Jars of Clay – Unadorned Clay Pots

clay potThe beautiful gray haired woman had a soft weathered face and always wore a dress with stockings. Even though she lived alone she could cook up a storm into her late 80s and early 90s! Guests and family visiting her home would enjoy a spread of multiple meats, numerous vegetables, homemade cornbread, yeast rolls, and two or three desserts as well as a congealed salad she usually left in the refrigerator until mid-meal when she would rise from her seat exclaiming, “Oh, my, my, I forgot the congealed salad!” as she scurried to retrieve it from the refrigerator. Her food and hospitality were expressions of her love and attracted folks to Grandma Vera’s house!

She lived by herself until she passed at age 93 and was always serving others – never without food or treats for the school children who would drop by her house on their way home. She allocated her food scraps to stray dogs in the neighborhood and had a heart for God’s creatures and his people.  Strengthened by difficult times during the depression when her husband lost everything, she raised two children, and worked as a schoolteacher to support her loved ones in an era when most women were at home raising their young ones and tending to daily chores.
I’m blessed to have a number of her keepsakes; her hairbrush and mirror, the old jar of clay and the dining room table where we not only ate smorgasbords of delectable southern cooking, but where children gathered to play cards among cousins and cringed to be the ‘one’ who ended up with the ‘old maid’ queen of spades!

Jars of Clay

The worn clay pot is simple and unadorned, a treasure no longer used for carrying and storing staples like milk, or butter.  Now, whether it has flowers in it or is empty on our hearth, it reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. …..For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I love verse 7-8 in The Message version:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.

With the love of Christ, you and I are like my grandmother’s old jar of clay:

  • We can hold beautiful and essential things of God!  They may be flowers of joyful smiles and they may be the buttery, smooth, satiating goodness of words of encouragement we share with others.
  • We can pour the refreshing and nourishing love of God on others with our words and actions!
  • We may look fragile, but we are handcrafted, have history and hold the hidden treasures of the Potter!
  • When we are broken, the loveliness within us is no longer hidden from others and the Potter will take the crushed remnants and fashion them into an even more beautiful and more useful jar!
Father, I pray your incomparable power will be reflected and poured out of us each day – even if it means a few scratches, cracks or chips on our clay pots!  Let us reflect your image this day remembering that you are indeed the wonderful, rebuilding, master Potter.

They Sat Together…

Recently I saw a new angle in a verse from the book of Job.

I used to think that Job’s friends were not very empathetic and did not know how to relate to him and his tragedies.  Now I see a new perspective.  In the beginning of the story, Job’s friends actually sat with him for one week not saying anything.

“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was”. Job 2:13

Just being with him. Not giving advice… Not criticizing…They showed up.

We might ask, “Didn’t they know what to say?”

Perhaps they should have kept their mouths shut!  Just being with someone in a crisis is a powerful healing tool.  Maybe that’s what gave Job the capacity to actually listen to their human faulty words and to seek God and to feel and express himself even though he was self-righteous and defensive with his friends’ accusatory tendencies.  In the long run, Job understands that God is good and that even though there is pain, the Lord is our redeemer and He is mighty and knows more than anyone or anything here on earth.  And let’s face it, his friends were present.  They showed up.

The joy and healing of connection
There is something to learn about our human interactions and about exposing ourselves to others.  Yes, we can be hurt if we vulnerably expose ourselves to others, but if we don’t we may not experience the joy of human empathy, comfort and connection.

The power of being present
We can learn about comfort and how “just being with someone” can prove powerful and show commitment.  Being present gives margin so mistakes are not always devastating to the relationship.  Grace flows freely to the friend who shows they care…who keeps in touch and is present in times of need.  We can forgive awkward moments and soak in the comfort the Holy Spirit brings to us through them…but only if they are present.

Be Present Today


Proverbs 10:19

When there are many words, sin is unavoidable,  but the one who controls his lips is wise”. 


In times of deep grief and pain there may be no words or few words…  It’s OK if we don’t know what to say.  Healing and comfort will come with:

More Time

Less advice

More listening

Less judgment

More affirming

I want to be a present friend – able to lend a listening ear, a comforting word and a shoulder for tears.  I’m thankful for friends that tell me the truth even when it hurts and am thankful friendship’s treasure is present in my distress.

Are you longing for deeper more meaningful human connections? 

Prayers for the bravery to walk deeply into the waters of friendship…-Madge

Count It All Joy – Three Types of Trials

How do you count it all joy?

“Count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…”  Jame 1:2

Really?  Did Paul really mean that we should count all our trials as joy?

The way I look at it, if we are not in a trial, good for us!  I hate to break the news, and I am not trying to put a damper on our day, but we are probably on our way into a trial if my past experience has any merit in predicting future experiences.  Our lives are beautiful, amazing and precious, but I’m telling the brutal and graceful truth.

Three kinds of ‘various’ trials.

Readily three kinds of trials come to mind:

First: Oh, really was that a trial?  God sure brought me/us through that!

I look back and see that a trial slid by nearly unnoticed because God’s faithfulness and grace were so strong that he protected me and my loved ones in a miraculous way.  OK, I can count that joy while in the midst of a trial!  Joy even fills my heart in these situations.

Example.   Recently, I was stranded in my van unable to start the car or open the doors due to a malfunction with my complex system.  A call for help and a couple hours of perseverance took care of the problem.  Although I missed an appointment, gratitude for a shaded garage and a friendly, generous neighbor abounded!  Now that could’ve been a different type of trial! In fact, later a friend said she was amazed that I did not break down or cry or lose it emotionally during the event.

Second:  Lord, I know you will bring me/us through this.  I can give thanks in all circumstances!

Other times I find myself looking for the best way to cope or deal with a difficulty.  I go about my business with family and friend’s support, prayer, counsel, scripture meditation and memorization, and ride the struggle to victory.

Example.  When I had my accident and paralysis we all knew it was life changing and horrible.  But as you can see from my Life Can Turn on a Dime series, through the ups and downs God’s grace abounded and hope was nearly always within reach.

Third: Not sure I can take this anymore.  What do you mean count it all joy?

Finally, there are those trials that just seem to beat us down. Usually this type of trial includes ourselves and/or someone we hold most dear in our hearts. A death, divorce, illness, struggle to have a child, etc. can fall into this category.  When they come I’d like quick deliverance by all means! But ‘quick deliverance’ doesn’t often come.

Example.  Simultaneous chronic health issues experienced by my husband and me wore us both out. It’s hard when our pain affects others day after day.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep suffering when healing evades us, hope is dim and pain is deep.  Moment by moment and day by day is the best I can do to move forward.

This kind of fiery trial continually asks us to look for His refinement, to look for the unexpected and unanticipated goodness, and to consider the testing as an opportunity for a break through of faith…and maybe an opportunity to learn.


I’m still learning about trials and would love to hear about your experiences and how you view counting it ALL joy.

Knowing that God is faithful,


Pentecost. Powerful Day. Powerful Name.


P as in Paul
E as in Edward
N as in Nancy
T as in Tom
E as in Edward
C as in Charlie
O as in Oscar
S as in Sam
T as in Tom.

With a maiden name like “Pentecost”, I found myself begrudgingly spelling it mnemonically during my pre-marriage years. Every bank, dry cleaner, reservation and such, required precision spelling. Regardless of the hassle, in my heart, I secretly treasured the name God graciously gave me and would often say ‘Pentecost’, like the ‘Day of’ and leave it at that.

People asked me if I came from a religious home, uh, well, we went to church but I wasn’t raised in a religious home so to speak. Even now, as far as i know, I’m the only one of my siblings who actively embrace the day our name highlights.

As a teenager, my appreciation grew for what is considered the beginning of the christian church. As noted in Acts chapter 2 when, fifty days after Christ’s resurrection, the power of the holy spirit was imparted and poured out among various people and transcended even their languages. People acknowledged Christ as Saviour and the church exploded with growth.

Who wouldn’t want to recognize a day commemorating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Talk about a celebration – the people were so overcome by the Spirit that those who saw them thought they were drunk at 9:00 in the morning!

Overwhelmingly people acknowledged Christ and they became a body of believers, the church, full of active love and compassion for one-another.

I’m glad I have such a special ‘Christian/biblical’ name to commemorate each year – albeit it’s my maiden name now. My name speaks of an important day in the life of the church and oh how I pray my life reflects the power of the Holy Spirit as I trust in Jesus. I love how the name’s origins are firmly planted in the Bible.

The online etymology dictionary describes the word’s origin as from:
Old English Pentecosten “Christian festival on seventh Sunday after Easter,” from Late Latin pentecoste, from Greek pentekoste (hemera) “fiftieth (day),” fem. of pentekostos, from pentekonta “fifty,” from pente “five” (see five). The Hellenic name for the Old Testament Feast of Weeks, a Jewish harvest festival observed on 50th day of the Omer (see Lev. 23:16).

Basically Pentecost is the Greek word referencing the feast of weeks, fifty days after Passover which tied directly to what Christians know as Pentecost, fifty days after Easter. In the future I’ll have to write about this relationship, meanwhile, if you are interested in its study, search the Internet for further details.

As Pentecost Sunday approaches I renew my commitment to Christ and to his ministry poured out through the power of the Holy Spirit. May I receive Him and may the Spirit’s power flow through me as I remember my name.

My prayer is that we will ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with power to know Christ in his fullness and be equipped to humbly walk with him. We all need continual growth and renewal, so even after all these years, I take it seriously and know there is much to learn and once again acknowledge my need for His power in my life.

When I am weak, he is strong. Come Dear Holy Spirit, Come.


Day of Pentecost Dates
2013 – May 19
2014 – June 8
2015 – May 24
2016 – May 15
2017 – June 4