Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vanilla

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 172: Today, I am grateful for vanilla. 

That lovely little extract from the vanilla bean that ups the "yum" factor in so many things. I like the smell, too, if it isn't too overpowering. 


Back in the days of King Solomon, spices were as precious as gold and jewels. They were often gifted and traded. When the Queen of Sheba visited him, her caravan was loaded with spices. I don't think vanilla was one of them.

Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. -1 Kings 10:10

The known history of vanilla in a nutshell is this: The Aztecs conquered the Totonacs in the 15th Century and acquired vanilla; The Spanish conquered the Aztecs and gained vanilla. 

Today, we use vanilla in baking, frostings and so many other things. Vanilla ice cream is more popular than chocolate in the USA. The vanilla version is more user friendly when served with pies. 

One of my favorite hot teas is a London Fog. It is Earl Gray with cream, lavender and vanilla. 

Imagine a world without vanilla. It would change the taste of things. 

Today, I am grateful for vanilla. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Path Clearing Storms

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 171: Today, I choose to be grateful for the storms.

This past 6 weeks seems to stormy for many. This quote resonated deeply this morning. 

"Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path."

The painful, scary, new and unsure ground we walk, just might be our training ground as He clears the path to what comes next. 

This life is an adventure. But... recently... I have been introduced to the idea that it is more of a quest than a journey. Like Indiana Jones, do we seek His face with a passion. What holds us back from diving in with both feet? 

For me, being a safety girl by nature, it takes a storm to get me to move in a different direction. I need one path blocked or another cleared. It takes me awhile, and a stormy intervention at times... until I surrender to His way and His will without forcing not my own. That is the ugly truth, and I probably am not the only one. 

The Israelites and their season with Moses in the desert is one of my favorite places to read and learn. Moses did NOT want to lead the people. He wanted Aaron, the priest, to lead. He had been a Pharaoh's grandson, so power didn't really intrigue him as it does some. He was passionate about the God who loved his people and when they needed a rescue. God let Moses see a Hebrew slave being beaten to death, and Moses intervened killing the cruel slavemaster, instead.  He fled to the desert. Talk about a storm in his life. 

Read Exodus 3. Moses fled to the wilderness of Midian and married Zipporah. His father-in-law, Jethro, was a priest, like his brother Aaron. They were in his inner circle. Moses was out shepherding when God sent an Angel of the Lord to appear in the flame of a burning bush, and then God spoke directly to Moses of his God assignment. Moses was full of questions and arguments. Moses surrendered. Some would say, "God won". That may be true, but it was Moses free-willed act of submission to a God who had big plans for him that interrupted history, changing the lives of an entire nation. God led him to save his people out of slavery. God's will worked out for the good of all who loved him. Imagine that? 

Some would say one storm led to another, for Moses. And, that may be true. But in Moses's quest for God and the truth, he found one of the most intimate relationships ever recorded in the scriptures. I used to feel sorry for Moses that he didn't get to enter the promised land, but it was Joshua's turn to lead. Heaven is even better than any land of milk and honey on earth. And... Joshua would help them remember their days in the wilderness under Moses's leadership with stones of remembrance. 


I am pretty sure this one chapter or two in Exodus could keep me challenged, fed and growing for weeks. Maybe even months. 

Don't forget to take of your shoes and embrace the talking bush. The very thing that feels like a storm, just might be holy ground. 

Today, I choose to be grateful for the storms.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Actions and Truth

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 170: Today, I am grateful true love reveals itself in actions and truth.

There was a fun old song  by Betty Everett called "It's In His Kiss". It went like this:

"Does he love me, I want to know
How can I tell if he loves me so
Is it in his eyes, oh no you'll be deceived
Is it in his eyes, oh no you'll make believe
If you want to know, if he loves you so
It's in his kiss
That's where it is, oh yeah"

Now, I am not saying a kiss is the only way (or even the best way) to figure out if it is true love, but the tune is catchy and it makes a valid point. Love... real love...  expresses itself in actions and truth. 

True love waits.
True love listens.
True love is patient.
True love is kind.
True love is humble.
True love is tenacious.
True love bears all things. 
True love encourages.
True love lifts up others.

I remember Dad saying, "You gotta back it up." When a man gives his word... or a woman... we have to own it, live by the commitment and seek forgiveness when there is wrongdoing. Love is a perfect commitment to imperfect people. And, there are many people... by God's grace... who love us in our imperfections. Saying "I love you" means nothing if you can't back it up. 

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. -1 John 3:18

I think John addresses how casually and flippantly we throw out the word love. Over the course of 2000 years, technology has changed, but people haven't changed that much. Cultures can evolve but the ways we express love are still mostly through our actions. How we live life reveals the truth about whom we love. 

Love isn't always easy, but it is always worth it. 

I've been savoring the Sidewalk Prophets song, "Come To The Table." It oozes love and you the peace of Jesus is nearly tangible. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXxLwxfo0U

In our country home, there was always room for one more at the table. There was enough food for five or for twelve. There was always good food and fellowship. Conversations, questions and listening. Love manifests its truth in our actions. 

Today, I am grateful true love reveals itself in actions and truth.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pinterest

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 169: Today, I am grateful for Pinterest.

The joke is that I get on Pinterest and come out 3 days later. It is more truth than fiction. Still, it is a wonderful resource for just about anything.  For those of us who nurture our creative sides, it is like going to the most amazing fair or art show. For those who cook, it is an endless cookbook with legitimate success... and our favorite epic fails. 

Test spot... and then we pressed on. 

On Pinterest, we don't take ourselves to seriously. We dream big dreams. I have the most amazing porches and sunrooms there. Bathrooms and kitchens, too. 

Pinterest if half responsible for me "breaking the house" last summer with my epic fail... but it turned out just fine in the end. In fact, it wasn't the end of the story, until it did turn out alright.  

Disaster! 
I wanted to whitewash the fireplace, but I was inexperienced. There were some imperfections in the mortar that made the job even harder. When I finished, it was a mess. The Love of my Life made fun of me, but he did not throw a fit. We jumped into problem solving mode. He was sweet about my attempts for an inexpensive update to the decor. This picture does not do justice to how bad it really was.  

A new paint, a Wagner sprayer and some teamwork and we had a lovely, fresh fireplace in a color we both like. Goodbye 1970's!  Hello, fresh fireplace face! 

The thing I love about Pinterest is that it gives us the courage to try new things. It inspires us to live creatively and think outside of the box. It reminds us that a little adventure is just a Pinterest pin away.

Fresh. New. And a splash of my favorite blue.
At the end of the day, my failure was washed away and all things were made new. Well, isn't that an easy transition to spiritual things. 

"And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”"-Revelation 21:5 

There are times I mess up, but his grace and his promises are true for me and for you. I love a new thing.  His grace is fresh every morning. I don't need to fret or fuss. I only need to pray, listen, trust and obey. 

What new thing is he doing in your life right now? Is it time for a little adventure. I think there are times the enemy whispers words of fear so that we miss some of the blessings, goodness and adventures the Father has for us. 

Live with courage. Walk in faith. And, if you fail at something... make it an epic adventure. Failures and disappointments are often the training ground for the good things He has ahead. No need to fear them, just plow through them. 

Yes, I am grateful for the skill building, teaching,  idea sparking, helpful resource known as Pinterest. 

Today, I am grateful for Pinterest.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Good Dads

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 168: Today, I am grateful for good Dads.

If we want the world to be a better place, we must begin with the family. If a mother is the heartbeat of a home, a Dad sets the mood and the stage. Will it be fun? Funny? Faith filled? Positive? Encouraging? Will it be a place they want to return to when they are grow ?

I am truly grateful for the exceptional Dads in my life. My own feared God,loved the Gospel and the land he worked. The Love of my Life is one of the most hardworking, patient,selfless, genuine fathers I know. Our children adore him.. and so do I. Even now, our boys are men, my heart melts when he is hanging out with them. 

We have great fathers in our congregation, neighborhood and extended family. They are game changers for the children they help nurture.

One of my favorite fathers are the ones who loves someone else's biological child. These men are exceptional. They bring hope and healing to the children who have suffered some kind of loss by divorce or death.As one song put it, "You were the Dad you didn't have to be.". It always chokes me up, because it matters so much. 

Today, there was a line at the changing table at church in the baby nursery. All men. Times have changed. One thing today's children are experiencing is Dad's who are competent and capable of tending to their needs. I think they will understand more of God's love because they have seen their fathers in nurturing rolls. 

Today, I am grateful for good Dads.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

The City on a Hill

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 167: Today, I am grateful for the "city on a hill". (long post warning)

(The photo credit goes to my sunny and sassy friend Claire Cummings. Her timing (or His timing) was perfect. Thank you.) 

This has been a full month. My sweet Mama Ina Mae has had two hospitalizations since April 28th related to infection. She is finally on the road to recovery.

For those who do not know, she has Huntington's Disease. It is a not a nice disease, as it has the qualities of Alzheimer's, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and Parkinson's all combined in one life changing package. Mama is the 2nd of her siblings to be diagnosed. She was blessed with late onset, but it isn't an easy path to walk. Nothing about it is easy... but she warms our hearts with her grace and genuine joy as she faces every day with a smile and an "it's alright" or "I'm alright". 

I won't dwell on this often, as it gives the disease too much power. She awes all of us with the way she faces disease but she is not defeated! 

This is Huntington's as defined on the HDSA website: 
"Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease." 

When I say it is a nasty little disease, I do not joke or say it lightly. They are making great advances through science and feel a cure or more effective treatments are very close, but we are not there yet. Hope rises. I think it floats. 

Beyond the uncontrollable jerking movements, many who suffer from HD become mean and aggressive. They can be very difficult to care for not just medically, but emotionally. In fact, at Northwestern, where Mama is treated, her physician is working on a study to help the many HD people who become irritable, angry, or even aggressive. Mama is not enrolled in that study. 

It seems that the Holy Spirit has, to this point... protected her spirit. Her joyful spirit has not waned. She humbles me with her resilience and ability to rise above the circumstances. She never complains. 

Her Care Teams at both hospitalizations commented on her attitude and sweetness. The Northwestern resident from neurology asked her if she knew "where she was", while standing by her bedside. She told him "The Huntington's Hospital" and then surprised both of us when she said, "On the 14th floor."  I said, "Mama, how did you know that?" She pointed to the room number that was listed on her patient care whiteboard. "The room number is written right there." Well, the physician laughed out loud and said, "I think I'm done with that assessment." 

Then, two weeks ago, she was at St. Mary's in Kankakee for another infection. The staff seemed to wonder at her attitude and repeatedly told us how much they enjoyed her sweetness. Each caregiver seemed to find their opportunity to tell us that "some Huntington's patients are irritable and even mean". We know it is part of the disease for many.

We tried to explain that Mama has Jesus and for now, he has protected her spirit. And, she isn't afraid of her diagnosis. In fact, she was asked, "Do you fear HD will shorten your life?"  Her reply... and I can directly quote her reply..."Oh, heavens, NO!" 

She completely trusts that her Heavenly Father is the author of life and delivers us from this disease ridden, painful, sometimes evil and always troubled world when he calls us home. What should she fear? The Lindgren motto was: "Be paid up, prayed up and ready to go up." 

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.-Matthew 10:28

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. -Philippians 1:21

She has no fear. She is a quiet, gentle warrior. I have to share what the doctor wrote on her discharge:

"Patient is in good spirits, today. She is laying in the bed, just hanging out. She was alert and oriented. When I walked in the room, she acknowledged me and we had a discussion about her care. She is very excited that we are discharging her home. I did share how inspirational she is that she has such an amazing attitude in life with a devastating diagnosis of Huntington's chorea, and she has inspired me to approach my life better." - St. Mary's  Hospitalist 

I have never seen such a personal note in a discharge. What a special doctor! I am overwhelmed and overjoyed that he wrote this down. 

This disease is hard. The staff  have seen it at the hospital.  Mama was different. We sang "Are you washed, in the blood" when she pulled out her IV (accidently with Huntington's jerking ) for the third time in one day and ended up in a blood bath. You have to sing or cry. Mama and I sang! She was such a good patient. (A special shout out to the nurses and aides who gently loved on her every time they fought to find a new place to put an IV.) 

I have waited to write this... sorry for the long post... but I wanted to tell it well. Claire provided the perfect picture. It all came together. Mama has been salt and light since she found real joy at the foot of the cross. Who knew she would have a new avenue to sing of His love, His mercy and His grace through her disease. 

I love this passage... on the picture I choose "The Message" version. 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

She teaches us so much as she walks in grace and light. She is salt and sassy. On the days it is hardest to see her sufferings, she smiles at us and says "I'm alright." or "It's alright". Her light shines bright. She has a supernatural, eternal source... and she is plugged in!  

Today, I am grateful for my "city on a hill". 

Friday, June 15, 2018

More Than Survivors

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 166: Today, I am grateful we can be more than survivors. 

Remember thinking, "If I can just get through May, with all of it's commitments, celebrations and appointments." ? And, you did. We look at the calendar, the house, the "to-do" list and wonder how in the world we will get through all that needs to be done with a 24 hour day and a 40 hour or more work week. Not to mention the volunteer commitments that aren't just to church and community... but to God.  

There is good news today and Beth Moore says it well:

"You have a provider who wants you to be more than a survivor." -Beth Moore

Our God doesn't want us to just hang on by a thread, he wants us to thrive. It is so easy to accept and embrace being overwhelmed. We, instead, can pause, breathe and proceed with the knowledge that our plans are great, but his Spirit will guide us if we listen. We will choose better the way we spend our 24 hours each day.

 "...and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever." -Ephesians 3:19-21

How do we take on the overwhelming tasks of life? 
*With the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
*FIlled with the fullness of God.
*With the knowledge He is able.
*With the arsenal of His abundance.
*Plugged in to His power.
*Basking in His glory.
*In the fellowship of His people.
*With the promise of forever.

This may wear our bodies out, but we are eternal souls. A very old Amy Grant song was "In A Little While". It was one of the soul songs of my youth. My favorite line was "We're just here to learn to love Him. We'll be home in just a little while." 

Whatever the day brings, look for the eternal purpose beyond the current chaos. Live as one who knows the victory belongs to those who know Him. We are overcomers... and that is so much more than simply being a survivor. Our provider's resources never run out. 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

You've got this. Go take on the day. 

Today, I am grateful we can be more than survivors. We can be overcomers.