Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Wonder of Harvest

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 235: Today, I am grateful for the wonder of the harvest.

The pumpkin harvest is in full swing. Other crops that started as hard, dead and lifeless seeds have soaked in the soil, rains and summer sun and found full life. There is a grandeur in summer that is full of goodness and delight. 

Summer is followed by fall. We are teetering between the two. Fall brings the harvest. I hope I never outgrow the wonder of a seed that fulfills its promise and potential. 

"God is able to perform, provide, help, save, stop, turn... He is able to do what you can not." -Max Lucado

Remember the faith of a mustard seed?

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” -Mark 4:30-32

And this account of the same lesson:

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” -Matthew 17:20

Three out of four gospels record this parable, so it is obviously one to ponder and embrace.

There are days we feel tiny and insignificant. Yet, scripture is full of examples of the tiny, the countless or overlooked that seem to matter to God in a big way. If he numbers the stars and calls them by name, is it any wonder that he tends the tiny mustard seed until it reaches its full potential? How much more he cares for us? 

I continue to consider the magnitude that we are the only creation that cost Him his breath... and then Jesus paid the price to reclaim all that sin had managed to taint with darkness and grief. He never asked us to fix our past, only confess it. He takes care of the debt we could not pay. He asks us to believe and move forward in a new way. Changed by a personal encounter with grace and once again breathing fresh air. He is light, life and our future. 

He is able to do what we cannot do on our own. He can bring from us from a sense of lifelessness into full life and glorious bloom. Some are granted a longer growing season, but each one of us receives the gift of this day. Each one of us is still learning and growing until we reach our own harvest season. 

Today, I am grateful for the wonder of the harvest.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One Picture, One Thousand Memories

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 234: Today, I am grateful a picture is worth a thousand memories. 

Mama rarely took pictures, but the first day of school was always an exception. Oh my, but April and I are styling in these pictures! I am on the left and April is on the right. Red, white and blue was ll the rage as the Bi-Centennial was just a few years away. (Note the shorts under my dress... because they were mandatory to play on the monkey bars at recess.)

When I look at this image, I see Case and Gladys Corbin's barn across the road. So many summer memories of playing in the barn with their grandchildren. 

On the right side of the image, the roof of the little white playhouse my Uncle Bobby built us a high school project. It stood long after we grew up. Since our lane was really, really long, it provided shelter on cold days as we would wait for the bus. Because of our Midwest winds, you can faintly see the cable attached to the roof that kept it from blowing into the deep drainage ditch. 

Yes, this picture is worth a thousand memories. In this very spot, we stood every day. Talking, waiting, dreaming, imagining and full of excitement. We would watch the clouds for shapes and the bridge for a glimpse of the yellow school bus on the way from the Behrend's and the Peter's. 

To my left, growing from the banks of the deep, deep ditch was a mulberry bush. If offered sweet berry treats in season, if you could beat the birds! Wild Asparagus would pop us to our delight (and Grandpa Lindgren's) in the same ditch. There was always wilde sweet, sugary purple clover, we would collect and make into teas with Mama Ina Mae. 

One rare picture. One "first day of school". Wonderful memories. One moment in time, captured... and then... it unfolds so many more echoes of days gone by. Precious memories.

In just a few days, we will mark 22 years that April has been gone. It is pure joy to see and remember her sparkle. In this image... we were celebrities waving at our biggest fans. 

At the time of Jesus, the camera had not been invented, but memories were equally precious. In 2 Peter, this verse states clearly the value of remembering. Words create the pictures. They give us images with the words. 

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. -2 Peter 1:13-14

This life and it's body really are fleeting. His promises are of forever. Heavenly reunions and worshiping together once again takes the sting of death away and replaces it with a longing for what is to come. While we are here, we must create a snapshot for future generations. 

Today, I am grateful a picture is worth a thousand memories.






Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse

Image by: Pat Nygren
Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 233: Today, I am grateful for a God who hovers.

This image is from my Bible journaling friend, Pat Nygren. She creates some beautiful images and this one was her response to God intervening with a big answered prayer. I immediately thought of the eclipse and asked if I could use it. She was so gracious enough to let me share her work. Isn't it lovely?  

We live in a time when the science of the skies is written into books.  Every once in awhile, something truly remarkable and noteworthy happens. Today is one of those days. Today, much of the USA will experience a total eclipse of the sun. 

Scientists predict that nature will respond as if night were falling. Then, it will wake up again. Today, is a noteworthy day. 

It is amazing to live in a time when we can predict when events like a full solar eclipse. We will experience it and talk about it into the next generation. Kind of a big deal, because the last one... a full eclipse... was back in 1912. Partial one, but not full. Full lunar, but not solar. 

Being able to predict such an event, does not make it any less awesome. It does allow us to prepare with safety glasses and proper viewing instructions. 

During Bible times, they had to record what they saw, in the manner they saw it. God may have worked with the laws of science that he created with such detail... or he may have chosen to work outside the laws of nature, because He can. 

Joshua 10 is often referred to as Joshua's long day. The day it appeared as if "the sun stood still" so Joshua and his army could defeat their enemies. They had been promised a victory.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! -Joshua 10:13b-14

For me... discovering and diving into the word "hover" in Biblical passages has been a great adventure. Think "hovercraft"... it pauses, right? Defying gravity. The definition of hover is this: to remain in one place in the air. At creation, "God hovered". Pausing to look it over, tweak and set in place. 

Our God is a gravity defying God. He brings amazing things to pass in the skies. Some events we have studied and unraveled some of the mysteries. Others, we are left stumped and wondering. 

Isn't it good to know, we can trust his hand and his heart as He hovers over his creation? Isn't it reassuring to know, no battle we face is bigger than our hovering God can manage?  

Today, I am grateful for a God who hovers.








Sunday, August 20, 2017

Glimpses of His Goodness

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 230: Today, I am grateful for glimpses of His goodness. 

I sometimes get overwhelmed by all the voices, messages and to-do lists. Then, it is as if God places a semicolon in my day, so that I can't ignore His goodness. He brings me to a pause... and then a connected thought. 

"Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it? I did it just for you." - Max Lucado 

Intimate moments that remind us not just of His power and grace, but his magnificent, beauty crafting hands. He is the creator and the cre ated sing his praises. 

Perhaps every believer comes to a season of life when they wonder if they will come to the end of their dash, or will the Lord return first? There signs and wonders... in the skies and in the political pages of the news. I don't claim to understand prophecy, but I am confident that with each spin of the globe, we come closer to that day. 

Recently, they have been making leaps and bounds in archeological excavations, due to new technology. Images from space are helping locate and recover ancient ruins. This has always been something that fascinates me, but recently, I savor hearing how times they were sure the Bible was inaccurate... then, a new discovery correlates with the written Word of God. Imagine that? 

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. -Psalm 16:8

In His time, he reveals all things. Faith is built on what is unseen, but it is good when there is new archeological evidence to support what we believed and trusted to be true. 

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  "I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.' As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it -Luke 19:39-41

The rocks will cry out... perhaps, archeology is just that. The once buried rocks telling a story... giving up their well kept secrets.  

Other times, his artistry is evident in nature.  He offers a sunset or a field of flowers just to make us smile. 
Today, I am grateful for glimpses of His goodness. 


Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Thoughts Aren't Audible

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 230: Today, I am grateful all my thoughts aren't audible. 

This image from "Sweatpants And Coffee" made me smile.


"Just sipping my coffee and giving thanks my thoughts aren't audible."  Can I get an "Amen!". 


Our thoughts are our secret place... where we can have conversations with the Holy Spirit and he will urge us toward what is good and loving and kind, To be honest... sometimes it is more of a battle than a friendly chat. 


Oh yes, I know from the thoughts that still float around in my head that I am still a work in progress. Far from finished, but at least He hasn't given up. The promise is that he won't. 


We are urged to control our tongues.  


Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2

We all fail at tongue control. Prayers for wisdom and knowledge of The Word help when faced with the choice of controlling the tongue or letting it lash out with free reign. Free reigning tongues, almost always taste remorse. Controlled tongues can encourage, strengthen hearts and inspire. 

When anger and frustration surface, I rarely regret the times I bite my tongue. I can't sat the same for the times I let it loose. 

Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 
 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do. 
  You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord. 
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head. 
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! -Psalm 139:1-6


He doesn't just "get me", he knows me. Better yet, "  You place your hand of blessing on my head." He wants to help direct our thoughts, so we can see with his eyes and act in a way that chases his heart. 

There was a romantic comedy with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt movie called "What Women Want"(2000). Nick Marshall, a somewhat chauvinistic advertising exec hot shot, has his life turned haywire when a fluke accident enables him to hear what women think. Darcy McGuire is his competition at work, his new boss and to his shock and surprise... his love interest. He is shocked by what women around him think of his arrogance and testosterone driven ways. Hearing the real thoughts of those around him made him kinder and more sensitive. A fun flick. 

How often would I cringe at others thoughts about my behaviors or unleashed tongue? Yikes. Not something I want to consider, but I should. 

We all see the world through our individual eyes and experiences. We often have no idea what trials others may be facing. The ones facing the tallest mountains may be the ones who never speak of it. They just press on one day at a time... helping others along the way. 

One prayer... squeezed from the lessons taught by Max Lucado in "He Chose the Nails". 

"Thank God, I don't get what I deserve." -amen

Perhaps, I need to preface that prayer with:

 "Thank you Lord for loving me, even when my tongue gets loose. Thank you for whispers of grace that help me hold back from speaking everything on my mind. Thank you for forgiving me when my words disappoint you and wound others. Thank you that others cannot hear all that I am thinking. Thank you Lord for taking my nails, so that I don't get what I deserve." -amen

His need for justice satisfied. Love, mercy and grace are our covering.

Each one of us is a work in progress when we submit to the Master Potter's hand.

Today, I am grateful all my thoughts aren't audible. 




Friday, August 18, 2017

Work or Crafting Tool?

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 229: Today, I am grateful the difference between work and a crafting tool is attitude, use and perspective. 

When you look at this image (found on Pinterest) what do you see? A crafting tool... or a laborious, boring job that has to be done? 

In my house... it is a crafting station with an occasional alternative use as a wrinkle remover. 

Honestly... I hate to iron. Why? Because, it is work so quickly undone. All that work ... and it is swept by the mere act of sitting down or putting a seatbelt in place. Ugh!

This image and verse are a perfect combination. I love the NIV version in the image, but the NLT is great, too:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. -Colossians 3:23

Cross referencing always deepens my understanding. I guess one can iron to the glory of the Lord... and mop... and scrub toilets. The attitude of gratitude and joy in service changes everything. 

Even on a Friday, we are to work with all of our hearts. Every day we choose our perspective and engage our attitudes as our superpower. Which side are we on? Are we bringing calm and order or the ones wreaking havoc?  

I looked up wreak, since is not commonly used except in that old idiom of "wreaking havoc". I discovered with wreak, there can be an element of revenge in the purposeful mass chaos and destruction. Thus, comic book and superhero situations provide the perfect platform. Don't most the villains want payback for a perceived injustice? 

Am I, at times, no better than the villains? 

Remember, if life was fair... if God was without mercy and without grace... I would get what I deserve. None of it would qualify me for friendship, adoption and eternity with him. 

His love reached out when we rejected him.
Jesus choose to be one of us... and walked with us.
The cross became the altar where our sin debt was paid.
The work of the cross complete when he said, "It is finished."
The empty tomb was the victory. 
God created the perfect redemption plan for an imperfect people... like me. 

And... I complain about a little ironing? 

Today, I am grateful the difference between work and a crafting tool is attitude, use and perspective. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Light Rises

Found on Pinterest- peggyapl.blogspot.com
Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 228: Today, I am grateful for light that rises.

One of the fun things about working in a school is seeing the siblings come, grow and go.Sometimes, like their mothers... I call them by their siblings names or go through all of their names to get to the one I want. 

DNA ... Genes... family resemblance... or a way of walking or talking connect us to our family of origin and reveal our roots. 

I always was thrilled when teachers connected me to my cousins, Harry, Cheryl and Carol. I came a few years behind them. One teacher... Fanny... never got past thinking Cheryl was my sister. 


In some families, lessons of kindness and doing the right thing come with potty training and table manners. These children give off the salt and light taught from the cradle, at the table and while driving down the road. 

Both of my parents were raised to look for those with less and try to offer help. One of my favorite stories came at Dad's visitation.  One of the "Kelch boys" was in the army with dad. Country neighbors, dairy farmers and hometown boys stick together when far from home.  I wish I could remember which one it was. They had enough leave time to come home for a fast visit. 

The young soldier was in love and missing his girl. He didn't have the money to get there when he needed it. He told us that Dad loaned him the cash to make the trip. He was able to see the love of his life, who ended up his wife. 50 years he carried the memory of kindness shown. Dad never told us. I am sure he didn't even remember it. But that couple, married more than 50 years, never forgot. 

The next generation of Kelch and Lindgren kids rode the school bus together, played countless hands of euchre and were friends. 

We are called to kindness. We are commissioned to feed the hungry and help those in trouble. His light is our guide and our light source. Look at this beautiful passage that comes after a pretty harsh reprimand. Our God is correction, compassion and a compass. 


Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,  and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

-Isaiah 58:10-11 

He guides and gives us strength... like a well-watered garden and ever-flowing spring. His expectation is that we be salt and light.  We typically think of that as New Testament thinking, but here it is in Isaiah. Our God does not change. Our understanding of Him grows and unfolds.  We change as he tests, teaches and purifies. We are works in progress... not perfect ... but growing in love and grace. 

He is our life giving light.  Son and sun... they are homonyms with a deeper connection and greater truth.

Time to greet the day. (Image from 
Pinterest- peggyapl.blogspot.com )

Today, I am grateful for light that rises.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Finish the Job

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 228: Today, I am grateful for people who finish the job. 

It is fun to start something new. I love creating and creative things. Still, there is a great value in taking a project from start to finish. There is nothing more satisfying the doing a job well and to completion. 

There is a deep satisfaction in simply knowing a job is completed to the best of our ability... even if we are learning and it's not perfect. (Okay... I can't deny it is even better if someone else notices and comments with encouragement.) 

Great quote: "I want to hire employees who don't finish their work", said no boss, ever." 

That is so true. I can't imagine walking out on a job in temper or anger. Learning to finish a job requires a certain amount of self-control, planning and at times, humility. 

The same sweet cousins and neighborhood darling who earned some impressive ribbons and accolades at the county and state fairs this past week, had the guts before the glory. You see the ribbons and the smiles... but they scooped some poop along the way. 

Cows are big. Sheep and goats... there is a reason God didn't make them as big as cows. Imagine that farm people! Goats and sheep would be impossible if they were any bigger. They can be impossible at the size we know them, which makes a ribbon of success even sweeter. 

Scripture came easy today... but He added another. It delights my soul that I have a God who is willing to play "my verse is better than yours" with me. : 

His choice: And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. -2 Corinthians 7:1b  Oh, He always wins. It is the work that counts and the direction we are headed. We are called to be perfect. We are called to set our eyes on him and our goal to be more like him. 

My mind went another direction, but the two work together. Because, I cannot be perfect due to human limitations, he came to be with us and settle the sin debt. My payment for my sins cancelled out by His ability to withstand all temptation and finish the job. 

My choice: When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. - John 19:30

He finished the job. He willingly said "yes" to death to set us free. Crazy love. 

Today, I am grateful for people who finish the job. I owe my life... my eternal life... to the one who did the job I could not do. 




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crossing Guards

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 227: Today, I am grateful for crossing guards.

School begins tomorrow. This means morning and afternoon traffic changes everywhere for a brief span of time as children come and go from school.

It is not the crossing guard's fault when we are running late. The crossing guard cannot control the volume of cars on the road on any given morning. No, they are just the humble servants of safety who put their own lives at risk every day to protect our children. 

Be kind. 
Offer them a wave and a smile. Teach your children respect for their role with your words. 
Celebrate their commitment to safety. 
Offer them a cup of cocoa on a cold day.
Or treat them to fun rainwear, rain, sleet and snow find them on the corner. 
At the holidays, a scarf or warm gloves. 

Most of the time, we take them for granted... at least I do. 

Show a crossing guard a little special kindness some time this school year. They will never forget it. 

God once played crossing guard. Actually, he did it more than once, but my favorite was when after plagues of pests and discomfort... he delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt with Moses' assistance. Exodus 13:17-14:29 tells of the account. It is pretty exciting. When Moses raised his staff... the Red Sea parted and walked on dry ground. 

So today... in weariness... I asked the Lord for a good verse to celebrate the crossing guard and other servants in humble, courageous jobs. I was blank. I didn't have one. 

As always, when he struts his stuff, I am left in awe. 

Here is what he gave:

If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. -Romans 14:8

Our lives are a daily offering. Every honest job is honorable if we work with His eyes and His heart.

Whatever we do... in corporate offices in tall towers or school crossing guards... HOW we do that job is our gift to God every day. No go do it!

Today, I am grateful for crossing guards.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Trust Lessons From The Barn

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 226: Today, I am grateful for lessons  lessons learned in the barn.

This is my cousin Doug's youngest, Bella. She is ten. Her pillow is Charlie. It had been a big day for both at the fair. Her Mama, Lisa, took the picture. 

I am reminded of the trust and affection between humans and beasts found in the barn. 

Oh Earworm, "Bless the Beasts and the Children" - where did you dig that old tune out of my memory? But that is what he woke up singing. Perfect for this image. 

This picture is a snapshot captures all that you can't buy with money or power. This kind of relationship takes time, effort and commitment. Charlie has to trust her and she has to lead Charlie, never forgetting that he is huge and could accidently hurt her if she were careless. But, she isn't. She is confident in her lead and Charlie does what is expected of him. Things he learned with practice and more practice through relationship. Cattle can be stubborn and easily spooked, so she has to teach him to trust and pay attention to her lead. Aren't they a beautiful pair?

There are times I act beastly and get easily spooked, instead of trusting and taking cues from my God. He reigns sovereign in the universe, yet eagerly waits for each one of us to choose a relationship with him. I don't always understand His ways or his plan, but I know I need to tune into his word and trust his lead. He can be trusted - even when a situation is new, startling or scary. 

Occasionally a cow makes a poor choice... and the cowgirl or cowboy... rescues him from his spot of trouble. Other times, they word together in harmony and Bella received the ribbons at fair to prove it.  

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. Psalm 13:5


His love never fails. His arm is not too short. He loves, leads and rescues. 

Today, I am grateful for trust lessons learned in the barn.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love Seasoned With Time

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 225: Today, I am grateful for love seasoned with time.

Yes, time not thyme. How precious is this picture? Priceless, right. 

I am a sucker for love that has been seasoned with time. I know that asking God for guidance and wisdom matters when choosing a mate for a lifetime. What do we really know about someone from dating? Mostly, we see them best foot forward. 

There is nothing sweeter than a couple with decades of seasons together still actively choosing love every single day. 

Love is in the cup of coffee just the way you like it. The shirts on the hanger with the 2nd button buttoned, not the top. The lawn that gets mowed and the flowers watered. It is in oil changes and gas tanks filled. Love is help in brokenness and hope when things seem overwhelming. 

Mature love is breathtakingly beautiful. It requires relationship and time to learn each other's needs. It requires a deeper knowing from many hours in a true and honest relationship. It says: "I am with you." "I know you." "I love you where you are." "We drive each other crazy and I love you still... and maybe more... because I am yours and you are mine."

It is not so different when we consider a relationship with Christ. To know the heart of the Savior and to let him know our naked thoughts is relationship. He knows our thoughts and sees our actions, so we can't really fake it to make it. He longs for us to mature in our relationship with him so that we see with his eyes and feel with his heart.

Paul speaks to this:

Dear brothers and sisters when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? -1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Ouch! To truly gain the peace, love and joy found in Christ, we need more relationship with him. If we are fighting and jealous of our brothers and sisters, we are out of step. If we must have our own way, we are disappointing the one who provided us with "The Way". 

None of us is perfect. We all have struggles and personal demons to slay, but each step toward him lessens the struggle as he wraps us in his healing, calm and perfect peace. He calls for us to grow together into a community of believers. He wants us to encourage, guide and help each other in times of brokenness. He wants us to celebrate and rejoice together, too. 

It deepens relationship. It is beautiful. It takes time. 


Today, I am grateful for love seasoned with time.