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Her Victoria’s Secret Bag

July 31, 2017

The three helium filled balloons swayed slowly.

I had just tied them to the mic stand that was attached to the pulpit.

A moment ago they had been on the locked doorknob of an office door in the church building. The door’s ornate sign read, somewhat ominously (so cue up threatening movie music in your mind now, please), PASTOR’S STUDY.

It was my first Sunday in a new church.

The card attached to the bright balloon bouquet said, “Welcome! With love from The 3rd Grade Sunday School Class.” —

A woman  was coming down the hall. She called out a Good Morning greeting and added, “Those are from the class right across the hall. I’m their teacher. We’re all glad you’re here.”

“So am I! Love the balloons, thank you!”

We introduced ourselves to each other.

We stood there.

Seeing that she was carrying her 3rd Grade Sunday School Class lesson books, supplies and a Bible in a large shopping bag, I pointed at it and said, “I love their stuff, don’t you?”

She looked at the bag. And then quickly back at me.

“Uh, what I mean is, great catalogs, right?”

And again I pointed at her Victoria’s Secret pink and white striped Sunday School supply bag.

Whereupon we both laughed awkwardly and I blushed brightly.

Panicking and pivoting, I blurted out, “Say, you know what? I have a great idea for these balloons in church!”

“And oh my look at the time I have to get to choir I’d better hurry and so uhm yes good well then.”

— And so it was that the balloons came to be tied onto the pulpit mic stand, setting a celebratory tone before I’d said a word in worship.

You might have heard me mention someone who’s my Adopted Big Sister If I Had One. Yup, she was that 3rd Grade Sunday School Class Teacher when we first met. She and her family have since become close friends.

Over the past 31 years, we’ve weathered many storms together and shared tears of both joy and sorrow. I know I’m much richer because of that.

And almost twenty years ago, when Patty and I got married, guess who was our Scripture Reader?


Even if she had no balloons that day.


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  1. Gwendy permalink

    Joe, this is so beautiful. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it and for remembering it. I too remember it. So grateful for your friendship and for all you meant to our church….and for all you still mean to me and to my family. Laughter and tears, life’s nourishment!
    From Your adopted big sister, if you had one.


  2. Love you too, Gwendy!


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