely one thing we can’t control but also one thing we can all expect unless Jesus surprises us and comes back to set everything right.  Moreover, today—this morning—this moment is what I have. That’s it. Now.

Jesus surprises us and comes back to set everything right

Sunday was a good day. I had helped with refreshments after church and since this is a new church,  I enjoyed meeting some new people. Some friends came to visit and I loved that they, too, stayed for the fellowship. It felt right, not to mention that I got a chance to put in a good word to the congregation about the Christian pen pal ministry.

In the afternoon, there were more blessings – a Zoom call with some friends in the pen pal ministry, and The Chosen’s third episode, season 3 in the evening. That was coming to a close when the phone rang. My friend Mary’s niece was calling and that was a concern – she never called me; she texted.

Mary had been very sick and in the hospital but I had been looking forward to hearing her voice on the phone.  Mary died that afternoon, she said. I grieved. I still cry. How I will miss her – my best phone buddy. Just like my sister used to be before she, too, died, Mary supported me, believed in me, made excuses for me. This even though she was a Roman Catholic and I was not. We got through that somehow. We loved each other is the simplest way I can explain it. There is a great big hole in my heart, in my life.

*Courtesy of

But you know what? I remember how we met, how God has been in our friendship since the first day. I was working again after retirement in a rehab facility where Mary was a patient. I seemed to “hear” – “Meet your new best friend.” That’s as clear a “counsel” as I’ve ever received. When it came time for her to be released, there was a problem; Mary had no where to go. Her only son had died recently and her only relatives were in New York and we were in Tennessee. I felt somehow responsible, but how could I help?

I woke up and prayed, “Well, God, one of us has got to do something.” As I headed to my computer, I remembered a Christian classifieds web site I had heard about several years earlier. I found it and scrolled down when I recognized a home advertising “elder care.” It was in Kentucky, not Tennessee. As I read it, I realized that I had actually been to that house. I called the lady and she and her husband agreed to take in Mary. Only later did I realize that that ad was two years old.

I said “Yes…” to God,” Only I don’t know how you’re going to pull this off…”

But there is more. Several years later, it was my turn to need some help. I felt that God was calling me to leave Tennessee and go to help my daughter’s family with the care of a new baby. I said “Yes” to God, “Only I don’t know how you’re going to pull this off.” Soon I was talking to Mary and before I could finish my reasons why I couldn’t do this, she said, “I’ll drive out to California with you.”

That was the beginning of my answer. She did drive out with me – an amazing trip. Did I mention that she was a double amputee? That meant I had to move a wheelchair in and out of the car several times a day. Getting ready for the trip, I headed to Walmart looking for some good driving gloves. All I could find was a pair of batting gloves which worked splendidly. I still use them.

*Courtesy of

So now Mary is gone, but I can’t “grieve as one without hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  I hope to see Mary again and I hope to work a little harder at my friendship with several other women. It’s good. God is good. He prepared me for this new phase of life. He has given me counsel and helped me remember the times in my life when His counsel helped, supported and encouraged me. Here is the passage from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (4:13,14) from the Amplified Bible:

“Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do have no hope [beyond the grave]. For since we believe that and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him who have fallen asleep [in death].

So come, Lord Jesus!




A message of blessing and gratitude from one thankful pilgrim to another.

A challenge looms large: I’m writing to incarcerated people and I’m supposed to mention the holidays. How do I do this? To tell the truth, being a single person, even though I do have family near me, I don’t look forward to the holiday season. There is so much expectation around it, so much over spending and the potential of sadness instead of joy—I just usually count the days until January and some sort of normalcy returns.

And now here I am with the “assignment” of writing to someone who has way more reason to feel sad than I might.
So what do I have to be thankful for—I mean, what do we both have to be thankful for? I started to make a list. In no particular order (except, of Course, Jesus Christ is number one), here are some things that I came up with. Let me know what you think.

To start with, I’m thankful for life. I mean, if my parents hadn’t become pen pals when he was in the army, he wouldn’t have come back to meet my Mom – and marry her – and I wouldn’t have been born 11 months later! I am thankful for life.

I’m thankful that I started to wonder about God at a very young age; I distinctly remember lying down on the grass at my Grandma’s farm, looking up at the sky with a question, “Who is God?”

Looking back 2,000 years, I am thankful that a zealous religious guy on his way to capture those new radical Nazarenes, got stopped in his tracks (or his horse’s tracks) with a Voice from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul got a new name – and a new assignment – and we are blessed that he never lost sight of that assignment, even when spending time in prison. Come to think of it, he did some of his best work from a prison cell.

I am thankful for brave women who have spent lonely months in jail in a foreign country – and some who are still there – because they insist they must be free – and they refuse to confess to that being a crime. I have never had to spend time in jail for that, but I have stood up to a man’s oppression more than once. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness during those times.

I am thankful for the witness and courage of a German fellow by the name of Bonhoeffer. He had escaped his home country when Hitler was growing more powerful but as a Christian, he felt a call to return and although he was a pacifist, find some way to hinder Hitler. He did work for the underground for a while until he was arrested.

He died in a German prison at the age of 36. While in prison (like Paul) he wrote letters to the folks back home (and a whole lot more of us it turned out): Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. Even in prison, Bonhoeffer made a difference in the world and his influence continues down the decades.

I am thankful for the Scriptures – that I am able to read and (despite my not reading in the original languages) understand. I don’t need to wait for someone to read them to me; the Word of God is alive to even me. But it does help when a scholar knows the Hebrew and the Greek; they can go even deeper into the beauty of the message.

I am thankful for at least one of these currently. I am most of all thankful that God kept calling to me until I heard that call — He loves me and He invited me to repent and to be forgiven. He gave me a new life and a genuine purpose. He gave me Jesus.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14

Your sister in Christ