Oh Happy Day!

Oh Happy Day!
Daily Ponderings and Lessons in Gratitude

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wishes of Kindness

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 341: Today, I am grateful for wishes of kindness and courage. 

"My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness." - Maya Angelou 

It is a season of wishes. What do we wish for?
This quote is beautiful for the wishes it holds. 

...that you may continue.
...to be who you are.
... to astonish a mean world.
... to astonish the world with acts of kindness.

Good morning, Earworm. Earworm is singing the sounds of the 80's. Petra's "We are strangers. We are aliens. We are not of this world." 

Called to be different. Called to act differently. Set apart for a purpose with heavenly ramifications. Only love can save a broken world. Love came as a baby and was willingly crucified, that we might know the breadth and the depth of God's love. We are called to be otherworldly. Some call it crazy. It is. Crazy love.

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God," -Ephesians 2:19

Good thoughts but sometimes... I just want mean people to get what is coming to them! It feels like justice. Sometimes, it is. But it is my heart I must lay before the Lord. Is my heart a bitter offering? Is my heart a servant's heart...  willing to be obedient to a sovereign God... even when his mercy and grace trump what I believe to be a consequence for bad behavior.

We are called to astonish a mean world with acts of kindness. 

Human nature argues and craves controversy. We do not always agree - but how we handle disagreements is evidence of the one we serve. There is a time to disagree and seek truth, but there is a way. Prayer. Fasting (I do not practice as I should). Scripture searching. More prayer.  

" he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain"-  Timothy 6:4-6

"Godliness with contentment is great gain."  This is not second nature to humans - until there is an up close and very personal encounter with the living, mighty, holy and loving God of the universe - who came to be with us. 

Christmas changed things. It didn't change God, because He does not change. It did change things for humans. A holy, present and precious Savior was born. His humble arrival caused confusion for those expecting him to make a grander entrance. 

Actually, I think His arrival was grand... and pretty amazing. Shepherds, angels and guiding stars are pretty impressive. The innkeeper showed kindness. The shepherds showed kindness and courage as they acknowledged the birth and shared the good news. The wise men showed courage in ignoring the king's order to return with the location of the baby. 

It is a season of wonder and joy. 

Today, I am grateful for wishes of kindness and courage. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Let It Be

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 340: Today, I am grateful Mary said "Let it be". 

I was praying about today's post, and then... there is was. A whisper from the past (or the Holy Spirit) of the sweet trilogy of books I found in High school. Imagine that CS Lewis meets Dr. Suess and they decide to share the gospel together. That is how I would best describe Calvin Miller's, The Singer. 

The heart of the gospel is wrapped in the art of the rhythm and rhyme... but there is so much more. It unwraps a Savior who came to be with us... with God's song of love... to sing to us like a troubadour.  Miller, also, wrote some Readings for Advent. I like this observation about a sweet, young and ordinary Mary who acted in an extraordinary way:

“We must look to Mary's example to know how to deal with the glorious impossibilities of God. Look how she turned the world upside down by making one simple statement ...” 
― Calvin MillerThe Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent

"And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her."-Luke 1:38 

She responded to God's call with trust and a "yes."  Not a "Wait!" or a "Why me?" She said, "Let it be."

"Let It Be" - The Beatles capture it in song.

"Let it be", a mother tells a child to protect the child or something precious...or both. 

"Let it be to me as you have said." - Mary says "yes". 

Mary knew she was not holy... but she was willing to make herself wholly available to God. That is why she was chosen. She is a delight. I can only imagine the emotions. Or, can I? Really?

One simple acceptance of a call from a God who tenaciously clings to the possibility that his masterpiece of creation will choose him back. Love him back. This season, if we let it... can fill our hearts with wonder. 

In the popular "The Princess Bride" - Buttercup learns that "As you wish." is Wesley's way of saying "I love you... whatever you ask of me... I am yours". 

"Let is be"... "as you wish".  Submission, surrender and salvation arrive together. Not a God who wants control, but one who desires the intimacy of a real relationship. 

Today, I am grateful Mary said "Let it be". 

Monday, December 5, 2016

First Snow

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 339: Today, I am grateful our first snow was a beautiful, gentle snow. 

To awake Sunday to snow falling was a surprise. A call for snow in the weather can mean waking up to something that is more like a mix of rain and know. 

Not yesterday.  Big fluffy flake that clung to the landscape grass and the tree branches. It was beautiful. The remains of the golden leaves on our maple would fall intermittently with the snow. Gorgeous. 

Fall clings... but winter whispers, "I am here.". The leaves cling until they can hold on now more. The weight of the snow brings them down... onto the snow covered ground below. It was almost as if Winter said, "Thank you for your splendor... let me catch you as you lay down and rest. I will catch you. I've got you covered.

God's creation is so beautiful. A Sabbath snow meant we could savor it and snuggle in with a fire for the evening. It has me singing, "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.". This kind of beauty... a mix of seasons... is rare. Pure delight. White. Gold. And... a hint of green for a pop of color. 

No one stranded... a gentle snow. No bitter winds. No reason to fret. Simply a a day to enjoy nature's splendor. 

Today, I am grateful our first snow was a beautiful, gentle snow. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Dishwasher

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 338: Today, I am grateful for my dishwasher.

Now, a dishwasher is a luxury item. Yes. A luxury. 

I don't need it. In fact, I didn't have one in our Peoria house. I don't mind washing dishes and have been accused of practically washing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  It is true. 

One of the things I find disgusting is food that "bakes" on a plate in the dishwasher drying cycle (baked egg, yuck!) . So... I do put clean dishes in the dishwasher at times. Wash them, again.Then, I dread unloading it. 

It is one of my least favorite kitchen tasks. 

In this season of colds and other illness, the dishwasher becomes a team player in good health. I know my dishes are clean... really clean... when they come out. I am not freakish about germs, but common sense is always in style. I appreciate the ease of really clean glassware and mugs when someone in the house is sick. Utensils, too. 

There are times I dread unloading the dishwasher and putting dishes away. Like laundry - it feel like the clean dishes cycle is always in progress and never truly complete. What does this mean? It means, I not only have "enough", but an abundance of dishes, glassware, utensils and pans. My little kitchen is packed full of things I use all the time... but also, with things I only use on occasion. My dishwasher runneth over. 

Have you ever put something back in the dishwasher because you didn't want to deal with putting it away? Washed them again, instead of returning them to storage, just to empty the counter of stuff? Really? My hand is raised, because I have.

Emptying the diswasher does not cause brain injury or require special skills. Loading the dishwasher is a different story, but I don't mind moving things around in a loaded dishwasher. I prefer it over a sink of dirty dishes. Still, I can't really judge. I have been known to leave a cup where I finish it. ( Not on purpose. I am easily distracted.) The Love of my Life collects my mugs and brings them to the kitchen. Sometimes, he even refrains from commenting..   

Did you know Jesus referenced dish washing in Matthew 23?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26

Jesus is addressing the Scribes and Pharisees and he holds nothing back. They get quite a tongue lashing that is meant to redirect their behaviors. Mostly, it makes them want to kill him.He is calling them out on their priorities, their behaviors, their arrogance, their "do as I say not as I do" and their sense of entitlement. He is, also, declaring His own role as Rabbi and God as the only one to be addressed as "Father". (Matthew 23:9).  

The church leaders had come to believe in their own holiness and powers to make people clean and right before God, yet they reeked of their own sins. It was a very public "dressing down" as my Dad would have called it (an Army reference). Matthew 23 is not a feel good passage. It is a call to realignment with what God desires most of his people. 

God has always called "servant leaders". People not afraid to get in the trenches. God said..."I am with you.". Now, the truth is that he is holy, mighty, omnipotent and omniscient. But, I think the thing that brings me to my knees again and again is that he chooses to be omnipresent. "I am with you.". 

What a great theme for the Advent season. "I am with you.". I am with you in the sweetness and the sorrows. "I am with you." in lean times and plenty. "I am with you." in laughter and in hope. "I am with you." when everything seems to be falling apart. "I am with you." until the very end of the age. In that knowledge, there is peace. 

How do we find our way to the manger this busy season? Our God who came to be with us calls us to be His hands and His feet. We can share what we have and chose to have less to give more. We can share the load of another who is tired and worn out. Perhaps, we can come a little closer to the manger by unloading the dishwasher with a happy heart. 

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12 

I woke up knowing it needed to be unloaded. I have things I would rather do, but I am going to choose... yes choose... joy in the process. Then, I will reflect and give thanks for the abundance and... knowing my dishes are clean. 

Today, I am grateful for my dishwasher and dishes... and food to make them dirty. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sleeping In

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 337: Today, I am grateful for the chance to sleep in! 

Yes... I did it!  I slept in without guilt. I am a morning person, but this morning... 8:30 was when I rolled out of bed.  I cannot remember the last time I had the time or took the time. Rest is not insignificant. In this busiest of seasons, rest gets cheated. 

I think I was more productive because of it. Cleaned out some drawers. Paid bills (gave thanks that we have enough). Savored the coffee. All the laundry brought up was put away. Did some Christmas shopping... online and with my honey. And... we will still get in a movie that we have taped and waiting. 

Randy even wrapped the first of the Christmas gifts. 

Yes...sleeping in was good. The benefits have lasted all day long. 

Today, I am grateful for the chance to sleep in and for the French pressed coffee Randy had ready! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Weekend

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 336: Today, I am grateful for the weekend. No the individual day, but a designated cluster of time that is outside of the typical "work week". 

This is end of two weeks of burning the candle at both ends. Full days. Busy nights. Good stuff, but sleep gets traded. Sleep is such a precious commodity. I save "the weekend" for the end of the year because most Friday's I think it would be the perfect gratitude selection. On Friday 47...I am going to finally use and choose it. (I have a self imposed rule of no repeats in 365 days) I am grateful for the weekend. 

A weekend begins at the end of Friday's work day and lasts until bedtime on Sunday. It is the time we use to "catch up" on household chores, shopping, time with friends and, of course, some Sabbath time for worship and restoration of the spirit before another week begins.  

The end of any week can be a volatile time, because we are tired. The tongue is harder to control. The concentration struggle is real. The physical and mental demands of work... any work paid or volunteer... leave us spent out and ready for a little rest. 

One of my favorite reminders from Genesis is that on the seventh day God rested. Our creative God made us in his image. He chose rest to enjoy what he had made. 

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.-Genesis 2:2-3

The Sabbath is different from "the weekend" but it is a part of it. God labored 6 days before a rest. We do, too, most weeks. If we have commitments outside the home at all, Saturday is a catch-up day around the house. There is something about the weekend where the clock is ours to command that makes it good. 

Yes, there are things we have to do, but we when we get to them is a choice. I do my hair appointments at 6:30 am on Saturday mornings. It is how I preserved my precious Saturday. (And... I love having Cori do my hair for the day.) Now, on Friday night... "O'Dark Thirty" doesn't sound so great, but by 9am on Saturday, I am grateful for the decision. I am grateful Cori does early appointments (and she ends her salon day earlier on Saturday to be with family). 

Time is a precious commodity. Weekends are the best. Reflecting God's example helps us make the most of our days and choosing rest is good for our human design. 

Today, I am grateful for the weekend. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Good Smelling Soap

Daily Gratitude Year Four-Day 335: Today, I am grateful for good smelling soap. 

They say we Americans are freakish obsessed with bathing. There was a time in this country that bathing was a luxury saved for the night before church. This makes me extremely grateful I arrived on the planet after indoor plumbing and indoor bathrooms. I love being clean and the smell of soaps. 

It is not unusual for us to have more than one soap on the counter. I have a scent sensitive nose. I want my house to smell good... and my hands. Randy... on occasion... would tell me that "Bath and Body called and would like a little of their stock back." He might have been suggesting we had an abundance. 

My favorite shower soap is Philosophy Amazing Grace. I love the name and starting the day with the idea of grace. It smells so good and fresh... and clean. 

December has begun and the scents of the season fill the air. Time to pull out some Christmas soap. Soap helps prevent illness.  For my birthday, my sweet friend DeAnn showered me with some amazing smelling soaps that make my skin feel wonderful... and they delight my sense of scent.  

December brings us to thoughts of the arrival of Jesus. He came to save us from our sins. He came to wash us clean and set us free from the burden of guilt and shame. We can't ever be "good enough". No soap can make us "clean enough".  He came to pay the price. To reconcile us. To be with us. 

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, -Titus 3:4-6

He came to mercifully make us clean by "the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit... poured out richly through Jesus." This is a blessed and holy season of remembrance. 

Jesus... good smelling soap... and other scents of the season make me smile.
Today, I am grateful for good smelling soap.