"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wanted: One Good Listener

How do you feel when someone listens intently to what you say?

            Numerous years ago, a friend and I taught a class of children for Wednesday night Bible study. We were continually being interrupted as first one and then another had to tell us something important that couldn’t possibly wait another minute. At the end of the session, Dorothy and I looked at each other and said, “Did they get anything at all out of this teaching with the million rabbit trails we went down?”

            We did some brainstorming about the cause of the disturbances and decided that these children wanted to be heard. A majority of them came from less than perfect home situations and we wondered if anyone ever listened to them. We came up with a plan for the next Wednesday.

            When they arrived for the next class, we had them sit in a big circle on the floor. Once everyone was there we explained the plan. First, each person would get a chance to share one thing with the class. Second, we would not ask any questions while in the circle. If more information was wanted, they could get together and talk after class. Third, we would each show respect for the person talking by giving them our full attention by sitting still, not talking, and looking at the speaker.

            It took several weeks to really get the showing respect part, but the transformation was amazing. After the sharing circle, the children were ready to engage in the study. They went home happy because someone had taken the time to listen to them and the teachers went home happy because we felt successful.

            What about you? Are you a good listener? For some people it takes intentional practice to learn to be a good listener. Here are some tips to improving listening skills:

            Eye Contact: It’s very important to look into the eyes of the speaker. When you look everywhere but at them, they think you are distracted and don’t care about their thoughts.

            Body Language: Standing or sitting with your arms crossed in front of you at chest level, gives the speaker the impression you are blocked off and not taking in his ideas. Leaning toward the speaker, even slightly, and watching her shows you are interested in what is being said. Throw in a smile and a nod or two at appropriate times and she’ll know she is doing a good job.

            It’s Not About You: Hearing another person does not require your input, except to keep the conversation going. Keep your mouth closed and don’t interrupt. Limit distractions, resist multi-tasking, and let them do the talking.

            Good listening skills will enhance your quiet time with God each day. The hints here apply to that relationship as well. God will speak to us if we settle ourselves in His presence and listen for His voice. Jesus tells us, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

            There are millions of people out there who don’t have a soul who will listen to them. Who will you listen to today?

Going out with joy today looking for people who need a listening ear-


Friday, October 18, 2013

Who Knew?

Cathy and Mary Jane
at Barnes and Noble
Chattanooga, TN
              Who knew what kind of adventures we were in for as we entered the Chattanooga location into “Rosie the Road Warrior,” as my friend affectionately calls her GPS? Mary Jane and I had been invited to participate in a book signing for Pearls of Promise, a devotional which includes some of our work. It was our first ever book signing and we were elated. Never having done a book signing we weren’t sure what to expect in Chattanooga.

            We knew we would be meeting the editors/authors who compiled the book for use in their ministry to women, another lady or two who authored some of the included devotions, and some friends of the ministry. A supper meeting at The Boathouse Rotisserie near the Tennessee River would be our first face-to-face. Rosie did a fabulous job of getting us to our hotel. Sandra, another author, was staying at the same hotel, so we met her in the lobby and got acquainted as we rode to supper. It took Rosie and navigation help from two smart phones to get us there but we didn’t let that spoil our evening of good food and lively conversation.

            After lunch at Sticky Fingers the next day, the entourage moved to Barnes and Noble to take part in Celebration of Faith Day. We were greeted by Kelly, the store manager, who introduced us to the other authors being featured. He explained that Ginger Sanders had to cancel because her husband was in a serious accident. As one, our group and Kelly joined hands to pray for her husband and their family. Who knew you could pray right there in front of God and everybody at the main entrance to Barnes and Noble in Chattanooga, TN?

            It didn’t stop there. The first person to come to our table was Robert, a young man who decided he would buy our book for his wife, Rebecca, who was at home with their seventeen week old son. He told us his son’s story: Ethan was born nine weeks early with his intestines on the outside of his body. He has spent all but the last three weeks of his life in the hospital. Mary Jane asked if we could pray for Ethan and Robert eagerly agreed. Mary Jane, Sandra and I surrounded Robert and prayed for this precious child and his family.

            Again, it didn’t stop there. I looked up from signing a book and witnessed author Rita Carr and Karen Hauser of Pearls of Promise praying together for each other’s ministries with women. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could sense the depth and sincerity of their prayers. This scene repeated itself over and over as we alternated signing books, mingling with the shoppers, and praying with hurting people.

            Who knew when we left North Carolina we would spend more time in ministry than signing books? God’s ways are not our ways. I am filled to the brim with thankfulness that everyone on the Pearls of Promise team proved to be flexible and open to God’s plan over their own.

Going out with joy today opting for God’s plan over my own-



Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Gem in my Path

Ruth Brown
Still Driving at 96 years old
I spent some time yesterday with a dear friend who is ninety-eight years old. Within the last six months she voluntarily moved to a nursing home, mainly motivated by fear. She doesn’t walk anywhere without her walker anymore, afraid of falling and breaking a hip. The home she’s occupied since she was two years old sits empty. Even before she moved, she wouldn’t stay there at night anymore because she was mortally afraid (her words) to stay by herself. She spent many a night in my guest room over the last four years.

I met Ruth Thompson Brown in the early ‘80s when she was the director for the combined choirs from Gilboa, Gilkey and Thermal City Methodist churches. She was spunky and knew what she wanted and wouldn’t settle for any less. She would have us take a piece of music, study the words for about two minutes and then she’d say, “Okay, put the words down by your side and sing.” And she meant it. She expected the best from us and didn’t want anything to impede the best performance we could produce. Pep talks included the fact that God had given us good minds and there was no reason not to use them. She stretched our thinking and our doing.

She taught seventh and eighth grades for 40+ years, using unconventional methods to  her students along. She’s told me success stories of nonreaders or slow readers she worked with, tailoring a program for each one based on their particular learning style. Most of those children went on to college or to jobs where they became productive citizens who supported their families. I think knowing she cared about them played a big part in their improvement.

Miss Ruth called me Tuesday afternoon and said, “I’m lonely, lonely, lonely. Will you come by when you can?” I had planned to stop by after Bible Study on Wednesday so I told her I’d see her about 2:30 the next day.  When I drove up she was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of the facility.  I got out and asked if she’d like to go for a ride and get some ice cream. She was as thrilled as a small child would be when presented with that question. I signed her out and off we went like two teenagers on a lark, talking and laughing. It was a beautiful day for a ride.

When we returned and I signed her back in, she asked me if I wanted to know what advice she’d give young people. Of course, I did. “First,” she said, “always be right with the Lord. Always.” She continued with, “Do what you want to do while you’re young. You may get sick or not live to be old and you’ll miss out on a lot of life.” Sage advice, I’d say, from someone who has experienced a huge chunk of life.

Jesus came to give His children life and that more abundantly. Mrs. Ruth Thompson Brown may not have worldly wealth but she has stored up an abundance of riches in the people she has loved along the way. I count myself blessed to be one of those. Who are the gems God has placed in your path? I hope you’ll share them with my readers

Going out with joy today-

Jesus said. . .”I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   John 10:10 ESV

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.     Matthew 6:19-20 ESV