THE PLAYGROUND By Sally I. Kennedy

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you
sent me and have loved them. John 17:23

Our ten year old granddaughter had challenged me to a game of
slapjack. She was beating me. Badly, I might add. The rules seemed to
be different than I remembered. It s been a long time, but slapjack is
pretty basic, I thought.

A few of our other grandchildren were outside playing with a ball,
arguing. One of them had been accused of making up the rules. Before
long, I heard, You re cheating. No fair! The retort, I m

On the playground of life, it s good to learn how to give and take and
share. It s also good to not give up playing together, taking your
marbles and going home if things aren t going your way.

Over time, we have created many faith denominations. We have learned
to do things a little differently. It is worthwhile, however, to find
a way to play together, be bruidge builders.

Unity is good. That doesn t mean our basic beliefs have to be
compromised. Each one of us, and each group, has something unique to
offer. It s kind of like potluck dinners. What a great invention. You
take one food item, like a casserole, salad, or cake. Then you have
your choice of all kinds of food for your dinner. Our plates would be
much less balanced if we only ate from our own dishes, plus a possible
deficiency in healthy nutrition by not covering a little from each
food group. We all have something to offer, and none of it is quite
the same. Even if we start with the same recipe.

No man is an island. We need each other so we can share our varied
strengths. And unity is a big deal to God. The foot of the cross is a
place we can all meet. Our Father planned for all us kids to try and
get along; it s good to keep coming to the playground.

Sally I. Kennedy is the author of Irish Thursdays , "Words from the
Heart , and 52 Little Parables from Ireland" . She lives in south
Florida, with her husband Ben. You can email Sally at and visit her website at

FRAYED By Sally I. Kennedy

..that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that
you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together
with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is
the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

Cottony white, puffy clouds were dotting the azure backdrop of sky. I
watched from the porch a few minutes, pausing to take in the peace and
the beauty.

Suddenly those beautiful solid looking clouds that appeared so compact
began to fray at the edges. The appearance was as if something were
tugging at the outsides, pulling at the edges. The main parts of the
clouds, the core, stayed intact.

Frayed. What has happened to me when I appear to ‘have it all
together’; while looking ‘solid’ the edges begin to visibly fray.
That’s when it’s definitely time for me to get back to basics, take
some time to check priorities and take an inventory, a spiritual re-

I may become frayed from time to time, yet I won’t unravel all the way
with Christ at the core. Circumstances and people may pull on the
edges, but frayed won’t turn into a terminal condition.

That’s good news.



The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. There are 5 things you need to know, he told the pencil, before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil.

Three: You will be able to correct mistakes you will make.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside.

And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

Now replacing the place of the pencil with you; always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems, but you'll need it to become a stronger person.

Three: You will be able to correct mistakes you might make or grow through them.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to serve God in everything.

By understanding and remembering, let us proceed with our life on this earth having a meaningful purpose in our heart and a relationship with God daily.


“That is one ugly birdhouse, “ I thought, as I took my early morning walk on a new route. “Wonder why the people who own that property don’t do something to spruce the drab birdhouse up? They could sand and paint it, or decoupage a scene on it…something, for goodness sake!” Just as I was mulling over all these constructive critical thoughts in my mind(!), a beautiful bluebird flew out of the above mentioned birdhouse. He soared off into the air, with the beauty of his open wings in full display.

The unattractive appearance of the birdhouse made no difference to that little bird. He saw an appealing place to make his home - to build his nest- and he entered it and did so. Inside the wooden house, the nest is intricately woven and is made of twigs, leaves and a variety of other materials from nature.

Do you know God wants to build His nest of love inside our hearts? The exterior appearance doesn’t matter to Him- whether we are spruced up and beautiful or dried out and weather beaten. When God looks at you, or me, or any of His children, He sees a wonderful place to make His home. He wants to bring us all His attributes, and will build a tightly woven nest of love in our hearts. He will take twigs
of compassion, love, joy, patience, , peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness and self control, and weave them into a wonderful love nest for our hearts to dwell in. The best component of God’s love is forgiveness. He weaves that twig of forgiveness throughout the entire nest, holding it together. He is ready to forgive all our sins, and this forgiveness we receive allows us to soar to the heights of a
personal relationship with Him.

I am so glad God chooses His dwelling place in the hearts of all…. Not just those with polished exterior appearances. For outward appearances and beauty will fade, but the love the Lord has for us never will.

THE WINNER Author Unknown

I was watching some little kids play soccer. These kids were only five
or six years old, but they were playing a real game - - a serious game
_ two teams, complete with coaches, uniforms, and parents. I didn't
know any of them, so I was able to enjoy the game without the
distraction of
being anxious about winning or losing - I wished the parents and
coaches could have done the same.

The teams were pretty evenly matched. I will just call them Team One
and Team Two. Nobody scored in the first period. The kids were
hilarious. They were clumsy and terribly inefficient. They fell over
their own feet, they stumbled over the ball, they kicked at the ball
and missed it but they didn't seem to care. They were having fun.

In the second quarter, the Team One coach pulled out what must have
been his first team and put in the scrubs, except for his best player
who now guarded the goal.

The game took a dramatic turn. I guess winning is important even when
you're five years old -- because the Team Two coach left his best
players in, and the Team One scrubs were no match for them. Team Two
swarmed around the little guy who was now the Team One goalie. He was
outstanding athlete, but he was no match for three or four who were
also very good. Team Two began to score. The lone goalie gave it
everything he had, recklessly throwing his body in front of incoming
balls, trying valiantly to stop them.

Team Two scored two goals in quick succession. It infuriated the young
boy. He became a raging maniac -- shouting, running, diving. With all
the stamina he could muster, he covered the boy who now had the ball,
but that boy kicked it to another boy twenty feet away, and by the
time he repositioned himself, it was too late -- they scored a third

I soon learned who the goalie's parents were. They were nice, decent-
looking people. I could tell that his dad had just come from the
office -- he still had his suit and tie on. They yelled encouragement
to their son. I became totally absorbed, watching the boy on the field
his parents on the sidelines. After the third goal, the little kid
changed. He could see it was no use; he couldn't stop them.

He didn't quit, but he became quietly desperate futility was written
all over him. His father changed too. He had been urging his son to
try harder - yelling advice and encouragement. But then he changed. He
became anxious. He tried to say that it was okay - to hang in there.
grieved for the pain his son was feeling.

After the fourth goal, I knew what was going to happen. I've seen it
before. The little boy needed help so badly, and there was no help to
be had. He retrieved the ball from the net and handed to the referee -
and then he cried. He just stood there while huge tears rolled down
both cheeks. He went to his knees and put his fists to his eyes - and
he cried the tears of the helpless and brokenhearted.

When the boy went to his knees, I saw the father start onto the field.
His wife clutched his arm and said, "Jim, don't. You'll embarrass
him." But he tore loose from her and ran onto the field. He wasn't
supposed to - the game was still in progress. Suit, tie, dress shoes,
and all - he charged onto the field, and he picked up his son so
everybody would know that this was his boy, and he hugged him and held
him and cried with him. I've never been so proud of a man in my life.

He carried him off the field, and when he got close to the sidelines I
heard him say, "Scotty, I'm so proud of you. You were great out there.
I want everybody to know that you are my son." "Daddy," the boy
sobbed, "I couldn't stop them. I tried, Daddy, I tried and tried, and
they scored on me." "Scotty, it doesn't matter how many times they
scored on you. You're my son, and I'm proud of you. I want you to go
back out there and finish the game. I know you want to quit, but you
can't. And, son, you're going to get scored on again, but it doesn't
matter. Go on, now." It made a difference - I could tell it did.

When you're all alone, and you're getting scored on - and you can't
stop them - it means a lot to know that it doesn't matter to those who
love you. The little guy ran back on to the field - and they scored
two more times - but it was okay. I get scored on every day. I try so
hard. I recklessly throw my body in every direction. I fume and rage.
I struggle with temptation and sin with every ounce of my being - and
Satan laughs. And he scores again, and the tears come, and I go to my
knees - sinful, convicted, helpless.

And my Father - my Father rushes right out on the field - right in
front of the whole crowd - the whole jeering, laughing world - and he
picks me up, and he hugs me and he says, "I'm so proud of you. You
were great out there. I want everybody to know that you are my son,
and because I control the outcome of this game, I declare you -- The Winner."

BIRDS AND WINGS Author Unknown

An old legend says that God first created birds without wings.
Sometime later, God made wings and said to the birds, "Come, take up
these burdens and bear them." The birds hesitated at first, but soon
obeyed. They tried picking up the wings in their beaks, but found them
too heavy. Then they tried picking them up wit their claws, but found
them too large. Finally one of the birds managed to get the wings
hoisted onto its shoulders where it was possible to carry them.

To the amazement of the birds, before long the wings began to grow and
they soon had attached themselves to the bodies of the birds. One of
the birds began to flap his wings and others followed his example.
Shortly afterwards, one of the birds took off and began to soar in the
air above. What had once been a heavy burden now became the very thing
that enabled the birds to go where they could never go before...and at
the same time, truly fulfill the destiny of their creation. The duties
and responsibilities you count as burdens today may be part of God's
destiny for your life, the means by which your soul is lifted up and
prepared for eternity.

Don't be afraid of pressure. Remember that pressure is what turns a
lump of coal into a diamond.

You know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance
must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not
lacking anything. James 1:3,4

- taken from the book "God's Little Devotional Book for Everyone"


In the darkest days of the Cold War, it stood. A silent sentry, ready
in rain or shine to embark on its mission at a moment's notice. It was
truly one of the eeriest sights I ever saw: the alert bomber.

One of the tenets of U.S. defense policy during the Cold War was to
ensure that no enemy could strike the U.S. without retaliation. So at
bases like Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, there was always one bomber
that was different. While the other bombers were parked together in a
neat line near the hangers, this one stood alone, at the end of the
runway, with its hatch open and waiting. Surrounded by barbed-wire,
this bomber sat fully loaded, fully fueled, 24 hours a day. While we
often saw bombers taking off and landing, we knew that whenever we
looked at the alert
bomber, we were seeing a plane fully fueled, and loaded with enough
nuclear weapons to destroy several cities.

Here is how it would work. If the U.S. was attacked, a bell would ring
inside a building next to the alert bomber. Inside this building,
pilots and crewmen lived 24 hours a day, less than 50 yards from the
plane. In less than a minute, these crewmen would race out the door
and across the
tarmac to their plane. The hatch was open and waiting, and by pressing
a button on the hatch, the pilot would start the engines and bring the
plane to life. Within moments of strapping himself into his ejection
seat, the pilot was rolling, and less than 5 minutes after the alarm
bell rang, the huge bomber would be airborn, headed across the world
on its mission of destruction.

We often joked that if we ever drove by the base and the alert bomber
was gone, it was time to start praying really hard.

That plane was an insurance policy of sorts for America. That plane
said to our enemies, "You might destroy every other bomber at this
base, but the cost to you will be several cities of your own, because
you will never strike fast enough to destroy the alert
don't even think about it." Defense strategists called it "Mutual
Assured Destruction" , or MAD, and it was the ultimate game of
chicken. But it let us sleep at night in an uncertain and unstable

They say we won the cold war, and that the world is safer today. But
who provides your SPIRITUAL protection? Who do you depend on for your
SPIRITUAL safety? Your minister?
Your spouse? Your own strength? If so, prepare to be obliterated.

There is only one defender you can trust. David knew him well: "The
Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in
whom I take refuge. He is my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my
enemies. (Psalm 18)

In spiritual warfare, the best defense is NOT a good offense. The best
defense is knowing the best defender.

ROUGH WATERS By Sally I. Kennedy

He....rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:25

Recently my husband was in Marathon, 'the heart of the beautiful Florida Keys', for a fishing trip with some guys. He said it was windy and really rough out. I could picture the boat getting slammed with the waves. Ordinarily, he wouldn't have even left the dock in this kind of weather, but the men were only there a brief time (so they 'had to go').

According to Ben, a fairly experienced fisherman, calm waters are usually close in to shore, near the land which protects it. The rougher waters are out farther, in between the shallow and the deep, over the reefs. The depth of the water, however, isn't what matters in how rough it is. Interestingly, more fish are usually caught in these rougher waters.

This particular day they were offshore about nine miles. The men got a banner catch that day, a bull dolphin and some schoolies. A marlin even took the bait, which is rare for this time of year.

I doubt anyone wants to get banged up and bruised from the 'rough waters' we all encounter in life. Nor be nervous, or afraid, to say nothing of perhaps not being able to 'fish'.

The rough waters we have can be calmed by the protective shore of Jesus, who is always there. He spoke to the elements, in nature, and they obeyed. He can also speak to our hearts, and supernatural calm can replace our rough waters.

That is good news.

Sally I. Kennedy is the author of "Irish Thursdays", "Words from the Heart", and "52 Little Parables from Ireland" . She lives in south Florida, with her husband Ben. You can email Sally at and visit her website at

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