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Cheese Sandwich

By Karen Harper DeLoach

A woman told about her experience as a child when her efforts to bake a cake for her dad ended in disaster.  Rather than berating her, her usually-less-than-diplomatic father praised her effort.  It was a life lesson for that lady.  It boosted her self-esteem so that she had the courage to try new things without the fear of failure.

When I read about that, my mind went back over four decades to a lazy summer afternoon.  I was seven.  Dad was in the Air Force, and we were stationed in Wisconsin for a year.  My family lived in a big farmhouse outside of Madison.  It was our first experience with country living.  A local farmer worked the land and raised the chickens and pigs that were housed in the barn, and we rented the two-story house with its huge lawn and ready-to-climb apple trees.

Our family of six was enjoying the summer afternoon, lying on the grass out close to the road, watching the shapes of the clouds floating across the sky.  A plane flew overhead, so high in the sky that it was barely visible.  Daddy made a joke, and we all laughed.  It was a time of lazy conversation and just being together. 

Daddy glanced at me and said, "Karen, run up to the house and fix me a cheese sandwich."

I jumped up and ran across our lawn that was the size of a football field.  I went into the kitchen and gathered the ingredients for the "best-ever" sandwich?two slices of white bread and a thick slice of cheese.  Feeling like a big girl, I ran back across the yard and proudly handed my creation to Daddy, who took a big bite.  As he chewed, he asked, "Did you wash your hands first?"

"No, sir," I answered.  I hadn't even thought about it.

He sputtered and spit the chewed-up food out onto the ground as he tossed the sandwich into the air.  Cheese and bread flew everywhere.  My brother and sisters rolled with laughter at the sight.  I swallowed hard and blinked back my tears.

"Now, go back to the house, wash your hands, and fix me another sandwich," he said.

I turned and walked slowly across the yard, struggling not to cry, torn between hurt and anger.  The day no longer seemed so beautiful.

That was one of the first times in my life that my dad made me feel inadequate, but it certainly wasn't the last.  Many times through the years, when I failed to meet his standards, he would ask, "Are you stupid?"

On one level, I knew I was smart.  I made good grades in school and was a member of the National Honor Society.  But on another level, that little voice that said, "You're stupid!" was always in the back of my mind, ready to accuse at the slightest mistake, instilling a fear of failure and rejection.

In his later years, my dad mellowed a lot.  He was an affectionate grandfather to my sons.  He supported me and showed his love for me in very tangible ways.  But I wonder.  What if Dad had used the unwashed-hands-and-cheese-sandwich incident in a positive way, like the father whose daughter failed in her cake baking?  Perhaps that little "you're stupid" voice that has plagued me all my life would never have had a chance to develop.

For some time, I based my perception of my heavenly Father on my experiences with my earthly father.  God was someone to be feared and placated.  I had to tiptoe around Him carefully.  No matter how good I tried to be, no matter how many good works I performed, it would never be enough.  I could never be good enough for Him.

I knew the truth of the passage in Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."  Salvation is a gift of grace that cannot be earned.  But on some level, I still thought I had to work to be good enough for God.

Then came a day when I was at a very low point in my life.  I'd made a mess of everything important to me.  Frustrated, I looked in the bathroom mirror and spoke harshly to the woman looking back at me, "You are so stupid!"

Head bowed and heart-heavy, I walked into my bedroom and turned on the tape player.  I sat slumped on the edge of the bed and listened to the words of the song.  It spoke of God sheltering me in His arms. 

Suddenly, I felt as if my heavenly Father had picked me up like a little child and sat me down in His lap.  He wrapped His loving arms tightly around me and spoke to my heart.  "Karen, you're My child.  I love you!  Your sins have been covered by the blood of My Son Jesus.  Because of that, you don't ever have to worry about being good enough for Me." 

My face crumpled and was washed in healing tears.  I leaned back and rested in my Father's grace.

What rest!  What peace!  By His grace, my hands are clean enough to serve Him!

"To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted  in the beloved."  - Ephesians 1:6

Karen Harper DeLoach

Write Karen and let her know your thoughts on her story!

Karen is the author of Thirty-one Years and a Stumble (Xlibris), a story of restoration and hope in the healing of her marriage.  She is co-author with her siblings of Musings, Meditations, and Memories of One Slightly Dysfunctional American Family (PublishAmerica).  Her stories have been published in God Allows U-Turns: American Moments, Women Alive! Magazine, and several church publications and e-zines, including HeartTouchers.  She is the mother of three sons and helps her husband at their business in Statesboro, Georgia.  To read excerpts from her books, please visit her web site at


Thought For The Day:

"No man knows his true character until he runs out of gas, purchased something
on the installment plan, and raised an adolescent." --Lorene Workman

Verse for the Day:

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing
that the testing of your faith, produces endurance." --James 1:2,3

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was
interrupted by a little girl about six years old. Looking up end down at
my uniform, she asked, "Are you a cop?"
"Yes," I answered and continued writing the report."
"My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?"
"Yes, that's right," I told her.
"Well, then," she said as she extended her foot toward me, "would you please
tie my shoe?"

Parent's Thought For The Day:

ALBERT EINSTEIN'S MOTHER : "But it's your senior picture. Can't you do
something about your hair? Styling gel, mousse, something...?"

Coach's Thought For The Day:

"When I did this three years ago, it was like death. When I did it last year, it was
like near death. This year, it was just really hard."--John Howie, wheelchair athlete, describing his Charlotte Observer 10k races from 1990 - 1993

Writer's Thought For The Day:

"Every book starts with a 'what if' question ... The 'what if' is usually only two sentences, less than 25 words, and a one paragraph answer. It should be as sharp as possible; it should stir up an emotional, visceral reaction." --Tess Gerritsen

Deep Thought For The Day:

Brett Williams, a student in our youth ministry, once asked me, "Pastor Mike, does your family pray before you eat your meals?"

I told him that we did...

Without missing a beat, he said, "We don't have to pray at our house.  My mom is a good cook!"


Inspired Audio -- Inspirational Audio Message of the Week!

Inspired Audio is a brand new offshoot of  Every week we will offer a different audio message that you can listen to right on your computer as you are surfing the net or just getting things done around the house.  Be sure to come back and visit each week!   

This Week:  You Were Created to Become Like Christ


Over 51,000 people have listened to popular Chicken Soup Author Michael T. Powers' free inspirational message entitled: "Breathing Life into Others".  If you aren't one of them just visit: and click on the link to listen to the free streaming audio message!


Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Silverhill, AL

Let me make you a video from your photos!
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Do you feel as if life has no meaning for you?
Transfer your photographs or old home videos over to DVD or MP4 files! Give the gift that will touch your family's heart and soul.
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Touching Lives - One E-mail at a Time!
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