We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rethinking Mealtimes

So, who's the main person who feeds the people at your house? The one who cooks, packs lunches, and makes sure everyone is fed and nourished? In my home, it's me. I enjoy it most of the time.

Do you sometimes resent all those hours in the kitchen because of the more worthwhile items on your TO DO list?  At times, I do. Especially this season of the year. Recently, I heard a statement that has revolutionized the way I think about the time I spend in the kitchen. 

"Jesus took time out of His sermon to feed people."

I found the story in all four gospels. People had come from far and near to hear Jesus teach. When "the day was already far gone," Jesus sent the disciples among the people to search for food "that these may eat." All they could find was a little boy's lunch, consisting of five barley loaves and two small fish. In the end, Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children from this little lunch, lovingly prepared by an unnamed mother that morning. Several ideas stand out in bold as I read this story.

  • Jesus asked the people to sit down, which they did, in groups of hundreds and fifties, "looking like so many garden plots" (The Amplified Bible). Even though the hour was late, they didn't "eat and run" or eat standing up. They sat down.
  • Jesus gave thanks. A simple tradition that acknowledges a heavenly Father who takes care of us.
  • The food was simple yet nutritious: fish and bread.
  • This picnic was an organized affair, not a free-for-all. Lots of helpers made it work. Jesus distributed "to the disciples and the disciples to those sitting down."
  • There was plenty. The people ate "as much as they wanted."
  • Nothing was wasted. Jesus gave specific instructions to "gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."
  • In the gathering dusk, the people went home with more than full stomachs. The experience touched them. "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
All worthwhile activities, wouldn't you agree? So much more that just getting the crowd fed. Translated into our century: a simple menu of plentiful, nutrient-dense food. A table of seated family members and guests. The giving of thanks. A setting for conversation, for sharing the wonder of daily miracles, for telling stories that reflect God's faithfulness. A feeling of warmth and belonging. It doesn't always happen this way, I know. Yet even though mealtimes have their challenges, perhaps these observations are worth our consideration. Perhaps there's another way to view our work in the kitchen.

The next time we're tempted to sigh over the endless cooking and baking responsibilities and all that goes with it, or even feeding a baby every three hours around the clock, let's remember how Jesus took time out of His important kingdom service to feed people. There's a whole lot of worthwhile-ness in that! 

Quote by Jennie Allen, Restless: Because You Were Made for More, W Publishing, 2013, video for Lesson Six.
Story from Matthew 14:14-21, Mark 6:33-44, Luke 9:11-17, John 6:1-14. 
Photos from bing.com

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Ultimate Trade-off

I've been anticipating the holidays coming up. The first Christmas without the man who, year after year, came huffing and puffing down the stairs and over to the tree on Christmas Eve, huffing and puffing because of all the "heavy" gifts he carried down for me. When the girls were little, they squealed with delight. The tradition continued all the way up until 2014. Who would have dreamed this Christmas would be different? We're already feeling the loss.

My wandering thoughts have also reflected on what Christmas meant for Baby Jesus. His represents the greatest loss of all, really. The reality of this came together for me at the mall . . . 

Sleigh bells jingled in the background, and lights twinkled as I waited at the end of a long line of strangers to exchange my cash for my daughter’s Christmas gift. In a limited sense, I became poorer so she could become richer. When we give a gift, we sacrifice money—and ultimately time. Yet my transaction didn’t make me truly “poor” or make her truly “rich.”

But what if our family left our suburban home with only the clothes on our backs? What if we left our cars in the garage, our furniture, our technology, our clothes, our freezer full of food, our education, our jobs, our children’s school, and all that we have and do. And what if a refugee family from a third-world country moved in and suddenly acquired all we left behind . . . while we took up their life of hand-to-mouth poverty? We, who had been rich, for their sakes would become poor that they might gain our riches.

What if a billionaire traded places with the poorest of peasants? 

What if the Son of God became poor for earthlings like us?

Jesus willingly embraced the ultimate poverty. He left His Father and all that encompasses the celestial sphere to become a helpless infant. He took on human limitations. The hand that formed the heavens with the moon and the stars, wrapped themselves around a teenage girl’s finger as she lovingly swaddled Him in homespun strips of cloth. He became utterly dependent on the people He created—for milk, for shelter, for protection. Although He was the Word from the beginning, He had to learn to talk. Taking on humanity demonstrated no small sacrifice. He traded all of heaven’s glory for our sakes so that we could acquire all He left behind.

We celebrate Christmas because a Savior came to provide eternal life. We sing carols about joy, celebrate with candlelight services, and re-enact the Nativity. We rejoice in the benefits of His grace.

But Jesus experienced unfathomable loss. Loss for a sinful people who may take the incarnation for granted. And if becoming a baby wasn’t humbling enough, He gave up His life as the ultimate sacrifice. For our sakes—all because He loves us.

This Christmas, l hope we will remember God’ unspeakable gift. It’s through His poverty we become truly rich.

Joy to the world!

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV).

 Reprinted, in part, from Christian Devotions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crossing a Different Kind of Atlantic

This Thanksgiving, I feel a little like a Pilgrim.

Not that I have much in common with the brave little group who sailed into Plymouth on the Mayflower November 11, 1620. They chose to leave all they knew to come to a wild land of unknowns   . . . all for the sake of religious freedom, so the story goes. I wonder if some of them had second thoughts. Yet not one of them sailed back to Europe with the Mayflower after the harsh winter.

In one sense, they left their past behind. Yet in another way, they brought it with them. Their customs, their dress, their values . . . their God. The Pilgrims, as we call them, arrived and stayed in the New World, bonded to their tried and true beliefs. Likely, the very beliefs that gave them the perseverance to follow hard after what they perceived to be the will of God.

Maybe their experience is a little like what happens when life changes for us. We find ourselves crossing an Atlantic of another sort, leaving behind the familiar to discover a season of unknowns, of risks, of uncertainties. Sometimes we make the journey because we desire change - perhaps a new job, better habits, a new baby. And sometimes we're in a new place without our choosing it - an illness, financial loss, or the death of someone close to us . . .

Like the Pilgrims, we bring the past with us, too. The past with its victories and defeats, its wisdom-gaining experiences, its values and beliefs. And the underlying assurance that we have an everlasting God we can trust, no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what happens in our life stories. 

So, this Thanksgiving I want to give thanks.

For the past: For nearly thirty-six years as wife to a man who loved God first, then others - especially me. For all he unwittingly taught me about life, helping me ahead of time with the adjustments and unknowns. For all he poured into our children. For his example of perseverance and grit.

For the present: For God's abundant grace, provision, and care. For the kindnesses of so many who have made this journey bearable and offered up prayers on our behalf. For children and a family who call and care. For the gift of grandchildren.

For the future: For the promises of God which never expire. For new opportunities and experiences. For a coming "New World" of eternal life "forever with the Lord," where we won't be pilgrims anymore.

Have you crossed a different kind of Atlantic recently? Let's gather with the Pilgrims and Indians of the seventeenth century and remember our past and present blessings and the assurance of a bright future.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pullin' Out the Paint

I love our home.

Our family moved in on the last day of July 1987. We overlooked the worn shag carpet, the1970s flowered orange wallpaper, and the steel windows, which we had to push from the outside to close. We knew we'd someday remodel the kitchen with very little cupboard or counter space surrounding the old ceramic sink. Yet to us, it became our home. With a wonderful job opportunity for my husband and two little girls underfoot, we moved in with young energy and resolve.

Over time, we tore up old carpet, tamed walls with quieter colors, replaced windows, reworked the bathroom, and after much deliberation, gave the kitchen a makeover. In 1998, we tore down the tiny garage and replaced it, doubling its size and adding a guest room in the back. More recently, we sided and insulated. In between all that, Barry mowed the grass, cleaned out gutters, and repaired broken faucets and leaky pipes. He primed and painted. He took good care of our little "estate."

He's gone to live in his heavenly home now, where he's free from all the chores he so faithfully took care of day after day, year after year. I suddenly inherited all those responsibilities. And I'm finding it a bit overwhelming.

Our daughter, a senior in high school, has done a wonderful job keeping the yard looking trim. I've appreciated help from extended family, neighbors, and friends. Yet I worry about how long I can live here and keep the place up. Our place. Our home.

In the past couple weeks, I've noticed a couple of neighbor friends, single like me, caulking and painting. One just retired and the other is 70-something. There's courage to be found in the initiatives of those around us. I've set mouse traps, cleaned siding, and fixed doorbells the past few months, so why couldn't I scrape the doorway leading into the garage, pull out the paint, and brighten up the side entry a little?

I suppose someday I'll have to trade this property for something smaller, but in the meantime, I want our home--my home--to be more than plaster and paint, I want it to be warm and inviting, a safe and nurturing space for all who cross the threshold, with room to sense God's presence and study His Word, to pray and write and laugh and cry. 

To grow.

So next time you're pulling' out the paint, remember the deeper purposes of home. And even when we have to downsize, we can take that part of it along with us.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Best Halloween of All

I've never cared much for Halloween!

Oh, it's not because I think it's a bad holiday--although there's a dark side to October 31st that deserves some caution. There doesn't seem to be harm in dressing up, carving pumpkins, and dunking for apples.

But for me, the ultimate introvert from a young age, I found going door to door trick-or-treating the worst possible form of embarrassment. It just wasn't worth the bag of candy we brought home. I even insisted my younger sister go to each door ahead of me.

Our neighborhood had TWO nights where droves of kids thumped up on our front porch calling "trick of treat." Beggar's Night (October 30th) and Halloween.

Then there was the year we had huge piles of leaves lined up in front of our house, waiting for the town leaf vacuum truck. Some kid dropped a match or two, and before long a fire blazed high and wide. To my elementary-school eyes, seeing the leaping flames and fire trucks left a lasting impression.

Halloween became a little friendlier when I became a mother. I didn't take my kids out to gather candy, but we always carved pumpkins while my husband answered the door and gave out candy. If no scary faces presented themselves, he'd invite our little girls to take a peek.

The best Halloween weekend of all came years later in 1997. We had our usual pumpkin carving, a rollicking fire in the fireplace, and a special snack. I never let on that a surprise treat was soon to arrive. Halloween night labor brought our third baby girl into the world just before 1:00 p.m. the next day! 

I'm glad God never tricks us, taunting "Gotcha!" He treats us to His blessings every day of the year. 

And this Halloween, we have been blessed with another treat: a sweet baby boy to add to the family, born October 29th. Welcome William Conrad! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Time to Plant and a Time to Uproot

To everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot . . ."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2

Today, we uprooted . . .

For nearly 25 years, my husband planted a garden every spring, using a parcel of borrowed land near our home. He planted strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, asparagus, beets, cabbage, beans, peppers, onions, broccoli, Swiss chard, chives, tomatoes, and flowers of every color. Over time, He also "planted" pavers, wooden planks, and even unused siding to keep the weeds down. He dug shallow ditches to drain the land when it rained too much and to irrigate the rows when it didn't rain enough. His system worked--most of the time.

Barry and Sharon in the Garden
He became a legend in the neighborhood, easily visible from the road and from the back yards of our neighbors. He planted, weeded, and did most of the harvesting. My thumb isn't as green as his, so I prepared, canned, froze, and shared. We have memories of our girls picking rock, pulling weeds, picking beans, and cleaning broccoli. Each of them has Dad's green thumb, a wonderful legacy for the next generation.

After Barry passed away in May, we did all we could to keep the garden going. We planted, weeded, and watered. We ate the asparagus he pampered, dug the potatoes he planted, harvested the cabbages and onions he bought and Elisabeth planted per his instructions. We put in ten tomato plants which, thanks to his drainage system, flourished.

But today, we uprooted.

It became apparent that we could no longer keep up the huge garden across the street. It wasn't an easy decision. Summit University's Community Appreciation Day brought a wonderful group of students and a couple of faculty members to the garden. They gathered and hauled planks, buckets, and siding back to the house. They pulled stakes and fence (over 800 pounds in all), loaded it into a pick-up, and hauled it away for scrap. All accomplished with a willing cheerfulness and kindness I will never forget. Sincere thanks to each one. Bless you all.

Yet, there's a certain grieving that comes with uprooting. Uprooting marks the end of an era, the end of one more memory associated with Barry. And because of that, I had a good cry tonight while washing the supper dishes.

It seems we spend so much energy planting, getting established, gathering possessions, living out the American dream. And then, as the years slip away, we find ourselves downsizing, giving things away, simplifying. It's time to uproot.

I'll miss Barry's garden. At the same time I'll treasure the memories and all I learned from the man with the green thumb. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"We Read to Know We Are Not Alone" (C.S. Lewis).

Have you noticed the Little Free Libraries popping up here and there? Here's the idea. Take a book. Leave a book. Nurture the love of reading. Promote a sense of community.

I took the top two photos in our town on Depot Street near the new pocket park and the bottom photo in Michigan this past summer. All three stand proudly by the roadside, offering books to passers-by. These tiny libraries come in all shapes and sizes. As unique treasure houses, they represent the spirit of freedom, the love of learning . . . and the beauty of story.

If you study a person's reading list or peruse his or her bookshelves, you understand him better. As I've poured over my late husband's volumes of books, I've gotten to know him in a new way. Sounds strange, I know, but as I've read his comments in the margins, his sticky notes pasted on random paragraphs, and his hand-written notes paper-clipped to various pages, I'm getting a feel for his thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics as he interacted with what he read.

Authors introduce us to new ideas. They broaden our thinking and help us see beyond ourselves. They challenge us to reach higher, to see farther.

Good stories do the same things in a little different way. How many times have we identified with various protagonists? We feel their vulnerability and watch them face their fears. By the last page, we take their strengths with us to conquer our own fears. We better understand our relationships. We find ourselves blessed with hope, often against all odds. Reading helps us gather the courage we need to follow through on our resolve. 

C.S. Lewis wrote, "We read to know we are not alone." 

So why do you read? And what have you been reading lately? Perhaps a nearby Little Free Library will offer just the right book!   

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

So, how are you at making decisions?
I've had to make a lot of decisions over the last few months. And I'm not finding it easy. I've agonized over replacing my old car, deciding what to keep, what to pass on, and what to save, and everything in between. How did Barry always seem to know what to do?
How often I've cried out to God to help me over these weeks. I'm learning that making a decision is a little like crossing a river, taking one step at a time.  
I size up the rushing river
 overflowing its banks, full of unknowns,
the other side far away and obscure.
Alone now,
with only distant dreamlike memories left,
I wring my hands and pace the shore.
What if my foot should slip?
What if misjudgment sweeps me downstream?
What if ignorance pulls me under?
I feel the hand of time upon my back,
driving me ever closer to the current’s edge.
My heart beats fast.
Tears escape their hiding place.
I cower at the brink.
 “Oh dear God, please help me.
I need your grace.”
First one foot. Then the other.
And as I take each faltering step,
the Red-Sea-waters part.
Just enough for me to take another step
and then one more.
On dry ground
All the way to the other side.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Epitaph

I wanted more than just his name and his dates.

There's something special when a gravestone gives an inkling about the person's life, a line to two to sum up the years. Perhaps the engraved words create a sort of bridge between the living and the dead. 

Once or twice a week I walk to the cemetery to visit my husband's plot, tissues wadded up in my pocket to catch the inevitable tears as I kneel down to tell him how much I miss him and love him. It's been four months today that he passed from this life into the next--a long four months. And now the permanence of being alone seems to haunt me more than at the beginning of this journey. At the same time, I've found hope in the presence of a living God who promised never to leave me.

Before I ordered Barry's monument, I walked up and down the paths between the stones, reading the names and dates and searching for inscriptions that said a little something about their untold stories. I didn't find many. Only a few had verses. One had a word puzzle. Many displayed hearts and crosses.

How do you summarize a life? What's left after you boil it all down to one or two lines to etch into a piece of granite? How does a family sort it all out and decide just the right words?

This is the epitaph our family decided to have engraved under Barry's name:
Lifelong Learner
Loved God and Others

Barry had a love of learning that still baffles me . . . languages, philosophy, history, math, health, gardening, investing, sports, religion, politics, the arts, and on and on.

He also loved God, "the Creator and Sustainer of the universe." And growing out of that relationship, he took time for others. Time to listen, encourage, help, offer sound counsel, give of his resources, and nurture their gifts and passions.

I think he had it right, don't you?

It's a bit sobering to see my name beside Barry's, already indelibly etched into the stone. I wonder what will be engraved beneath it someday. On my walk home, eyes still moist, I remind myself that ending well starts with the present. 

So . . . what epitaph would you like to have on your headstone someday?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Scrawled on the Back of a File Folder . . .

Some years ago, I found the following poem hanging on the wall in a waiting room and copied it down on the only paper I had with me - the back of a file folder. I could find no author's name. I filed it away and just recently ran across it. Perhaps some good thoughts to consider as a new school year begins . . .

Help Me Grow

Be consistent with me,
Then I can trust your words and actions.
Comfort me when I'm scared, hurt, or sad,
Then I'll know I'm okay even when I'm not feeling strong or happy.
Take responsibility for all your feelings and actions,
Then I also won't blame others and I'll take responsibility for my life.
Communicate when you feel hurt or frightened or angry,
Then I'll learn how to constructively deal with my feelings.

Tell me clearly and specifically what you want,
Then I can hear you and I'll also know how to
communicate my needs in a positive way.

Express to me that I'm okay
Even when my words or behavior may not be,
Then I can learn from my mistakes and have healthy self-esteem.
Balance your life between work and play,
Then I can believe that I can grow up,
be responsible, and still have fun.

Remember what you wanted when you were my age,
Then you'll better understand my needs and interests.

Understand and accept me.
I may be different from you and that's okay.

Treat me as an individual,
Then I'll know that I can be my unique self.

Hug me and tell me that you care about me,
Then I'll feel lovable and I'll express caring to others.

Thank you for hearing me.
I love you!



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Quiet Invitation

Do you ever wonder if your efforts to encourage others will a make a difference? If your initiatives to offer kindness and help others will mean anything in the long run? Perhaps this story will encourage us all.

Today is the 80th birthday of Barry's Aunt Sue. A former second grade teacher, she has lived a quiet life. Apple orchards and grape vineyards surround her modest home on the family homestead in southern Michigan. She and her daughter keep a small garden. She reads and walks and attends church. She keeps up with us by writing letters.

Aunt Sue's birthday marked the perfect opportunity for me to thank her for what may have seemed like an insignificant event back in 1971. I don't think she'd mind if you read over her shoulder.

Dear Aunt Sue,
I've been thinking of how God has used your influence to touch the Phillips family. Barry often told the story of how you and Uncle Earl invited him to a Campus Crusade for Christ concert when he was 15. There he began to understand God's love and placed his faith in Christ for salvation. Little by little his faith grew. That decision forever changed the direction of his life story.
After college, Barry taught at and became the principal of a Christian school and moved on to become a professor and administrator at a Christian college. He brought up our girls in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Over the years, he aimed to love God and love his neighbor.
All because of one quiet invitation.
Barry touched hundreds of lives through his teaching, his leadership, and his influence . . . and somehow, Aunt Sue, I think you have a significant part in his legacy.
Now when we sing songs in church about eternal life and spending forever in heaven, tears run down my cheeks. In the end faith in Christ matters most - and because of your initiative, I have the assurance that Barry is with his Savior.
Thank you for not overlooking an opportunity to encourage a tall, gangly teenager named Barry. It made all the difference for him and for countless others. Have a wonderful birthday!
With Love,

I'm sure Aunt Sue had no idea how one invitation would bless so many. We don't know how our offers will influence others. Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he wrote, "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

So, how has one quiet kindness blessed you?

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Song in the Night

I woke with a start and reached for my husband next to me. Then I remembered. His recent illness had brought him downstairs to the recliner. Again, worry brought a sigh and a prayer. "Please, Lord, help him to feel better. Help us to know what to do next."

I closed my eyes to try to get another couple of hours of sleep when, from the living room, I heard Barry singing. I laid still and listened as he sang the words of an old song I taught to the girls as little children, words set to the even older tune of "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
God has made me very special, and I'm dearly loved my Him.   
Even though He knows me fully, He accepts me as I am. 
How I praise Him, How I praise Him,
For His wondrous love for me. For His wondrous love for me.*
My husband, in pain and unable to sleep, used the words of a simple hymn to bring comfort and strength to his circumstances. Isn't that when the love of our heavenly Father means the most to us?  When we feel all alone and out of sorts? When we're at our lowest and hope is ebbing away?
I've thought about that song in the night many times since then. Barry had it right. Whether we're feeling the ache of physical pain or the sting of rejection or the angst of loss, how comforting to line up our emotions with truth. God loves me. He knows all about it. 
Since my husband passed away I often find myself awake at night, thoughts swirling every which way. "How will I take care of the house and the cars and the yard and the finances and . . . who will take care of me?"

Then, like Barry, I remember an old hymn:
Be not dismayed what e're betide, God will take care of you. 
Beneath his  wings of love abide,God will take care of you.
God will take care of you, Through every day, O'er all the way;
He will take care of you, God will take care of you.**
God has taken care of me . . . of us. This gives me hope for the days ahead.

What songs have encouraged you through the night?

*Words by Verna Birkey, 1977.
**Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1869-1948.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Proof Through the Night

Does your mind sometimes act like dominoes? One thought leads to another, and before you know it, you're thinking about something on another level from your original thought.

On our way home from our Michigan vacation, "up north," we passed a mailbox shaped like a little house with a tiny tattered American flag attached to the front, waving in the breeze.

That brought my thoughts to the line in "The Star-Spangled Banner" that reads, "And the rockets' red glare, the bombs busting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there . . ."

And this made me think of the "bombs" in my life that had burst all around me in the past several months . . .the sudden illness and passing of my faithful husband, the crushing grief and feelings of vulnerability, the ensuing mounds of paperwork, the never-ending list of phone calls, the flooded basement when a storm took the power out, the breakdown of our good car nine hours from home, the wringing of my hands because he always knew what to do . . . everyday reminders of the earthly permanence of this unsolicited separation . . .

Then I came to realize that these "bombs" have the potential to prove that, through the night, my faith in God is still there. Still active. Still strong. Still flying high . . . tattered and torn as it may seem some days.

I've been reading Elisabeth Elliot's book A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God's Mercy and Our Pain. She defines suffering as "having what you don't want, or wanting what you don't have" (page 56). Her thoughts about the Old Testament character of Job caught my attention. "We may take heart from the suffering of Job. Suffering was the necessary proof of the reality of his faith . . . a living proof of a living faith . . . Job's suffering provided the context for a demonstration of trust" (pages 52, 53).

No matter what the challenges of life may bring, I want them to give proof through the night that my faith is still there. Visible and present, regardless of the darkness, the testing and trials, the unexplained losses. Just like the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the famous lines that became our national anthem and just like that little American flag attached to the front of the mailbox along a sandy roadside up north.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Dad Who Prayed

Every morning it was the same.

The alarm went off at 5:59 a.m. We listened to a couple of minutes of news and noted the weather. Barry slipped his arm around me, drew me close, and began to pray.

I loved to hear him pray.

He thanked God for His goodness and His blessings. He prayed for each daughter by name, mentioning their specific needs. He prayed for our grandchildren. He asked for wisdom with reliance on a Heavenly Father who cares for us, one day at a time.

And he often, with some variation, repeated the same phrases. I never knew where these words came from until after he passed away. Tucked into the books next to his side of the bed, I discovered a half sheet of paper, photocopied from an unknown book. I've bolded the words I heard most often.

The day begins for [John] Stott* at 5:a.m. He swings his legs over the side of his bed and starts the day in prayer:

Good morning, Heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship you as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, Sanctifier of the people of God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord, Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.

For decades, Stott has begun each day with a version of this Trinitarian prayer. 
That's all the paper held . . . until I carefully, almost reverently, turned it over. In Barry's familiar handwriting I found this addition: "That I might live a continual life of repentance, being transformed into the glory of God through the gospel of Christ by the work of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

I will always treasure the memory of Barry's morning prayers, prayers filled with worship, humility, and a deep desire that his children walk in truth.

*John Stott (1921-2011) was an English Christian leader and Anglican cleric.