Friday, December 2, 2011

The Crutch

The Crutch
Carol Condon

The first day of summer camp was in full swing. Friends were reuniting after a long year absence. Dorms were being aired out and crammed full of all their favorite things. Electrical outlets were claimed for the coveted fans and if truly blessed an air conditioner was resting on the windowsill ready for the first musty blast of cooled air. The sun was shining brightly blanketing the campground with humid heat, but it was not hindering the students. Activity was everywhere; after all it was finally time for camp!

He was excited to be back with all his friends. It all started with a bottle of water and ended in a chase. He tried to catch himself but after a few failed attempts he fell bending his foot in an awkward position. He felt the snap in his toe and knew it was broken.

I received the call that Jared had been hurt and needed to go to the hospital to be checked out. Needless to say he was quite bummed. All the plans he had made for the long awaited week of summer camp had crumbled.

The doctor confirmed our suspicions. His large toe was broken. They wrapped his foot, handed him a pair of crutches and told him to stay off of the foot as much as possible.

Mark and I went out later that week to check on Jared. The service was going strong and Jared was keeping right up with everyone crutches and all. During the altar call the evangelist stepped forward and held up a set of crutches as praise erupted. When Mark and I walked toward the front we saw Jared beaming with excitement over his new testimony. His foot had been healed! He put the crutches away and walked forward into what became a monumental week for him.

We all have had those moments in our lives where we are going along enjoying life to it’s fullest. When seemingly out of the blue we stumble and fall. We find our plans altered. We are left in a crippled state and in need of a “crutch” to even hold us up. Do we lean on the crutch beyond the required time of healing? Is it easier to lean on the crutch instead of learning to walk forward into our future?

What we thought was going to ruin Jared’s week of camp actually became the thing that took him to a new level of faith in his walk with the Lord. Is there a set of crutches under your arms? In order to regain our strength we will have to set the crutches aside and learn to walk forward into the future He has made for us. The new level of faith may be just out of reach of the crutch you are leaning on.

1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Stone of Gratitude

A Stone of Gratitude
Carol Condon

He made a quick call right before his flight took off. He simply asked if I would go by the store and purchase a bag of smooth black stones. He was in a hurry and couldn’t explain but asked to please have them when we picked him up.

As we left the airport we were all looking forward to having lunch together as a family. Mark asked me to bring in the package of stones. I was still confused but did as he requested. Once lunch was ordered he looked across the table at us, reached into the bag, and handed each one of us a black, smooth stone. He began to explain what all he was thankful for. He said that as long as we maintain a heart full of gratitude there would not be room for a complaining and negative spirit. The smooth stone was to represent a reminder to stop and be thankful. He asked us to place the stone into a pocket or wallet that would always be within our reach and that every time we touched it to stop and take a moment to be thankful.

A few months later we came to Illinois to visit with my Mom and Dad. Mark brought two stones with him. As we were sitting together one evening he handed each of my parents a stone as he told them how thankful he was for them. He went on to share with them what he had shared with us months earlier. They took the stones and put them in their pockets. Throughout the visit they would pull them out and “was thankful”.

A couple years later my Dad became quite ill. His health was further complicated when he fell and broke his hip. As hard as he tried to recover he was met with a variety of health issues resulting in the weakening of his body. This strong patriarch that so many drew strength from became confined to his home and the freedom of coming and going was lost to him.

On December 14, 2008, I lost my Dad. How devastating it was to realize that he was truly gone. Months later my Mom came up to Mark and said she had something for him that she knew my Dad would want him to have. She opened her hand and lying in her palm was a smooth, black stone. With tears in her eyes she told us the story that as she went to put away the last outfit that he had worn she felt something in his pocket…it was his little smooth stone; his simple reminder to be thankful.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mist of Confusion

Mist of Confusion
Carol Condon

The night air was crisp accompanied by a dark sky illuminated with a host of stars glistening like diamonds. As I glanced up I was quickly reminded of how magnificent our Creator really is. In our home everyone was finishing all their daily goals and making preparations for our Sunday morning service that was just a few hours away. The morning broke with a beautiful sunrise. With a yawn and a stretch our family was in full motion.

As the van was loaded with our children and instruments I noticed the tiny blades of grass that were covered with little crystals marking the season’s first frost. It was breathtaking! Backing from the driveway we began our way to our Sunday morning rehearsal.

We were only about a mile into our drive when it seemed like we drove straight into a white blanket. Slowing down to a mere crawl we were trying to make sure we turned into the intersection and not into a field. How could the road we traveled many times a day become so confusing? We continued the rest of our way with extreme caution as all that stretched before us was a misty cloud making us question where we were going.

I began to think of the beauty of the night before. How did that beauty become so engulfed in such a mist of confusion? Then I saw the sun trying to break through the mist. The ground had cooled so much during the night gathering all the warmth of the day before and sending it up in a mist causing darkness and confusion as the sun began to wake the world.

In our journey of life we are often so sure of the road we are traveling. We have our plans and many times we tell the Lord of them instead of asking Him to order our steps. It is when we allow ourselves to become “cool” and He shines His warmth our direction that a mist of confusion arises. We suddenly begin questioning our direction. What seemed so sure and clear the day before can suddenly change into confusion. He has plans for us. Great plans full of hope. Will we allow Him to guide our lives?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Friday, September 30, 2011

He Listens

He Listens
Carol Condon

I noticed his limp when he came in from playing with his friends. As he got ready for bed he told me that his leg was really hurting. His older brothers suffered many nights with leg aches so I wasn’t too alarmed. We said our prayers and he went to bed.

The following morning, Chase came to me with a more pronounced limp and was holding onto his hip with tears in his eyes. He said that he was unable to lift his leg. I called our pediatrician and made the first available appointment.

As the doctor examined Chase he looked over his head with a worried expression and said we were going to be making a trip to Children’s. He did not want to alarm Chase, but he was trying to inform me of the need to hurry. He told me that he was calling Children’s and they would be ready for us. He suspected a rare problem in Chase’s hip that if correct he would need surgery in the next 24 hours or it could possibly affect the growth in that leg.

My mind was in a panic but I didn’t want Chase to know. I told him that the doctors were going to take pictures of the inside of his leg. As soon as we arrived we were ushered back to x-ray. There was an issue getting the proper personnel to read the report so they sent us home with a promise to call as soon as they knew something.

When we got home I got Chase settled on the couch. He let out a whimper and told me that he could barely move his leg at all. I felt something rise within me. I walked over and laid hands on Chase’s leg and said with much faith, “You are a worshiper, Chase, and in John 9:31 we are told that if any man be a worshipper and doeth His will, him He heareth.” He and I began to pray.

Just minutes later Chase got up to use the restroom. I heard a loud noise followed by yelling and feet stomping. I went running to see what happened. I found Chase jumping up and down shouting, “He did it, Mom! He did it, Mom! I felt something and all the pain is gone. Look at me now!” He took off running down our hallway shouting, “He did it!”

“…….but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”
John 9: 31

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Carol Condon

He could not seem to get back to sleep. Excitement was churning inside of him, as he knew he was mere hours away from gathering with his buddies on the field for the weekly Saturday morning ballgame. His glove was on the nightstand with the ball tucked inside waiting for his hand to join them. He lay ever so quietly dreaming of rounding third base heading home as he waited for the call to breakfast signifying the beginning of this sure to be exciting day.

The car was barely to a stop when he opened the door and ran to the field. He was all dressed in his clean uniform secretly wishing to have it smeared in dirt. He and his fellow players were just minutes away from the beginning of what was predicted as a sure win for their team. However, just before the first pitch of the day, the coach called his name followed by a simple glance to the bench. This eager little ball player walked to the bench with as much dignity as he could muster climbed up and took a seat.

The bench was not a complete surprise as he had spent a portion of each Saturday morning sitting there dreaming of the day that he would be holding the bat for the first pitch of the game instead of sitting on the sidelines watching the ball cross the plate.

How many times have we spent restless nights because of the excitement burning within us as we sense the nearness of reality meeting our dream? The vision has been documented, dreams have been dreamed, plans have been executed and ambition has been fueled. We are just eagerly awaiting the nod from our Coach. However, so many times His nod is in the form of a simple glance to the bench. We now have a choice to make. Do we walk over and take a seat with dignity keeping the dream alive by seeking His wisdom and direction or do we stomp over in anger as we have once again had “our plans” put on hold? Take the time on the bench to wait on Him and his nod. We are predicted to win!

Psalm 27:14
Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Remedy

The Remedy
Carol Condon

I heard the soft whimpering and was quickly awakened from my sleep. I immediately went in search of which of my children’s bedroom it was coming from. As I suspected, it was another leg ache. I grabbed the Children’s Tylenol and ran downstairs. I found him rolling from side to side, crying out in his sleep. Bryce had so many leg aches in his early childhood, but I knew that once I came in with a prayer, a dose of painkiller along with gently massaging the affected leg he would soon be back to a peaceful sleep.

In my kitchen I have a couple shelves dedicated to my “remedies”. There are “over the counter cures” for sore throats, night time and day time coughs, sun burns, fever blisters, aches and pains, allergies, cuts and burns, indigestion, poison ivy and the list goes on.

As we grow older, there are other remedies that we migrate to. After a stressful day we head to the local Starbucks for our much needed boost of the day or plan a day of shopping therapy to balance out the stress we have been living under. However, all these remedies have a short shelf life.

My children have grown out of the leg ache era and have now entered into a time of different “growing pains”. There is not an over the counter remedy for these pains. Sadly, we have all grown accustomed to seeking out an easy cure for what seems to be bothering us. We grab a glass of water, take the proper dosage and expect to be feeling better in the time the directions tell us that we will.

Mark and I have been faced with so many decisions in our lifetime together. There were many times when it would have been so much easier to head to the local pharmacy. However, we have the best Pharmacist. He has given us so many remedies for everything we could possible encounter in this journey of life. One of His remedies is to follow peace. He is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33) and even in turmoil He offers peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7). We would all feel so much better if we would take His prescription and expect to feel better just as His directions say we would!

Hebrews 12:14 (KJV)
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Step Ladder

The Step Ladder
Carol Condon

Dust seemed to settle everywhere. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I had cleaned? Apparently not, because when I visited the calendar I could see that it had been days ago. From the windows to the baseboards there was ample dust to go around. Even the blades of the ceiling fan had been affected and seemed to say, “Have mercy on me!” Denial would not work. A thorough day of cleaning was a must.

As music began to swirl around me I hummed along as I cleaned surface after surface. There was plenty to do that was just within my reach, but if I were to finish I would have to reach beyond what was directly in front of me. So, I worked my way toward the windows.

I raised the blinds to make them more accessible to me. I aimed the spray of Windex reaching to the top and following through to the bottom of each windowsill. Grabbing the paper towels I reached toward the top of the first window when I realized that the upper portion was just out of my reach. It was easy to see that I needed some assistance. I made a visit to our garage and brought in the stepladder. From the rungs of the ladder I reached forward and the dust of yesterday was wiped away.

How often do we find similar challenges in this journey of life? Our lives become so busy and complicated as we fit as much as possible or is it impossible in it. Day after day we have good intentions but soon it is time to bid one day goodbye as we welcome the gift of a new day. In doing so we become overwhelmed with the dust of life.

In order to wipe away the dust of our yesterdays we have to reach forward and many times it is just beyond our reach. That is when we have to go after the “stepladder” for some assistance. It is impossible for us to strain beyond our present circumstances without His assistance.

Philippians 3:13 NIV
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Menu

The Menu
Carol Condon

For some reason every time we walked in we were escorted to the back and seated at the secluded table along the wall away from everyone. At first we thought we were getting preferential treatment; however, we soon realized that when they saw the six of us walking in they didn’t want to take a risk and seat us among the many guests already dining in case we were too much of a distraction.

The first thing needing to be settled was who gets to sit where. That was a job all in itself. Once that was finalized we all became engrossed in reading the menu. The entrées were listed along with the sides that could be chosen to accompany the main dish. Mentally we made our selections according to each one of our preferences. As our waiter listened patiently to each one of us he recorded our choices.

Mark didn’t just want a side salad. He wanted a side salad without tomatoes and cucumbers. Jared wanted to make sure his side salad had cheese added. Chase requested that his grilled chicken sandwich was plain and without mayonnaise. Miquel wanted to substitute rice in place of the refried beans and Bryce and I added our own touches to the meals that we ordered. I was sighing in relief that I didn’t have to make all these substitutions in my own kitchen. As long as the chef followed the order correctly we would soon be enjoying our meal that we directed according to our own personal tastes.

How often to we come to the Lord holding our menu and stating our personalized order. We enter the prayer closet all ready for Him to record our preferences. We would like a new home, but not just any home in any neighborhood. Our budget needs assistance, Lord, but we need it to be like this, and we go on to explain just how we would like it done. The lonely single is now ready to place an order. “Lord, I have done most of my single wish list and now I am ready for marriage. I prefer someone in the 6 figures, tall, never forgets to put the lid on the toothpaste…..” We then begin looking for “our order.” Do we actually miss what He has for us because we only have our eyes searching for what we want? Let’s set the menu aside and allow him to order our steps.

Psalm 37:23 KJV
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What's Under Your Bed

Carol Condon

I was rinsing our dinner dishes when I heard the washer finish its cycle. On my way to the laundry room I remembered that tomorrow was trash pick up so I detoured to the garage to run the trash containers to the curb. As I headed back into the house I realized that I needed to put the laundry into the dryer before finishing up the dishes. Going from one room to another I was suddenly aware that I had a little shadow directly beside my own.

Chase was only about four years old at the time and he loved to be my helper, but tonight he was just sticking close to me not saying a word. I noticed that he had left the light on in his room so I asked him if he would run in and turn it off. He reluctantly walked to his room and as he turned off the light he bolted right back to me in a very quick manner. I told him that we needed to go downstairs and tidy up before I tucked him into bed for the night and he gladly walked with me. Once downstairs I asked him to go into the playroom and turn off the light. He did so but this time as he ran back he made it no secret that he was afraid.

As I tucked him into bed, I questioned him about his fear. He admitted that he was afraid of the monsters that were under his bed. These “monsters” supposedly came in when we weren’t looking and they would hide out until bedtime. I began to explain how that was not possible because each night we prayed for Jesus to watch over him and keep evil far from him. I stopped then and said our nightly prayer together. I then asked him to climb out of bed and peek under the bed with me. He joined me and we took a look. I pointed out his racecar track that filled one half of the space. Then we looked at the long storage boxes that held all his “happy meal” toys. I asked him where the “monsters” were supposed to hide. He smiled up at me as he said, “Mommy, there is no room for monsters.”

How many times have we allowed fear to inhibit us from being what God has called us to be? Maybe we need to take a peek at what is under our bed. Do we have the space filled with “things that are true, honest, just, pure, and lovely” leaving no room for the “monsters” to hide out waiting to rob us of the things that God has for us? He has plans for us. Let us not miss out on them!

Philippians 4:8 NIV
8. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Marigold

The Marigold
Carol Condon

The ground was extremely hardened as the blades dug deep cultivating the earth. Clumps of thick clay were being turned over in preparation for new life. It was a strenuous task as the sun seemingly aimed its rays towards the little patch of land. With a tenacious grip he guided the plow up and down every row in anticipation for the vegetation that would soon begin its life in the very place he now walked. Year after year he perfected his gardening abilities eventually focusing exclusively on the tomato plant.

My Dad could harvest a tomato that would be a meal in itself. My Mom and Dad were quite a team. However, they worked year round in order to provide this delicacy each summer. The seeds were saved from only the best specimen. They were then dried and eventually planted in little soil pockets under lights where they would germinate throughout the winter months readying themselves for spring. It was quite an art.

My Dad passed away on December 14, 2008. His seeds were already preparing themselves for the spring planting. Mom’s heart was broken but she carried on where my Dad had left off. She saved two of the plants for me. I was nervous as I planted them in my yard, a yard that had never felt a gardeners touch. I watched the two plants stretch high as small circles of green dotted along the stems. The green was slowly replaced by orange and eventually red. However, each tomato was been destroyed right on the stems. Even though my plants looked healthy the tomatoes were ruined. I called my Mom and she told me that there is a worm that seeks out the tomato and that I need a marigold.

Depending on the species, marigold foliage has a musky, pungent scent that is said to deter some common insect pests as well as the little culprit that had eaten through my two precious tomato plants. This year my Mom gave me two more tomato plants but before I prepared my ground for planting I bought a tray of marigolds.

So many times we have cultivated the plans for our lives and all seems to be going according to our plans, but then the worm appears, leaving destruction in its path. We need a “marigold”.

Our Lord wants to be the Master of our “garden”. If we delight ourselves in Him, day and night, we have a promise. We will flourish under His authority!

Psalm 1:3
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Authorized Change

Authorized Change
Carol Condon

The sun was setting and the sky was absolutely gorgeous. The Master Artist Himself was adding so many colors as He was closing out yet another priceless day. The sound of the water rushing up erasing the sand castles of the day was so relaxing as a calm seemed to settle across the border of land and sea. Mark and I were walking along the beach enjoying some quality time of talking, planning and dreaming together. Mark can dream better and bigger than anyone I have ever seen! Life gets so busy and often chaotic so the moments we get to steal away together become ever so precious.

Life is full of change. You may not plan for it and you may bristle up in defiance of it; however, you cannot stop it. Change just happens. When I see change coming my way I have a habit of mentally burying my head in my hands begging it to stop. Who wants to be torn out of their comfort zone? Regardless of not welcoming change as a regular occurrence of life, it is needed for all of us. Our comfort zones cease to bring comfort when He has authorized a change to take place.

I was in this mindset as I stumbled across the skeletal remains of a fish resting firmly in the sand. I called for Mark to come have a look at this amazing sight. Here was a perfect symbol of a life that was spent totally resisting the changes that life brought its way. It is apparent that this fish resisted change but at what price?

This poor little fish reversed my view of change. It is not that I awake each morning begging for new changes to come into my life, but I do rest my life securely in His hands, as I know that His plans are to prosper and not to harm. Will you trust Him enough, enough to step out of your comfort zone and embrace what He has planned for you today?

Jeremiah 29: 11-13 NIV
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Circle

The Circle
Carol Condon

They arrived one by one driven by the decisions that they had made. For some it had only been months but for many it had been years. It all started with a first and then progressed into an addiction that was seemingly unstoppable. However, now a circle was formed and each one took their seat.

I was humbled and honored when invited by a dear friend to join their circle for an evening honoring her completion of intervention. Each one took a moment to share their inner feelings. The tears could not be stopped as I heard story after story from beautiful women sharing little portions from their lives. Stories that told of events that ultimately drove them into making some wrong decisions and thus brought them to the circle.

My heart was experiencing quite a collection of emotions as I listened to each one. I felt sadness for all they had gone through ushering them into their various addictions. I felt conviction for not being more aware of so many hurting people and not doing more to help them. I also felt such respect for them walking weekly to the circle and taking their seat as they began the journey of correcting their wrong.

I was then asked to share what was on my heart to these ladies. I began with how we all started out in life…………….

Each baby has more than enough willing arms available to hold them. It seems that all they know how to do is to eat and sleep, but as the months pass the built in desire to stand independently takes over and every chance they have to pull themself up on their feet is taken.

Each attempt at standing is quickly followed by a drop to the floor. However, the ready arms that once carried them are now reaching down to stand them up again. When their legs are strong enough to take their first step the arms are there once again to steady them and help them with each step. They will fall again and may not be strong enough to pull themselves back up but the willing arms to help are right within their reach.

That is what the circle is for. It is placing yourself in the view of willing arms that will help hold you up, pick you up, and steady you for your next step.

Have you walked to the circle? We all have made poor decisions and have had some tough curves come into our journey of life. I admonished us all today to surround ourselves with a circle of support that will be within our reach in order to pick us up each time we need it…we ALL need it.

Hebrews 10:25
New International Version (NIV)
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Domino Effect

Domino Effect
Carol Condon

He sat quietly on the floor lining them up as close as possible without any of them touching. At first he only chose a few black and white tiles and lined them up in a short straight line. With a gentle nudge one by one the dominoes followed each another until not a single tile was left standing. Now that he knew how it worked, the little boy decided on adding some creativity out of the pile of dominoes that lay before him.

The simple straight line was now replaced with a design created by the imagination of a six-year old. There were a variety of shapes joined together in anticipation for the grand finale that would result from a simple touch. What he hadn’t considered was his little brother crawling over to join him.

The cries for “Mom” to come to the rescue did not protect his creation as the chubby little fingers of his brother came in contact with only one little tile and in a matter of seconds they all fell down.

The “Domino Effect” is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change and so on. How many times have you been caught in a “domino effect”?

We all have made our plans in order to set our future in motion. We are so eager to see and experience the finished product produced by our endeavors. The components needed to achieve our goals have strategically been lined up when someone or something reaches out and touches our plans when we were not prepared and our plans seemingly begin to topple out of control.

Had the little boy gone to his parents and talked over his plans they would have been able to protect him from the harm that he received from his little brother’s interference. We often place ourselves in the same situation as we make our plans and then execute them without consulting our Father. Let us all save ourselves from the “domino effect” that can tear down everything we are trying to do by simply going to our Father from the beginning with our every word and deeds.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossian 3:17 NIV

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Through His Eyes

Through His Eyes
Carol Condon

It started out with just a dirty sock here and a discarded toy there. From where I was sitting on the couch I could see the trail of debris leading from the doorway of his room to each corner, along the sides of his bed, and winding around to his closet.

Chase had finished his school assignments for the day and was eager to get outside to play with his friends. As he changed into his play clothes he told me of his afternoon plans with the neighborhood boys. I quickly explained that due to his totally unacceptable room he could not begin his playtime until his room was put back to order.

With a frown he walked slowly toward the destination of his dreaded chore. He returned back to me in just a few minutes reporting that he had finished cleaning his room and was ready to go outside and play. Knowing the disaster that his room was in just a few moments earlier, I sent him right back to reassess the cleanliness of his room and to make sure that he had not forgotten anything.

He reluctantly left but soon returned with the response, “No, I got it all, Mom.” I knew that this could not be possible. So, I sent him back with a different request. I asked him to go to his room and look at it ‘through my eyes’ instead of his. He quickly returned and said that he would rather not because when looking through his eyes it all looked fine but if he looked through my eyes there seemed to be a lot of work to be done.

Chase retreated back to his room and after quite some time returned saying that he had finished cleaning his room and that his room would be considered clean even through my eyes!

So much of the time we view life through our own eyes instead of His. We face circumstances of life and deem them as impossible. We hear His voice but feel too inadequate to carry out His plan. What would happen if we would switch from looking through our eyes to looking through His?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Basket of Words

The Basket of Words
Carol Condon

The floor was finally void of all clothes and the room had taken on a sense of order. I emptied the trash, swept the floor and took a moment to glance with satisfaction that once again my laundry room looked like an actual room and not just a mountain of dirty clothes. However, with the six of us I am only a few hours away from the laundry baskets returning to once again round out my room with piles of laundry needing my attention.

There is not a member in my family that would dream of taking a shower, brushing their teeth, arranging their hair in the latest style and then reach into a basket of dirty, wrinkled clothes to pull out their outfit for the day. What a defeat this would be to the hygiene regime that they had just performed. Wearing dirty laundry is not even a consideration.

With the sink full of dishes needing to be washed, dried and put away, we do not head to the basket of laundry and pull out a soiled dishcloth to begin the nightly chore. Nor do we head to the laundry room to pull out a set of sheets; instead we walk to the linen closet and choose from the stack of fresh linens. Sleeping on soiled sheets and washing with a soured dishcloth are not an option.

There is another basket that we should all keep properly stored away awaiting a thorough cleaning. It will not hold our dirty laundry, but it holds our words that need some washing up before we place them back into our vocabulary.

We have our spiritual regimes that we hold to. Our schedules are blocked off with the “no exception” rule for our church services, morning devotions, daily Bible reading, monthly fast days just to name a few. Then, we get a telephone call, greet the mailman, speak to the cashier while totaling our purchases, or maybe we welcome our spouse home from their workday and without thinking we reach into the basket of words and pull out a set negative remarks that completely defeats the daily regimes we hold to. We cannot afford the luxury of speaking with unguarded, negative words just as we would not reach into the laundry basket to choose our garments for the day.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Greeting

Carol Condon

I exited the plane and saw the group gathered with banners and flowers. Some were on their tiptoes trying to see as far as possible in order to get the first glance of their precious one coming home. How exciting it must have been to the decorated soldier walking through the jet way to the group fully prepared to celebrate his arrival!

She had worked hard all day. Her back was hurting and she was both mentally and physically exhausted; nonetheless, it was time to pick up her children. She walked into the daycare and within seconds she heard the scurrying of little feet rushing to her with the high-pitched “Mommy!” shouted right before they jumped into her arms. Now, that quickly erased all the weariness of her day.

The guests were dizzy with excitement! It had become so difficult trying to keep the party a surprise, but each one had succeeded. The lights had been turned off for quite sometime awaiting the appearance of headlights signaling the arrival of the guest of honor. Finally they heard the key in the door and each guest took a deep breath as they prepared for the loudest “Surprise!” ever. One look at the face of the honored guest was worth it all!

He came forward and his head was bowed, his smile had faded, and his overall expression spoke of despondency. I then noticed the others that had begun to join him. Some must have been feeling the same way as they approached in a parallel manner; however, there were some that were expressing feelings that were the complete opposite. They had their smiles on and they were genuine, excitement was in each step they took, and there was a glow surrounding them. They were all coming forward to worship their King.
Throughout each of our days we greet many people. It may be at the dry cleaners, the doctor’s office, the grocery store, at our job, at our school, in our home, at our church, in our prayer closet, at the altar, etc. What is our greeting like? Are we so concerned about what others think of us that we apply a fake smile and greet those around us with a façade of happiness, but when it is time to spend time with our Master do we greet Him with all of our frustrations? What if the next time that we go forward to worship our King we throw our hands in the air and with an authentic smile greet Him in thorough thanksgiving. After all He deserves it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Looking Glass

Carol Condon

Getting out the door on time was always a chore. With four children to get up, bathe, dress, feed and pack a “so that they do not get bored bag” I barely had time to see if what I had on actually matched. Sadly one Sunday I happened to look down as I was walking into church and saw that not only did I have two different color shoes on, but they were different styles as well. It was then that I had to question myself if I had looked in the mirror to make sure everything else was in order before I ran out the door.

As my children grew older they adapted more responsibilities in getting themselves ready. There were times when they would come out and I would tell them they looked great but they might want to check the mirror one more time before they left. Every once in a while I would hear a “Thanks, Mom.”

During the years I have sent them back to the mirror for more than just their appearance. As they began to be all about their brothers, sister, and friends’ business I would gently remind them to go visit the mirror to see who’s business they were actually responsible for. It is so much easier to see others than it is to take a good hard look at our self.

The kids and I were in the fitting room on one of our shopping trips. I was handing some items over the door for them to try on. As they came out they headed straight to the mirror. I was ready for their laughter. This fitting room was designed for kids. The wall of mirrors was all twisted and bent to give them many options to look at! How fun it was watching them see what they would look like tall, short, fat, skinny, with a long neck, etc.

What mirror are we looking at? Is it a true reflection of our self or has the mirror been bent and now gives a distorted view less than accurate? I want to choose the looking glass that He sees through.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
I Corinthians 13:12 NLV

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Her Determined Mood

Carol Condon

The house was quiet. The usual hustle and bustle had ceased. The forever-present sibling bickering rested now only in the recesses of her memory. The sound of movement generated by those who had lived in her home was now replaced by the hum of appliances. Her dearest and best friend is evident in every room yet no longer in her presence.

How devastating all the change has been to her; yet she determined to be a victor. The tears came and still come. The desire to turn back the clock greets her each and every morning. Still she pushes and pulls herself every day to climb out of the despair, that our minds can so quickly place us, in order to be the constant to all around her. I would like to introduce you to my Mother.

So often life throws each of us situations that we are not expecting. Circumstances come at us seemingly out of the blue. A once beautiful and positive morning can instantly be replaced with feelings of despair and gloom. Our moods can change ever so swiftly and can do so in a variety of ways. We may be stunned to silence or follow the urging to vent the rambling thoughts and emotions that are running unrestrained. How normal this is for the entire human race yet so mentally unhealthy.

I recently heard the following Scripture quoted.

“I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews” Acts 26:2

I thought of my Mom. Her heart had been broken yet many times through her tears and extreme sadness she set a life goal that is listed in Acts 26:2. She thinks herself happy.

I give tribute today to the precious lady that the Lord chose to be my Mother, Beulah Cox. I stand along side my 4 brothers and 1 sister as we take this opportunity to rise up and call her blessed. May God continue to give her the strength needed for each and every day as she determines to live daily as a victor. What if all of us adopted this Scripture and made it our “determined” mood? Today I think myself happy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Thermostat

By Carol Condon

Every day it needed to be changed and sometimes multiple times during the day. For the past couple of years our heating and air conditioning unit was just not doing what it was made to do. We would wake up hot and have to adjust the thermostat but by a few hours later we would be cold and we would have to re-adjust it. We brought in two different companies to work on our unit. Nothing they did seemed to help. It would begin working just fine for a few weeks but then we would have to start all over again changing it throughout the day in order to maintain a level of comfort in our home.

It was supposed to be a simple process. We were told to set a temperature that would be comfortable for us and that was what temperature it would work to maintain. We finally grew accustomed to having to manually change the thermostat and we kept blankets and fans close by to help us stay comfortable. However, this past winter our unit stopped working. It was so cold one morning and nothing Mark and I did seemed to help. We made a call to the repair company and they told us the news that our unit had finally quit working all together and we would have to install a new system.

The day the system was put in the gentleman came to train us on how to use it. He told us the same thing as we were told many years before. We just had to set a temperature and put it on auto. It would heat when needed to heat and it would cool when needed to cool and that would be that. I am happy to say that he was right!

This got me to thinking about those that come in contact with me. Do they struggle to maintain a level of comfort because I change as I deal with the daily issues of life? What about you? What about our churches? Are people explaining away our actions and reactions in order to be comfortable and relaxed in our presence?

Once our thermostat was replaced we have been comfortable with each season. It didn’t stop the storms from coming but it helped us live in the storm. Life may be difficult at times but if we go to our “Repairman” and ask Him to fix our thermostat He will gladly assist us. Then as we experience the storms that come and the wonderful journeys on the mountaintops we will be able to properly maintain a level of comfort not only for ourselves but also for those around us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Carol Condon

We all have our unique ways of searching for the perfect selections of fresh fruit to purchase for our families each week. How does a person choose the perfect fruit? While shopping I have seen people squeezing, sniffing, tapping and even tasting before they decide to place the fruit into their shopping basket or back onto the shelf.

Mark is pretty narrow-minded when it comes to adding fruits into his daily diet. He does like bananas though. So they are a weekly purchase for our family. I look at the bananas closely and try to choose the perfect bunch. There needs to be just enough green in order to last for a few days and no brown on them at all so that I can be assured of a bruise free banana.

After a day or two, despite my close observation before purchasing them, I’ll see a random bruise forming on the outside of the peel and I then realize that this banana will have an area that will not taste nearly as good and if it is not dealt with quickly will soon affect the entire banana. How did that bruise get there when yesterday it was a great specimen of a banana, or from the outside it looked like one?

It could have happened in a variety of ways. Maybe it had been dropped, squeezed too hard, mishandled by the previous shopper, or packed too tightly into a box. Whatever happened eventually caused damaged to the inside and the effects are now evident on the outside.

What about ourselves? We can look great from the outside but have hurts on the inside. Eventually, these hurts will manifest themselves on the outside if they are not properly dealt with. Maybe we were dropped, squeezed too hard, mishandled, or even pushed into a box outside of our comfort zone.

Oh, we are usually so confident that we can “handle” it and we make sure that from the outside no one would ever guess. However, over time it will proclaim itself. What if the bruise begins to show itself just when someone is shopping for a new friend, some answers, or a new church? What if they finally began to search for the Jesus that they had once seen in our lives? Well they observe us for a moment only to set us back on the shelf?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hand Sanitizer

Carol Condon

My cart was filling right up. I had gone through all the aisles and finished all my shopping except for visiting the fresh meat section. I reached for the family pack of fresh boneless chicken breast. Just as I lifted the package from the case it became evident that there was a large tear in the package and the juices from the chicken poured through my fingers. I reached for the container of handy wipes provided for situations like this but it was empty. The only thing available was a roll of paper towels.

I tried not to think about all the germs that now were all over my hands. I took some extra paper towels and held onto my cart with them. As I reached the cashier to check out I apologized for the package of chicken as I handed it to her all wrapped in paper towels. She could see the quandary on my face and she reached into her pocket and sweetly handed me her bottle of hand sanitizer. I was so thankful and immediately began to sanitize my hands.

I got to thinking about how often I reach for my own little bottle of hand sanitizer and I realized that I use it a lot. I do not think I am alone in this. After a service of shaking many hands we quickly put some in our palms to wash the “fellowship” off. As soon as we reach our car after walking through a hotel lobby touching elevator buttons and doorknobs, we again reach for the little bottle to sanitize our hands. If we worked together we could fill a book with all the reasons to grab the hand sanitizer. I would have used my own that day but I was afraid to search through my purse for it and end up contaminating everything else in it’s way.

It was then that I began to think of our hearts and our minds. How often have we seen, heard, and experienced circumstances that ultimately contaminates our thoughts and feelings bringing poison into our lives? Did we immediately use some method to sanitize ourselves? We quickly do so when our hands come in contact with an unclean surface but can we all take a moment to realize the damage done to our hearts, minds, and souls when we leave them “as is” after an encounter with the unclean?

Prayer is such an effective sanitizer. The next time that you or I reach for the bottle of hand sanitizer why don’t we take a moment and say a prayer to sanitize our hearts and minds as well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Princess and the Pea

Carol Condon

She was so exhausted as she finally retired to her bedchamber for the night. The eager desire to sink onto her mattress and pull the plush comforter around her began to consume her. The nights were accumulating that were full of tossing and turning. Maybe tonight would be the night that she would reach the deep slumber that would last throughout the night.

The princess had always loved her bed, but it had recently become a place of extreme discomfort. After days of adorning dark circles beneath her eyes, an investigation was underway. Upon close inspection of her beloved stack of mattresses, a simple pea lay tucked between them. Surely this small, tiny object was not to blame for the countless hours of lost sleep. However, after the removal of the small vegetable her sleep was once again complete without any interruptions.

We have an all-consuming desire to be all we can be for the Lord and the work to be done for His Kingdom. As we are giving “our all” we so often find ourselves entering into a state of exhaustion. It initiates small. So small that many times it is hard to remember how or when it originated. Before long it becomes apparent to those around us that we are in a state of unrest.

The realization comes to us as we begin losing control of our purpose and ministry. Because of the weariness that has crept into our spirit, those around us begin to detect the early signs of our “burnout.”

As we begin an inspection of our mind and spirit we find a tiny disappointment here and an occasion of offence there. Just a small “pea” that happened to get tucked in along the way. Surely this small item is not resulting in so much inner turmoil!

When we take the time to enter into His rest and permit Him to order our steps and to help us correct the wrong feelings that we have allowed to seep into our spirit, we find ourselves renewed, refreshed, and about our Father’s business.

I wonder how differently the story would have been written had the princess excused the “pea” as just being too small to cause such an interruption of her rest. Our purpose is too great to allow anything; no matter of the size, to interrupt our expedition into His calling that He has placed upon us.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Watering Can

Carol Condon

The sun was shining bright and the blinds were opened wide so that on this cold, wintry day we could all enjoy some sunshine. I had my little notebook of “all the things not to forget while packing” and was slowly marking them off. I felt pretty confident that I hadn’t forgotten any thing and began to relax on the way to the airport.

As usual, our time away passed very quickly and soon we were packing up to head back home. It wasn’t until I walked back into our bedroom that I was made aware of what I had forgotten. There, next to our window, sat a very special plant drooping all over the floor.

In the past two years I have lost two very special people from my life. My precious Dad passed away in December of 2008 and then just in October of 2010 my sweet niece, Tamara, suddenly passed away. I was given some floor plants from the memorial services that I have worked quite hard on considering I am far from a “green thumb.” They are very special to me and I try to keep a strict schedule for watering them and turning them so that their growth will be even. However, in my rush to leave I had watered all my plants but the one in our bedroom.

The plant was still green but every leaf was now touching the ground. It wasn’t dried up and brown but it was easy to see that is was very thirsty. I ran for the watering can and poured the water into this parched plant. I could only hope that I wasn’t too late.

The next morning I looked over to my plant and I could see the leaves stretching up toward the ceiling. I began to consider my life, and the times I have found myself thirsty from not properly hydrating myself in Him. Are we like this plant? Do we find ourselves without the strength to hold our hands stretched forward in abandoned worship but instead find it easier to just sit? If we are not on a schedule to stay hydrated in Him we need to grab the watering can of His Spirit and pour away!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


By Carol Condon

The tickets were purchased and the kids and I were excited for the special day that we had planned. It was a perfect day for enjoying some quality family time outdoors. The GPS was programmed and as the family joined me in the van we headed off in the direction of “fun.”

As I was driving I couldn’t keep the smile from my face as I listened to the chatter and laughter coming from my kids. The winter had been a long one so we were all more than ready to enjoy some sunshine and activity out in the beautiful, warm weather.

I was following the directions exactly and we would be arriving in plenty of time for the festivities. However, I suddenly felt a little confused. It seemed as if I was driving in circles. I listened intently for the road I was to turn on but I didn’t see it anywhere. I then realized that I was in fact driving in a circle. I had come to a roundabout. In reality, even though technically I was moving, I was actually at a stand still, not really going anywhere. In order for us to get to where we were supposed to be going I had to make a turn.

I couldn’t keep from thinking about the roundabouts we come upon in our journey of life. We have the proper “directions”, and we all may be doing our very best to follow them. However, at some point we have to make a choice to make the right turn in order to follow in the steps that He has ordered for us. The roundabout is full of people all doing the exact same thing, not really going anywhere unless they make a turn. Out of fear of failure, poor self-confidence, and maybe even a lack of proper nutrition in our prayer lives we opt to stay in the roundabout.

If you find yourself traveling in circles, it is time to pull out the “directions” and really search for the right turn that is needed. We will actually get to where we are going if we get off of the roundabout.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Body Language

Carol Condon

She was hidden in the crowd. At first I didn’t even notice her. The room was full of little clusters of people all engaged in conversation and laughter. I was looking for a friend of mine, and that was when I saw her. She had her shoulders slumped forward and her head lightly bent with her eyes looking downward. She wasn’t saying a word, but I heard her body language loud and clear, “Please don’t notice me.”

It brought back memories of my early youth when I would slump to a lesser height in order to blend in with the other girls my age. I would squeeze my feet into shoes that didn’t adequately fit but were the size I wanted to be. My heart went out to this young girl who stood so lost among her peers. I wanted so badly to slip up to her and whisper the words that I still daily speak to myself, “Hold your head up, place your shoulders back, and walk with confidence.”

If our physical posture can speak so loudly, what does our spiritual posture have to say? Do we squeeze into areas of our ministry that are way too small for our calling instead of accepting the “right fit” that stands outside of our comfort zone but inside of the door that the Lord has opened for us? Do we slouch forward with downcast eyes begging silently to “not be noticed” instead of walking in the confidence of His Promises?

How many hungry people and extreme God opportunities are missed everyday because of the volume of our spiritual body language? Take the challenge of whispering along with me each day. “Hold your head up, place your shoulders back, and walk in the confidence of His calling.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“Yes, Lord, You Put”

Carol Condon

She walked in and was settled in a pew towards the back of the sanctuary. Along with her walker, was a purse, notebook, and a cup of crushed ice. There was a skilled staff member that helped her get settled in that first service.

I remember looking back with questions. Who was she? How did she know about our church? Was she alone? Did she know Jesus? So many questions but seemingly no answers as when approached she only replied with, “You put.”

We got her story from the attendant who brought her back the next week and we pieced it together with the words that Beulah would scribble in her notebook with a hand that she had never written with prior to her illness. Years earlier Beulah had had a stroke. She no longer could operate as the wife or the mother that she had been. She was reduced to a skilled care facility and pretty much forgotten. One day an attendant overheard her shouting “You put!” loudly from her room. Upon entering she was found pointing frantically at an advertisement in the local yellow pages. It was the ad from our church. That is how Beulah found us.

She came every time the doors were opened carrying the same things each week. She was paralyzed on her right side and had lost her speech except for the 4 words: “yes”, “no”, and “you put”, but that never stopped her. It wasn’t long before she saw hands in the air and she responded by raising her “good hand”. She couldn’t clap, but she would raise her arm and shake it back and forth as clapping an invisible hand only seen by her. When voices were raised in prayer we could her add, “You put!”

As young people we would gather around Beulah each week praying with her. It was then we heard her add that final word to her vocabulary that completed the only sentence we ever heard her speak, “Yes, Lord, You put.” How precious that sounded to each of us! I could only imagine the dancing in Heaven when those four little words reached into the Throne Room.

Beulah has been gone from our presence for many years, but not from our minds. So many times I saw her working so hard to worship as “us”, but we were busy trying to worship like her. She sent forth worship that came straight from her heart to Him. She used everything that she had and gave it all to her newfound Savior.

Now I ask the question, “Do I/you worship with the passion and energy that Beulah did?” Do our words mean as much as her simple “Yes, Lord, You put?” The next time you enter into a time of worship, I ask you to first close your eyes and imagine this little precious lady with one arm folded in her lap and one hand raised in the air, with a smile on her face and her eyes looking upward saying “Yes, Lord, You put.”