The Conversation Connection

As my husband and I sat in a local coffee shop, we began a conversation with a young business man. The emblem on his shirt causing us to wonder what his line of work was. Just one, simple, inquisitive question opened the door for a fascinating conversation in which we learned that he was a financial planner who loved Jesus and used his line of work to represent Christ to those in his sphere of influence. A friendly conversation took off from there as we sat on common spiritual ground.

His passion rose to the surface as he expressed that he had been coming to the realization that often what we desire comes to fruition as we connect and have community with others. As we minister to others, we not only meet their need; but somehow in the process of giving, our own desires are met as well.

Stepping into the conversation

This has been a season of giving for me as I seek to live presently and fully out of each opportunity that God brings my way. I am learning to tune-in and hear beyond what people are saying on the surface. This closer look brings me to a place of discerning what people’s deeper issues and often real needs are. Most often the root concerns are left hidden in what is unspoken.

I know that I can’t meet everyone’s needs; but I believe that showing a genuine gesture of kindness or stopping to listen can be a start in ministering to them in the broken places of their lives.

I often ask myself; “Am I so wrapped up in my own concerns that I don’t consciously look beyond myself to see the needs of others?” “Do I guard my personal time so closely that I become stingy, self-centered and protective of what I consider to be mine?”

The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests,

but also to the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-5

Starting the conversation

“I’m just not a good conversation starter!” I have often used this as my excuse to stay comfortable in my own-little-world; but the more I learn to embrace and live out of my own authenticity, the more I feel that I have something to offer others.  

In living out of my uniqueness, I can enter a conversation out of who I am and not worry about trying to present myself in a certain light.

As I enter the life of someone else through a conversation or a kindness, I find that the blessing is two-fold. I am blessed in the giving and they are blessed in the receiving.

Everyone likes to be noticed and kindness goes a long way in viewing others through the eyes of Christ! Evoking a conversation on top of that is often a bright-spot in their day!

After expressing to a friend how timid I felt at starting conversations, he told me; “Just be inquisitive! What strikes you as interesting about the other person? Ask them about it.”

Creating conversation opportunities 

Sometimes a meaningful conversation will start in areas that we often consider to be mundane.

  • A genuine smile is a great conversation starter!
  • Holding a door open and wishing someone a blessed day.
  • Stopping to acknowledge someone’s pet.
  • Drawing attention to something unique a person is wearing.
  • Asking about a book they are reading.
  • Finding a common ground of interests. (children, a hobby, education, health, a job, decorating, spiritual growth, food etc.) 

Creating common interests 

Not being a natural conversation starter, I often rely on areas of personal interest to get the conversation going. Lately for me, this has been essential oils, healthy eating, noticing that the other person has lived with chronic pain, or discovering what book the other person has just read.

Designing and creating unique handbags from leather is also a passion of mine.  I have always liked to sew and re-create things from reclaimed fabrics. When I see someone with a leather journal, an interesting leather pouch, leather earrings or a unique leather coat; I am instantly drawn in and feel like I have something in common with them. This has often become a conversation starter for me.

  • What are your interests, hobbies, life experiences or dreams? Look for ways to use them in starting a conversation with others.

Conversing Christ through our actions

“Not every acknowledgement will yield a fruitful conversation

But every genuine act of kindness will minister –

Even without a word being spoken.”

 Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design


Asking the hard questions

  • What is one tangible step I can take today to reflect the love of Christ?
  • How can I intentionally minister to someone who has a physical need?
  • Am I willing to risk leaving my comfort zone to touch the life of someone who is suffering? How?
  • Is there someone I feel compelled to walk along side of through a hard situation?
  • Am I too wrapped up in my own troubles that I have become oblivious to the true needs of others? If so, how can this change?

So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Matthew 7:12

As I think of living each day purposefully in God’s presence, I am much more conscious that I must set myself aside and intentionally consider others. Whether it be a verbal conversation, a listening ear, a simple act of kindness or journeying alongside of someone who is struggling; this is the way of Christ.  

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

Let’s take time to reflect

  • How might we intentionally step into the journey of someone else’s life today?
  • How might we make the effort to enter into a caring conversation with someone else this week?
  • How might we choose to reflect the love of Christ with a simple act of kindness?

It is my prayer today; that each intentional act of mercy extended towards others, will bring them one step closer to understanding the love of Christ. 

May the Truth of God’s Word break through a life-time of captivity and offer liberation to free hearts that are bound in sin and deception.

May we risk, entering a place where suffering dwells; giving of ourselves for the long-haul. Not a momentary fix; but an offering up, a pouring out of ourselves to enter a place of deep grieving. A place where we leave self behind and live fully-present as we think of the needs of others.

The question is…

How will we make the effort to offer up our unique selves to be the hands and feet of Jesus today?

Prayer Response:

God, right now I have a lot of my own needs to work through; but I long to touch others with the love of Christ. Help me to see beyond the place where I am at and to lift my eyes to the hurts, problems and pain of others. Show me what I can do to make a difference in someone else’s life today.

I know, that it is in giving to others that I will receive a fresh joy to walk my own personal journey. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me. Give me the courage to risk and step towards them with compassion and love. May I minister to them in a way that encourages them by becoming the hands and feet of Christ today. Amen

(Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 3:13; 1 Peter 5:7; 11 Corinthians 12:9)



Linda Jane Dingeldein acknowledges the beauty of God’s creation in the crisp splendor of autumn foliage.

A Touch of Mercy for The Oppressed

Over the past seven years I have traveled to many local places throughout Manila, Philippines.

Drawn to all things cultural and Filipino, I find delight in: a simple trike ride through local streets, a walk through the center of a neighboring Barangay, a trek along steep pathways where simple clapboard homes teeter precariously along cliff edges, a ride on a crowded unairconditioned train in which I am sandwiched shoulder to shoulder with the locals whom I have grown to love, a handkerchief covering my face from the polluted black belch of a jeep-nee I am riding in, the church that meets outside whose congregants greet me warmly with smiles that welcome despite our many differences.

Even though I live far from the edge of physical need, my heart is often drawn into the simplicity of life of the physically poor, and poverty of heart.

So, when I was asked by a friend to tag-along to enter a new-to-me part of the city, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to get out of the rut I had been in recently, and a day off to venture deeper into the city was just what I needed.

I admit, that at first, I felt nervous not having my husband as our directional expert; as I lack greatly in the GPS department. Yet, to my delight, when we got to the train station I quickly found the ticket counter and could read the signs correctly telling us where to go.

This pleased me, as it made me realize that in the future I could do this by myself; but for today it was more fun to share this local excursion with a friend!

Getting off the crowded train and exiting the station, I again had an instinctive direction of where to go, as it all looked vaguely familiar from past travels.

As we stepped down into the busy street we were immediately assaulted with the mayhem of honking horns, push cart food vendors, bottle-neck traffic, pedestrians weaving their way to safety and the endless whistle of a traffic enforcer trying to bring order from chaos.

As we dodged and ducked our way through the dissonance of humanity I felt puzzled, as something in me came alive.


At first, I couldn’t pin-point this incompatible feeling; as it seemed greatly unsuited for what surrounded me; putting all my senses on high alert.

Inside I knew that I would never want to live in this level of filth and foulness; therefore, how could this degree of poverty possibly make me feel so alive?

After I gingerly stepped around cavernous potholes in which I could vanish from sight, broken chunks of ankle-turning cement, puddles of unknown substances, food for sale on tables right beside open sewer grates, fresh excrement and black belching motorcycles; a slow dawning came to light in my mind, as I realized that in this distressing situation my soul was able to see mankind through the eyes of God’s love, and a heart overflowing with mercy.

A woman sleeping on the narrow curb on a piece of cardboard, a baby stripped of its clothing, a child alone on a busy street playing on a phone; all made me realize that God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t love the one who has monetary wealth, any more than the one sitting in physical poverty.

As I gazed at the many toothless smiles, watched as bugs were being picked from tatted hair, listened to the constant cacophony of sounds around me, and took in the entire scope of sights and smells which assaulted my senses; my heart of compassion was struck with a deep life-altering spiritual and emotional recognition.

As I took in my surroundings I sense the Holy Spirits whisper; “Linda, each one of these Filipino’s are soul carriers.”

The whisperings of the Holy Spirit became a prompt to courageously force my eyes to look directly into each face and smile.

Not a smile of pity or shame; but a smile that reached to my eyes; as a broad and welcoming gift to each person who crossed my path.

I was amazed that even in giving a friendly handwave to a group of Filipino women, brought in return pleased, shy smiles behind cupped hands. Only their big, brown eyes telling the story of their delight that I would stop to acknowledge them.

Taking the time to talk to a group of teenagers with my few, broken words of Tagalog was received with giggles and a stream of fast spoken Tagalog in return. They laughed outright as they quickly realized, I only knew kaunti ang, a little. Their pleasure was evident as we posed to take multiple selfies and I walked away with their friendly voices calling after me.

A gathering of men called out cheerfully from behind their stalls bursting with electronic devices, gadgets, and an assortment of mismatched hardware. Their jostling and good humor was contagious. It was quickly rewarded as they elbowed and pushed together for a quick photo shoot; immediately gifting me with their unashamed, toothless proud grins. They laughed and poked one another as I showed them their faces on my phone; calling after us as we moved on, waving our good-byes.

As we wove our way through this area of the city, my heart continued to feel alive. How was it that so little could be given on my part, to evoke such a genuine reply of gratitude?

Even an unexpected tip, in response to a kind gesture, seemed to bring such pleasure to the receiver. “God, maybe they can afford a bowl of rice today.” I whisper as I extend the coin.

As we wound our way down alleys and side streets I found myself repeatedly asking the question; “What it is that makes my soul feel so alive and uplifted on days like this one?”

It was as if God was whispering to my heart; 

“Linda, I have given to you the gift of mercy. On days like this I allow you to lift your eyes away from your own circumstances, and to generously lavish mankind with compassion. When you extend a hand, a smile, a touch; you are living freely as the woman I created you to be and in these simple gestures, you become the extension of Jesus Christ to the lost world around you.”

“We become alive when we live as the woman God created us to be!”

Linda Jane

Different by Design

Even though no personal reward of this extension of my gift is needed, it seems that God tenderly caresses me with His love; as I capture a smile of delight on a child’s face, a quick selfie with a group of teenagers, the fun of being the white skinned woman with whom they can try to chat, a knowing that when I walk into their circle of friends my white skin breaks the monotony of their long, tedious day.

This alone is enough for me; yet how it hurts my soul to be elevated because of my skin color. To be elevated because I carry a purse that has money in it. To be elevated because I am called American. When in my heart, I know that God has not created one to be above the other; yet in this culture I am called rich, privileged, advantaged.

May I, in this richness, take the time to extend a moment of kindness that changes the outlook of one soul, for this one moment in time. May my mingling in their crowded midst, be like Jesus walking through a throng of Samaritans; willing to stop and listen, willing to heal the broken in body, soul and spirit; willing to touch a heart with a broad-genuine smile.

May my presence alone be a cool refreshing salve that liberally administers healing to a festering blister of sorrow, that reaches out in joy to a deep well of loneliness, that extends a coin for those whose purse is lacking, to be the hand that touches the lips of a thirsty soul with a much-needed bottle of cool water given in Jesus name. All because I am woman of mercy, and in this, I gift what I have been given by God. His gift of compassion and love.  

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted    and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1

Spiritual Reflection: 

  • What emotions rise to the surface of your heart when you encounter others who don’t have as you have?
  • How can you begin to see others as soul carriers, equally loved by God and in need of the gospel message?
  • What gifts has God given to you that you can use to minister to others?
  • How can you give a “cup of cold water” in Jesus name?

Often when we help others in need, we choose to do things that make us feel better about ourselves.

What would it look like to give without the promise of receiving anything in return; but knowing that you have met a true need in the other person’s life and were obedient to the calling of Christ?


God, it ultimately is You who takes care of the poor around me. Show me how I can be an extension of your mercy and compassion to those in need. Bless those who don’t have as I have.

May I learn to be a woman who freely extends a helping hand to the poor around me, and graciously opens my arms to the needy. May I have a heart that eagerly helps those less fortunate than I am.

God, give to me a heart that is generous and full of godly compassion. Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.

Teach me how to show mercy to the oppressed and to practice righteousness-right living before those in need.

Thank you, God, that the LORD is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble, those who know Your name trust in You, for You, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for You.

As your righteous daughter, teach me to care about justice for the poor. Raise up in me a heart full of concern to meet their needs in a way that adequately provides for them what they need most. May I learn to see those around me as soul carriers in need of the life-giving food of the gospel message.

God, I may not be poor in the physical sense of the word; but what about my heart?

Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

God, I recognize that I am often poor and needy in spirit. Thank you that you promise to hurry to my aid, because You, O God are my helper and my Savior. You will not delay in helping me. In Jesus Name, Amen!

The following prayer scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible (Proverbs 31:20; Psalm 82:3-4; Psalm 9:9-10; Proverbs 29:7; Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 70:5; Psalm 139:23-24)


“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9 (ESV)

Photography by Linda Jane Dingeldein