Author Archives: Jen Chapman

About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 22 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at Flowers, bookstores, and people are what make her smile. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

Soggy Steak and Charred Brick


I have a meat guy.

During the early days of the stay-at-home order when grocery store beef was limited, my friend told me about getting her beef from a local butcher. I decided to try it and picked up a few pounds of ground beef, four chicken breasts, and two gigantic sirloins. I asked the guy in charge if he had any good tips on grilling steak, as I have never had any good luck with it.

Without saying anything, he walked over to a desk and got out a pad of paper and a pen and started drawing a grid to represent the grill. He told me to turn the heat up on high and let it get super hot, then put the steaks on the grill letting them get beautiful sear marks for 90 seconds, then turn the steaks 180 degrees and leave them for another 90 seconds, then flip them and grill for 90 seconds, turn 180 degrees and grill for 90 seconds, then turn the heat down to medium and leave it for 4 ½ minutes. Tada – Perfect steak. I tried it exactly his way, using my phone timer and complete focus. It turned out fantastic! So I went back to my meat guy and bought a few more steaks. My confidence was pretty high.

I went outside to get these steaks going. The first two rotations went well, and I was feeling strong. Then I noticed flames peeping up higher and higher. This would have scared me in the past, but felt like a professional at this point. I wasn’t worried. I thought Shawn would be coming out soon and he could confirm that it was normal. So when I heard him come through the dining room, in a voice as casual as if I was asking if he had seen anything good on TV lately, I said, “Is this too much fire?” He rounded the corner at that time – “YES!” – and ran over to the water hose to rescue our home. 

After I saw his reaction, I did notice that the flame was shooting up against the brick of our house. Shawn was rapidly screwing the hose to the spigot, because it was February and we hadn’t had to do that yet. All the while, the flames were inching closer to the eaves of our house. He got the water going and got the flames under control, then handed the hose over to me to continue drenching my ribeyes while he ran up to the attic to see if anything had caught fire inside.

Thankfully, it had not. But there definitely was damage. The eaves ended up needing to be replaced and there is a blackened reminder of the incident covering the brick wall.

The thing that surprised both of us is how unaware I was of this scary situation. I have screamed over many lesser things, but this one I did not see coming. I thought everything was fine.

It bears a striking resemblance to a time I thought I was fine before. While there weren’t literal flames, there were definitely indicators that I was crossing boundaries that weren’t safe. There were lines that I scooched closer and closer to until I was too far in. I didn’t see it coming.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I am well aware now of things that should have been indicators for me to make changes and go a different direction. I wish I would have seen it more clearly then. The thing is though, right in the middle of sin it is easy to make excuses that even you believe.

If you are in the middle of anything that you feel in your heart might be a bad idea, and your first instinct is to look for a reason why it is really okay, can I offer a couple of suggestions? First, pray about it. The kind of prayer where you also spend some time listening for an answer. Secondly, talk to someone you trust and who loves God. It just might give you a new perspective and save you any damage you might be heading toward.

Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit. Help me to learn His voice, to listen well, and to follow completely.

Psalm 19:14 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The Importance of Waiting


Packets of wildflower seeds had made their way into my home, unaware of what they were in for. All of them had been given to me at one time or another and I was determined this time to let them live out their purpose and create some extra beauty in our world.

I carefully scooped the soil out of the bag from Home Depot and into each of the 50 spots in our seed-starter tray. I nestled each seed into the cool, damp dirt hoping each one was comfy cozy as they started off on their journey. Each day, I checked the tray for progress. Each day I proudly announced the count of how many plant babies we were watching grow.

It amazed me. A few hours would pass and I noticed how some were already taller than they were earlier in the day, or I would see a new plant baby that seemed to appear out of nowhere. They grow up so fast.

The final count was 36 plant babies! I checked the directions to see what next step needed to be taken for these beauties. I decided it was time for some sunshine in the real outdoors. Technically the directions said they should get direct sunlight from inside and after they were strong enough, gradually putting them outside would help to harden them. I figured it had been long enough.

The day wasn’t super hot, but it was super sunny. I set the tray on our uncovered patio table and we left home for a few hours that day. When we made it back, I was heartbroken. My 36 plant babies were limp and scraggly. The soil was parched. I had fried my darlings.

It turns out they weren’t ready for what I had been sure they could handle. I guess it is possible for me to be wrong. It’s just so hard to wait.

Waiting has a purpose. For my seedlings, they needed to develop strength; waiting would have helped that. That might be the purpose in my waiting as well.

There are things I feel God leading me toward, and sometimes I want to make it happen immediately, without listening for God’s answer about whether I am ready for it or not. But sometimes He makes me wait.

If you are like me and struggling with waiting, whether it’s waiting for things to get back to normal, or waiting for your next step in what God’s calling you to do, let’s agree to use our time for good. Waiting can help us strengthen our relationship with Him. Spending extra time with Him in prayer, reading about Him in Scripture, paying attention to the ways He shows us He is still listening to us and wanting what’s best for us, and looking for the opportunities He does send our way right now are all ways we can grow stronger in our faith.

I don’t want the hopes and dreams God has put on our hearts to end up dry and destroyed due to our impatience. Let’s trust His timing. We can wait.  

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

A Few Tips During an Upside-Down Time


It’s kind of unsettling out there.

Things feel out of balance and we want the world to have a V8 and for everything to go back to normal.

I wish I had a cute, anecdotal story to simplify what is happening in the world right now, but I don’t. Like you, I have been watching the news conferences and reading the articles and seeing the images of crowded clinics and makeshift morgues.

While the coronavirus hasn’t hit our county at the time of writing this, so many changes have. People without jobs, healthcare workers overwhelmed, and people separated at times when they need each other most. My heart is breaking for them, and a little on edge for what may come.

But I have hope.                                      

My hope isn’t that I won’t become sick or that death will not come to anyone I love. Naturally I want those things, but my hope lies in the fact that our God doesn’t leave us. If I become sick, He is there. If someone I care deeply about is taken from this world, His peace comforts me in unexplainable ways. I’ve experienced that peace. He provides and is so very faithful.

In Scripture, there are loads of times where people suffered some tough situations, and while the circumstances were different, one thing was constant.

God never left His people.

This doesn’t mean He always fixes it the way we prefer, but He is the Parent. He knows best.

Our God is real and He never leaves us. 

I want to offer some tips to help you get through this, in addition to the important “wash your hands and stay home” that we keep hearing.

1.       Ditch any optional thing that increases your stress and anxiety. For me, this has been limiting my news and social media time. Ask God to help you be aware of what it is, and to help you set boundaries.

2.       Count your blessings. List them on your phone, on an old receipt, or in your prayers, but be aware of them and thank God for them. This can keep your mind in a healthy place.

3.       Look for ways to be a blessing. Many local businesses can use the support right now, and charities are more in need than ever. With more time on your hands, call the people you love, or send them a card or write them a letter if phone calls aren’t your thing. Wave to your neighbors from a safe distance. Participate in creative ways to connect.

4.       Spend time with God. This is the most important. Intentional time for prayer and for reading your Bible and for listening and looking for anything He wants to tell you can change everything. 

Pray for people who come to mind, your Sunday School class, our pastors, your pew neighbors. Your neighbor-neighbors. Send a note to someone who means a lot to you. God is good, even when life seems upside down.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

A Tale of Two Kitties

A Tale of Two Kitties

I don’t vacuum as often as I should. I have confessed this before. It’s for a good reason, though: the cats don’t like it. We have two cats and both would prefer I never roll the vacuum out of the laundry room. Their reactions are way different though.

Kanklefritz, the more mature, normally wiser, grey cat, runs and hides as soon as he hears the rolling of the sweeper’s wheels. His most recent place of refuge is behind the couch. He will stay put until we come to tell him that we are finished, and it’s okay to come back out. The only time he will come out on his own is if we are vacuuming in his direction. At that point, he darts out, head down, eyes straight ahead and running at full speed to the other end of the house.

Oreo doesn’t do that. Our quirky black and white soft cat will look at it curiously, and he will come over and sniff it, examine all angles and maybe even climb on top of it. He seems a little nervous but wants to see what he is dealing with.  I wish I was more like Oreo.

This past week, Pastor Marc was talking about having faith even when we are crushed. Discussing it later that evening, someone asked what we have learned from some hard things we might be going through.

I was coming up with nothing. I realized that when I go through a problem, in true Kanklefritz-style, I focus on getting through the situation and miss the opportunities to learn from it. I need to be more like Oreo, paying attention to what’s going on. Being intentional about it can make all the difference.

The more we talked, Sunday evening, I jotted down a list of ways to pay more attention during the hard times:

1.       Run to God first. It’s easy to feel like our first action should be to call a friend or talk to our spouse, and those are both good, but first talk it out with God. Something about that can set our hearts in the right place.

2.       Pray often. Keep it up, every day. Talk to Him. It might feel natural to skip when we have a lot on our minds, but it’s important to be consistent.

3.       Talk to people who love Jesus and have also been through difficult stuff. When you see how God has brought other people through hard times, it builds a strong base for the growth of our faith.

4.       Remind yourself of all the good stuff God has done for you. Make a list. Remember his faithfulness.

5.       Journal – this will help you remember the times you are seeing God in all of it, and the things you are learning from it. It doesn’t have to be fancy; use the back of a receipt or your phone’s notes section but write it down. And when you need a reminder, re-read the things you have written.

6.       Gratitude – make a list of things you are thankful for this very day. This can be a game-changer.

When we are able to focus on God during the hard times, we won’t miss out on the wisdom He has to offer us. I am trying to change my thinking, paying attention, and putting some of these ideas into practice. I have a lot of learning to do.

“Chimpanzees and a Promise from our God”

“Chimpanzees and a Promise from our God”

For one of our recent date nights, Shawn and I had dinner then watched a documentary on Disney Plus called “Chimpanzee.” We really know how to live it up.

Image result for disneynature chimpanzees

The movie starts out with Oscar as a newborn chimpanzee born in the African rainforest, and we watch him grow from an infant to a toddler chimp, climbing on the back of his mom, Isha, and struggling to learn how to use rocks and sticks to get food.

We get to watch this group of 35 or so chimpanzees work together and live in community. It was easy to become attached quickly. Before long we see another group of chimpanzees come along, which I called “the bad ones,” though Shawn reminded me they are animals and this is nature so they aren’t exactly “bad ones.”

 However, at some point in the film, Isha, becomes separated from Oscar during a confrontation by the aggressive group. I felt some intense anxiety, but still thought I was safe. I said to Shawn, “This is Disney. They won’t show us a movie that kills off the parent.” To which Shawn replied, “Really? Lion King . . . Snow White . . . Bambi?” He had a valid point. Disney is all about that.

And this is a documentary, after all. It is a real-life story. Life always has times that are seemingly stinky.

It’s easy to forget that. It seems like there would be a pretty good formula –
Good Choices + Jesus = Easy Life.

But that formula is a big fat lie.

In Scripture, lots of God’s peoples went through struggles; some a seemingly unfair amount. Paul, who devoted his life to Jesus after believing in Him, talked about being beaten over and over, lots of prison time, hunger, thirst, cold, and a scary time of being shipwrecked. He didn’t have it easy at all (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).

And it’s especially difficult for us when the hard times come rolling in one after another. I know I’m not alone in experiencing this. We get to a point where we wonder if we are strong enough to handle one more thing. And honestly, alone we probably aren’t. But we aren’t alone. That’s the promise that Scripture gives us.

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
Hebrews 13:6, ESV

The Lord is our helper. We aren’t alone. We aren’t relying on our own strength. When those difficult times come, and they will, we do not give up because God is our helper.  

I won’t lie – life can be hard. But it isn’t something we have to fear because we are not alone in any of it. Our God is faithful. And in an amazing twist, He can also make something beautiful from our hard times. 

The Disney documentary ends on a brighter note than the dark spot it took us to, and our lives will too. If we know Christ, the end is going to be amazing. But we can find joy in this current part too, because our God is with us.

3 Left Turns


“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

A few days before Christmas, we drove a long with our children’s pastorm his wife and another volunteer to take about 20 kids to see the holiday lights at the St. Albans City Park. It’s amazing how long a 45-minute trip can seem when the vehicle is bursting at the seems with elementary students. The lights were beautiful though, and hopefully there were some good memories for all of us. After our drive through the park, we were taking them to get dinner. Not all that familiar with St. Albans, I Googled for directions to the closest McDonalds.

The traffic leaving the park was pretty congested, and kids kept asking, “How much longer?” What started out as 8 minutes, turned into 15, and the hungry kids asked every 45 seconds, “How many more minutes?”

My navigation app wasn’t doing its best, and as I directed Shawn to go straight across the bridge, suddenly the app showed me that we should have turned before the bridge. Now the directions said to keep going across the bridge and make a left, then another left, and then another left.

It’s been said that two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.

I can tell you those three lefts suddenly took us from 2 alleged minutes to 8 alleged minutes left, and our kiddos, not to mention us, were less than thrilled.

It’s a new year, and a new decade for that matter. It is a time when we tend to take a look at our lives and become inspired to fix some things we aren’t happy with. Maybe it’s our eating habits, or our organizational efforts, our exercise routines, or our prayer time. Those sorts of things tend to get some extra attention this time of year. We make the decision to do better, and then we usually do – for a time. But the weeks pass, and on a rushed day the frozen pizza is easier to grab for lunch than chopping a fresh salad, and oversleeping causes us to skip out on the quiet time with God, and we have a decision to make.

Do we give up because we messed up, or do we make those three left turns to get us back in the right habits we know are best for us?

It’s easy to get down on ourselves and determine that we can’t follow through with the plan we had. We might mess up, but one day or one week or one whatever doesn’t mean that we have failed. We are a little off course and need to make some adjustments to get back on track.  

So don’t get discouraged. If there are things you are wanting to change to make life better, make the decision every day. And if you mess up, make the right decision again tomorrow. Every day is a new opportunity to get it right.

Nick Fewings

One Thing I do Know


In John chapter 9, we learn about a guy who was blind. We don’t know how he felt and we don’t know how old he was, but he was a grownup. Had he spent days questioning his purpose? During this time, the opportunities for those with physical challenges were slim. People, even Jesus’ disciples, wondered what sin caused this. Did the man feel like he had done something to deserve this? Did he feel like he was given a punishment he didn’t deserve?

I won’t lie, there have been times I have questioned why I am here. I have questioned why my life matters, when I feel like the impact I am making on the world is so minimal and the gifts I have to offer it are so tiny. It seems I forget it’s not supposed to be about me. It should be about doing what I can to bring honor to Jesus.

For this guy, all his days led up to this moment. This moment when Jesus was walking by and taking notice.

It seems the guy didn’t even ask for anything, Jesus just went to him. He fashioned some mud out of spit and dirt and put it on the guy’s eyes, then told him to take a trip to the water and wash. The Bible doesn’t even say if Jesus told him any more than that. Was that all that needed to be said?

He went.

How he got there, we don’t know. Did he know the way? Was it close? Did he have people with him that could lead him there?

What we *do* know is that he went, he washed, and came home seeing. (v. 7)

At this point, the man didn’t even really know who Jesus was. He was asked a few verses later by his neighbors how it happened.  He summed it up – “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash.”

Then he gets to the outcome:

“So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

Then these guys take him over to the Pharisees to be interrogated. He had to wonder why. This great thing had just happened to him, and instead of everyone being so thrilled for him, they were grilling him on all the details to get the scoop on Jesus.

The Pharisees not only asked him, who told them the same thing they had told the others, they fetched his parents and interrogated them as well.  The parents kind of wimped out, afraid of the repercussions if they got involved. They basically said, “He is a big boy; ask him.”

So they questioned him again, “Tell us the truth – We  know this man (Jesus) is a sinner.”

One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture comes next –

“He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25

There are so many things in Scripture that I do not understand. One thing I try never to do is to give a pat answer to someone’s question about the Bible. We are people who are constantly growing and learning and I don’t believe for a second that anyone fully understands everything in Scripture. But I do think people sometimes try to come across as though they do, for fear of building up doubts in the minds of the people questioning. My favorite teachers are the ones who will say, “I don’t know.”

This guy’s answer? “I don’t know, but I’ll tell ya what I do know. I was blind and now I see.” Perfect.

Our testimony, our own stories of what Jesus has done for us, can go so much farther than a guess of something to satisfy someone’s question.

This is the Scripture my mind goes to when I begin to worry about if a verse means this or that – Where did Adam’s sons find wives? Is the earth only 6,000 years? Did the flood cover the whole earth?  I don’t have to know these answers. What I have to know is what Jesus has done for me. *That* I can tell you.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t study Scripture – It’s one of my favorite things to do. There are just some things we aren’t going to know for sure, and we can be okay with that until we do. But we must be okay with sharing our stories.

Take some time this week to really think about your story and what Jesus has done for you. You never know who might need to hear it.

Kicking and Screaming


I froze for a second, then quickly decided to “go check on something” in the car.

More than a decade ago, Shawn and Noah were not seeing eye to eye, and seemingly everyone at the snowtubing park was watching it play out. I was trying to find my way out of there. Noah was convinced he couldn’t do it, that something terrible was going to happen if he made it to the top and set off down the snowy hill. His father was convinced that he would be missing out on the greatest fun if he didn’t.

I am wired with many decent qualities, but my overabundance of fear and caution isn’t one of them. Noah has inherited it from me. He didn’t see any way the possibility of pleasure was worth the probability of a disaster. His dad knew if he would just try it, Noah would see that he had worried for nothing. He would probably even enjoy it.

So, kicking and screaming, my husband dragged our son to the top of the hill to give it a go, when all our son wanted was to go home.

They made it to the top, and crying all the way down the hill, my son slid past me. Just above his boots and snow pants, I could see his head peeking out of the innertube and noticed a smile across his face. “I want to do it again.”

He had been so sure it was going to end badly, and he was so wrong. I couldn’t count the times he went back to the top and slid down the hill. Let’s just say we got our money’s worth.

I feel certain God often must look at me like we looked at Noah. He knows what is best for me, but my fear spirals out of control, and God either lets me sit it out, and miss out on the thing He had planned for me, or He drags me kicking and screaming to obedience.

“I can’t do it, God. I’m too nervous. I must be hearing You wrong. I’m not qualified or capable for this sort of thing. This is never going to work.”

But I don’t want to miss out on a single great thing that my Father has planned for me, and certainly not because I am too scared. Scripture says, “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 (ESV)

I do know His name and I trust Him, because I know He doesn’t forsake us. He won’t leave us to go it alone. He is with us, always. And when I start to wonder if that’s true, I have to remind myself of all the ways He has been faithful to me and my people. That usually strengthens my grip enough to hold on to the hope. And again and again, when I follow through with what God is directing me toward, 100 percent of the time, it is worth it.

If you, like me, are going kicking and screaming or if you’re going with a heart full of peace, always follow Him. He knows what is best.

Trashy Jennifer

Oscar the grouch 1.25button image 0
(How cute is this Oscar the Grouch pin?! Available on Etsy by clicking on the picture…)

He is one of my favorite first-graders at church. Jayceon is smart, enthusiastic and completely endearing. For a glimpse of him, I’ll share his prayer last week over the snack: “Thank you for this food right in front of my face and thank you for our bodies.” He is precious.

Then this week, I was walking our small group to their snack time and he said something about Miss Jennifer. He can’t seem to ever remember which teacher is which, so I said, “Jacyeon, *I* am Miss Jennifer.” Then he said, “No, I mean *Doctor* Jennifer. You are Trashy Jennifer.” And then he kept walking.

I stood there in freezeframe, no doubt with my mouth hanging open.

Trashy Jennifer? It didn’t exactly sound like a compliment.

I then burst out laughing because I hadn’t expected that.

I’m reading my Bible from the beginning to end for the first time in all my decades of loving Jesus. It has taken more than a few years for me to do it, occasionally slacking off, occasionally skipping around. But the next day after learning my new title – Trashy Jennifer – I opened my Bible to the next chapter I was supposed to read in 1st Corinthians and smiled when I got toward the end of chapter 4. “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” (v. 11-13)

Refuse: noun, matter thrown away or rejected as worthless; trash. (Google Dictionary)

Paul was basically Trashy Paul.

And he wasn’t one bit sorry for it. He was writing to the church in Corinth, and a couple of verses before this he was letting them know that while things were looking pretty good for them, being a follower of Jesus sometimes means we have hard days. Paul and others participating in the ministry were working so hard to share Jesus and to encourage and mentor the churches, things were difficult, but they continued to show the love of Jesus regardless of how they are being treated. Some of their difficulties were from their efforts in serving, and others were because of people not taking it well. Satan undoubtedly had his hand in some of it too. But Paul knew that his “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Our comfort in this life is not our goal. I should get this tattooed somewhere as a reminder. I tend to go for comfort when possible. But instead of comfort, our goal should be sharing Jesus and living our lives in a way that best points to Him. Sometimes that means situations that aren’t easy.

Sometimes people, perhaps with good intentions, see prosperity as a benefit of serving Jesus, but Paul was a living example to the Corinthians that this is not how it always works. 

Serving Christ sometimes means hard things, sacrifices and the testing of our character. But it also means we are never alone, that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to get us through anything and that we have the contentment that comes with following the One who knows the way.

In light of this, and though I for sure am not worthy of it, I would be honored for someone one day to see me as Trashy Jennifer.

Let Them See Love

Image result for estate sale

I have a new favorite pastime – estate sale shopping.

I’ve always been too intimidated to go. I imagined going inside someone’s home, looking around and being unsure of what is actually for sale and no prices anywhere. Figuring it would be a lot of, “Is this for sale?” and “How much is this?” and pretending I’m still thinking about it while I determine I have held it long enough to not seem rude, when I really want to look at them and say, “Are you kidding me? $25 for a warped pot?” I don’t even like yard sales when things aren’t clearly priced.

But I tried it. My sister convinced me to go with her to one and I have been hooked since. I’m getting so comfortable estate sale shopping now that I’m a little worried I’m going to be at one of your homes and just start going through your cabinets out of habit.

We spent four hours Saturday pilfering through the belongings of three different strangers and I came home with a picture frame, 3 cooking magazines, a cake stand, a pitcher, an ironing board and a serving dish. We also learned some things about a fellow shopper. While in the spare bedroom, we saw she is a huge NASCAR  fan, a quality she shared with the recently departed. In the family room, we found out she is a mom to three boys, a grandmother to seven, and a great-grandmother to four, with one of them recently adopted and there is a hope for the younger sister of this one to soon be welcomed to their family. She was thrilled to tell her story – almost as thrilled as she was when she stumbled onto the racing jackets.

But another story I learn as I’m shopping is the story of the one who has passed one. You can’t help but put together a picture of the person’s life. Books are always where I spend the longest at these sales, and I think you can tell much about a person by what they are reading.

Classics? Paperbacks with a woman draped with a sheet that is blowing in the wind? Books about God and Christianity? A variety of religions represented? Well-worn Bibles? Love stories? Or maybe just a few untouched odds and ends books that I figure were purchased as gifts? I can imagine the coziest room in the house and picture him or her with a blanket on a chilly day getting lost in the words of whatever it is that seemed to interest them.

At one sale there was tons of fabric and sewing supplies, along with multiple patterns pinned to cut-out fabric pieces, and I could imagine this lady getting enjoyment from creating something beautiful for her or someone else right up until her last days.                                                                   

It got me thinking (and not just me – I heard other shoppers echo this thought) about what people might say about me and all my stuff. But even more than just based on my stuff, what about those who know me – either knowing me well, or just as an acquaintance – what would their take on me be when it’s all over?

And now, while I’m still here, a more important question is, What do I want them to say about me?

All the choices I make, and boy have I made some bad ones, help to determine what people will say. I want the choices I make today to show love and compassion. Kindness and joy. And all the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit while I’m at it. I want my life to point to Jesus.

Jesus laid it out pretty simply in John chapter 13 saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (34,35)

My life will point to Jesus if I love.

When I talk to my friends and family, my tone and words and meaning should be drenched with love. My coworkers – love. My neighbors – love.  People on Route 60 – love. Someone who hurt me – love.

Some of those are easy, some seemingly impossible. But thankfully we aren’t doing it alone. The Holy Spirit guides us to choose love.

As people one day will be fumbling through my closet of clothes in 6 different sizes, my tote of newspapers, and my pile of scarves, I hope that there will be hints of Jesus. And I hope that the people who know me best will be able to say with confidence that I loved Jesus and showed that love to others. I hope they can say it about all of us.