A Man on a Bike

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Encouraging Words

A Man on a Bike

I almost missed an opportunity to encourage someone yesterday. Thanks to my daughter Melissa, it didn’t get away from us. You’re going to love this.

Melissa and I walk every morning; it’s about a three-mile walk through our neighborhood and then around a lovely lake. We pass a lot of people every day and a lot of times we stop and chat for a minute. Today we saw a man on a bike; it wasn’t the first time. We’ve seen him before and we’ve noticed how determined he is, head bent over the handlebars, forging ahead.

We were almost home when he rode by yesterday. Melissa impulsively yelled, “You are losing weight!” The man on the bike came to a halt, put one foot on the street and turned around to look at us. His mouth dropped open and he was speechless. Melissa said, “You don’t have to stop, we just wanted to tell you we can see you’re losing weight. You look great!”

The man exclaimed, “No, I have to stop because this is amazing, simply amazing. I have been losing weight for several weeks. I’ve lost inches on my waistline.” (He put his two hands up to show us how much) “I’ve had to punch more holes in my belts and do you know not one single member of my family or the people I work with have said anything to me about it. And now you two tell me I look thinner. If I wasn’t married I’d kiss you.” He rode off, shaking his head and mumbling, “This is amazing!”

Wow. We could have walked on by and just talked about it to ourselves. But we didn’t. And now a man rides on home with even more determination. Who knows when he was encouraged the last time?

Melissa and I were encouraged as well. What did that take? Five minutes? And a man on a bike goes home with a smile on his face. His pace has picked up a bit and he’s more determined than ever.

You are going to see people like this man on a bike who need a good word. Keep your eyes open. They’re easy to spot.

“……encouraging one another; and all the more as you
see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Changing You, Little by Little.


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Encouraging Words

Batter Up!


Richard Scharfenberg

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land far, far away there was a small and poor country called Sackcloth. Although the people in this country were impoverished, they all found ways of getting involved in their one great love; baseball. Baseball was the national pastime and it was played everywhere. Everyone, young and old alike, played in one of the many leagues that had formed. There was a toddler league, a children’s league, high school league, an over-the-hill league and even a left-hander’s league. This was all well and fine, but they all agreed and put their money on a superior league called The Saulville Saints. Boys went to bed at night dreaming of making the first cut for the Saints. The Saints had won the Universe Series twelve years in a row. Last year they had beat the Dogwood Demons in four games straight!

Alpha Omega was the manager and his word was law. He remembers one spring training when a young man named Wavering, a little unsure in the blush of youth, showed great promise when he came on the scene. Wavering was fleet of foot, quick of eye and nimble as a cat. He had a deep love for the game of baseball, but had not yet refined his raw ability. Alpha saw past his immaturity and envisioned his potential. This young man was going to go places. With his skill and Alpha’s coaching, the sky was the limit. Alpha began to personally tutor him.

All through spring training you could watch this rookie begin to hit the ball with authority, steal bases with ease and make diving catches in the outfield. Wavering blossomed under Alpha’s instruction.

Then came the BIG DAY; the final pre-season game to determine who would make THE TEAM.

The entire village of Sackcloth was in the stands that day, earnestly watching their heroes perform. The lead changed back and forth as the teams battled each other.

The score was tied seven to seven in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs when Wavering came to bat. In the dugout Alpha gave the sign for a suicide squeeze bunt. Wavering couldn’t believe his eyes. He knew that he could blast the ball to kingdom come. Alpha knew it too. Nevertheless the sign held. Ignoring the signal Wavering proceeded to hit the first pitch over the fence for a grand slam home run, winning the game and sending 50,000 delirious fans home, raving about THE HIT that won the game.

Now the stands are empty. The locker room is strewn with uniforms, showing signs of a recent celebration. Happy players are drifting out of the stadium excitedly talking about the upcoming season. But back in the corner of the dugout Alpha speaks softly to Wavering. “I’m sorry son. You won’t be playing with the Saints. You’re a terrific athlete and you had a brilliant future, but what I really need is someone to follow the rules without question. Yes, we won today and you will be called a hero, but you will never know the plans I had for you.

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is

who loves Me and he who loves Me shall be loved by my

Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.

(John 14:21)

Changing You, Little by Little.


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Bible Study / Encouraging Words

More Precious Than Jewels

“Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10)

Beth’s recent email is proof of the wise young woman she is. I wish more young women solved their problems like she does. Here’s what she wrote:
“Claudia, I don’t know what I do that encourages the distance between Mark and me. Our anniversary is next week, and I only see grounds to observe it, not celebrate it. My marriage isn’t bad; it’s just not good right now. My needs and desires almost consume me, and I feel cheated. In the beginning, I had such high hopes. I always dreamed of a knight in shining armor whisking me away – don’t we all?
Mark is preoccupied and busy. He goes to work, comes home, eats, watches television, mumbles a word or two and then goes to bed. I feel like I’m not even there. And I’m no better. Really. I know I need to focus on the worthy things in Mark, but my heart tells me other things are more important to him, and it hurts. Then I remember the list of his good qualities I wrote in my journal just a few weeks ago. He’s a believer, he attends church, he brings his paycheck home, he is intelligent, he’s healthy, he’s faithful to our marriage and last weekend he installed five ceiling fans in the house.

And then I remind myself of what God would have to say about this. As I honor and respect Mark, I know my heart will change in time and I believe Mark’s will too. ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.’ ” That’s my comfort and my strength.

Your husband comes to you with years of training, conditioning, beliefs, hopes and dreams. Sometimes he’s wounded and that wounded boy lives on into adulthood. Treat him respectfully. Look beyond your needs and be gracious and grateful. Look for something for which you can praise him. It may seem little to you, but to him it’ll be big. He needs your approval, your support and your encouragement. He needs you on his team, not on his back. The Lord is pleased with a gentle and giving spirit. God will give you the strength and it’s just ironic. You treat your guy like a king and he’s going to treat you like a queen. Everyone wins.

Further reading: 1 Peter 3: 1-6 and 2 Peter 1:3-11
Contact me for an additional resource – $10 includes S/H
30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband Journal

Changing You, Little by Little.


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All about Judy / Encouraging Words

Words I spoke at my brother’s memorial in North Olmsted, Ohio.

Dave, teenager


I’d like to tell you a little bit about my brother Dave. We actually began our lives here in Ohio. In 1953 we moved to California when our Dad was transferred by the Navy. And years later, in 1971 Dave moved his family back to Ohio. Although he loved San Diego and the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful beaches, (one of his favorite things to do was body surf) he also loved Ohio with its older homes, quieter neighborhoods, trees, fishing on Lake Erie and especially having the four seasons. We had many visits over the years, but they were never often enough or long enough.

Dave was my only sibling for a long time. We have a dear brother, Jonny, but he’s 30 years younger than us and we didn’t get to know him well until he was an adult. Brothers and sisters have a unique relationship; for many years it was Dave and me and we told each other everything. When we were kids I never let him forget that I was thirteen months older and he had to do everything I said. That worked for awhile until he grew up. Then he told me a thing or two.

I was so proud of the things he accomplished. Mom and I were beaming the day he graduated from high school; he went to college for awhile; I bragged to everyone when he joined the Army and became a paratrooper with the elite 101st airborne; my son David and I were two of the first to visit him when he returned from the Vietnam War on a stretcher with critical injuries. Three days before he was due to come home the truck he was riding in was involved in a mine explosion. Dave lost his left leg and right foot. His recovery was long, but he worked hard. I was so grateful and proud when he got a good position at United Airlines and worked there for many years. The birth of his five children were monumental events in his life; Dave made a mean meat loaf and he loved cats and dogs.

But what do you think he might say to you if he were standing here? I know he’d be uncomfortable. He’d shift his weight and look at the floor and probably start with, “Geez oh man.” But then maybe he’d get up some courage and he’d tell his children, David, Joe, Glenn, Michelle and Danielle, that there wasn’t a day that you weren’t on his heart and mind. He didn’t know how to express this. He felt overwhelming love for you in his heart, but it embarrassed him to say that; even frightened him. Dave and I had never received many loving words when we were young; they didn’t come naturally. But when we talked on the phone several times a week, he always mentioned his concern for his family.

In November of 2003 Dave came to California for a visit. He was struggling and he was seeking some answers. One of the things we did was go to church on Sunday. It was the week after we’d had terrible fires in San Diego County. Two families in our church had lost everything they owned. Our pastor, Ray DuVal, talked about family and love and compassion. Dave had always resisted what he called “my preaching.” We didn’t see eye to eye on some things. But he said this time was the first time he realized it wasn’t about religion, it was about people and relationships. Later that day, in my living room, Dave bowed his head, closed his eyes and with tears, he prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to come into his life and into his heart. In the days before he went home, he told me over and over, “I’ve had a heart change. I’ve really been transformed.” (I didn’t even know he knew that word.) He said, “I can hardly wait to tell my family what a jerk I’ve been and ask them to forgive me.” Those were his words not mine.

Just about a month ago Dave went to a little church here called Grace Church of North Olmsted. I had done some research and told him about it. “You oughta check it out.” Well he did and he called that afternoon and said he liked it, thought he might go back and he did go the following Sunday. I know he felt like a duck out of water, he never did like to go into a new situation alone, but I sure give him credit for getting out of his comfort zone. That took courage.

He said the pastor talked about Matthew and Mark and Peter and he figured he’d better start reading his Bible to figure out who these guys were and what they did. Dave didn’t enjoy reading, but he told me he was reading his Bible and learning things he didn’t know. What I began to see was love and joy and a heart wanting to obey the word of God.

The family chose the perfect verse for the holy card that will be used tomorrow at his funeral. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; and now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.” This is a true and perfect culmination of Dave’s life. He was fighting the good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith. He did the best he knew how to do.

There’s something else Dave wants his family to know. He didn’t get a chance to tell you, but he told me. He wants you to know that God so loved the world, that means each and every one of you, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life. Dave wants you to know that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” You see Dave wants you to have what he has. You are dear to him and he wants your future to be secure. He wants to see you again.

I’m sorry Dave’s life was cut short. I’m selfish; I wish we’d had more time with him. And I may have tears in my eyes, but I am a happy, happy woman. You see because of Dave’s prayer and commitment to the Lord, when he closed his eyes on earth last week; he opened them in heaven and saw His Savior waiting for him. I can only imagine what it must look like. My brother is now whole and complete, he’s walking perfectly and he will meet his mom and dad on that beautiful shore by the crystal sea. Death is not pretty, but heaven is a beautiful place and that’s where Dave is now. Who can be unhappy about that?

Changing You, Little by Little


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All about Judy / Encouraging Words

God Will Make a Way

Several years ago, I was at choir practice at church. One thing I liked about our rehearsals was that we often spent time in prayer for each other. One evening when we were sharing requests, I was burdened for one of my daughters. She was about to make a decision that was really bad. It was literally breaking my heart and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t share the specifics of the situation, but when we prayed for all of those unspoken requests I was in tears. Some of the other choir members saw my tears, came over and put their arms around me and prayed for me. Then our choir director began singing softly and soon we all joined in.

“God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.

He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.

With love and strength for each new day,

He will make a way, He will make a way.”

I can’t explain it. I didn’t have any answers, but I was comforted and encouraged. I went home that night with more hope than I’d had in a long time.

It was two months later, in the middle of the night, my daughter was on the phone about to make this bad decision I had worried about and it was right then that my husband had a massive stroke. Frantic, I ran to the kitchen and said, “Honey, get off the phone. Something’s wrong with dad. I need to call 911.” Of course she got off of the phone, the ambulance came and we rushed to the hospital.

A few weeks later my daughter and I were talking. My husband did survive and we were about to move into a whole different way of living; me as a caregiver and my husband in a wheelchair. My daughter and I were having a really serious talk, about the significance of the stroke and the timing and the phone call. By the way, she had thought twice about the mistake she almost made. She was making much better choices.

She asked me, “Mom, why do you think God let that happen? Dad is a good man, he’s worked hard for his family; why does God do stuff like this?” And I told her, “Honey, did God cause the stroke? Well, I know nothing happens without Him knowing about it. Could he have stopped it? Yes, I believe that. But, He’s allowed this to happen and I am confident of one thing. Would your Dad give his life for you, so yours can be better? You bet he would. My dear daughter, he just did that.”

We cried that night. It was a poignant, soul-searching, sin-cleansing, eye-opening moment with God for both of us. Oh that we would be in tune with Him for more moments like these. I don’t mean strokes, but what comes after, complete surrender, obedience and trust in every situation.

And this is important….If you had told me 14 years ago that I would be telling you that I have joy in caring for my husband in a wheelchair, I would have said, “You’re crazy. I can’t live like this for the rest of my life.” But let me tell you, God took a bad, bad situation and He turned it into a good one.

Now, do I get mad at Richard? Yes. Does he get upset with me? Sometimes. We have our ups and downs just like everyone. Do I wish we could go to the beach and take walks like we used to? Yes. Sometimes I’m tired of being the able-bodied person in our home. I don’t want to be the one who is always driving; there are days I wish I didn’t have to lift that wheelchair one more time.

But I can sincerely tell you, those thoughts are fleeting. Whenever I feel sorry for myself and want wallow in self-pity, I thank God He’s given me the opportunity to care for Richard; where would he be without me? I thank God for the things that have happened as a result of this stroke. Because you see God has turned me into a giver instead of a taker. I am content and I have peace. How does that happen? By the power of God. He has our best interests at heart. Oh and by the way……He knows what He’s doing.

Changing You, Little by Little


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All about Judy / Encouraging Words

madelynne and talent show 2
(Adapted from Grandkids Say the Cutest Things,
by Karen O’Connor – Harvest House Publishers)

My granddaughter, Madelynne, was excited about her solo in her school’s talent show.
She’d been anticipating this night for weeks. She looked absolutely darling
in her shiny top, black leggings, and sparkling pink flip-flops.

As she fidgeted from one foot to the next, in true stagehand style, I applied her
blush and glittering eye shadow. Then I whispered in her ear, “You look like a rock star!”

Madelynne gave me a big, confident smile, tossed her hair back and said, “Grandma,
when I’m famous I’m going to give you a backstage pass.”

I can hardly wait.

Grandchildren are the crown of old (women)
Proverbs 17:6

Changing You, Little by Little.


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All about Judy / Encouraging Words

You Are Now Leaving Whine Country.

(as seen on www.lolwithgod.com 8-13-2011)



I was telling my daughter Jennifer about the beautiful drive through wine country in our city of Temecula.

Seven-year-old Connor was sitting nearby. He looked up and asked, “Is that where people go to complain?”

We laughed and I said, “Isn’t he the cutest thing.”

Later, I thought about Connor’s remark. What if there was a place we could go to complain; not just a customer service desk or an 800-number, but a whole country where people walk around, sour looks on their faces, moaning and groaning to their heart’s content.

How long would they stay? Would they want to leave? How would they get out?

Wait a minute! I think I’ve seen that sour look. I’ve heard that moaning and groaning. It’s been me! Maybe I haven’t been verbal about it, but sometimes that complaining has taken place in my heart:

“I wish I could go to Hawaii.”
“Why can’t I be like her?”
“If I had more money, everything would be better.”
“My life is full of hard work. “
“When do I get a break?”
“He just doesn’t understand me?”
For years I cared for my Grandma Jay. My six children were younger and five were still at home, my husband worked hard to provide for us and, like many families, we went from paycheck to paycheck. Grandma lived with us until she needed more care and we had to move her to a care facility.

I would visit two or three times a week, pick up her laundry, bring her home on Sundays for family dinners and make sure she got her hair done. While I was visiting I would straighten her room. Grandma had a habit of putting food in her bedside table and it was a mess. She had given everything up and this was one way of keeping her independence, making choices, but I didn’t see that. All I saw was “stuff” that needed to be done. Well, Grandma didn’t like me straightening up; she did, “Just fine, thank you very much.”

One day she couldn’t take it anymore. Her little 98-pound frame trembled with all of the anger she could muster, and she said, “Judy, you’re enough to make a preacher swear!”

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to defend myself so bad. I was helping her for goodness sake.

Didn’t she know the sacrifices I was making?

Many people would have agreed with me. I had circumstances I could whine about. But thank God I didn’t do that.

I took her little face in my hands and said, “Grandma I’m going to love you whether you like it or not.” You know, I think I saw the corners of her mouth turn up into a smile. From then on I did the straightening up when she was in the bathroom.

Philippines 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NAS) *

God’s Word covers every situation. Over and over we’re told to forget about ourselves and become bond-servants, slaves if you will, of Jesus and follow Him. Why? Because everyone wins. Grandma won because she received love and respect; I won because in putting her first I experienced the peace and joy that always follows acts of obedience.

I had left Whine Country and it was good.

* For further reading: John 15:10-17


Changing You, Little by Little.


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Encouraging Words / Word of the Day

Reach Out

Read Philippians 2:1-4

Mamie Adams always went to a specific post office in her town because the employees were friendly. On one busy afternoon she stopped by to purchase a few stamps. While waiting in the long line, a man pointed out that she didn’t have to wait, she could get her stamps at a machine in the lobby. “I know,” Mamie said, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”

People need a tender touch. Did you know that babies who are held grow faster; that the touch of a hand lowers blood pressure; a smile releases some good hormones in your body and generally causes others to smile back? You and I are going to cross paths with people who are hot-tempered, disgruntled, impatient and discouraged. You could turn their bad day into a good one with a kind word and a smile. Dale Carnegie once said, “You may forget tomorrow the kind word you said today, but the recipient of that kind word will cherish it all their life.” I’ll bet someone comes to your mind right now who changed your life with a word of encouragement or praise.

The Bible says, “A good word makes a heart glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) Have you looked into a child’s face after you’ve praised him? Have you seen his smile; watched his face light up? You can’t see it, but his heart is glad.

There are many young people who need someone to show them how to live. There are seniors like Mamie Adams who need someone who will spend time with them. There are angry people who need a gentle word; hurting people who need a tender touch. You and I can reach out and give that to them. And when we do, hearts are happy and everyone wins!

Reach out and touch that neighbor who hates you;
Reach out and touch that stranger who meets you’
Reach out and touch the brother who needs you;
Reach out and let the smile of God touch thro’ you. –Brown

The common tasks are beautiful if we have eyes to see their shining ministry.
(Grace Noll Crowell)

Changing You, Little by Little


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Bible Study / Encouraging Words

Summer Bible Reading Challenge

Tired of deciding what Bible study to do? There are so many good ones available and if you’re like me, you want to do them all. Why not take this Summer Bible Reading Challenge? Choose a book in the Bible and read it through, verse by verse. Some days you may read two verses, some days ten, you decide. After you read, use a notebook or journal and record your answers from these basic study questions. Let me know what happens. 🙂


1. What is the passage speaking about? (2 Timothy 2:15)

2. Is there a promise of God’s? (2 Peter 1:4)

3. Is there a commandment to obey? (John 15:14)

4. Is there a sin brought to mind to confess? (1 John 1:9)

5. Is there a prayer brought to mind? ( 1 Thess. 5:17)

Changing You, Little by Little


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Bible Study / Encouraging Words

Straight Arrows

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver[1] is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

Think about arrows. Even if you don’t know a whole bunch about them, you would have to agree that a warrior wouldn’t want a weak arrow that would bend or break. When he crafted his arrow he would spend time cutting, slicing, shaping and smoothing until it was the best he could possible make. He would use the finest materials and he would make sure it was strong and straight. When he pulled that arrow from his quiver he would want to be sure his aim was true and know that this arrow would hit its mark.
God compares our children to arrows in the hand of a warrior. And He gives clear direction in their craftsmanship. Consider Deuteronomy 6:5 -7 – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons (and daughters) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
So what does that mean? Simply this. Start shaping that arrow as soon as he is born. Get down on the floor, your little one in your lap, open your Bible and teach him about his heavenly Father. Oh, he may not understand your words just yet, but he’ll see your smile and hear your voice. Take my word for it, he’ll respond as you cherish that Bible before his eyes. You can be sure he’ll have every advantage to grow up knowing how much you love the Lord Jesus and His word. You’ll be paving the way for him to love God with all of his heart and all of his soul. You want your little arrow to hit its mark.

Changing You, Little by Little.