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My friend Irene is cool. She’s a great person, and a really good pastor. In fact, she’s so good at what she does that she makes me wonder whether we Southern Baptists have got it wrong all along. You know, about women being pastors. But, I digress.

So some months ago, we bought and sent Irene Crayola crayon packs. See, she started this outreach she calls God’s Little Lambs and I thought it was an especially great way to live out a practical story of service.

Here’s what she does: she volunteers to teach at different schools, and although she doesn’t get to teach the Bible, she loves on the children and the teachers. And in that most effective way, she shows them her God is real.

Irene has, as she receives from friends and others, given out much needed clothes and school supplies to deserving children. She has also organized Christmas parties and handed out presents to children who have never opened a Christmas gift in their young lives. So I always felt like, if I had something to give, she was one person I knew would pass it on to those who really needed it.

So the crayons. Yes…

Irene was at this class one time and saw a student with a recycled plastic container. In it were crayon tops, you know, the pointy part of a crayon that breaks off when you drop it. So apparently, this student would pick up the tops that fell from her classmates crayon boxes. And those are what she used for her school work.

It was obvious what needed to be done. Irene gave the student one of the boxes we sent.


Some time later, Irene saw the same student with the same plastic container. But where did the box of crayons go? Curious, she asked the student. The answer was unexpected: she split the contents with her cousins and held on to her old container of crayons.


Stories like these, when they reach my ear, remind me of that gentle whisper Elijah heard in the mountain.

Or of that angel that told Philip to go to the desert road.

Or of the commands in Isaiah 1: 17. You know, where it says:

“Learn to do right!

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”


Stories like these, when I choose to hear,

point me away from where I am in my story toward a better setting.

And a better chapter.


I made many friends while I was in seminary. And grace has seen it fit to preserve lasting relationships with three women who show me every chance we talk how to walk faithfully.

My friend Irene is one. My friends Jane and Wanne complete the list.

Thanks to their example, I get to make edits to my story as needed. I like to think they hang around—in the Philippines, in Seattle and in India—just to make sure I keep heading where I ought to be going.


My Friend Irene