The Problem with Alexa

The Unheeded Prophetess

Can you hear me now?

For Mother’s Day I got a small Echo Dot from Amazon with a lady inside named Alexa.  Alexa is smart. She knows the answer to every factual question.  

After opening my gifts, Ken, Kevin and I spent quality time meeting our newest family member.

“Alexa, how much does an Irish Greyhound weigh?”

The Echo’s blue and green light swirled around the top.

“Thirteen pounds,” answered Alexa.

“Alexa, how fast can an Irish Greyhound run?”

“Forty-three mph.”

“What is today’s temperature?”

“In Canton, GA the temperature is currently 84 degrees.”

I liked Alexa until we started talking about family names.

“Alexa, what does ‘Kenneth’ mean?”

“‘Kenneth’ means ‘handsome'”.

“What does ‘Godfrey’ mean?”

“‘Godfrey’  means ‘God’s peace.'”


“What does ‘Kevin’ mean?”

“Kind, gentle, handsome.”

Then, “Alexa, what does ‘Sandra’ mean?”

All my life I thought ‘Sandra’ meant ‘helper of mankind.’ In college I had helped Ken through math.  At church I had helped children, youth, and adults with anthems. At Chrismas I had helped my sisters with family dinners…..

 But Alexa distressed me when she added, “In England ‘Sandra’ means ‘an unheeded prophetess’.”

“An unheeded prophetess?”

I thought about that for two days.

“An unheeded prophetess.”

“What does that mean?” I asked Ken over turkey sandwiches and chips. “‘An unheeded prophetess?'”

Ken laughed, but I didn’t think it was funny.  He swallowed his smile and tried to help. “Well, it means you have truth to share, but people don’t listen.”

“That’s really mean,” I pouted. “Why don’t they listen?”

“Well, maybe you come on too strong.  Or maybe you need more preparation. Or maybe they’re not ready to hear what you have to say.”


What does your name mean?

What does your name mean? Just ask Alexa.

So, I looked up the prophetess Miriam….

“Then Miriam… took a timbrel in her hand and all the women followed her with timbrel and dancing.

Miriam sang to them:  

‘Sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted.  

Both horse and rider he has hurled into the sea.

The Lord reigns for ever and ever.'”

Ex. 15: 20-21 and 18 NIV.

Seemed like Miriam got heeded.

I waited another day and asked again, “Ken, what do you think an unheeded prophetess does?”

And Ken said, “We are going to have to get rid of Alexa.”

And I agreed. I don’t like her, too, but two weeks later she’s still here.

“Alexa, what does ‘Jenny Kim’ mean?”

“Sorry, I’m not sure.”

“Well,” I told Alexa,, Wilkipedia says Jenny Kim is “… a South Korean model and beauty pageant title holder, so it must mean ‘beautiful’.”  

“Anyway, Alexa, what does ‘Elizabeth’ mean?”

“Consecrated to God….”

“Okay, Alexa, what does Jonathan mean?”

“Jonathan means a red, late, ripening apple, primarily eaten raw….”

“A-ha! I know that’s wrong,” I told Alexa. ” Jonathan means, ‘God has given.'” And today God has given me laughter–a dash of kindness, and music for the soul.

PS. What does Alexa mean? “My name comes from the Library of Alexandria which stored the knowledge of the ancient world.”

A Serendipity Thanksgiving

It would have been terrible if I had hit the red button on my phone and not taken the call from Daytona Beach, Florida.  Too many calls from unknown callers have made me wary.

On a whim, however, I answered and recognized the voice of a publisher  I met in St. Augustine at the Florida Book Festival.

She had just read my proposal for a middle grades novel, The Dragonfly Whisperer.



“I like this,” she said.  “I like this a lot!  It rings true. ” She was sending me a contract…

“You have made my Thanksgiving wonderful,”  I told the kind lady,   trying to be graceful but wanting to shout…


So, I hung up gently, and ran to Ken’s study. “They are going to publish my book!” I said as Ken’s smile and laughter lit the room.

I texted Kevin, Betsy, Jon, Jenny, facebooked my five sisters….and all my amazing helpers.

Then, I walked in the yard, among the crunching multi-colored leaves, and praised my Heavenly Father.

What a long trip writing this book had been.

As soon as I retired from teaching.  I planned to write something for middle graders while the sparkle of school lingered in my mind.

Then one day I saw this beautiful blue dragonfly perched on the antenna of Kevin’s old Camaro that sits in our yard.  The insect looked like he had a story to tell.

So, I researched dragonflies and made up a story about a boy named Flynn who struggles in school and learns from hard knocks how to belong.

From there, I set out on a journey in faith.

Dragongly Blue Dasher  After outlining and roughing out a first copy:

  •         I joined two Word Weavers critique groups at Google Hangouts and Cherokee Author’s Guild.

  •         I hired a marketing coach

  •         I put the book through three revisions.

  •         I gave the manuscript to family and friends for critique.

  •         I hired my friend to find and fix its mechanical errors.

  •         I attended the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference where I learned about Acts, Scenes, Turning Points….

  •         I re-wrote the manuscript–again and again!

  •         I attended the Florida Book Festival where I networked with a publisher.

  •         I sent her a proposal….

Thank the Lord,  I answered the phone when she called this morning.

And thank Him for all those who friends and family members who dipped their fingers, best wishes, and love into my project.

If it’s okay with y’all,  I think I will just go ahead and yell,

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


As usual, God has been so good to me.



Music for the Soul

                                                    King Solomon’s Ring

 By Ken Godfrey


            I came across a popular Jewish wisdom folktale that spoke to me.

King Solomon’s Captain of the Guard was the trusted Benaiah, son of Jehoiada. One-day King Solomon heard Benaiah bragging the he would do whatever the King asked him. Afraid that Benaiah was becoming too proud King Solomon decided that he would humble him.

Summoning him into his palace, King Solomon said, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring I want you to find and bring to me. I desire to wear the ring at Sukkot, which will give you six months to find it. The ring has magic powers. If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.”

“My King,” responded Benaiah, “I will find this ring and bring it to you.”

As Benaiah left on his quest, King Solomon had a twinkle in his eye for he knew that no such ring existed.

Benaiah immediately went to the market places of Jerusalem. He asked jewelers, gold smiths and silver smiths about a ring that when a happy man looked at it they would become sad, and when a sad man looked at it he would become happy. No one had heard of such a ring. His search led him outside Jerusalem into the surrounding towns and villages, but no one had ever heard of such a ring.

Defeated, Benaiah returned to Jerusalem on the eve of Sukkot. He found himself in the poorest quarters of Jerusalem and noticed an old merchant setting up his jewelry on a shabby carpet.

Benaiah ventured and asked one more time. “Sir, have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that when a happy man looks at it he becomes sad, and when a sad person looks at it he becomes happy?”

The elderly merchant stared at Benaiah for a moment. Then a smile broke out on the old man’s lips saying, “I can make such a ring.”

Benaiah could not believe his ears. He exclaimed, “Please, show me.”

The old man picked up a plain gold ring from the carpet and engraved something on it. When Benaiah read the words, he cried, “Thank you. Thank you.”

Benaiah with joy carried the ring to the holiday celebration of Sukkot. As he entered the palace, King Solomon saw him and asked, “Benaiah, so good you are back. Have you found the the magic ring I requested?”

All the ministers laughed, and Solomon had a smile on his face.

To everyone’s surprise Benaiah held up the ring and exclaimed, “I have your majesty!”

A hush the fell over the festivities as Benaiah handed King Solomon the ring.


The smile vanished from King Solomon’s face as he began to read the engraved Hebrew words, “Gimel, zayin, yud,” which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” meaning in English, “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized the words engraved on the ring would indeed make a happy man sad and a sad man happy.

That phrase, “This too shall pass” does not appear in the Bible but a similar phrase “It came to pass” occurs some 396 times in the King James Version. And if you count the variations of “And it came to pass.” And it shall come to pass.” it will number some 1070 times is the King James Version.

Most of us consider the phrase as meaning: “And then this happened.” But it has a deeper meaning that has made it one of my favorite scriptures. When I see the words, “It came to pass,” they remind me that life’s scenarios do not come to stay, they are always in transition.

Those days when everything is going my way, and I am upbeat, happy, I rejoice in the moment. Those days when I feel down and troubles surround me, I can rejoice knowing, “It will come to pass.” In the “rainy days” of life just saying the words, “It came to pass” bring me hope, faith and peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3 written by King Solomon says it beautifully. Notice especially the last verses.

1To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…

9What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11He hath made everything beautiful in his time.

        The musical group The Byrds made this scripture into a hit song in the 60’s ,”To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn.”  You can sing along at, Music for the Soul.

I hope you address life today with Gods words, “It came to pass,” and let him make everything beautiful in his time.



Music for the Soul

dominik-qn-1322 (1)Strife—An Epidemic that Can Kill US

By Sandra Godfrey

…conflict, friction, discord, disagreement, dissension, dispute, argument, quarreling, wrangling, bickering, controversy…*

I love football.  Every fall my husband and I cheer our favorite teams to victory.  So, we felt dismayed over the NFL protests and the resulting boycotts.  The situation reminded me that the most painful years of my life came in my twenties when my friends and I became entangled in strife.

A young mother, I had dived in to help my husband minister to our small congregation.  After a brief honeymoon period with our parishioners, however, we noticed that some people found fault with just about everything we did—the bulletin, the music, the youth, the choir….

Pastors call such churches clergy killers: rather than helping the sick, the lost, and the lonely, pastors spend much of their time dealing with fault finders and arsonists. Some pastors grow so weary of the heat, they leave the ministry.

But, thinking myself wiser than my age, foolishly I got entangled in the controversy. I gave my two cents worth on sensitive issues, people disagreed (I should have gone to seminary) and I lost my way.

Like a wrestling match where wrestlers stir emotions and pump adrenalin, for a while I reveled in the rivalry. Believing myself a superhero, leading others to higher ground, I allowed my phone to ring constantly, giving advice.

During those few years, I had a miscarriage, grieved the death of a 21 day-old preemie, the death of my brother in a vehicular accident.  My husband had a freak accident, lost control of his car, hit a tree and fractured his back. It was the most pain-filled short span of my whole life.

Then one day I found a golden key in scripture.  I halted at James 3:16, a verse that said, “Where there is envy and strife, there is every evil work.”  Shaking this deadly spiritual snake from my hands, I wondered if strife might be contributing to my pain and loss? I was ready to give it up.


Many things bring disaster in life without explanation. Bad things happen to good people. But, I was discovering, that people who constantly argue, bicker, grumble, gossip and complain need to beware. Strife kicks holes in their hedge of protection.

The story of Job gives us a clue. God had put a hedge of protection around Job, his family and everything Job had.  In Job’s culture, the hedge was a wall of thorn bushes planted around one’s property.  The hedge was high enough and thick enough to keep the sheep safe inside.  It was also dense and strong enough to keep bears, wolves, lions, and hyenas out. Satan could not touch Job while God hedged him in.

Sometimes I hear people question if God is sending judgement on our country with all our recent disasters.  It could be.  God allowed Satan to severely wound Job to prove his loyalty to God. Scripture also suggests, however, that strife “…opens the doors to every evil work.” Sometimes we bring calamity on ourselves.

What Does Strife Look Like?

        Paul painted a picture of strife in Romans 1:29 by describing people “….filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice…They are gossips.”

Paul further wrote “…if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:15.

        Solomon, an expert on the subject, explained in Proverbs 13:9-10 “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

Music for the Soul

One of my favorite hymns is “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.”  Henry J. van Dyke set his famous words to Beethoven’s Hymn of Joy in 1907. The last verse admonishes us to be victor’s in the midst of strife:

Mortals, join the happy chorus,

Which the morning stars began;

Father love is reigning o’er us,

Brother love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward,

Victors in the midst of strife,

Joyful music leads us Sunward

In the triumph song of life.

We can win against strife by

  1. Occupying our minds with wholesome thoughts and our bodies with meaningful work.
  2. We can intentionally absorb God’s word, memorize scriptures, and be faithful in worship.
  3. We can quietly sing the great songs of the church–cliff notes of scripture.
  4. Most of all we can control our tongues and take the high road, preferring paths that lead to peace.

Should we never champion a cause?

Of course we should.  But when we speak for righteousness sake, first, we must seek God for guidance.  Then, if so led, we must speak His truths with kindness and love.

We’ve tried the rhetoric, the marching, the badmouthing. Why don’t we try boycotting strife, turn the other cheek, work to live in peace with one another, and see what happens?

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God Bless the USA!

Music for the Soul

A Dash of Kindness

Lead Us

Welcome Guest Blogger, Kenneth Godfrey

34987260850_9b8109a041_z (1) Kenneth Godfrey

While I was the pastor at Graysville United Methodist Church in the Chattanooga, TN area, early one Saturday morning I received a phone call.

“Dad is in the hospital for observation and a few tests,” Murphy’s daughter said. “Nothing serious, but I wanted to let you know.”

I usually didn’t visit the hospital on Saturdays because I reserved that day for my family.  Since Murphy’s condition is not serious, I thought, I will go on Monday.

Suddenly an urging came from the Holy Spirit not to delay the trip, but to do it today. That afternoon while my family napped, I made the half hour ride to visit Murphy.

“Preacher, you didn’t have to come down here today,” Murphy commented when I arrived.  “I’m just here for observation and a few tests. I’ll probably go home in the morning.”


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Music for the Soul

Lead Us

Welcome Guest Blogger, Kenneth Godfrey

34987260850_9b8109a041_z (1)

Kenneth Godfrey

While I was the pastor at Graysville United Methodist Church in the Chattanooga, TN area, early one Saturday morning I received a phone call.

“Dad is in the hospital for observation and a few tests,” Murphy’s daughter said. “Nothing serious, but I wanted to let you know.”

I usually didn’t visit the hospital on Saturdays because I reserved that day for my family.  Since Murphy’s condition is not serious, I thought, I will go on Monday.

Suddenly an urging came from the Holy Spirit not to delay the trip, but to do it today. That afternoon while my family napped, I made the half hour ride to visit Murphy.

“Preacher, you didn’t have to come down here today,” Murphy commented when I arrived.  “I’m just here for observation and a few tests. I’ll probably go home in the morning.”

We had a delightful visit. Upon leaving, as I walked down the hall, I commented out loud, “What was that sense of urgency all about?”

Sunday morning after the worship service, everyone had left the sanctuary.  I locked the front door and was gathering my sermon and Bible when I heard the front door unlock and open. Tom, the Lay Leader, stepped inside.  By the shock on Tom’s face I could tell something was wrong.

“Ken,” he said with a quiver in his voice, “Murphy had a heart attack a few minutes ago. He’s gone.”

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Immediately I understood the sense of urgency. If I had not visited Murphy on Saturday, Monday would have been too late. Thank you, Father, I whispered, for leading me.

When we listen, the Holy Spirit will lead us. Maybe he will lead us to visit, or call, or write an e-mail or a text. Maybe he will lead us to trust him more. Maybe he will lead us in a new path.

Paul affirms in his letter to the Romans that God leads us, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14 NIV)

In 1745 William Williams also said it beautifully in his hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.”


Jonathan Godfrey

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but Thou art mighty,

Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.

Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,

Feed me till I want no more;

Feed me till I want no more.


Open now the crystal fountain,

Whence the healing stream doth flow;

Let the fire and cloudy pillar

Lead me all my journey through.

Strong Deliv’rer, strong Deliv’rer,

Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;

Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.


When I tread the verge of Jordan,

Bid my anxious fears subside;

Death of death and hell’s Destruction,

Land me safe on Canaan’s side.

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to Thee;

I will ever give to Thee.


May we ever listen and follow Him.



Music for the Soul

So grateful to have Arlene Ledbetter as my guest blogger this week,

A Dash of Kindness

Sing Unto the Lord an Old Song

Please welcome dear friend, guest blogger, and award winning author

Arlene Ledbetter

“I can’t go to sleep, Grandmommy,” complained my four-year-old grandson, Caleb. “Let’s read some more stories.”

“No way, little buddy,” I told him.

“We played at the park and in the backyard. We battled with ninja turtles, played board games, raced cars and trucks, and read five books. I’m tired even if you aren’t. Go to sleep.”

We played at the park….

I covered Caleb with his beloved brown and tan “animal blankie,” which he immediately kicked off. “I can’t stop thinking about all the things I want to do tomorrow,” he complained.

“Focusing on one thought might help. Try counting slowly to 50.”

He did. “Didn’t help,” he told me.

“Recite your ABC’s.”

Caleb scooted closer and sang the ABC song. “No, that didn’t help either. What do you think…

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