Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Faith Passed Down

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 59: Today, I am grateful faith passed down from generation to generation that takes root and grows.

I long for the new life of spring, but it is not yet time. It is hard to wait. I need to grow more self-discipline. Waiting becomes a little easier as we grow older, because the reality of how fast time really passes is much more clear. In a blink our children grow up. In a heartbeat everything can change. This moment holds something precious. There is power in the pause; reflection can bring discovery.

This was my scripture for the day. Short sweet and I can be on my way to start the day. Not a chance. It is brief but rich. 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

The  Spirit of God - Our "soul breath" is a gift from him.
gave us - given to all.
Does not make us timid- It is fearless and not shy
,(comma) and a "but"-  A connection and a little more.
Gives us - A gift to all of us.
Power - more than you think possible.
Love - from a limitless source.
And - there is more.
Self-discipline. - this one is the one that amazes me the most. Self-control. 

What do we do with the gifts of his spirit. Timothy was trying to figure it out and Paul, with time on his hands as he sat in prison, penned this letter of encouragement to Timothy as a mentor, a fellow believer and one who would continue the work when Paul was gone. He was passing on the faith, reminding him of who he was in Christ. 

He was offering Timothy more than just encouragement, he was reminding him of who he was in Christ and his legacy was rich and passed down through his grandmother and mother. Then, Paul invested time and energy in growing Timothy's faith. 

I decided to dig into a few more versions and "The Message" was just right. 

That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. - 2 Timothy 1:5-7 The Message

Faith passed down from one generation to the other. Gifts given by the Holy Spirit. "Keep that ablaze!" What a great translation. Don't let the fire die out. 

The language is delightfully current day, but full of the richness of the time Timothy and Paul lived and walked the earth. Jesus had lived, died, risen and ascended to heaven. They knew people who were with him. They "just missed him", but on the other hand, they were encountering more of him because of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Constant communion with the Savior was only a prayer away. How rich is a love that finds a way to be with us always, all day and in every way. All we need to do is invite him in to our hearts and "re-gift" him our soul breath. 

Our children's song from a Willow Creek curriculum we used one year in KidZone sticks with me, "Davey, Davey". It is song that highlights David's life. Catchy and silly... but it contains this line:
"I want a heart that beats for you."  (Thanks Joyce Ropp for pointing this out to me so I could see it, too.) 

Be fearless. Be loving. Be self-controlled. Love out loud until the world sees His light. 

Sometimes, I forget the richness of the legacy of faith in the house that raised me. Mama Ina Mae is just about the most loving person I have ever encountered. Dad... he took the bold route. His faith was sincere and deeply rooted because Christ changed so much for him at the age of 30. His mother's death brought him to a place of needing to accept or reject Christ as Lord. They accepted him together and never looked back. 

The county jail was Dad's favorite place to share the gospel and a Gideon Bible. He didn't just go, share and leave. He carried them home in his heart... and some, eventually ended up in our home. 

At Dad's funeral, a woman Dad, Mama and Uncle Mel bailed out of jail to spend as much time with her children before serving a sentence for murder, stood with us at Dad's funeral and graveside. She was freed after her trial went to the higher courts and her case became one to defend other women, like her, who were handcuffed and beaten over and over. It all began in a jail cell with a Bible, a believer, a broken heart, a prayer and a Blessed Redeemer.  

She tried to pay them back after she found a job (the job she worked at for more than 20 years) but Dad and Uncle Mel would go buy her groceries with the money. Her life had been changed by Jesus. You know... I think it changed Dad, too. He got a little bolder. The fire was lit. 

"And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze!"  

Keep that ablaze!  What is your ministry?

Today, I am grateful faith passed down from generation to generation that takes root and grows.

Monday, February 27, 2017

He Knows: Chance Encounters

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 58: Today, I am grateful for chance encounters.

In this go fast life, it is so easy to miss important moments.

Yesterday... in Kroger... I encountered an old friend. We first met when over 25 years ago. How fast the time flies. We rarely cross paths, although we live in the same town. A chance meeting in Kroger was such a delight and good for my soul.

Funny how God does that. You see, I am not sure I believe those kinds of things are by chance. God places people in our paths when we need them the most. He often sends words of encouragement through others.

He is always with us... but we can't always always physically see or hear him. So, he orchestrates unplanned moments to fuel our weariness through his people.

When He works to the left, I cannot see Him. When He turns to the right, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take.  -Job 23:9-10a 

Job again. Nuggets... there are nuggets of goodness in the book of Job. Sweet morsels of God's faithfulness. Job is a big picture story. He works, even when we cannot see him.Sometimes, he gives us just a glimpse.

Tiny glimpses of God's presence. I've heard them labeled as "God winks"... a St. Jude mom taught me that description. Some times God moves big... other times... he winks gently to remind us that we are not hidden from his sight.

A chance encounter that is good for our souls is my reminder that "He knows the way I take"... even at the corner of baby wipes and toothpaste. Sharing, caring and being present in the moment is priceless. I am still smiling.

Pause. Praise. Pray. Connect.

Today, I am grateful for chance encounters, and the knowledge they are not by chance.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Public Worship: Gathered and Redeemed

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 57: Today, I am grateful to be able to gather in public to worship and celebrate redemption.

From Pinterest: Artist April Crosier for Illustrated Faith
Psalm 111 is a song of praise. Verse one sounds like it is time to get up and head to church.

Praise the LordI will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Psalm 111:1

Do we get excited about heading to the House of God to lift us his name? Do we fuss, fight and fluster until we hit the the church parking lot and put on our "church face"? I am not going to publically answer that question and you don't have to either.

Just asking the question makes me try to reframe the "getting ready" and work on embracing the destination. Getting there can be a very real battle. Seeking his face and worshiping in His presence is where the real joy arrives.

Sometimes, I wonder if Satan loves to stir trouble in the homes of believers on Sunday mornings. If he can keep us home... he can create a separation in the community of believers. We need to share with each other. Shared joy, shared laughter, shared celebrations and answered prayers or requests. When we offer up need for prayer, there is power and intervention by "two or more" being gathered in His name. Don't miss the opportunity.

We are better together... when we keep our eyes on him. Satan wants us anywhere but in worship on Sunday morning (or Saturday and Sunday evenings if you have different worship time.)

The image is from April Crosier who inspires us at Illustrated Faith. Worship is the theme. This is her Psalm 111:9 art that set her earworm (and mine, too)... singing Big Daddy Weave's song "Redeemed".


This song infuses the air with hope. It sings of the holiness, love and brilliant work of a God who would not give up on the ones he gifted with choice and free will.

Are you stubborn? I am. So is he? We were, after all, "created in His image." He understands stubborn.

Are you hard to mold? He is the Master Potter and he is patient. Clay is too valuable to the potter... even before it takes shape. Before it reaches it's full potential, it matters to him. It is too precious in his eyes to be cast off as useless and unmoldable. None of us are finished works... but we are... and - "I am redeemed!"

Embrace these lyrics:

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet

Forgive me if this seems slanderous... but I honestly had that famous scene from the movie "Ghost" go through my head. The intimacy of the Potter molding the clay and the ghostly hand helping shape it. In the movie, a woman grieves for her husband, not realizing he is there holding her and helping her. 

In real life, we long for a God to help us with our struggles, not realizing he is already with us. He is quietly, wrapping himself around us and guiding our hands.It is intimate. He coaches us to press on... keep going... don't give up... and then,  

"Arise my child...arise!" - Mark 5:41

Come to me. You are redeemed. You are alive like never before. You have a purpose and a mission. Love me with a passion. Love others like a nut case... a love nut! Crack open the joy of his redemption. His name is powerful, beautiful and holy.

Does he speak promise into the clay as he molds it. You bet he does. Does it feel like we are spinning and dizzy as we are being spun and modeled? At times... yes. Does he shape our lives... if we allow him. He wants us to find our life in him... awesome life, as he is th source.

He turns ordinary into extraordinary when we submit to his hand and fix our eyes on him in love and adoration. This might sovereign God has the most amazing hands. They wait for us to submit and the belong the arms that long to welcome us home.

Great are the works of the Lordthey are pondered by all who delight in them. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. Psalm 111:2,9 (NIV)

Oh yes... the word "pondered" is there. It is one of my favorite words and actions.

Today, I am grateful to be able to gather in public to worship and celebrate redemption.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 56: Today, I am grateful for the hope and the promise in the word "arise".

Today, my Jill, (the sister of my heart but not by birth)...would have been 52 today. We spent 28 of her 49 years sharing daily life. She remains forever 49. College acquaintances, but life brought us together and the richest, sweetest friendship grew. Today, the sorrow is softer and sweeter... an this scripture crossed my path:

"Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” -Mark 5:41

These are the words Jesus spoke to Jarius, the synagogue leader's, 12-year-old daughter. Friends believed Jesus was too late and said so: The people said, "Jarius, it's too late. She is dead. Don't bother the teacher anymore." But, Jesus was on a healing mission that day.

He had already cast out demons from a man who was suffering from the possession of his mind and body. A woman, who had been bleeding for 12 years, knew if she could just reach out and touch Jesus, she would be healed... and she was.

It was a day for physical and spiritual healing. A new birth day for each one who encountered the Savior.

Today, I am feeling a little sentimental, reflecting on the anniversary of Jill's birthday. The reality is that not every prayer for earthly healing is answered... sometime's healing prayers are answered when suffering ends and we hear Jesus say, "Arise. little one, arise. You are home... and healed and whole." Her sickness shortened her earth dash... but illness cannot touch His eternity.

Another truth... we can lay our sadness at his feet and he will lift us up with hope and purpose.

Out of sorrow.
Out of sadness.
Out of darkness.
Out of the miry clay.
"I AM with you.

"Arise, little girl... I say to you, arise."

Friday, February 24, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 55: Today, I am grateful we can choose what we believe.

This image is a fun Pinterest find. It is someone's "Field notes". There is some good stuff here. Some of them are new quotes for my collection. 

Believe. What we believe in our heart changes daily decisions. I was struck by this Francis Chan quote:

"We need to stop believing everything we think.". 

Pause. Think. Repeat.

"We need to stop believing everything we think.". Stop it! 

It this world of mixed messages from media, music and social media, truth can be lost or worse... twisted and altered. There are severe consequence for altering God's truth. Some call those who twist the word of God "Truth Twisters". It is the very reason we must study and learn for ourselves... so we will know when the truth is being altered for comfort or convenience. 

The good news is that most things we wrestle with are made clear again and again. My Dad used to say, "God doesn't stutter." He repeats himself because he is the ultimate communicator. Dr. David Kale taught us people need to hear something 3 times to get the message and retain it. 

"Tell them. Tell them, again. Tell them you told them." Not too hard, right? 

Now, the creative communicator does it in three different ways. The brilliant marketing person makes us laugh, grabs our heart... or both!  Have you seen the commercial where the single Dad is teaching his teenage daughter to shave her legs? Brilliant. 


In that commercial, that Father believes that it is more important to be present, with his daughter and teacher her what she needs to know, that to be concerned with his own "manhood". That guy is more than a man... he is a father. 

How will we present ourselves before God? Were we fans, who thought him really cool or amazing, or will we stand before him believers who let his word mold and shape our lives as a response to the love he poured out blood red on the cross. 

The cross...our debt paid. Relationship restored. No longer Him and me... but a we. Yes, our crown is reserved when we become the children of God. Even the thief on the cross, who never dreamed the day of his death would be the day he would be saved, found new life in the last moments of his broken one. Crazy love.  

We need to stop hoping and start knowing. He is always true to his word.  

Believe. Then, pass along the good news of the gospel. Work to get it right, but know the scriptures will confirm and correct. 

Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately. -1 Timothy 2:15

This scripture reminds us to be accountable. 

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. -Hebrews 4:12-14

This scripture explains how God's word will take care of itself and will reveal our hearts. 

Now... not just the act of believing, but behaving in a way that shows what we believe. 

Someone once said: "Your life may be the only Bible some people ever read." Make it count. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose what we believe... and God can transform the tiniest faith into a mighty adventure.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Field Notes

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 54: Today, I am grateful for "field notes".

A life is so much richer when we go out and live it. 

I'm a safety girl, always looking for the dangers and fearing failure. It is the curse of the first born and type A personalities. Is it so wrong to want excellence? 

The problem is, there is a sense of flying reserved for those who aren't afraid of failure. My best learning... the stuff that sticks... often is accompanied with what appears to be failure. 

Again... I am relishing the concept that it is merely a plot twist. 

How do we get through these day with confidence and courage?

I like to take notes, read notes and share notes. At my current position, I use a data base for student information. I have a precious note book. Not a little thing... it is a 3 inch, 3 ring binder. It is what I go to when I am stuck or can't remember how to do something. 

My "PowerSchool" queens have created a document that is in my binder... I love those girls... with basic instructions for different tasks. Then, I have my pages of notes and example printouts. They are highlighted with additional notes and post-it notes (things change). No one else would understand much of what is in the binder, as it is personal and it is how I learn and understand. 

Some tasks are only a few times a year and my memory is limited to about "three sleeps". My field notes help me remember, reduce frustration and lesson my stressin'. Of course, my queens are but a phone call away. That is good to know. Still, there is a sense of accomplishment when I can figure it out with their instructions and my notes. 

Hmmm... is it any wonder that I love Bible journaling? I've been using colored highlighters and making notes since the 70's. My Bible from my days at ONU is still a favorite. It is large print NIV with not one fancy feature except Jesus words are in red and there is room to make notes with the large print format. It is still one I go to for comfort reading and insight. The notes in the back include some of my favorite verses. 

The New Testament is full of letters shared between believers who had witnessed the miracle of the cross and new life. They were persecuted, hunted at times and mocked. The letters Paul wrote... some from prison ...  have became "field notes"... and they still are.  

Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. -Job 4:4

Yes... more wisdom from the pages of Job. Who new better how tough life can get? His knowledge of who God was sustained him when literally everything else fell apart. 

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.-Psalm 119:11

What notes will we take today. Enjoy your day in the field. Take a risk and write down what you learn. Even if it doesn't come out the way exactly as planned. Embrace the plot twists and turns. 

Today, I am grateful for "field notes".

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Joy Fuel

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 53: Today, I am grateful for joy fuel.

"Figure out what fuels your joy and do a lot of that." -Bob Goff

I hope you aren't tired of my Bob quotes. I am learning so much. I am SLOWLY reading "Love Does" because I don't want to miss a morsel of the sweetness and any learning I might find between the pages. 

Joy fuel yields a joyful heart!  What fuels your joy? 

The no-brainer, quick answer is: Jesus. Okay, he is the source, but what is the fuel? What crazy (yes, still on that theme) little things fill your heart with whimsy and a smile. Life is too short to miss any opportunity to make a day, a minute or a moment extraordinary. 

The people we encounter may only get one opportunity to be loved today... you and me. That, my friend, is a purpose. 

When I was in junior high and high school, I  volunteered at "Exceptional Children's Camp" each summer. (It is now called "Everyone Cares Camp".) Our Chicago Central Church of the Nazarene hosted this camp each summer. Back then... it was in Aroma Park, IL. It was my favorite week of the summer. 

The campers were special needs people. Our youngest campers were junior high aged... and the oldest in their sixties. It was a one-on-one buddy system. The teens were the "counselors".  The campers came from all over. If campers came once... most came back. It was at that camp... through one special camper with Down's Syndrome named Stevie... that I came to understand "God vision" and His love. Many of us  went to "serve" but ended up being changed by the "least of these". 

At ECC camp... surrounded by those so often rejected by society (It was the 70's and 80's.)... that I discovered joy fuel. 

One camper... Julie Hasselbring... became "mine". She was in a wheelchair and was few years older than me. She was a young woman when I was a teen. She communicated with her fingers pointing to a communication board. She was witty and her big, full laugh touched my soul. We spent several summers together at camp. Her mind was locked in a body that limited her, but she didn't let that stop her joy. 

At ECC... I learned that tying your own shoes we worth a victory dance... every time. 
At ECC... I learned that anyone can do a Native American dance with respect and seriousness. 
At ECC... I discovered it is good to know the Heimlich maneuver for choking. 
At ECC... best friends could be made in a week and kept for a lifetime. (counselors & campers)
At ECC... I learned that the world is far more handicapped than most people with disabilities.
At ECC... I relished unconditional love and the joy fuel of serving "the least of these." 
At ECC... I learned some people are not called to such service and that is okay. There is plenty of kingdom work to be done in other places. 

The truth is... I gained far more than I gave. I think that might be how joy fuel works. 

In my cedar chest, I have a graduation card that Julie sent me. She must have seen a picture in the paper and her family helped her get a card and find the address. She signed it herself and that was hard for her. It is a treasure. Pure love. One card... sent in 1987... still makes me smile and remember sweet Julie and so many more. 

This day is full of potential. Love takes courage... and time. But, it is time well spent. 

The smallest act of love can change someone's day. I know... sometimes... the smallest act of love changes mine. 

Today, I am grateful for joy fuel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Little Dose of Crazy

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 52: Today, I am grateful for a little dose of crazy.

I love this little snippet from Alice in Wonderland. 

"Have I gone mad?"

"I'm afraid so, you're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret... all the best people are." -Lewis Carroll

My favorite doctor... Dr. Seuss... asked this life changing question:

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

It is the that little touch of inspiration, passion and drive that the world views as crazy that leads to amazing. 

"It's good to be weird." is what my sweet friend Kelly Cawthon Berry taught me in high school. I wrote that quote with her name on it on a favorite LA folder. 

I've been reading Bob Goff's "Love Does". The guy is nuts! In the best possible way. Who camps out on the College Dean's bench campaigning for law school admission so he can make a difference in the world... after not passing the LSAT... begging to get in? Bob does. I think the dean figured he'd flunk out faster than he would give up his "sit in" spot on the bench outside of his office. After several days...the dean let him in... and Bob did not flunk out of law school. He even passed the California bar exam. The lesson was that sometimes God doesn't close doors and open windows, sometimes he wants us to build or passion... our dose of crazy... for something more than what we initially see in the mirror. 

We see shortcomings and inadequacy... God sees places we will call on him for help. He created us with the ability to chose and do things on our own. His purpose in creating us was the hope that we would seek a relationship with him in spite of our amazing powers. Capable on our own. Better together. 

There is this amazing song by Matthew West. I am pretty sure he has found his lyrical spot calling writing songs that speak God's hope and truth to the broken. "Mended" is great example. Here are some of the lyrics:

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you're becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
You're not too far gone
You're one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I'm not finished yet, no
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see wounded, I see mended. Don't you love it! 

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Otg-5p7qug  

Okay, so perhaps it seems like that is God's dose of crazy. We are made in his image, right? His love never gives up on us. He simply wants us to love him back and trust his heart... and that "little thing" about going and loving your neighbor which is really the first step in fulfilling "The Great Commission". 

What feeds your dose of crazy today? Crazy love will change the world. It already has. More than 2000 years ago God refused to give up and made a way. That dose of stubborn isn't a uniquely human... we received it as part of being created "in His image". 

God acting outside of the science rules He created... that is a miracle.
Love that rescues souls... a love so deep it changes lives... that is a miracle.
A God who would step out of heaven to be our rescuer... a dose of madness!
He is mad about us. 
That crazy love brings me to my knees. 

Today, I am grateful for a little dose of crazy.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 51: Today, I am grateful for the life that comes with a heartbeat. 

As the "Love month" marches on past Valentine's Day... I am reminded that love is so much more. Paper hearts... represent relationship and romance... but it is the heartbeat that gives life to humans.

Our one heart pumps the blood that to the whole body. There is nothing as soothing as the lullaby of a steady heartbeat. It is the first lullaby a child hears while growing in a womb. It is the heartbeat that soothes a child to sleep when we hold them to our chests. Our one heart is kind of amazing. 

One heart beating in time with another... that is love.  
One heart seeking another... that is passion.
One heart remaining faithful... that is commitment.

We have two eyes. Two ears. Two hand. Two feet. 
We have troublesome one mouth and one tongue... that is plenty... or too many.
We have but one heart. Protecting it takes effort. 

Our heartbeat is the first sign of life... and the last on this gravity limiting planet. A heartbeat is precious... for as long as it endures... a soul can still seek the Savior. 

Once we find him, the purpose and the value of the heartbeat changes. It is still vital to earthly life, but how we start, end spend our days changes. 

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist; -Acts 17:27-28a

How shall we spend out today's precious gift of each heartbeat? Inhale his scent. Breathe out his spirit. Listen to his heartbeat. I says, "Love me. Love each other."

Today, I am grateful for the life that comes with a heartbeat.