Cold Stone Sally

Last week I flew to Buffalo, New York, to do some training at our West Valley operation.  Thanks to some wonderful people who stayed after class to help us clean up, my coworker Michelle and I finished with lots of daylight left and, thus, decided to drive up to see Niagra Falls.  Before we left town, I had a marvelous suggestion: let’s stop by Cold Stone Creamery and get some ice cream to eat along the way.  That’s where we met “Cold Stone Sally” and the fun began…

“May I help you?” Sally asked, as she walked right on past us, never even looking at us or stopping to hear our answer.  For 3-4 minutes, we stared at the ice creams, engaged in some small talk, and grew increasingly hungry. 

Another woman walked around the corner from a connecting sandwich shoppe and stopped when she saw us. “Sally!  Get over here!  You have customers.”

“Aw, they’re just deciding what they want.  Do you know yet?”

I was the first to step up to the counter.  “Yes, I’d like chocolate ice cream in a small waffle cup and a small cup of coffee.”

“You want anything mixed in?”

“No.  The ice cream looks so good, I think I want it all by itself.”  Sally turned, put my ice cream in a waffle cup, and poured my coffee.  After ringing up the charges, she gave me my change and I dropped it into the tip jar. 

Next was Michelle’s order — and that’s where the fun began.  Looking up at the ice cream menu, Michelle said, “I think I’d like to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Delight,” which was described on the board as “chocolate ice cream with peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and nougat.”

“What size?” Cold Stone Sally asked.

“What sizes do you have?”

“Like-it, love-it, gotta-have-it.”

“What sizes are those?”

With a “duh” sigh, Sally replied, “Small, medium, and large.”

“No, no,” Michelle said.  “I mean, how large are each of those servings?

“Oh.  Like-it is just a scoop; love-it is baseball size; gotta-have-it is softball size.”

“Okay, give me a love-it, a baseball size.”

“What flavor of ice cream do you want?” Cold Stone asked.

Michelle looked a little puzzled.  She pointed up to the sign and said, “I guess I want chocolate ice cream.”

“Do you want anything mixed in it?”

Michelle’s patience was wearing a little thin.  Again she pointed to the sign and said, “I guess I want peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and nougat.”

“Oh, you should have ordered a Chocolate Peanut Butter Delight.”

“I did!” Michelle retorted.

“Oh, didn’t hear ‘ya.”  After backing everything out of the register and re-entering the correct order, she asked, “Anything else?”

“Yes, a Diet Coke.”

Sally walked over to the cooler, opened the door, then turned and asked, “Diet or regular?”

“A diet Diet Coke.”  Michelle was clearly getting frustrated.

After paying Sally, Michelle was given back some change.  She stared at it long and hard; finally she dropped it into the tip jar.

As Sally turned to make the delight, Michelle said, “Oh, and I need it in a cone, please.  I’m driving.”

A few minutes later, Cold Stone Sally said, “Here’s your order, ma’am.”  We turned to see her hoist over the counter the most gigantic ice cream cone we had ever seen — practically a megaphone filled with several softballs of ice cream!  Michelle took the ice cream from Sally — in 2 hands! — and turned to look at me.  I barely made it outside before I cracked up laughing. 

As I walked toward the car, I heard Michelle exclaim, “Oh, my word!  Oh, my word!”  I turned and asked what was wrong.  Her voice went shrill, “Look at this; just look at this!”  I walked back and looked at her Chocolate Peanut Butter Delight (which, remember, was chocolate ice cream with peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and nougat) to see that Cold Stone Sally had mixed chocolate ice cream with broken up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, large blobs of smooth peanut butter, and lots of chocolate syrup!  It was NOTHING like what Michelle had ordered!  After just a few forced bites, Michelle threw the whole thing away!

Before I boarded my 6:00 a.m. flight the next morning, I took out some notes for a speaking engagement the next morning.  I sat down, buckled up, and leaned my head back, which I always do for take-off.  As I sat there with my eyes closed, the vision of Michelle holding that awful ice cream concoction came back to my mind and I got so tickled I could barely contain my laughter.  When the plane finally leveled off, I opened my eyes and looked down at my scribbled notes.  Across the top of the page, I had written, “SERVING GOD.”

“Oh, Father, forgive me!” I silently prayed.   “I’m a Cold Stone Sally!”

  • How often have I prayed, “Father, may I help You?” yet never stop to listen to what He says, never open my eyes to see where He’s working in order to join Him?
  • How often have I missed an opportunity to serve God, only to reply, “Oh, I didn’t hear ‘ya”?
  • How often do I handle the like-it-sized jobs God gives me?  Simple, easy, within my skill set — no problem.  Done.  Pat myself on the back.  However, how often has God given me a love-it or a gotta-have-it-sized work — a bigger mission with a lot of stuff involved in it — and I balked, or ignored it, or asked Him to send someone else?
  • And how often have I done what I wanted to do — mixed up my own recipe of service?  Then held it up to the Lord and said, “Here you go, Lord.  Hope you like it.  Please bless it for me.”

Can you relate?  What is God calling you to do?  How are you serving Him?  What is the quality of your service to God?   What’s keeping you from doing what God tells you to do and doing it exactly the way He says to do it?

Are there any Cold Stone Sally’s out there?

Israel, my Beloved!

What a trip!  My head is reeling — I’m on information overload!P5010123

I’ve had so many friends and family members ask me to tell them about my trip, but I’m having a hard time doing so.  More than just going to amazing places, more than just seeing amazing things, more than just hearing amazing teaching, my trip to Israel was a spiritual experience that can’t adequately be explained — and, in some ways, more personal than I care to share.

How can  mere words express the thrill of…

…walking along the shores of Galilee where Jesus performed miracles and healings?  

…looking down on the plains of Megiddo, where armies will gather for the final war?P5040322

…staring in amazement at the vast, barren Judean wilderness, wondering how Jesus survived 40 days?

…going up, up, up to Jerusalem and seeing its ancient walls for the first time?  

…walking where my dear Savior, Jesus Christ, walked — over the Mount of Olives, up the southern steps, down Cardo Street, beside the Pool of Bethsaida…?

…retracing Christ’s steps and attempting to imagine the agony He endured as He prayed in Gethsemane, stood silent at Caiaphas’s house and in his dungeon, testified to truth before Pilate at the Roman Praetorium, carried His cross up the Via Dolorosa, and crucified at Skull Hill — agony He endured for me?P5070553

…shouting “Hallelujah!” when walking into the Garden Tomb and seeing it empty? (!!)

…continuing to weep over and pray for my dear friend Ronnie (my Jewish guide) and the rest of the unbelieving Jews?

The list could go on and on.  How can I put all this into words that another can fully understand and experience with me?  It’s impossible.  All I know is that I’ll never read the Bible the same way again.  I’ll never teach the same way again.  I’ll never pray the same way again.  Indeed, I will never be the same again

I may have left Israel, but Israel will never leave me.  A part of me remains in the land and I long to return.  As for me, Israel is no longer just a country; she is Israel, my beloved!


(For your own Israel experience, I highly recommend this Israel Study Tour by Precept Ministries International.  For more information, see