A Follow Up to "Let's Get Drunk." My Sister's Guest Post

Last week I shared how God gave me the opportunity to extend hope and love to a stranger named Katie in a post called "Let's Get Drunk." In response, my sister, Tina, shared this story.  May you be as blessed and encouraged as I was.

Cindy and Tina
After our sister Cindy died, I continued to text her as I usually did, just to tell her what I was thinking or feeling. I knew her phone was disconnected, but even though my texts went into cyber space, all was good, because I felt I was, in a way, still talking with her.

Late one night, which was when we usually texted or talked, I sent a text to her number. To my surprise, I immediately received a text back. I couldn't believe my eyes when her name flashed across the screen!

I caught my breath and tried to read the message through the tears in my eyes. For years, no matter when I texted Cindy, she would always text right back. I thought for sure I was finally waking up from the horrible nightmare that had taken place over the past three months.

Maybe Cindy hadn't died, and she was answering back with her usual "Tina, it is after midnight, time to play name that tune!" We would forever be asking each other "What is the name of . . . you know the song that goes like this. . . "

But it wasn't.

It was someone else telling me, "You have the wrong number."

After apologizing for texting so late, I explained what had happened and told the other person, "So sorry, it will not happen again."

I got a unexpected response.

"Sorry for your loss. Blessings to you and yours. All things happen for a reason. Maybe ur sister reached out through me. Have a good night!"

Cindy holding her baby sister, Tina
This person could have just said, "Oops, sorry, wrong number," and that would have been the end of it. Instead they took a moment to respond to my pain. Because of this stranger's kindness, I felt that Cindy would always be there for me whenever I needed her, and that, somehow, she would always know just when I needed her.

I locked the message into my phone that night and still, almost four years after my sister's death, when I need to know she's there, I read the message.

You never know what your actions could mean to someone. The smallest thing could make a huge difference.

I just thought I would share what taking a moment to care can do.

Cindy, Tina, and Lori--sisters forever

If you enjoyed this post, would you leave a comment below to thank Tina for sharing her story? 

If you'd like to read more about our journey through the loss of our sister, you can read about it here:

Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?

Is There an Empty Chair at Your Table?

Upcoming Speaking Event

Riverbend Community Church, 1015 Corley Mill Rd. in Lexington, SC has invited me to share "Are You a Worry Wart or a Warrior Woman?" at their Spring Luncheon on Saturday, May 3, from 12-2.

The event is open to the public, but you must register by April 25. There's a $5 charge. If you're in the area and could use some transparent and timely encouragement, I'd love for you to join us. For more information and to register, visit

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No Ocean In Heaven?

I’ve always been disturbed by the fact that there won’t be a sea in the new heaven and earth. 

I love the ocean. Because I grew up on the shores of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island, my love affair with the sea began in early childhood. My connection to the ocean, however, originated long before I was born. Like the saline solution nurses inject into our bodies to keep us hydrated during surgery, Atlantic saline has coursed through my family’s veins for generations. 

Born on the Azorian islands of Portugal, my undocumented ancestors made their livings by harvesting the creatures that swam nearby. 

In 1919, amidst the tumultuous wave of the Nazi invasion of Europe, my great-grandmother and her three young children sailed to safety and protection in America. Dodging German U-boats and enemy patrols, they made their way across the Atlantic to the hallowed haven of Ellis Island. From New York, they migrated up the coast to the tiny mill town of Bristol, where my great-grandfather awaited, and there they built a life. 

Two generations later my parents built on family land only a block from the sea, and my love affair began. Wherever I went in that peninsular town, the ocean was always part of the scenery. Like a well-worn backdrop in a small-town theater, the rocky coastline and lapping waves never changed. They formed a quaint, comforting landscape for the scenes of my young life. 

During my melancholy teenaged years, I’d often seek solace on the coast. The granite boulders that ringed the bay served as rustic chairs, and I’d sit, brooding and pensive, penning long, sad poems about unrequited love. The ocean was lovely—a consistent source of beauty for a teenager who felt very unbeautiful. 

And then I moved to the land-locked midlands of South Carolina. Like a beached starfish, my soul shriveled into parched nothingness. 

Until Jesus crashed in like a wonderfully glorious, terrifyingly frightening, amazingly powerful tidal wave of change and adventure. Loving the Creator of the sea, I discovered, was more wonderful than loving the sea itself. 

It was several years before I discovered the beauty of the southern coast, but when I did, my love affair with the ocean revived. I strolled the sandy shores of Edisto Island like an infatuated teenager. 

My love for the ocean is why the thought of a new heaven and earth without a sea has always disturbed me. 

When I stand on the edge of the vast expanse of water, sand, and sky that makes up the Atlantic Ocean, I realize how small I am. And I realize how big God is—he who created the sea, measured the water, set its tides, filled it with creatures, walks its length and depth and breadth, and holds it all in the palm of his hand—this is the God who cares for me. The sea shows me a snapshot of God, and he is MAGNIFICENT. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” Psalm 19:1 states, “and the firmament shows his handiwork.” 

Whenever I and my problems grow large, I need only to look to the ocean to be reminded of how much bigger God is. The ocean shows me God. As I gaze upon its enormity and realize that the sea is just one small part of God’s vast creation, my fears, challenges, and problems become rightly proportioned. If I have a big God, the well-worn saying goes, I have little problems. 

Today, I realized why there will be no sea in the new heavens and the new earth. 

We won’t need it. 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away'” (Rev. 21:1-4). 

Romans 1:20 tells us the purpose of creation is to reveal God to us. In the new heaven and new earth, we won’t need creation to point us to God. He will be there among us. 

And I’d rather sit at the feet of Jesus than on the shores of Narragansett Bay any day. Wouldn’t you? 

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! 


 How about you? What is your favorite place to see God? Is it in the woods? The mountains? On the lake? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might like "Anticipation Is Half the Fun -- Looking Forward to Heaven."

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Let's Get Drunk

Hey, it’s Katie. 

We need to get drunk tonight. 

The text was unexpected, and it arrived on my phone with a quiet little swoosh. I didn’t recognize the number, and I don’t know anyone named Katie, but my heart went out to this unknown woman on the other side of the text message.

First Peter 3:15 flashed through my mind as I stared at the nine words on my iPhone screen.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Hi Katie, I typed back, Jesus can fill your emptiness way better than alcohol. I know, because he did it for me.

I wondered who Katie was. I live in a city with five colleges or universities. Was Katie a college student, perhaps the age of my youngest daughter? Was she lonely and sad? Was drinking herself into oblivion the only way she knew to numb her pain?

I know, she texted back, Can we talk later? Is it okay for me to go to the tanning bed with you? 

Her response told me she had no idea that she was communicating with a complete stranger.

I think you sent this to the wrong number, I texted, But maybe not, because I think God wanted me to remind you how much he loves you.  

The phone went silent, and I pictured her awkward and perhaps embarrassed reaction.

Before I fell asleep, I prayed for Katie, and for women like her. I asked God to reveal himself to them, bring Christians across their paths, and grant them the faith to believe.

 Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of speaking truth into this young woman’s heart, I prayed. May she read my words and sense your heart. Help her realize you’re the only one who can mend a broken heart, fill an empty one, or create a brand new one. Draw her to yourself, Amen. 

Today I was ready to share Jesus. Other times I walk right past an opportunity like this because I’m distracted, lazy, or self-centered. Lord, I prayed again, give me eyes to see where you are at work around me and the courage to respond in a way that points people to you. 

Will you join me in praying for Katie today? And when the opportunity comes to share the reason for the hope that lies within you, will you be ready?

We’ll never know on this side of eternity how God can use our simple words, but that’s not our responsibility; it’s his. Our calling is to speak up whenever he gives us the chance. The results are up to him.

May God richly bless you as you share your faith with those around you.

Has God given you an unexpected opportunity to share your faith recently? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below and share your experience.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy "Temporary Assignment."

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Better than a Eulogy

We laughed hard like new friends in Christ can do. Unintended, it bubbled out as the full weight of my words fell around us. 

“I’m glad I got to eulogize you while you’re still living,” I quipped to my friend. 

“Gee,” she responded, “I’m glad too!” 

And that’s how the laughter began. We were squeezed into my hotel room, all eight of us, perched on the edges of beds, on lawn chairs dragged in from the balcony, and on the floor. I was up from Columbia, South Carolina, and they were down from Ridgway, Pennsylvania. We had gathered for the Women to Women Spring Retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and we were sisters. 

With the exception of my friend Linnea, I’d never met these women, yet that day, over chocolate and laughter, we became friends. Our common link was Linnea, whose birthday we had gathered to celebrate. 

As we shared her favorite dessert and introduced ourselves, I answered the question, “How did you and Linnea meet?” 

“From the first day we knocked on her door to invite her family to church, she’s been a beautiful example of a godly woman,” I said. One story led to another, and the respect and admiration I have for my friend poured out. 

“Linnea modeled Christian parenting to me.” 

“She was an example of hard work and self-less dedication.” 

“She welcomed us and our colicky baby when no one else did.” 

“She taught me how to camp and how to make strawberry jam.” 

“She makes the best blueberry pie, baked beans, and applesauce.” 

As I shared the reasons why I loved and respected my friend, I watched the women from her church nod and smile. They knew what I was talking about, because they, too, had been blessed by her friendship and godly example. 

“I’m glad I got to eulogize you while you are still living,” I joked to Linnea, and that’s when the laughter began. 

Recently, in my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I read a similar “eulogy” in Luke 7

“There is not a greater prophet born of woman than John the Baptist,” Jesus said. And then, before the multitudes, he spoke of John’s faithfulness, self-sacrifice, and integrity. 

I hope Jesus’ words of affirmation and commendation got back to John, languishing in prison and not long for this world. He needed to hear the much-deserved “well done.” But even if he didn’t, Jesus immortalized him forever as an uncompromising example of a follower of Christ. 

As I said to the women who ate birthday cake in my hotel room, we need to speak our words of love and commendation on this side of eternity, so the person who deserves them can also be blessed. 

Why do we reserve our tributes for funerals and graveside services, I wonder? 

We’re certainly able to wax eloquent about things of lesser importance. When something or someone is worthy of praise, we should be willing to talk about it. Or write a note, or tell the person face to face. Godly deeds, people of integrity, and acts of faith are rare. We should celebrate them whenever we can. 

How about you? Is there someone who has impacted your life by his or her godly example? Why not tell them today what their life of faith has meant to you? And if you’d like, leave a comment below and tell the rest of us about them. I’d love to hear your stories. 

If you liked this post, you might enjoy "Love Smells Like Pancakes."

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