My husband and I love dogs, especially Shelties. 

After one of our beloved pets died, we searched for another one. One day, while surfing the internet at a pet finder site, our new dog’s photo caught my eye. His picture seemed to say, “Please take me home. I’m so sad and alone.” 

Charley had a very difficult life before we bought him. His first owner was a sheltie breeder who became so ill she took her seven shelties to a dog rescue. So Charley lost his home on that awful day and didn’t adjust to the new place. I think at the dog rescue he lost part of an ear. Perhaps he tried to steal another dog’s food. 

Charley suffered from benign tumors and other health problems, so as a dog no one wanted, the pet rescue owner sent him to another dog rescue. The worker at the new place, where we found Charley, told us he was five, but he was much older. We fell in love with him, anyway. My husband laughed as he held him in his arms. I knew then that Charley was going home with us to join our other sheltie who was almost two years old. What a surprise for Max to discover that his new older brother would set up rules for him to follow. For example, when it was time to eat, Charley snarled at Max to scare him into giving him his food, but our new pet was a barrel on legs and needed to be thinner. To solve this problem, we had Charley eat in our storage shed dog house with the door closed so his younger brother could eat undisturbed. 

When my dogs came to me wanting attention, Charley snarled at Max, warning him to get away. Then he would gaze at me with an angelic expression as though saying, “Aren’t I wonderful? Pet me.” 

Charley had worms, so we paid a veterinarian to remove them along with several benign tumors. After a lot of tender care, Charley’s health improved. 

We didn’t get to enjoy his company long enough. Near the end, Charley lost almost all his hearing and sight, too. But even in his last years, he learned to greet me with an outstretched paw for me to hold.

Memories of Charley remind me of a promise from God’s Word, the Bible. Although my husband and I are imperfect pet owners, we tried to provide the best care possible for Charley. This makes me think of Matthew 7:11. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” 


My husband’s friend, Kenny, lived in a tent in the mountains for a period of time. But that didn’t mean he sat around all day doing nothing. In fact, he was far from lazy. Daily he dug piles of dirt looking for gold in a beautiful area beside a river shaded by trees and bushes. 

You might think he was lonely living alone away from civilization. But he made many friends—although not the type that might come to mind—human companions. Instead, he became friends with the birds. And not just any kind of bird.

His special buddies were California Scrub Jays, colorful blue and gray feathered companions. They flew near him, sat in trees while he worked, and chirped to let him know they were there and expected to be fed. 

Kenny took small pieces of bread covered with peanut butter and held them up for his pals. They took the treats from his hand. One day Kenny ran out of bread, but he still had peanut butter. While my husband watched, Kenny put his finger in the jar and pulled out a big glob. A jay landed on his finger and ate the gooey morsel.

Another time Kenny was sitting in the shade feeding the jays. Suddenly they went crazy—squawking and making all kinds of racket. He got up to check on what was happening. When he looked around, he saw a large rattlesnake sliding through the bushes behind where he had just been sitting. 

His friends, the jays, had warned him of the danger.

Kenny had treated the birds with kindness. His example reminds me of Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule, that commands we treat others the way we want them to treat us. 

He wasn’t expecting anything from the birds, but they repaid his kindness by warning him of the deadly danger right behind him.

This brings to mind another verse—Galatians 6:7. “Don’t be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows (seeds he plants), that shall he also reap.” 

So let’s make it our goal to sow seeds of kindness every day. 

My husband, Bob, is an avid gold prospector. He enjoys searching for tiny fragments of the precious metal beside a river in the mountains near our home. To get there, first, he takes a well-known path. After that, he has to watch where he puts his feet. He never knows what danger might be lurking under or behind a rock, or behind a tree.

One cold morning as Bob headed for the river, he almost put his foot down on what looked like a small stick. He stopped in mid-step—just in time. A baby rattlesnake was sunning itself in the middle of the path. My husband jumped backward and found another way to cross the area before the snake could strike.

On another day in the early afternoon, he hiked to his gold prospecting site with a walking stick in his hand. The trail passed between two bush-like trees that cast long shadows on the ground. A large snake lay almost hidden in the middle of the trail cooling itself in the shade. The reptile saw him but didn’t move. The thick foliage blocked my husband from going around the snake. Bob nudged it with his stick hoping the creature would leave and not get mad. Happily for him, it slithered off.

I often keep my eyes open for parables—heavenly lessons from ordinary happenings. So when Bob told me about his two trips to the river and what he encountered, I saw in his experiences with the snakes a lesson depicting our earthly journeys. 

What lesson? Well, we’re all walking down life’s road where danger lurks. If we’re not careful, we’ll step on something deadly before we reach our final destination, so we need to watch where we’re going . . . and what choices we make.

Scripture: Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Once my husband, Bob, and I enjoyed having several gorgeous red and yellow hibiscus plants growing in our front yard. But we neglected to prune them, and they eventually looked like a bramble bush with branches going every direction. 

Then one day neighbor boys attacked my prized but scraggly hibiscus plants! They broke off branches to use as pretend swords when I wasn’t watching. After they were through, trash and broken foliage littered the lawn in front of my townhouse.

I assumed they had destroyed the plant since broken sticks shorn of their leaves ruined their former beauty. But one morning a breathtaking sight greeted me. A huge bouquet of red hibiscus flowers cascaded down from the top of the plant. The bountiful crop of larger-than-ever blooms proclaimed they had flourished despite the “mistreatment” which actually promoted their growth.

This experience reminds me of a Bible verse. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[ and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 NKJ).

I see in this simple story a parable of the Christian life. Just as plants need pruning to reach their full potential, so God needs to prune His children’s lives so the fruit of His Spirit can grow within them.

God loves us so much that He will prune His children even if it hurts, and even if it seems He is harming us. But we are not in a position to judge. We need to remember He is God and we aren’t!

True faith does not demand explanations from the Lord. We may ask, but He does not have to tell us.  In the meantime, our part is to walk by faith.

Just as I thought the neighbor boys had ruined my plants, but instead they had unintentionally rejuvenated them, so God uses cutting experiences to make our lives more fruitful.

Our temporary happiness or comfort is not the point. Through Christ, we may always overflow with deep and lasting joy—independent of circumstances. 

To be fruitful in Christ, I need to rest in Him, trusting Him to bear the fruit through me.

So if you’re a child of God, cooperate with the divine Gardener’s handwork instead of fighting against him. Who can tell what Jesus will do in your life if you yield to Him?


Hibiscus flowers bloom crimson and yellow,

   Billowy trumpets proclaim their Creator’s work.

They remind me not to strain and strive,

   But to rest in Him from Whom all beauty flows.

So effortless their loveliness appears;

   So persistent their blossoms renew.

Silent witnesses of God’s touch.

   They seem to whisper low:

If He cares for us,

   how much more does He watch over you?

One August afternoon a number of years ago, my husband, Bob, and I with our sheltie, Mac, traveled to Manzanita Lake in northern California. My sister had told us about the wildlife there. As an artist, I was eager to photograph deer and other animals we encountered. 

While sitting at our campsite under a canopy of pine trees, noisy stellar jays adorned with perky top knots fluttered through the overhead branches. We threw pieces of our dog’s food on the ground, and the bright blue birds swooped down and plucked the kibbles up–if the pieces landed far enough away from us. 

Suddenly a golden mantle ground squirrel that looked like an overgrown chipmunk popped out of his hole. He scurried toward the food and stuffed himself with the tasty treats. He got to the pieces before the jays did by coming closer to our feet than they were brave enough to do. 

They squawked as though to say, “Hey, that’s our grub. Leave it alone.”

He paid no attention but kept cramming kibbles in his mouth until his cheeks looked like they were about to burst. When he could jam no more in, he turned around, ran back to his burrow, and disappeared.

After he left, the noisy jays swooped down and gorged themselves until the squirrel returned and chased them away. They flapped their wings and scolded him for confiscating food they believed was theirs.

The golden mantle ground squirrel had a goal. He was storing kibbles away for the winter when he would hibernate and later awake to eat his stored cache of food. 

I believe the squirrel has a lesson for us. I’m not talking about storing away physical food, although at times that can be a good idea. No, I’m talking about hiding away in our hearts spiritual food that will sustain us as we face whatever trouble may come into our lives.

Many years ago, I started hiding away spiritual food by memorizing Bible verses. I found it handy to write them on index cards with the verse on one side and reference on the other. With these precious promises memorized, God speaks to me. 

For example, when I wake up, Psalm 118:24 often comes to mind.  “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” The best defense against discouragement is praising God.

When perplexing problems come up, I can claim James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  

If I want to complain, I need to remember Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

When fearful, 2 Timothy 1:7 comforts me. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The apostle Paul wrote this verse when he was in prison awaiting execution by beheading. 

When I’m tempted to say angry words, I need to remember Proverbs 15:15. “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

When I feel guilty about the sins I’ve committed, I remember 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

When I think of death, 2 Corinthians 5:8 soothes my soul. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Are you hiding away spiritual provision for your times of need? Consider buying a pack of index cards, and as you read through the Bible, note the promises and commands that jump out at you. Then copy them. Place your memory verses within easy reach and keep repeating them. After a while, they will sink deep into your heart, nourish your soul, and prepare you for the winters in your life.



How would you like to improve how you relate to others and become more energetic at the same time? All this without having to purchase anything? 

Here’s a surprising truth. One of the most powerful weapons to enhance our lives is our tongue! A powerful energy killer is distress over troubled relationships. Worrying about them can siphon off needed energy.

Here’s a simple five-point plan for improving relationships and increasing your energy at the same time. 

1. Speak encouraging words instead of negative ones. 

Concentrate on positive qualities in other people and dwell on those instead of others’ faults. This alone should do wonders in relieving stress in relationships. Doctors know prolonged anxiety can bring about harmful physical and mental results, however, healing words can soothe stress and lead to improved physical health. Think back to when someone encouraged you. You still remember what they said and the good feeling it gave you. Don’t you? We store in our minds other people’s responses toward us. Which of your words would you like people to recall when they think of you?

2. Don’t pour gasoline on a verbal fire. 

Proverbs 15:1 states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”(NKJV) When someone gets mad at you, be careful about your response. Choose what you say before you speak and then talk. Why should you burn your relationship houses down with your own mouth? Remember, a soft answer turns away wrath. That way you won’t be adding to the heat of an already roaring fire. Why not try spraying water on an argument with calm words instead? 

Many marriages have crashed because of hurtful accusations partners hurl at one another. You might as well punch a hole in a feather pillow and let the feathers fly out and then try to collect them one by one! We can’t get back the damaging effects of hurtful words either. Want to free yourself from an entrapping verbal situation? Practice waiting a while before answering someone when you’re angry. Carefully choose what you are going to say. The other person may remember your reply for years.

3. Don’t be a motormouth. 

Let’s listen more than we talk and think about what we’re going to say before we spew it out.  People who chatter on and on strain their relationships. If you enjoy monopolizing conversations, consider what other people may be experiencing when they’re with you. Also, the more you talk, the more likely you’ll be to put your foot in your mouth. So pause before you let something out you’ll regret. 

4. Practice carefully choosing your thoughts. 

If you could put your thoughts on CDs or DVDs, what would they be? And if someone played them, what would their reaction be? Would they feel uplifted or would it discourage them? What you’re thinking will come out sooner or later in your conversations.

5. Let’s pray for healing words to tap the Source of wisdom. 

Here’s a to-the-point prayer: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” ( Psalms 141:3). 

Do you want a better life? Choose better words.

Do you believe Jesus Christ of Nazareth rose from the dead, or do you think the resurrection is only a legend?

If you are a doubter, what you are about to read might surprise you. 
1. Legends take time to develop and become embellished in the retelling, but the news of the risen Christ sprang up right away.

It takes several generations for myths to develop into their final forms, whereas within a short time the news Jesus rose from the dead spread throughout the Roman empire.

2. Over 500 witnesses encountered the risen Christ.

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His followers for forty days. At one time He appeared to over five hundred people at one time. Many remained alive years later after the resurrection to tell their own personal stories about seeing the living Christ.

The number of witnesses in trials today is crucial. If you paraded five hundred eyewitnesses of a murder in a court of law before a jury, they would find the accused guilty due to the sheer number of eyewitnesses.

3. The death and rebirth of mythical gods is a foreign concept to Jews.

The first Church was Jewish, and they are monotheists. Why would they accept as their Messiah a criminal crucified on a Roman cross? 

4. There is no description of the resurrection itself in the Bible.

If the resurrection is a legend, the creators would describe such a miraculous event in glowing details.

5. The first witnesses to the resurrection were women.

But the testimony of women didn’t count in Roman or Jewish courts in that day, so why would a legend revolve around women instead of men? If the resurrection is a legend, why would the people who started it want women to be the first witnesses? 

The apostles were hiding from the Jews in fear of their lives, but the courageous women put the frightened men to shame. This was a patriarchal society. If people concocted a myth about the resurrection, would they invent brave women and cowardly men in a man’s world?

6. One of the prime witnesses, Mary Magdalene, didn’t even recognize Jesus when she first encountered the risen Savior.

She observed nothing special about Jesus’ resurrected body. Mary thought He was a gardener! Does this sound like a legendary hero?

7. Why would Christians be willing to die for a lie?

Thousands of believers died horrible deaths. Some were covered with oil as human torches and lit to light Nero’s garden rather than deny Christ. Thousands still die for Him today.

Yes, Jesus did rise from the dead! Millions have received new lives in Him. Why not you?

Trust Him and live forever! 

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).



Have you ever been hiking outside enjoying the fresh air when suddenly an exquisite butterfly visits you? What a treat it is watching these shimmering creatures flit from flower to flower flashing brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow– depending on what type of butterfly you see.

The special hand of the Creator God can clearly be seen in the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Even strong believers in evolution can experience a twinge or two watching the amazing change from a caterpillar to a butterfly as it emerges from its cocoon after being tucked away from the watchful eye during the amazing stages of metamorphosis.

Darwin had his own ideas of how all life came into being. He believed a process known as natural selection was responsible for all the humans, animals and plants that have ever existed. Darwin thought that natural selection worked through a series of slight modifications over millions of years.

Here’s what Darwin admitted about a weakness in his belief system: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

However, Darwin was certain that there were no examples to contradict what he believed.

 Although he felt he had never seen an example to refute his ideas, consider that the butterfly is proof of dramatic change without slight modification. A caterpillar does not simply grow wings while tucked safely away in his little cocoon, he changes completely. He loses six legs and three segments of his body. This would be enough to rebuke the theory of a slight modification, yet the butterfly’s story doesn’t end there. Its number of eyes decreases and a sucking tube replaces his jaw! Then add to the total amount of changes reproductive capabilities.

All this is more than slight modification– even before you take into account his new set of wings. The butterfly is set about in this world as a completely different creature than he began, and it is not by chance nor by adaptation that this occurs but through intentional design. The butterfly’s journey from larvae to adult is a proven solid argument for creation.

When a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, his entire purpose changes. The caterpillar is rather destructive. While he is food for birds and other creatures, he feeds on trees and plants, often destroying their beauty. Once he turns into a butterfly, however, his entire intention changes as now he is responsible for the germination of plants and flowers. Thus, this is proof that the radical undertaking the caterpillar goes through during metamorphosis is not about adaptation, but about creation in its entirety.

When a caterpillar sleeps in his cocoon and then later emerges as a butterfly, this also reminds us that the same thing can happen to us spiritually as well as physically, but in a different way, of course. When we arrive into the world, the Bible says we are dead in trespasses and sins and need to experience spiritual life. Second Corinthians 5: 17 states that whoever is IN Christ is a new creation!

Jesus said we must be born again. He also said He would come again and those who trust Him, who are alive at his coming, won’t die but will be changed in an instant at the last trumpet. However, if the Lord Jesus doesn’t return before we die, believers’ bodies will be raised from the dead! Those who trust in the Lord will have bodies like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. Wow! What a metamorphosis that will be!

The Bible tells us we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For example, one of the ten commandments commands us not to lie. There is a penalty attached to breaking any part of God’s Law. It is death. In Romans 6:23 we read that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment we deserve for breaking God’s Law. He was buried but rose again from the dead on the third day.

Trust Jesus today.


Man thinks he knows how the worlds began,

accidentally without a plan.

Did the universe appear by chance?

With a big bang and amoeba’s romance?

I believe this simple fact, profound yet true:

God created all . . . A truth old—yet ever new.


Did you know there are key health benefits that can result from owning a pet? A furry companion can enhance your physical, mental, and social well-being.

1. How can a pet help your physical health?

Owning a dog, for example, may encourage you to get more exercise. With your faithful friend at your side, you’re much more likely to go for a walk. Walking is one of the best health activities you can do. While walking you’re also more likely to interact with your neighbors because your special pal often acts as an ice-breaker.

Research led by Dr. Karen Allen at the State University of New York at Buffalo shows that pets can help lower blood pressure. Stockbrokers with high blood pressure were studied to see what happened when they adopted a pet dog or cat. Researchers concluded that having a pet nearby helps control increases in blood pressure due to stress. 

In his studies, Alan Beck, ScD (Professor of Animal Ecology, Purdue University) found that the simple act of petting your dog slows your heart rate and causes your blood pressure to drop.

An added health advantage from pet ownership is that patients may live longer after heart attacks. Some doctors recommend that a heart attack survivor adopt a dog because research has shown that a faithful canine companion can help prolong an owner’s life.

2. How Can A Pet Improve Your Mental Health?

Pets can help their owners overcome depression through their companionship and unconditional love. They seem to possess the natural ability to help you relax and enjoy life more. Pets can also help when you experience times of loneliness.

English poet, Alexander Pope, has stated that histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends. According to a Chinese proverb, dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails, not their tongues. When you take care of a pet, you have to develop a routine of getting out, buying food and providing exercise. This can help fight off depression and loneliness. The simple responsibility of pet care can help you get your mind off yourself and your problems.

3. How can a pet enhance your wellbeing in relationships?

Pets are more than just a member of the family. They’re central to a healthy lifestyle. They help lessen tension between family members and add a lot of fun and unconditional love to the homes where they live. When pets do cute and funny things, which they often do, family members react by laughing and being more relaxed.

If you don’t have a pet yet, consider making one part of your family, but make sure you have the time and resources necessary to provide a stable loving home for your new friend.

If you choose a dog as your new pal, remember this wise old saying. “A dog is man’s best friend.” That’s true in more ways than one. You’ll get unconditional love, companionship, loyalty, and relaxation in return for your investment of time and material resources.

What a bargain! 

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Psalm 51:12


One morning as I glanced at the clouds from the kitchen window, I noticed with delight that the bougainvillea I assumed was dead had blossomed again.

What a surprise to welcome back the purplish-red flowers peeking at me as though to say, “I’m still here.”

Grasshoppers unknowingly imported from a hibiscus I purchased had swarmed over my lovely plant and ate the foliage. It was in an awkward spot to spray with bug killer or to pick off the insects one by one. And with my allergies, I was reluctant to use pesticides, so I gave up and stopped watering what remained of the once vibrant flowering shrub—only bare branches. But a downpour of rain from recent storms soaked it, and it pushed out new growth again after many months of lying dormant. I had missed the cheerful blossoms and was so glad they had returned.

There beyond my kitchen window was a lesson just for me and maybe you too.

Sometimes I feel like that bougainvillea whenever I focus on my circumstances instead of on the Lord. When I rush ahead of Him and do things on my own, grasshoppers of discouragement, worry, and fear invade my life. I too dry up after opening the door to these enemies. When God points out I’ve let peace-devourers inside me, I turn back to Jesus and ask Him to forgive and restore me to close fellowship. Then I can once again please Him and enjoy the life-giving water of His Spirit and Word.

Has your life ever seemed as though it was about to dry up? God’s living water can revive you—no matter where you are in life or what you’ve done. Turn to Him with repentance and ask Him to give you the gift of eternal life through Christ or restore the joy of His salvation.

Dear Lord, please help me keep my eyes on You instead of on my circumstances.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Go Deeper — Keep looking to Jesus instead of your troubles.