Humor in the Hard Times

It was his sense of humor that drew me to my husband. Today, it is his sense of humor that keeps him alive. He suffered a debilitating stroke over eleven years ago.

Before the end of the first week a couple of doctors stood at the foot of his bed, studying his chart. My husband looked my direction and said, "Hey, look, a pair o' docs!"

Shortly after the stroke, he had a scan of his brain. Technologists who evaluated the scan said, "By all rights this man should not be alive. The right side of his brain is basically non-existent."

My husband heard me tell that story over the years and he often thanked God that he had at least half a brain. "That was better than no brain at all."

But, recently, he started worrying. "Do I still have a brain?" he asked, relieved that I could answer in the affirmative.

The real paradox is that we can find humor in the troubling situations we face. Remember, the only difference between a smile and a frown is the way it is turned.

Marilyn Scholz © 2010. Marilyn and her husband have been married thirty-five years. They have four grown children and a growing number of grandchildren. Finding joy through trials seems to be a way of life for them.

Dollar Sense

Escaping the hamster wheel can be difficult, especially if you are working two jobs simply to pay the bills. As a single parent, I understand the frustration and stress of trying to survive—working day in, day out to pay the rent, buy food, and pay the utility bill and often falling short. Who can dream about a better future, when today is such a daily struggle?

I want to encourage you. You can have a better life. Take the first step: review these Websites and read the articles that are pertinent to your situation. These Websites offer many free tools and information to get you on the right track.

Crown Financial Ministries
Community Action Partnership

Next week we’ll discuss local community organizations that can help.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Am I Salty?

 “Salt is good. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other” (Mark 9:49, NLT).

What are the qualities of salt? I asked myself when I read this verse this morning. Two that immediately came to mind were that it enhances flavor and it preserves. If I apply those qualities to my life, then my words and actions should enhance the lives of others—make their lives better no matter how small. Maybe my salt is to:

·         Bring cookies to a new neighbor
·         Visit a sick friend
·         Write a letter of encouragement to a struggling friend
·         Let someone go ahead in line at the grocery store
·         Donate clothes to the homeless
·         Give time or money to the local food bank

What do others see when they examine my life, listen to my words, watch my actions toward others? Have the demands of life clogged my shaker? Has my salt lost its flavor? Or does my salt flow freely enough that others think “What does she have that makes her so different? I want that too.”

Unlike table salt, if I’ve lost my flavor, I can regain it by turning to God and asking for his help. He’s in the full-time business of restoring flavor to life. (If you’ve never met God, post a comment and let me know. I’d be glad to introduce you!)

Are you flavorless or flavorful? Spend some time with God today, and then go shake some salt.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Summer Delight

When the sun is blasting away like a welding torch and the humidity makes every inch of your body wet, I say it’s time to tingle your taste buds and refresh yourself with this easy-to-make family pleaser. This dessert is simple and quick to make and will be a sure winner on a sweltering summer day. It’s pretty tasty even in the middle of winter!

Ice Cream Jell-O® Pie
One pre-made pie crust (graham cracker and cookie crumb crusts also work)
1 3 oz. box of Jell-O, any flavor (DO NOT USE sugar-free)
2-4 cups softened vanilla ice cream (depending on size of pie crust)

Bake pie crust per directions and allow to cool. Dissolve gelatin in large bowl with one cup boiling water. Place briefly in refrigerator to cool. Do not allow gelatin to harden. Soften 2-4 cups ice cream while gelatin cools (5-10 minutes only). Remove gelatin from fridge (it may still be steaming). Add ice cream, blend well and pour into baked pie crust. Place in refrigerator to set. Will have the consistency of a cream pie.

I was first introduced to this recipe back in 1982 and it’s been a family favorite ever since. Our two favorite flavors are black cherry and lime. It’s easy to fix and isn’t filling or heavy like fruit pies can be. If you don’t want to deal with a pie crust, you can make the filling and allow it to set in dessert cups or the bowl you mix it in. No matter what you decide, it’s a relaxing summer treat.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Possible Impossibilities

“[M]essengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, ‘Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.’ But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith’” (Mark 5:35-36, NLT).

I love what Jesus does in this situation. Jairus has asked Jesus to come heal his daughter who is very sick. Before they arrive at Jairus’ house, messengers come to tell him his daughter is dead. In the face of this impossibility, Jesus calmly says “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” The Message translation puts it this way: "Don't listen to them; just trust me."

Terrorism, the Gulf oil spill, a teetering economy, unemployment, sickness. Myriad concerns assault us daily. Everywhere we look there is danger and doubt about our well-being. For an all-powerful God, all things are possible. When you’re facing an impossibility, act on Jesus’ advice. Take your focus off the trouble and clamor of the world, and trust Jesus to bring you through.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Great Now or Great Later

Which would you prefer, to famous on earth or in heaven? That’s a question I faced this morning while I was reading Matthew 19:30. “But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then” (Jesus speaking in reference to heaven, NLT).

People can be so fickle in their opinions. Tiger Woods is a perfect example. His fans turned on him as quickly as lightening strikes. Dreams of fame and fortune appear radiant to the naked eye, but when I focus the light of eternity on them, they become lackluster. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He valued me just as much yesterday; as he does today, and will tomorrow. I’d rather be great in God’s kingdom where I know his love and value for me is always the same and lasts for eternity.

How about you? Are you focused on now or eternity? 

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010


“She’s a tough old bird.” That’s how my dad often described my mom. He was right. At the age of 81, she had a complete mastectomy of her right breast. Six months later, competing against women as young as 35, she won the Ladies Nine-Hole Championship of Eaton Country Club, in Colorado. I would do well to take a lesson from her—in life, not golf—for she is a woman of quiet perseverance and indomitable spirit. This year has seen the loss of Dad. She draws on her faith in God one day at a time as she walks through her grief.

All too often I let difficult circumstances trip me up. I want things to be easy and expect them to be because I’m in God’s will. But that’s flawed thinking. Was God’s mission for Moses easy? Or for any of the prophets? Was it easy for Jesus? Being in the middle of God’s will doesn’t guarantee Easy Street. What blessings have I missed because I gave up rather than persisted?

“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV). Perseverance is an important part of our growth. And while troubles aren’t fun, God uses them to help us grow (1 Peter 1:6-7). The blessing is that God is with us through our troubles, and his strength to keep battling is readily available to us. Ask and it shall be given. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT). Focus on God, not the battle and you will persevere.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010  Oil Painting by Dorothy Butterfield