I asked him to repeat his name to me, not because I didn’t hear him but, rather, because I didn’t think I heard him correctly.

Doris. Or Dorrace.

That’s what he said. I “googled” it upon returning home; apparently Doris was a popular name for boys in the 1930’s. Seems in keeping with the age I determined him to be in our moments of exchange. He was hunkered down over his cart while pushing it through the paint aisle at Lowes when he stopped just short of me.

“Ma’am, can I ask you a question?… What color would you paint a bathroom?”

I knew there was more to his question than just paint, but it served as our starting point. Every good conversation starts somewhere (usually with a question), and ours started with paint. He showed me his card of samples; I showed him mine. His included shades of brown. Mine included shades of green. We covered the generic questions in keeping with paint conversation, and then the dialogue moved to a deeper level.

“Haven’t painted the house in years, but I’ve been taking on more projects these days. It’s just me now, so it doesn’t much matter the color I choose. But she’s still with me, you know. I don’t think she’d mind all the changes. I talk to her about it every day.”

“Your wife?”

“Yep. Almost sixty years of living together. She died a year ago, but she’s still with me. She’s on the mantle in the den.”

Another starting point for a more pointed conversation… one that lasted a good thirty minutes. We covered a lot of ground in that time. Mostly I just listened to his lonely heart. Words about extended family members who’d been here for a recent visit. A collection of Hummels his wife had collected over the years. Life in Fayetteville, the traffic, and then a final probing question from my heart to his.

“What about friends, Doris? You’ve lived here so long; you must have some good friends to spend your days with.”

“Oh, I don’t have many friends. I live a pretty lonely life, but I’ve got her with me everyday. Whenever I feel alone, I just talk to her.”

And my heart broke into a thousand pieces as I listened. I reached into my purse, grabbed a piece of paper and wrote my name, along with my husband’s name and phone number, onto it and handed it to Doris.

“You’ve got two friends now, Doris, and when you get that bathroom painted, we’d really love to stop by for a visit and take a look. Everyone needs a few good friends, and I’d like to be yours.”

He said that he’d call; I hope that he does, but I don’t imagine he will. Something tells me he’s not quite ready to let a stranger through the front door. That’s OK with me; I much prefer the access of a back door friend. Back door friends talk about everything… soul things, whether over a cup of coffee at Starbucks or in the paint aisle at Lowes. Perhaps thirty minutes was all that was meant for our paths… his crossing mine and mine crossing his.

Sacred intersections… that’s what I call them. Two roads that collide to further God’s kingdom work. A moment that stands at a crossroads where two hearts connect intentionally, purposefully, non-coincidentally, perfectly timed and orchestrated by God and feeling as natural as the air we breathe. I’ve had a few of them in recent days. Not as many as I would like, but just enough to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing with my days…


In others.

Not just in things, or endeavors, or plans, or goals, but more importantly, investing my time and energies into people. I cannot always pick when that happens, don’t always have the luxury of planning my sacred intersections. I much prefer it that way. Plans can sometimes be full of pretense and projected outcomes. I’d rather let the intersections arrive as they will and along the way. God knows when they’re coming; he sees them from afar and is more than capable of making sure that my heart is prepared for their arrival.

So tonight I think about Doris. I think about the joy I would have missed if his cart had not connected with mine. I think about my big God who sat back and watched the exchange… entered into the exchange, even though his voice deferred to mine in that moment. And I am thankful for the privilege of being his conduit of kingdom dispensation.

He’s trusted me with so much… the mystery and the secrets of the kingdom. He has committed to me the ministry of reconciliation… of being his mouthpiece as though he were making his appeal through me (2 Cor. 5:18-20). I cannot conceive of his choice, his trust and his willingness to allow me any measure of influence upon this earth. Instead, I can only receive it as yet another grace from his heart.

I don’t always get it right, friends, don’t always speak God’s witness as I should. Sometimes I keep my silence; sometimes I say too much, but every now again, a Doris-moment comes along, and I know that it was pretty close to perfect.

His path crossing mine; mine crossing his.

An investment of the richest kind.

I may never stand before a crowd of thousands or see my name in lights on this side of eternity, but you can be certain I’ll wake up every day to have that kind of sacred intersection. Some days it’s all I can do, all that I have to give, all that keeps me going when little else in my life is making sense, and trust me when I tell you that life doesn’t “feel” sensible right now. Even so, I pray the Lord to keep me to all that I can do and all that I have to give and to let my tomorrow be filled with more intersections and investments of the kingdom kind.

The Doris kind.

I pray the same for all of you this week. As always…

Peace for the journey,


PS: Thank you for all of the kind comments on “the Goody Bag” and for visiting Judith’s new blog. I made sure to include your name in the drawing, whether you posted a comment here and/or there. Miss Amelia just drew the winner prior to going to bed. Jennifer @ The Spirit of Truth is the winner. Send me your address, Jennifer, via e-mail, and I’ll have your book to you this week. Shalom.

26 Responses to Investing…

  1. There is nothing better to invest in, my dear Elaine. I am so glad you did what you did with Doris. It is a wonderful example to me of intersections I should be taking advantage of.

    Blessings to you.

  2. Your posts always inspire, encourage and convict me. What an interesting interlude with this man! And you certainly made an investment for eternity. It's funny–those verses in II Cor. 5:18-20 have come to me three times today-in Sunday School, during tonight's service from a missionary's sharing, and now in your post. That can't be a co-incidence! Verse 20 has really struck home and convicted me to be God's ambassador–as if God were making His appeal through us!
    Thanks for these timely thoughts.

  3. Encouraging words my friend… soo needed, Investing time in the intersections that God brings into our lives!! So glad you had THE time!! So worth the investment!!
    Thanks for sharing this special post!!

  4. Elaine, you are always such an example to me of being aware of those sacred intersections and allowing your days tasks and to-do's to yield to them.

    Whether you cross paths with Doris again or not, I know you blessed his day and gave him something to tell 'her' about this evening.

    I can't believe I'll be in NC this week and not get to meet you! Hopefully our intersection will come…


  5. Elaine, thanks so much for sharing about intersections and investments. We hope to bless others in these encounters that are orchestrated by our God but we are usually so richly blessed as well. My friend and I were talking today of living a life that matters–we are both retirees–and this post was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for the encouragement.

  6. I remember a story you told me once of waiting for someone in a second hand store and being asked by another shopper if you thought the jar she had picked up would be ok to hold sand or something. (Stay with me here, girlfriend – that was the Days of Chemo Brain.)

    You knew immediately what it was she was looking for and after listening to her story for a little while, took her out of the store and pointed her down the street to another shop where she could buy pots with fitted lids for not much more money than the one she was holding.

    Now I had absolutely no more idea where you were going with that story than you probably have right now with my trying to retell it but she wanted an urn for ashes of a loved one (was it her mother?) and what she was holding was some wretched old lidless cookie jar!

    First, that you knew immediately what that broken hearted woman was looking for (and I had not one clue)
    Second, that you listened to her story
    Third, felt compassion and
    Fourth, helped to redirect her –
    that day I knew I wanted you for a friend. To live so intentional, to live for such "crossroads" broke my heart at my own lack while at the same time caused me to have hope that it wasn't yet too late for me to look for mine.

    I do hope Doris will let you in – front door or back, wouldn't matter. I can't think of safer friends than you and Pastor Billy and those darlin' babes of yours.
    p.s. Sorry this is so long. Hope that's not rude here in Blogger Ville. Still learning…

  7. "Doris moments". Intersections. I don't want to miss a one!

    I got your note re. pine tree allergies. Maybe you'll build up immunity(???) I've always thought pine trees to be so beautiful – symbolic of cool refreshment, peace, calm and stability…

  8. Beautiful intersections in places least expected may be the BEST kind.
    And now I'm wondering which color he chose…hopefully NOT the brown.

  9. Oh that I would be open to those moments and not just scurrying along to get things done! Bless your heart, the Lord knew who he wanted Doris to talk to that day! Dear Lord, please slow me down and open my eyes, then pierce my heart and tenderize it!

  10. You made me cry. I absolutely love those kind of intersections in life. My heart goes out to this lonely man–I know that could be someday me or my husband and I would want a friend to come knocking on my door. You did good! I pray he calls,

  11. Yes, LORD. Elaine. I totally relate to this post. I have my "Doris" moments. I had one just recently. Unlike your interaction, I was able to get contact info on my "Doris". I've made contact. Now, I'm waiting on a return of my investment. It might take a while. However, it's in God's time, not mine! I allowed God to use me to plant the seed. It's up to Him to harvest that seed now. Praise the LORD!

  12. Sacred intersections — love that thought, Elaine. I'm afraid too many times I'm too caught up in my own plans/agenda to let sacred intersections unfold in my days. Good food for thought — and I hope to put it into practice.

    Blessings to you this week!

  13. This precious post made me cry too!Elaine, you have such a tender heart for God's kingdom work, sweet friend! One of the many reasons I love ya so much! I pray that Doris will give you and Billy a call. Please let us know!
    Love you!

  14. Truth right out of God's Word into your life and into ours. I pray for many more Sacred Intersections for all of us along the journey God has before us.

    Prayers and blessings as you and Billy find your way in Fayetteville!

  15. I love those kind of encounters. I would have adopted him right then and there Elaine!! What a precious soul.

    BTW, we just painted our girls bathroom…LIME GREEN!! It is so bright but looks so beautiful with their zebra shower curtain. The prople at the paint counter really gave my husband a hard time when he got the paint but I saw it on-line and couldn't be happier with it. the white tile really stands out now too.

    Started your book today. Had a sweet quiet time this morning with God reliving His grace in my life.

    Believing Him…Experiencing Him~Pamela

  16. What a wondeful appointment at Lowe's!! I do hope that you will let us know if you hear from Doris again. God bless that precious man and God bless you for taking the time to minister to him.


  17. Sacred intersections…I like that term…yet it saddens to me to think of all the stop signs…or even yield signs…I have ignored in my journey…your words inspire me to slow down at these intersections…and watch for those signs….

  18. This was a blessing to me! I'm glad I stopped by tonight! An inspiration to slow down, and LOOK for these Sacred Intersections God places in the roadways of our lives. I couldn't help but think of "C.S.I. (not Crime Scene Investigation) but Christ's Sacred Intersections"—They're the appointments He divinely sends for us to "investigate the scene," find out the person's need, then point them to Him. Lives intersecting just like the cross– the two pieces of wood intersect and in the middle was our Lord and Savior! Now He wants us to point others to HIM. Thanks! I will always remember this!

  19. Elaine, it is truly the encounters that most people would rush by… that you embrace.

    I thank God for that.

  20. THIS is the stuff that Jesus loves us to do!!What a beautiful story, and I hope you hear from him again.

    A heart that is willing… LOVE it!!



  21. What a beautiful encounter. Thank you for sharing and for sharing your heart and encouragement with Doris.

    Living for Him, Joan

  22. Elaine~
    What a beautiful post! I love your heart girl. This is such an encouragement to not be in such a hurry and be ready to invest in those appointments.


  23. I wonder how many Doris' live around me?

    This touched me deeply on several levels. It's so intentional, and yet it's so serendipitous. They seem like polar opposites, yet they are utterly compatible. You were God's hands & feet & voice in Doris' life, and I pray it moves him in a direction he might not otherwise have considered.

    May we all be alert to the Doris in our midst. What's more, if we happen to be that Doris, may we grip the hand that's been extended.

    Huge hug,

  24. Thank you for your comment on my blog today! I am thanking God for his grip around me, as well!

    Living for Him, Joan

  25. Oh it was a sacred intersection that brought our lives together my friend…I am forever thankful.

    Beautiful story…beautiful. You live Jesus so well.

    Love ya,

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