Category Archives: Someone You Should Know

Slow down This Summer, Discover David Grayson

51tF1mgpTnLThis summer, I’m re-reading “Adventures in Contentment” by David Grayson. You probably haven’t heard of Grayson or his series of books—many haven’t. (I stumbled upon them a couple of decades ago, by accident. It was a “God thing.”)

David Grayson is a pseudonym used by Ray Stannard Baker, an aggressive, muckraking, Chicago journalist at the turn of the 20th century. Baker created Grayson, a fictional character, to tell what it could be like to leave the rat race of the city and experience life on a quiet New England farm. The books were written in a nonfiction essay style that left many readers at the time believing them as truth.

(Read more about it: “The Truth About David Grayson” by Nick Grabbe)

David Grayson portrays himself as a well-read man who has left the city to live on a farm. He likes to walk around visiting people and meeting strangers. He patiently observes the ways of his rural neighbors and shows respect for the humblest of citizens. In the words later attributed to Will Rogers, he never met a man he didn’t like.

The stories are a mixture of essay, philosophy, and quiet humor. They frequently cite the Bible, Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius . . .

One reviewer wrote, “Those who read Grayson with sympathy and enlightenment are strangely conscious that here is a loyal, familiar and well-approved friend. Here is a man who has thought our thoughts for us, and who has given the soul of those thoughts their appropriate body in words.”

Although fiction, Grayson’s stories serve as a reminder to notice and appreciate the little things in life.

Are you caught up in life’s rat race and too busy to notice? Stop right now and read Luke 10:38–42.

06500_all_01-01-feetAs Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)

Make time this summer to notice and appreciate all the little miracles and blessings that God is has placed around you.

“Adventures in Contentment” by David Grayson begins:

I came here eight years ago as the renter of this farm, of which soon afterward I became the owner. The time before that I like to forget. The chief impression it left, upon my memory, now happily growing indistinct, is of being hurried faster than I could well travel. From the moment, as a boy of seventeen, I first began to pay my own way, my days were ordered by an inscrutable power which drove me hourly to my task. I was rarely allowed to look up or down, but always forward, toward that vague Success which we Americans love to glorify.

My senses, my nerves, even my muscles were continually strained to the utmost of attainment. If I loitered or paused by the wayside, as it seems natural for me to do, I soon heard the sharp crack of the lash. For many years, and I can say it truthfully, I never rested. I neither thought nor reflected. I had no pleasure, even though I pursued it fiercely during the brief respite of vacations. Through many feverish years I did not work: I merely produced.

The only real thing I did was to hurry as though every moment were my last, as though the world, which now seems so rich in everything, held only one prize which might be seized upon before I arrived. Since then I have tried to recall, like one who struggles to restore the visions of a fever, what it was that I ran to attain, or why I should have borne without rebellion such indignities to soul and body. That life seems now, of all illusions, the most distant and unreal. It is like the unguessed eternity before we are born: not of concern compared with that eternity upon which we are now embarked . . .

Slow down. Read Grayson’s books. You can find them for free on Project Gutenberg or buy the complete collection of e-books on Amazon for just $2.99.

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How God Answered My Prayer, Part Two—The Team

(This is the second in a three-part series, “How God Answered My Prayer.” To read part one, click here.)

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On Monday morning, my Group Workcamps crew arrived. They looked at the rundown garage and at each other and probably thought, no way. But they got right to work.

God had sent me two adults:

Doug, a middle-aged farmer from a small town in Ohio.

God knew that my leaning, dilapidated garage needed a talented carpenter, so He brought Doug to shore up the crooked building and install a new roof and service door. Doug worked tirelessly and graced us with his soft, generous spirit and jovial sense of humor. I am so blessed that God sent him to me. The renovation would not have been possible without him.

• And Sue, a woman my same age, from Michigan.

God used Sue to lead the team, and me, in a daily time of devotion and prayer. A hardworking and energetic person, Sue kept the team focused on the Lord. She blessed us with her spiritual wisdom, and she blessed me by tackling the big tasks that I can’t do—like getting up on the garage roof and shoveling off the old shingles!

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And God completed the team by sending along four bright, young spirits:

Andrew, a high school sophomore from Illinois, the youngest and the only boy in the group.

Doug mentored Andrew all week long, and by the time the garage renovation was done, this young man had learned to shore and buttress an old building, replace rotting wood, shingle a roof and install a door! Andrew said that he wants to use what he’s learned to help in his own community. I was so blessed through his hard work, and I believe that God will use Andrew’s physical strength and newfound skills to help people in  amazing ways.

Hannah, the second youngest on the team, and from Wisconsin, a high school junior this fall.

I admire Hannah’s daring spirit. During one of our devotional times, she shared that she’s not afraid to try just about anything. She blessed me by digging right in and climbing to the tops of ladders to prime and paint the garage. I wonder how God will use Hannah’s audacious spirit to do His work. With her eyes firmly set on Him, there’s almost nothing that Hannah can’t do.

Reaganne, heading into her senior year of high school, traveled the farthest from North Carolina.

God blessed Reaganne with a strong-centered faith and an abundance of enthusiasm. She owns the ability to see God in life’s little details and isn’t afraid to share her faith. Along with blessing me with her hard work, Reaganne opened my eyes to “God sightings” around me. God gave Reaganne the gift of spiritual wisdom, and I think He might someday use her to mentor and teach.

• And Sarah, from Michigan, the oldest of the teens.

Sarah is heading to college this fall—a big step in her life. God gave Sarah the gift of joy. There’s an old Christian song that says, “Brighten the corner where you are,” and Sarah does that. She brings light where she goes. She blessed me with her engaging giggle and sunny smile, and I believe that God will use Sarah to lend light to life’s dark spots. That can be a tough task, but she has the ability to do it well.

Andrew and Girls

It’s no accident that God brought this group together to answer my prayer. I wish that you could meet them; and who knows, maybe one day you will. God allows unlikely paths to crisscross when He answers prayers and He just might send Doug, Sue, Andrew, Hannah, Reaganne or Sarah to help you some day . . .

and if He does, you will surely be blessed.

Next week, I’ll share with you what I learned from my Group Workcamps experience. Until then….keep looking forward with faith.

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Someone You Should Know: Arthur Malcolm Stace – Eccentric, Soldier, Street Character

[Hello, Readers. I’m introducing something new to the blog this week. From time-to-time, I’ll post a short article about someone I think you should know. My prayer is that you will find inspiration from these amazing Children of God—Blessings, Jean]

ArthurStaceImagine someone writing the word “Eternity” in chalk and crayon on sidewalks more than a half a million times over 37 years . His name was Arthur Malcolm Stace, a short, bird-like, little man, eccentric, street character, Child of God. Maybe you know someone like him.

Arthur came from a troubled home. Raised in poverty, the fifth child of struggling parents, by the age of twelve he lived in foster homes. His sisters turned to prostitution and his brothers became drunks. Arthur’s life wasn’t much better. He worked for a while in a coal mine until the police jailed him for drunkenness and he lost his job. He lost a succession of jobs before turning to thievery and “working” as a lookout at brothels and gambling parlors.

Arthur tried to turn his life around. He enlisted in the army, but after three years they discharged him as medically unfit, PTSD. So, Arthur went back to his old ways: drunk, broke, and unemployed. But then something happened, one of those “God” things.

Now in danger of going to prison, Arthur met a pastor who convinced him to give up drinking and give his heart to God. It worked! Arthur turned into a self-described “missioner” visiting down-and-out men in homeless shelters and leading prayer meetings in his community. But God wasn’t done with Arthur yet. He arranged for him to meet another pastor, a preacher named John Ridley.

This is how Arthur tells it:

“John Ridley was a powerful preacher and he shouted, ‘I wish I could shout Eternity through the streets of Sydney.’ He repeated himself and kept shouting, ‘Eternity, Eternity’, and his words were ringing through my brain as I left the church. Suddenly I began crying and I felt a powerful call from the Lord to write ‘Eternity’. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket, and I bent down right there and wrote it. I’ve been writing it at least 50 times a day ever since, and that’s 30 years ago … I think Eternity gets the message across, makes people stop and think.”

Yes, Arthur Stace, a man who could barely write his own name let alone write and spell “Eternity” got up most days at dawn and walked the streets anonymously chalking the word on sidewalks. For a while he tried writing “Obey God,” but he decided it wasn’t as good. “Eternity makes ’em think,” Arthur said. He inscribed his cryptic precept in yellow, waterproof chalk, written in copperplate hand, wherever he went. His one-word message could weather three to six months; one, he was told, lasted twelve. Arthur Stace became known as the anonymous “Eternity Man,” a mysterious street character who remained anonymous for 37 years until finally he was caught in the act.

Arthur died at the age of 83. This former drunk, this kid from a troubled background, bequeathed his body to a university medical school to help those suffering from illnesses. He gave his life savings to missions. A brass inscription memorializes him in a paving stone near the town square. In Arthur’s familiar copperplate handwriting it reads:

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Arthur Malcolm Stace (9 February 1884 – 30 July 1967, Balmain, Sydney, Australia)

Read more about Arthur at the National Museum of Australia, and see clips from the 1994 documentary “Eternity.”

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Is there someone you think I should know, someone whom you would like to see featured in one of my posts? Let me know, and I’ll add that person to my list.

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