Created by God…

We are each born for greatness.

We are born to make a difference.

We are born with gifts uniquely matched for our God-assignment.

We each have a ripple effect, touching others beyond our reach, beyond our life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.

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I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.
Mother Teresa

You don’t have to do something great or be someone great to have a ripple effect on others…
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Just a desire to change the world for one.

The ripple effect of his life’s stone cast across the pond went as far as eyes could see into the sunset.

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The years will continue to tell his story thru the ripple effect of those he touched down stream when one-changed-life affects change for another, and then another.

Stopped in my tracks when I caught a sound-bite of him through the open Dutch-door one Sunday morning attending this church for the first time thirty-three years ago, as I looked to find the age appropriate class for my young daughter that day.

Peeking in, I jumped as he startled me with those military commands to put his nursery age class in formation, preparing them to march, as they were now drafted into the Army of God; or should I say, Marines.

My daughter was late finding her class as we stayed and watched in awe this Marine guy and his Second-in-Command (wife) get this platoon in diapers ready for war.


A few soldiers walked, with Mr. Marine army-crawling on the floor with the other recruits.

As usual in the nursery, the children begin missing their parents and Mr. Marine comforts them as good Marine’s do.

There’s no crying in the military”,
Then diverts their attention by detonating bombs of Cheerios.

INCOMING…INCOMING…soldiers take cover”.

There were a few causalities when the urgent call sounded,

Medic, I need a Medic…”

As Mr. Marine handed those soldiers with explosions of their own to his Second-in-Command and sending them to the infirmary.

This Marine guy went into the trenches with his platoon, loving these small soldiers and casting his life’s stone across the pond of their lives, creating rippling effects for years to come as they grew.

 I left that military zone with a smile on this single woman’s face, wondering if Mr. Marine had any brothers for me.

Imagine thinking such things in church.

Mr. Marine did have a name; it was Gunnery Sgt. Joe to the United States of America.
Sgt. Joe cast his life’s stone into many ponds, thus widening the rippling effects of the lives he touched with a soldier’s love, kindness, and even military toughness when necessary.

Sgt. Joe was a husband of forty-plus years to his wife, a father to two daughters, a grandfather to six, a teacher and mentor to men and marriages, and an elder at church.

Sgt. Joe was one brother among five.

Sgt. Joe was Uncle Joe to two generations of nieces and nephews who were crazy about him.

Sgt. Joe was Mr. Joe to a decade of school bus children; a world-changer to them one life at a time.

Sgt. Joe was also a matchmaker, as he did have a brother when I wondered that first day in church.  David and I met and married five years later, with Sgt. Joe officiating our 25th Wedding Anniversary Renewal.

Twenty-seven years go by and we’re witnessing once again the rippling effects of Sgt. Joe’s life while standing to receive the guests of his memorial service, those waiting in line for an hour at minimum, a line which wrapped around our church foyer and never emptied until the service began, a tribute to the ripples in his life’s pond that stretched as far as eyes could see into the sunset.

Yes, it’s true, you don’t have to do something great or be someone great to have a ripple effect on others…

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Just have a desire to change the world one life at a time; and Sgt. Joe did just that.


We all have something to give.

From the palm of our hand rests the prospect of making a big difference from our small “somethings” if we are willing to open our hand and release that which we hold; an opportunity, a word of encouragement, our available time, our available resources, even a cup of cold water on a hot thirsty day.
USE THIS WHITE VASE 2While the value of what our hand holds might not add up to much in our opinion, the potential impact of meeting another man’s need could be life changing if you’re willing to give first what is caught in your grip.

I remember as if it were yesterday. I was young and embarking a new career path when an opportunity came my way, a gift that could alter my personal and professional life if I chose to accept it.  Opportunities sometimes though place us at a fork in the road, standing on the steps of indecision forcing the perplexing question, “Go north, south, east or west?” Remembering that opportunities come with a price tag, a cost to pay regardless the direction.

I was in my late twenties and waiting for my “big professional break” as a computer programmer analyst. Paying my dues as an operator consultant while competing in the race of runners whose resumes of education and experience was a far distance ahead of mine, leaving me behind and exhausted in my personal confidence.


But life as an operator consultant wasn’t so bad. I found a simple pleasure in the manager’s morning routine whose rounds to every work station expressed sincere appreciation with his kind words and smile, “How’s your day going?”  It was his way of saying, “I see you.  I acknowledge you.  I’m here for you.”

Unknowingly to him, this manager’s small gesture to visit those under his leadership made an indelible difference during the days I felt barely alive and unimportant, secretly trying to survive a painful divorce.  Day after day, I looked forward to this man’s unassuming presence, more than I ever told him, more than he ever knew.

It was this same manager who called me into his office one afternoon unexpectedly with a career proposition; my big professional break. This opportunity presented itself as a black cloud with a silver lining.  The silver lining reveals a programming project automating the manual efforts of one’s position, thus eliminating the need for that employee; the black cloud unfortunately names that eliminated position as mine.

This newly acquired experience could open the door to my future consulting career, yet a gamble this single mother with two small children living in subsidized-housing didn’t know if she could afford. Barely meeting the bills I had to be willing to walk the high wire of uncertainty without the safety net of another job waiting for me when the project completed.
CANDY JAKE 007With only this moment to make up my mind, I had to lean quickly into God for his ultimate wisdom. I had to trust that the steps asked of me to take were truly ordered from Him.  I had to trust the provision of God to be there in tomorrow’s rations for me and my small children. I had to feel safe in the hands of my God who said he’d be there as my husband, taking care of me while I lived life as a single mother.
Taking a blind step with the eyes of my faith,
I said, “Yes.”


Following the project, the promises of God unveiled a consulting career developing software for most of the steel mills along Lake Michigan and other corporations.

God proved his faithfulness to a mother
wanting to take care of and provide for her children.

God proved that the answer standing on the steps of indecision is “Trust Me.”

God reminded me he moves and works through those and ways you least expect.

One man’s open hand of opportunity before me gave new meaning to the song,
“What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.”

I wrote and told him so in a letter.


Back in the day before purchases were paid with debit cards, most carried cash and spare change in their pockets.

As a little girl I remember “deep sea diving” the bottom of mother’s purse scavenging her “kitchen sink in a bag” for spare quarters and dimes to fund my lunch at school.

Grand-kids love to pick-pocket papa for bubble gum money when he’s seemingly unaware; all the while papa is tickled with their “slight of hand”.

How many times before payday do we empty our purses and pockets for coffee on the way to work?

How many of us panic at the grocery check-out when a bit short searching high and low for a few coins to make up the difference?

We all have found ourselves rubbing nickels, dimes and quarters together to make a dollar for whatever the reason.  It’s just spare change I know but can add up to make a difference.

Once upon a time it was spare change that made a difference when our son went off to college.  Being a one-income family for most of our twenty-four year marriage with a tight budget without margins for the extravagant, my husband David decided to open a small store during break time at work, offering coffee, pop, sandwiches, chips, donuts, moon pies and miscellaneous items to help supplement our son’s college life with spare change.
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An extremely hardworking man and father and proud of his job of over thirty years welding tanker cars for the railroad, David wanted to make a small difference in our son’s college life, even if that difference amounted to spare change deposited in his bank account each week for meals and any extras.
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Every week David replenished his store inventory finding deals in bulk paying with his executive membership from the local Costco.  A frequent Costco shopper, David’s face became known among the cashiers.

Multiple back packs loaded for a day’s store supply, David arrived before work hours to start the coffee, ready to serve the workers who enjoyed mornings together over coffee, donuts and conversation before clocking in.
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Operated like “Honest Abe”, David allowed faithful customers to open credit accounts for those who promised to pay their tab on payday.

David’s store was known for the best coffee and workers from around the plant walked the distance for his famous java.  Truth be told, David just washed his 60 cup coffee maker each night unlike the other stores.

Customers required ice fishing skills to net a can of pop from the frigid cooler water as the water was that cold.  On a hot summer day customers commented that David’s cold beverages refreshed and quenched their thirst like none other.

David’s store could be managed from his work station above, as customers came and went throughout the day waving when they left their coin, with David bringing home his profits in spare change each night.
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David loved his little store.  He was a small entrepreneur always looking for better ways to grow his business, expand his menu and mini kitchen of microwave, refrigerator, coffee pot and whatever gadgets he added through the years of his ownership.

But it was a young college student on the mind of a father that kept a store open for business.
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A son gone for months at a time with no other way for a father to wrap his arms around him than with spare change deposited into his account for food.

A dad wanting it to be more, but our son never complained as God made up the difference.  Remembering our small acts get the attention of God.

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these my little ones, my true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.’  Matthew 25:40 TPT

The holiday weekends and summer breaks with our college son bringing back his baskets of dirty laundry and handsome face filled in the lonely gaps of time when two parents missed their kid terribly, counting the semesters ‘till graduation.  All these years later though we’d realize our son would never make it back to his hometown to live, as our son traveled the country seeing life through the eyes of an officer in the military instead.

College breaks ended faster than they came and our son’s car was packed again with books, food and this time with clean laundry by mom.  Dad routinely gave the car a mini-inspection before our son hit the long stretch of road back to his home-away-from-home.  Oil, tires, and fluid levels were checked and the windshield cleaned while a loving father secretly leaves his heart again in the empty ashtray, filling it full of spare change.
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Five years of college flew as fast as the two hour plane ride to Washington DC where our son now lives.  So much of life lived since his high school graduation, adding dental school, marriage, tour of duty, four adorable children and serving our country as a Major in the military.


In the years that have passed much has changed yet much has remained the same.  Our son is unassuming in his accomplishments and out of uniform is still our hilarious, fun loving kid we enjoy having home when he can; though those days are years in between.

It doesn’t cost much to add value to someone when the deposit is the intent of your heart, as these investments multiply in great dividends.

The jingle in a father’s pocket may have only been nickels, dimes and quarters or even a few pennies.  But be assured one day upon review of his life’s portfolio, a son will remember his dad’s small store and the difference it made in profits earned from the investment of spare change.