Denise J. Hughes
About the Author

Denise is a lover of words and the Word. She's the author of #DeeperWaters and the Bible study series #WordWriters.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. Denise,
    This is beautiful. We all walk around with painted smiles at times. We pull our cars into our garages and close the doors. When I go for walks I look at people’s front doors and know that behind every single door their is a story. Most of them are not happily ever after tales either. Just on my street there are doors that hide the wife that committed suicide, the family struggling with a severely autistic child who also has mental illness, the family recently broken by divorce, the one whose daughter is addicted to drugs….I could go on. Not that I make it my business to know people’s “dirt” and secrets, but we need to make it our business to ask, and listen, and read faces with discernment of what might be hiding behind a forced smile. This takes time and effort – something a lot of us don’t want to sacrifice. I pray that I will never be too busy to stop, like Christ did, and truly listen and weep with those who weep. Our world IS hurting and we need to be places where real love and acceptance can be found.
    Blessings for keeping it real,

    • Bev,
      So well said. I also pray that I will never be too busy to stop and listen and pray and love….that I will never be so wrapped up in my own pain that I will not see or hear other’s cries, but always eyes to see and ears to hear as our Lord Jesus. God bless you dear Bev, you are such a blessing!

    • How well spoken. Healing begins when we validate others hurts, struggles, and concerns. Jesus was a great listener and friend and through that He healed!
      Our country needs to hear this story…


    • Bev, a walk around my cul-de-sac tells similar stories. Scripture is clear: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’m grateful your heart reaches out to others.

  2. I live a rushed life. I’ve been painfully aware of this fact over the last year and have consciously tried to slow it down and learn what rest and savor truly mean. It’s not natural to me because I’m task oriented, a doer and a busy mom of four on top of those traits. Not long ago, had you passed me in the grocery store it’s certain I wouldn’t have even made eye contact. I would speed by with my cart, on a mission to check this chore of restocking the pantry off my list. Lately, however, there’s been a change. I’m finding that when I slow my cart down and make eye contact with people…smile and say things like “excuse me,” and “have a wonderful day,” and “oh, have you tried preparing your plantains THIS way…” that it sparks something between myself and this unknown person. We soften, chat a moment, exchange smiles and gestures showing our good nature that might often go buried or unnoticed. It’s a small thing, really, but slowing down has been the single most important thing for me to truly be a better light in my community. Taking the time to notice people and give a warm smile draws us closer. I might not know their stories – yet – but just like Bev said in the comment above, there are stories behind those doors. Stopping to smile and take the time to notice is our opportunity to start knocking.

    As always, just loving your words, Denise!

  3. Love the story you share today! I totally believe that love is expressed when we provide a safe place for the give and take of stories. Beautiful!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this post. It especially touched my heart seeing as how I just finished preparing a chicken pot pie for a special friend. Talk about connection! 🙂 Thanks for the encouraging us to share our stories with each other. Long gone are the days of sitting on the front porch chatting or leaning over the back fence for a spell. Maybe we need to get back to the basics. Blessings~

    • Steffanie, how fun you had just made a chicken potpie for a friend! I love that! (I confess I’ve never made one; I just know where to go to buy one!) LOL

  5. Denise, may the Lord be ever praised for these beautiful words of love. Our faith is so simple-Love the Lord and each other. We are all so busy that we become invisible to each other, to ourselves, and to the Lord that we can become divided, brushed aside, and another “face in the crowd/pew.” I love your God graced words “For God’s heart is known best when His people dwell in unity.”-what encouragement 🙂 Learning what it is to be still and patience, listening for His yes and no can bring stillness and His peace that passes all understand so we are available to be present in His love, getting out of our self-centered focus (thank you for your wonderful replies Bev and Jennifer F). I struggle with this a lot of days, but the Lord is so kind and gracious. May we all be open and present to the Lord today so that we can be present to each other in His love 🙂

  6. Beautiful story with beautiful words of Jesus Christ. It serves as a reminder that God demonstrates real love , perfect love to us as one perfect man who walked on earth to a being who resurrected so that we may spend eternity with in Him in His divine presence.
    To find that love where one could love and accept every part of you including your heart that has been broken and mended .

  7. Thank you for this post, especially pointing out that this world is hurting, our brothers and sisters are hurting. It’s easy for many to ignore that part of your post; to ignore what they see on the daily news, in the streets, or even in their own neighborhoods. Racism still exists. It still exists while others continue on with their daily life. It’s hate and only love will conquer it. That LOVE in Philippians 1:4 where it grows in KNOWLEDGE and DISCERNMENT. As you stated real love seeks to see others, to know their story, and to let them know you are there for them. That’s our challenge. And JESUS is the perfect example.

  8. I have to admit I like seeing couples sit on the same side of the table, but across keeps you looking into his eyes. Jesus is the truest example, and with Him beside you and you focused on Him, you can’t miss.

  9. Denise,

    This reminds me of the song “Do Something” by Matthew West. The songwriter sees a world full of turmoil and trouble and asks God to do something about it. God said “I did, I created you.” God expects us to be the eyes, ears, hands and feet for this hurting world. It’s not always easy in this hectic rushing world. We need to stop and take a good long look at people. It can be as simple as smiling and saying hi to a nursing home patient, giving someone a hug or sending a note to a friend. We all can use some encouragement and love!

    Blessings 🙂

  10. Hi, Denise!
    Such a cozy description of that cafe. Thanks so much for the nudge to be more caring, more authentic. Sometimes I turn WAY inward into my little family–being a busy mother of five young ones, and home schooling and working–I just at times feel like I can’t stretch my wings to cover any more. But God can. He asks us more to sit like Mary than try to figure it all out on our own, right? Love and blessings to you!

    • Wells, I’m the same way…I can easily turn inward, and focus on me and my own. But when we turn daily to God and His Word, we sense another turning inside of us…our hearts turn toward the hurts of others and we begin to see what He sees and we begin to hurt about the same things that hurt His heart and then we want to do something about it!

  11. As someone who is approaching marriage myself, I appreciate this! I am still in the cartoon-hearts-in-my-eyes phase but I am looking forward as well to the abiding love phase. So many people have negative stories about marriage, it makes me worried, but this is a good reminder and hope!

    • Joanna, I’m so glad you left a comment here. Because you’re right…”So many people have negative stories about marriage.” But because of Christ, we have hope. He is our anchor. In Him alone we can put our trust. God created marriage to be a beautiful picture of His love for us — Christ as the bridegroom and His church as His bride. There is a oneness in Christ that cannot be broken.

      I pray your marriage will flourish with Jesus as your anchor and your husband’s anchor. I pray you both grow closer to Jesus every day, and as you grow closer to Him, you will also continue to grow closer to each other. I pray God gives you and your soon-to-be husband an inordinate passion for The Word, that you will seek Him each day. Because Christ alone is the answer. To everything.

      I pray beautiful blessings over you and your marriage, friend.

    • Marriage is a huge blessing! Congratulations! The devil hates unity because he can’t have any. He does try to cast between, but you are of God, little children! Be encouraged!

  12. Fortunately, I live in a community where everyone knows each other & Im the manager. It’s a lovely mobile home community & we all take care of each other. I love that. When someone’s memory is getting bad, we do things to help them. If someone needs a ride to the dictor, we make sure they get there. I think we are a little unusual. But God lives in this community. I’ve been the manager here for 12 years with my husband, and as long as we are here, the Lord is welcome here also.

  13. Real love enters into the struggle of another human being and says, “Tell me your story. I want to hear, I want to help, and I want you to know you’re not alone.” Denise, thank you for this. A dear friend recently lost her mentor – a beloved older woman. My friend’s comment was that her mentor had made such a big impact on her life not through the bible studies they’d done together but because this woman would just take time to sit and listen. Unrushed. Your words and hers echo the same message. I’m sobered yet hopeful that God can help me rush less and love more.