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A Moment on the Zambezi

A mighty river. Unflustered. Unruffled except for the evening ripples.

Above, a flock of goose-shaped clouds pause to gaze at the watery gaggle beneath them, mesmerized by their own reflection in the mirrored navy-green waters. Vanishing as slyly as the crocodile disappearing under the lily pad, the heavenly puffs morph into bouncing bunnies and dancing dragons as our child-like imagination frolics.

The river banks, festooned with thickets of trees and ferns, occasionally marred by the trampled trails of hippos, alert us to listen for the loud guttural trumpeting of the river horses.

A resplendent sunset. Effervescent. Unrestrained. Colliding with the intoxicating whiff of river life, a perfumed Zambian evening embraces us.

A droning motor, silenced. Laughing, ceased.

“Be still and know that I am God.” God’s Word in God’s world. Wallow in it. The pulse in our bodies responds to the quiet cadence of the evening.

A bird rattles the moment. An African skimmer. A whirling blur of black and white plumage in the cool breeze stirs the gently lapping waters with its orange beak, before gliding to a sandy oasis and the soothing rhythm of the river.

A gray haze hovers in the distance as the campfire smoke of local fisherman leisurely joins the lingering evening light, meandering, river-like, into the heavenly sky.

A mighty river. Unflustered. Unruffled except for the evening ripples.

Thank You, Almighty God, Creator of all Things, Giver of all Moments.

“Be still, and know that I am God”

(Psalm 46:10a ESV).



The Gift of Small Things

The Gift of Small Things
“Who dares despise the day of small things?”
(Zechariah 4:10)

My friends rode bicycles, played basketball, and hung out at the soda fountain. They went to movies, had slumber parties, and roller skated. Playing like kids do during summer vacation, my buddies were having a blast, while I was flat on my back in bed – very sick – for the entire season, watching Batman and Gilligan’s Island and Andy Griffith. In black and white. Ten-years-old, I was not happy about my situation.

A family friend, Aunt Speedy, came to visit me at the beginning of that summer with a big box full of little gifts just for me. But her instructions were clear: I could only open one present a day. The gifts weren’t presents that cost a lot of money, but presents that brought a lot of encouragement. Funny stories, home-made treats, hand-written poems and prayers. Most definitely the “small things” referred to in Zechariah 4:10. Not on the scale of a temple being rebuilt, but definitely on the scale of a life being rebuilt. And certainly helpful to a devastated young girl whose life had been put on hold. Who needed something to look forward to each day.

“Who dares despise the day of small things?” the angel asked the prophet Zechariah, who was faced with a “mighty mountain” of rubble that was once the temple in Jerusalem. Daunted by the massive rebuilding project before them, the people were discouraged. God sent a message: Do not despise these small beginnings” (NLT).

Aunt Speedy wasn’t my aunt; she was that sweet little lady who was everyone’s aunt at our church. But the way she lived her life reminds me today, in the aftermath rubble of Harvey, that helping in small ways matters greatly. Big or little. It’s all the same to God. Even simple words of encouragement.



Hunkering down during Hurricane Harvey

A fly fishing guide in Sedona, Arizona, once told us a story about a flood that battered the area where he lived.

The rain pounded, the wind gusted, the water churned, and the fish hunkered down as the flood ravaged the gorge, the creek, and its banks. But the local fish survived, he told us, because they hunkered down together as the flood waters pummeled the creek.

I took notes while he talked, knowing that God was speaking to me. Hunkering down seemed a good thing to do, especially in a storm.

The people of Houston, Texas, have hunkered down together. Turing off our television sets does not turn off the lingering images of roof-top rescues, nursing home evacuations, and homeless families. For thousands, earthly possessions are lost, future plans are uncertain, yet gratefulness has not been swept away by the storm and hopelessness has not ruled the day. Houston is hunkering down.

One synonym for the verb hunker is kneel. One definition for the verb hunker is to hold stubbornly to a position. To kneel, holding stubbornly to a position. Sounds like prayer to me. Our fishing guide told us that the fish that survived the raging storm swam down deep. Hunkering down, they rode out the storm together. Houston is doing the same.

And not just Houston, either.

“How can we help?” “What can I do?” Our hearts are moved in compassion. And compassion spurs us to action. We want to help.

Hunkering down before the Lord, I’m asking Him one question each day: “What can I do today, Lord, that I normally wouldn’t do?” Help me not to concentrate on what I can’t do, but give me one thing, Lord, just one thing that I can do to help.

Thank you, Lord, for Your Presence, for the desire to help others, and for the gift of hunkering down. In turbulent times, may our faith grow in you and not be swept away by the storms. Amen.  







Looking for a Bible study this summer?

Steps in the Mustard Field

Growing in Faith; Pondering God’s Questions

 It was springtime in Israel, peacefully green and inviting, and the golden blossoms along the road welcomed us to the land where God sent His Son to walk on the earth.  “What are those yellow flowers on the hills?” I asked our Israeli driver. 

“Oh, those are the mustard plants,” he responded, not at all fazed with my excitement. Mustard plants blossomed everywhere, fields and fields and fields of them. I could imagine Jesus gesturing to the glowing wildflowers and teaching that “faith as small as a mustard seed” could move a mountain (Matthew 17:20 NIV). The seed of faith, planted and watered and nurtured, grows because of the power of our faithful God.

This summer, join us for a walk through the mustard field, where we’ll pause to observe God at work in the lives of Jonah and Elijah and Peter. We’ll see where God planted these men and fed their faith and helped them grow. And we, too, will grow in faith as we ponder the questions God asked them. 

Take the first step now and mark your calendar for each Wednesday in July from 9:30-11:30 AM at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Bellville. No fee or registration is required. For more information, contact the church office at 979-865-2330 (; Becky Bader at 979-885-9526 (; Gana Marek at 832-316-6464 ( Bring your friends!  


Buds, Blossoms, and Almonds: The Touch of God, Regardless of the Season! 

Looking for a Summer Bible Study? If you're in the area, come join us in July. Here's a glimmer of this year's study. 

The change happened in the dark. No one saw it take place, not even Moses. In the morning, however, the irrefutable evidence of God’s touch was clear to all. “Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds” (Numbers 17:8). 

A branch cut from its life-giving source is dead. It cannot sprout buds, it cannot produce flowers, and it cannot bear fruit. Yet the dry, withered staff of Aaron burst forth green and pinky-white with life because of the touch of God.
Just as God touched the dead staff of Aaron, so He touches our lives, and His touch brings forth the buds, blossoms, and almonds each day. Our Almighty God is not confined to any one season.
Come join us as we explore the touch of God on the lives of some people in the Bible and cultivate more God-awareness in our own. In His hands, we, too, will “bud, blossom, and produce fruit.”