The Red Couch

The history of Joe’s red couch on the cover of my book Here We Go Joe is the inspiration for this blog.

A little over a decade ago, I, a red leather couch, was created at a factory and then shipped to the furniture store where I sat, collecting dust for months. Occasionally, children would come over to look at my glossy finish, but just as they would get comfortable, their snooty parents would come over, take them by their arms, and walk away. If anyone did draw close, they usually snickered at the brightness of my red sheen or comment how I wasn’t what they needed in their open concept homes.

Then one day, an older gentleman with a crew cut and large rimmed glasses spotted me from across the show room. He looked right at me and started to smile. As he sat down and got comfortable, he stated out loud, “This will be perfect in my bachelor pad with my palm tree lamp. I will take it.”

A little later, a small pickup truck pulled up at the back of the store, lowered the tail gate and two men slid me in. As soon as we pulled away, I knew I was headed to a place where I would be appreciated for my high quality red leather and cozy seating. And sure enough for several years, my owner Joe and his girlfriend sat on my cushions and enjoyed how comfortable I was.

But my friend Joe was changing and his girlfriend stopped coming around so much. Instead, his grown children showed up with heavy discussions about a need to find him a new home. Then one day, I was packed in a dark truck with all of Joe’s other furniture and moved to a different city. The next day, while Joe was out for lunch, I was unloaded along with the palm tree lamp and placed in a small room with a kitchen dinette and an attached bedroom.

Joe was so sad to be away from his house and many days he’d only sit with his feet propped up, watching television shows without speaking a word. People would come in and sit on my leather seats while trying to bring some cheer to my friend, but to no avail. As the weeks slipped into months, Joe’s health weakened and he was unable to move from the bed that could be seen through the doorway.

Then one day, I was moved again to the home of Joe’s son. Instead of being placed inside with the other wanted furniture, I was put in the cold damp garage with all the tools and a ping pong table. Many days, no one would sit on my fine leather or rub their hands on my arm rests. But every once in a while when Joe’s son would be watching a race or listening to a podcast, he would prop himself up against my red back and fall asleep.

Once when a hurricane was roaring across the state, dogs slept on my cushions as the wind blew outside the garage. They huddled together and waited with me as the storm passed. Another time, Joe’s son pulled me out into the driveway and watched a solar eclipse pass by with his favorite companion, Carl.

But as much fun as it is when the grandchildren find me comfortable enough to sleep on or the dogs enjoy a relaxed spot, I know this isn’t home. My friend Joe is gone and I hope wherever he is, he has a red couch, just like me, to sit on.

Just the other day, Joe’s son pulled me out to the street and propped a large FREE sign against my cushions. And just as I thought I would be left out in the elements, without a chance to be chosen, a truck of workmen slowly drove by. At first it didn’t appear that they would stop, but just moments later, the truck pulled into the driveway and after a little discussion, I was placed in the back of the truck and headed down the road. And now as I feel the breeze against my red leather fabric and see the cars zip past me, I’m overcome with a sense of hope that maybe my new owner could be just as special as Joe.

Choosing Jesus over Worry

Vern has refused to eat. His belly has shrunken and he is lethargic. Instead of jumping up to take a walk, he chooses to lie on the sofa or in my husband’s lap. I am tempted to worry about him. And because of this worry, Vern’s dish has been placed in front of him more times than I can count.

I can so relate to Martha. Here is a woman who invites Jesus and his disciples into her home. She is thrilled to create a tasty meal and unforgettable experience for her savior, Jesus. The only problem with the situation was that Martha’s sister Mary was not doing her part. The meal wasn’t getting prepared and the men weren’t being served in the manner that this woman had expected.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)

Wow, what a response to Martha. Instead of giving her a reason to believe she has a right to worry, he turns her attention to what is most important, himself. I must admit, I choose worry over focusing on the love of Jesus.

As much as I want to force Vern to eat, I have come to realize that I don’t have control over when and how much he will consume. I can choose to worry about him or I can realize that even Vern’s health is in the hands of God. Thankfully, if he doesn’t eat, I am only a couple minutes away from my veterinarian.  Only time will tell.

Endless Possibilities

What do you see?

A bike that will go nowhere.

Our first instinct is to label objects or people with a given purpose.

If the person we know or the object we have,

doesn’t meet the designated purpose, frustration sets in.

Take for instance this bike. It has been given an entirely unique reason for being.

In order for it to be meaningful,

the eyes of the beholder must alter their perception.

Then the world we think we know can expand,

and our perceptions explode with endless possibilities.

Mystical Peace

Vern snuggled into a comfortable position on the soft throw blanket and drifted off into a deep sleep. He and his Frenchie sister spent two nights at a pet resort near the coast of North Carolina. By all appearances, they enjoyed their time away, but there vacation home didn’t offer the sense of peace that comes from being with their human companions.

Peace comes when you believe you are doing the right thing. This is what was happening to the first century church. After Stephen was stoned to death, the church was forced to leave Jerusalem and pursue the mission that Jesus called them to do. It wasn’t what many wanted to do, but with the death of Stephen, it was clear that they were being forced out.

“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

Vern and Bee share a peace that comes from being where they’re needed. And that’s what God wants from us as well. When we are around people building them up with encouragement, we will also experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit and an inner peace that only comes from God.

Empty Hands

A book for women who desire to know God’s will for their lives.

I wrote Empty Hands for me, an ordinary woman with no accolades or first place finishes, someone living in the middle of the pack, huddled together with others.

I wrote Empty Hands for others that are huddled with me. Women that desire to know how they fit into this life that God has given them.

I wrote Empty Hands for women who want to dig beyond the surface of life and uncover the spiritual treasures just waiting to be discovered.

I wrote Empty Hands for women to come together in small groups and learn how God’s will can transform them from ordinary into spectacular.

Cora Darrah

Unlikely Change

Vern is no longer a puppy. He is now fifteen months old, which means he probably won’t change much from this point on. The habits he has of rolling on the road, or jumping on the bed will probably continue. And then there is the fear Vern has of his sister Bee. A fear which keeps him from eating his food when Bee stands in front of his bowl like a bully. These behaviors by both dogs seem to be more and more ingrained.

How often do we believe that a person we know will not change? Their attitude or habits continue day after day, month after month. Is there any hope that people will transform into a new creation when they have been stuck in the habits they have developed over time?

Saul was one such person in the first century that had his mind made up concerning the newly converted Christians. His teachings and instincts told him that these people needed to be stopped. He believed he was called by God to put an end to this movement and have everyone return to the thousands of years of laws and traditions set up by their Jewish forefathers.

In Acts 9, we are given a small glimpse of the interaction Saul had with Jesus as he walked the road to Damascus. A bright light appears and he hears the voice of Jesus personally speaking to him. There isn’t a long conversation, but it’s enough to change Saul for eternity.

What are we waiting for in order to change? Do we think God has to do something spectacular in our life? If we do, we might miss our personal interaction with Jesus. Look around, take a moment and speak to God. He desires to provide you the power to change and become a new creation. But first, he needs you to take a step of faith.

As for Vern and Bee, I believe they will change if I can learn to approach the situation in a different manner. I just have to figure it out and be consistent. Time will tell.  

A Pot of Spring

The other day, I was shopping and spotted this small pot of flowers and knew that I needed to bring it home. This pot of spring, as I like to refer to it, is a reminder of the longer days ahead with warmer temperatures and streams of sunlight.

As we exit a winter like no other, of being closed in and distanced from our neighbors and friends, create your own pot of spring and place it where you can draw in its beauty. Pause and meditate on the delicate nature of its design and the incredible attributes of its creator.

Who Joe Was To Me

Who was Joe to me?

An independent soul that only wanted to live each day his way

A man that appreciated the little gestures of others

A fixer of things and an eagerness to share his talents with neighbors

A gentleman with a sweet smile and a kind gesture towards others

An artist who skipped from palate to palate

A wartime veteran of two wars

A father

A husband

A grandfather

A father-in-law to me.  

The Power of Forgiveness

Bee had had enough. She just didn’t think it was fair. Vern was always being chosen to ride in the big black truck, with the windows down, his ears flapping in the wind. And she was left alone behind the screened porch with no one to play with. Time and time again, the little white and black dog would be left to fight off the feelings that crept in her heart and wouldn’t leave.

Vern didn’t understand why Bee would nip at him when he pounced through the door after his rides. He was happy to see his little friend, but could tell that the feelings were not mutual. After nipping him, she would typically growl at him and then retreat to her bed. No matter how hard he tried to get her to play with their favorite toy, she would turn away and sulk.

Bitterness in the heart can rot our soul, causing us to pull inward and be unwilling to be what we’re created to be. It separates us from others, but more importantly, from God. When we are consumed with hateful thoughts about others, we cannot commune with our creator.

Stephen was a servant of God. A righteous man that only wanted to please his savior. So when the religious leaders that had killed his Lord wouldn’t see their sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen implored them to try and understand. But instead, they took him out of the city and began stoning him to death.

This man had every reason to be filled with anger and hatred towards the mob. But he wasn’t. Notice his words.   “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60)

So why would Stephen forgive these men? Because he understood that Jesus had been willing to die for his sin so that we all would be given the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive others. A power that is still at work today. If only we would ask for it when the bitterness begins to sink inside our hearts. Thankfully, Bee forgets why she’s mad at Vern in only a couple of minutes. After a while, they can be seen playing together and enjoying each other’s company. A lesson for all of us humans in times when forgiveness seems impossible to obtain.

Writing is Magic

Have you ever loved doing something that filled you with a deep seated satisfaction?

Something that fills a void while creating a voice.

That is what writing is to me.

Come along and snuggle up to magic with a pen and paper.

Enter into a domain made up of colorful characters weaving in and out of dramatic circumstances.

Fashion a life that pulls you along with no certain destination. 

That is what writing is to me.