rag doll memories

I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.  I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.  Psalm 77:11-12

Recently a  friend showed me her antique Raggedy Ann Doll. Seeing it brought back a flood of memories.  I instantly remembered curling up beside my mom with my siblings as she read the Raggedy Ann stories to us.  We enjoyed the antics of this cloth gal and her brother Andy.  Once Mom saw that we were having fun with the stories she made several trips to the library to find new books  to share the adventures of this the fun loving duo.   As I looked at the doll’s yarn hair another memory began to surface.  When we were little my mom sewed some of our clothes and often made many of our Halloween costumes. One year for Halloween my mother made my younger sister and I Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy costumes.  My sister dressed as  Ann and I went as Andy. We were the cutest little dolls. Mom took time to put detail into our outfits.   I wish we had pictures from that year but  film and developing were expensive.  These days you just pull out your phone and take as many pictuers as you want and delete the ones you don’t like. Back in the day it was much more of a luxury to take pictures and with four growing children my parents were not able to take pictures on every holiday.  Although I don’t have a picture to hold in my hand, seeing the doll brought a precious memory to my mind and I can see us in our outfits right down to the striped socks and red yarn wigs.  I know we entered a costume contest that year but I can’t remember if we won a prize. To me the prize is the time and love my mom put into the costumes and everthing she did for her family.   What fun to revist my rag doll memory.  As I reflect on this childhood memory I also think of all the special things God has done for me and my family over the years. As God’s good deeds come to mind I want to make more of an effort to remeber His wonders and meditate on His mighty deeds.

Reflection and Photo: Marge McCoy

the poor

This post was first featured on August 20, 2012 – Devotion by L. J. Hipler and photo by Cheryl Cook

“The poor you have with you always.”   Mathew 26:11


She came in a little after ten, like I did.  The Spokane library opens at 10:00.  I was lucky enough to score a table by the windows with a stunning view of the falls, and of the little purple cable cars carrying excited visitors out over the Spokane River.  The woman found a table too, one that was the closest to the windows, and farthest from the front desk.  She almost tiptoed in, trying unsuccessfully to be inconspicuous, hard to do as she was pulling a wheeled suitcase that was as high as her chest when she stood it on end.  It’s hard to pull off too when you’re wearing a heavy, black bomber jacket in August.  She wasn’t an old woman.  If I was asked to describe her I might say things like: fortyish, petite, pale, uncombed short brown hair – lost.

I made a show of being uninterested and stared hard at the screen of my Kindle.  She pulled a small, black laptop from the ageing green suitcase.  It was one of those laptops from the late 90s, when the idea of owning a laptop was new, and cool, and cutting edge.  What got to me that morning was when she propped open that ancient computer and positioned it so that when she laid her head on the desk it would look to passers-by as if she was staring at the screen.

That could be any of us, I thought.  More specifically, that could be me.  I’d had my near misses – failed marriage, unemployed, ripped off financially.  Things turned around for me.  But it was uncomfortably easy for me to construct a scenario where I would be the one trying to get some sleep in a public library, all my possessions with me in a single bag.  Had things not turned around, had the wheel of fate been spun just a little less forcefully . . .

I shook my head on the way down the stairs to lunch, shaking away the last vestiges of that scenario like a bad dream.  But I couldn’t shake her.  Did she have family, children?  What would her life be like tonight?  And tomorrow?  And the day after?

“The poor you have with you always.”

Two hours later I found my spectacular falls-view seat still open.  She was still there too.  She’d maneuvered the little dead computer to the left so she could turn her head the other way and sleep.

When our Lord said that, about the poor, He was explaining how the woman with the alabaster jar of oil had done a kind, and much appreciated deed for Him.  But I think we sometimes generalize about the poor, and maybe justify our indifference because we know they’ll always be there.

I know I do it.  I do it because life becomes far more complicated when the poor is no longer just a concept, when the poor suddenly has a face.

Devotional contributed by L. J. Hippler

Photo by Cheryl Cook

i saw you

This devotion fiirst appeared on our blog on June 3, 2013. It features a devotion by M Jean Pike and a photo by Marge McCoy.


The Gospel of John has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible, and one of my favorite passages is the account of Nathaniel’s first-ever encounter with Jesus (chapter 1,verses 44- 50.)
Having met and decided to follow the Lord, Philip hurried to tell his friend Nathaniel the good news. He discovered him relaxing under a fig tree.
“We’ve found him whom Moses and the prophets wrote about,” Philip excitedly told his friend. “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Nazareth?” The Bible doesn’t say so, but I can almost see Nathaniel rolling his eyes, almost hear the sarcasm in voice. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
“Come and see,” Philip urged him.
Later, Nathaniel found himself face to face with Jesus.
“Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile,” Jesus said.
“How do you know me?”
“Before Philip called you, while you were sitting under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Understandably, Nathaniel was astounded. He was awed. He fell to his knees and worshipped this man he’d never met before, but who knew where he had been just hours before, knew even what he’d said to his friend in private.
Sometimes I forget how closely connected God is with his children. I forget that in my hour of darkest sorrow, in my most extreme joy, and even in my everyday busy-ness I am never alone. Nothing I see, nothing I hear or feel or think is hidden from God. What a comfort it is to have a friend that close. When I really stop to think about it, like Nathaniel, I am overwhelmed that the God of the Universe would care about and take notice of me.
Like Nathaniel, I seek to understand and take it in … Lord, how do you know me? I ask. And in the stillness, He answers.
When you were weeding the flower bed, I saw you.
When you were folding the laundry, I saw you.
When you cheered at the football game, drove to work, sat in the garden with your coffee at the end of the day, I saw you.
I knew your every thought, I saw your dreams and desires. I heard even the prayers you did not speak. I know you because I created you. I delight in you because you are my child.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you know me fully. Thank you that I am important to you. Thank you for the days when I shine for you, and on the days when I fall short, help me to remember that nothing I could do would make you love me more. Nothing I could do would make you love me less. I am fully known and fully loved, just as I am, because you created me. In Jesus name, amen.

Devotional by Jean Pike
Photo by Marge McCoy

a small miracle

This post first appeared on our blog on August 13, 2012. It features a devotion by Bob McCoy and a photo by Marge McCoy.

Music is a universal human experience.  Almost everyone experiences some form of it during their lives and derives enjoyment from it.  I suspect it is like many common things in life – it is so common that we fail to appreciate the power that lies in it.

I was reminded of this on a recent Sunday afternoon visit to my mother in the Alzheimer’s unit of the nursing home where she resides.  As I visited with Mom in the common area of the unit, I noticed a young nursing aide gathering several of the residents at another table.  When she had them gathered around, she sat down and began to read to them from a book.  I didn’t pay much attention at first but it gradually dawned on me that she was trying to read some of the responsive readings from the back of a church hymnal.                     She obviously didn’t read very well and struggled with some of the words that had been taken from the King James Version of the Bible.  Except for one of the newer residents, a retired school teacher who tried to help her with pronunciations, her audience paid little attention – sitting glassy-eyed, each lost in their own world.

Finally finished with the reading, the young lady began leafing through the songs in the book and tried to get the residents to sing with her.  This didn’t go much better than the reading.  She didn’t know the tunes and struggled with the words to several hymns helped along by her school teacher mentor who clearly had spent a good portion of her life in church and knew the songs.

Then she turned the page and the miracle happened.  She opened the page to “Jesus Loves Me”, a song she did know, and began to sing.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

 Instantly, the group dynamics changed.

For the Bible tells me so.

Recognition and awareness flashed in glassy eyes, smiles appeared and one-by-one the residents began to join in and sing.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak but He is strong.

  By the end of the first verse, the entire group was singing.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes Jesus loves me.

The Bible tells me so!

  Tears welled in my own eyes as I recognized that something very special and powerful was happening.  The Holy Spirit, working through this simple little song, had touched something deep inside these pitiful souls and returned them to conscious awareness to praise the Lord for a couple of minutes.  They continued on with another verse.

Jesus loves me, He will stay

Close beside me all the way.

If I love Him when I die,

He will take me home on high.

What a message of hope for these souls who are on the last mile of their earthly lives!

I was also impressed by the willingness of this young lady, who was surely aware of her shortcomings, to share her faith and witness to this group of people who appeared not to understand or care about her message.  She stepped out on faith, used the abilities she did have, and trusted the Spirit to do the rest.  What a wonderful thing it would be if all Christians were more like her!

Devotional by Bob McCoy

laugh out loud

This post was featured on October 1, 2012. We would like to dedicate today’s reposting of this blog to our cousin Linda Freck. May those who loved her remember her smiles and her laughter. This devotion was written by Marge McCoy with a heritage photo courtesy of the Garrigues Family Album.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing.  Job 8:21

A merry heart does good, like medicine. Proverb 17:22 

If you spend time on facebook, twitter or even just texting on your phone I bet you use the three little letters LOL from time to time. It’s easy to type LOL. It’s cute, it’s quick and it conveys a point. We type it often but how often do you really LAUGH OUT LOUD? I mean a big hearty belly laugh? When is the last time you found yourself laughing so hard your stomach hurt or laughing until you cried happy tears? Do you ever laugh so loud you snort or feel like you will wet your pants? I know, I know we are adults and adults are supposed to be refined and reserved but come on, you have to admit that laughing is FUN!

I would love to know what was said or done moments before this picture was taken. Obviously it was something pretty hilarious to this group of young cousins. Take a minute to look at the expressions on the faces. Each one is happier than the next. The laughter of children is filling the air.  Joy is clearly shown on each face. These faces are my cousins, my sisters and me. These faces are now in their 40s and 50s scattered from New York to Ohio and from Indiana to Florida. I can’t remember the last time all these faces were in one room. I hope each one of these faces has something to laugh about. I hope each has something to fill them with joy. When I came across this candid snapshot it made me smile.  It made me want to laugh out loud.


Did you know that laughter is good for us? Laughter can change a mood. At times laughter can be planned but most often it comes on us quickly and unexpectedly. Sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves and sometimes we need to laugh along with others.  Did you ever hear a baby laugh so deep and hearty that you just had to chuckle too? Did you ever see the delight in a child’s face as they “get” the punch line of a joke? They usually have to share it over and over. Did you ever get to a funny part of a movie and rewind it to hear it again? We like to laugh. We need to laugh. As we get older we don’t laugh as much and we don’t laugh as loud. Children find humor in many things. They naturally allow laughter to bubble up from within, they don’t stifle it and it just spills on out and infects others. It’s contagious, this thing called laughter. It is really hard to be in a room full of people who are laughing and not join in with at least a grin or a giggle.  Laughter really is like medicine.

There are times to be serious but the Bible also encourages laughter? This wonderful book even tells us that laughter does our body good.  Doctors agree that laughter is good for your heart, laughter helps your muscles relax, laughter aids in pain reduction, it lowers of blood pressure and acts as a natural anti-depressant. Laughter is free, you don’t have to sit in the waiting room to get it and there is no co-pay. Laughter is a reward in the middle of a busy day, a happy little interlude.  It’s ok to laugh out loud if something is funny. You are never too old to laugh. While we don’t want to laugh at other people or at cruel or crude jokes, we should not shy away from times of pure laughter because laughter is a gift from God.



Dear Lord, so often we face uncertainty, sorrow or depression. At times struggles and worries bombard us and seem to steal our joy. We want to pause and thank you for laughter.  Thank you for giving us opportunities to see things in a funny way.  Help us to have a light heart.  Help us to smile more, to laugh more and work harder to make others laugh. For when we smile, laugh and cheer others up we will in turn be blessed with a happy heart.  Help us Lord to use the medicine of laughter, Amen.

By Marge McCoy


“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

It was the perfect week to read 1 & 2 Kings, because I love the moment the Lord whispers to Elijah. He wasn’t in the mighty wind, wild earthquake, or the blazing fire. He was so close to Elijah he could whisper to him. Honestly it gives me chills. 

And to think the Lord dwells in all of us who believe. He doesn’t even have to whisper, because we are his temple.. his presence is always in us.

Photo and Reflection: Josie Rader

Saguaro National Park.

road ends

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.  2 Peter 3:17

Have you ever been driving on an unfamiliar route following a GPS only to be led astray?  You start to get the feeling you are off track but you continue to follow the device’s instructions.  Did you ever keep going longer than you should have because the device told you to?  I spotted this sign on a ride one evening.  “STOP- GPS is wrong. Road Ends Here”.  It struck me as funny because it was posted in front of  what looked like a little path that was clearly no longer a road.    It seemed obvious that the road ended yet people must have kept going enough times that someone felt the need to put up the sign to clarify the point.  

Sometimes when we travel life’s road we don’t see the roadblocks ahead. We might be so  focused on what we are doing in the moment that we don’t see that we are getting off track.  Or perhaps we are so determined to follow  the  advice we were given that we keep trudging along not  looking around at our surroundings to see that the advice is not accurate. 

Much like a faulty GPS we sometimes  get off track and follow the wrong guidance.  What seems obvious to a discerning onlooker is not clear to us.  Isn’t  it nice when we come upon  a warning sign and realize we need to turn around?

The Bible is full of warning signs. If only we take time to look for them.  Safe travels to you!

Photo and Reflection: Marge McCoy

unfinished task

There is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  Ecclesiastes 3:12

The day after Halloween my “to do” list  included taking my light up pumpkin, light up candy corn and  Snoopy blow up off the front porch to store away in the basement until next year.  I had an appointment in the morning and since I was in town I decided to get my groceries and do my  beginning of the week errands before heading home to work on my porch.  After I got home and put the groceries away I took my dog for a walk.  After a very rainy week the afternoon was bright and beautiful.  Forgetting my porch chores, my eyes turned to the spring bulbs sitting on the counter.   It seemed the perfect day for bulb planting.  I spent my afternoon weeding and planting 63 new tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs. At the end of the day Snoopy was still on the porch smiling and bobbing around waiting to be packed away another day.   That evening  I realized that sometimes an unfinished task can be blessing. 

About 5:00 that evening the door bell rang and a woman I did not know was on my porch.  She asked if it would be ok if she took some pictures of my Snoopy.  I said, “Sure, that would be fine.”  Then she started to cry.  She apologized for getting emotional and then went on to explain that her sister is fighting a battle with cancer and a Snoopy is one of her favorite characters.  She said a picture would  really lift her spirits.  Over the weekend the sisters had been talking about how much they both love Snoopy.  

She said she has driven by my house several times but never noticed the Snoopy until today. When she saw it as she drove to town today she just had to turn around so she could share it with her sister.  I am one who loves taking pictures and sharing them to make people smile so I was happy to let her snap away.  As we chatted I told her that putting Snoopy away was on my “to do” list for the day but things came up and I did not get to it. She said it was meant to be still sitting there so she would notice it and share the picture for her sister.

It was a neat little encounter.  As she left she said, “God Bless you.”  I asked what her sister’s name was and promised to pray for her.  

She stayed just a few minutes to take some pictures then drove away. I may never see her again but I will be praying for her sister.    I will pray for her health problems.  I will pray that Snoopy brings a smile to her face.  I will pray these sisters have many happy times ahead.  As I pray I will also thank God that I ran out of time to put Snoopy away.  You never know what little thing could be a blessing to someone else.  It’s a good feeling to bring joy to others.

Reflecton and Photo: Marge McCoy

one day

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to one day bring an end to all suffering. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to comfort us. Please renew my strength. All throughout today, show me opportunities where I can offer comfort to someone else who may be suffering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

–Alan Hopkins

Photo by John Brasley

lean on me

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 Philippians 2:4 

One June afternoon the sky got very dark and it got extremely windy at our house. In fact, our wind gauge showed gusts up to 17 mph.  We have heavy  wooden rockers on our back porch.  During this storm we heard a loud noise and realized a gust of wind had picked up one of our big rockers and thrown it off the porch.  The rocker is made of sturdy logs so luckily it was not damaged however, it landed right on top of my gladiolas. My glads were not in bloom yet but they were standing straight and proud and growing a little taller each day.  I could see that several of the stalks were trampled and lying flat on the ground.  Once the storm was past and the rain had stopped I took my gardeners tape and went out to survey the damage.  My husband moved the rocker off the plants and I could see that although many were flat on the ground none of the roots had been pulled out of the soil.  As my husband placed the rocker back on the porch I got busy with my garden tape and gently began to  tie the stalks together in small groups. I thought the sturdy stalks could help support the weaker ones while the weight of the strong ones could help secure the injured ones.  As I finished I looked at the groups all tied together and had a hopeful feeling. With a little intervention and support it looked like even the   droopy stalks had a chance to bloom.

After I got back inside it struck me that the stalks were a lot like people and I was reminded   that we really do need each other.  When someone gets bogged down others can reach out and support them. When one gets trampled by life’s worries, others can be there to bolster them up. 

That June morning all the glad stalks were standing straight and tall. They were all doing well.  None of them knew that  a big wind was coming later that day. None of them knew which of them  might need help in the near future.  Sometimes out of no where a gusty trial comes our way and we find ourselves in need of a helping hand.   Sometimes in our lives things are going along smoothly and it is at those times we can be a help others.  Sometimes we need someone to lean on and sometimes we can be there to let someone lean on us.  Just like the glads we can all do our part to help one another so everyone has the chance to bloom. 

Photo and Reflection: Marge McCoy