Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Songs

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 211: Today, I am grateful for "new songs". 

I love music. It is my heart beat, my rhythm and my inspirations.  I literally...and this is scary...think in lyrics. 

Sometimes my lyrics are accurate. Sometimes, I make them up if I don't know them. Sometimes, I think I know them. It amuses my family to hear the mondgreen lyrics that roll off my tongue.

What is mondegreen? Mondegreen is a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song.

I am grateful for new songs when Earworm gets stuck on one and I need a change. My assessment of a song is lyrically driving. It is why ballads are my favorite and I can find a great song in nearly any genre of music. New songs that make hits are rare. Not all great songs become hits. Some old songs are new songs to me. 

Right now, my "new song" is Crowder's "Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)". It is has a strong beat, soulful lyrics and an almost rockabilly sound. It is a really catchy tune and your earworm learns it quickly.  Not sure where the pros classify it, but it is my new power song. It speaks hope, redemption and strength. I have shared it before, but if you missed it...  

Lift your head weary sinner. The river's just ahead.

Down the path of forgiveness, salvation's waiting there.
You built a mighty fortress, 10,000 burdens high.
Love is here to lift you up, here to lift you high

If you lost and wandering, come stumbling like a prodigal child. See the walls start crumbling. Let's gates of glory open wide. If your lost and wrecked again, come stumbling in. See the walls start crumbling. Let's gates of glory open wide. " - David Crowder

Good stuff!  What walls do I build 10,000 burdens high? There is no weariness he cannot restore. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

What is your new song? It can be a new scripture or quote that you adopt as a motto. I keep inspiration at my computer desk at home and surrounding me at work. I have Psalm 46:10 across the top of my kitchen wall. "Be still and know I AM God."

"Just when my hallelujah was gave me a new song." 

Today, I am grateful for "new songs".

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wait Is An Action Verb

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 210: Today, I am grateful that "wait" is an action verb.

This post took root in a devotional called "KAWA"  from Wilna Furstenburg (Dayspring Devotionals). She is one of the Bible Journaling artists I have discovered at Illustrated Faith. I have been inspired by her work. The image is from Robert W. Williams. 

Image from Robert W. Williams
If you have been reading long, you know I love words. I adore punctuation for the power it gives simple words. A semicolon makes us pause and it can even make my heart sing. Today, I am reviewing a popular passage. In it I find new meaning and new strength.Why? Because, I have learned that "wait" is an action verb. 

Isaiah 40:31 is easy to memorize, because we see it everywhere. For me, it has felt overused. Shame on me. God's word cannot ever be overused. But, we are warned we must not twist it, add to it or take away from it! We cannot overuse it and His face is found in His truth, His breath and His heartbeat. We can't hear Him speak if we spend no time in The Word. The more we read - the more we want to read. It is like digging for gold... only it is Word Fever. Can't get enough. 

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)
These words from the prophet Isaiah are full of hope. In truth, it is best served in context for the hope of the scripture expands with the surrounding verses. Mama Ina Mae says sometimes my posts are too long, so I will try to keep this short and maybe come back to the "big picture" later. Still, the verse feels so full this morning, I hate to neglect any of the sweetness. 

Read it again - but pause after the semicolon. (Really stop and wait...I mean it) THREE semicolons and one bold statement with a period. 

How many times to I try to make things happen on my own and I get in the way of His perfect plan? It says "but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;"

Wilna's devotional mad me curious. Off to the concordance we go. Strong's 6960 shows "qavah" as the Hebrew root for this passage. It rhymes with "java" only the emphasis is on the "va". That works for me. Kava and java go together when it comes to waiting on the Lord. I need a coffee cup that says: Java, Kava and Jesus...the only way to start the day. 

The definition of wait from the original text does not mean sit there and do nothing. What? It's true.  Check it out for yourself at or in a Strong's Concordance it is H6960. Qavah...or "Kava" to my American English...means to wait expectantly and with eagerness. Not to wait with boredom, but to wait on or upon. It literally implies to bind together or intertwine by twisting. While we wait, we twist, braid and intertwine with our Lord. Like a rope!

The first image that came to me was a child wrapped in-between a parents leg in fear or uncertainty. Or, the terrified little one that wiggles their way into mom and dad's bed ...between them... in the midst of a thundering storm. 

Then, came the image of a spouse, friends or family that are so entwined in our lives we cannot separate them out. They are a part of our being, wrapped around us and we cannot be separated. We go together in good times and in bad. Like a cozy hand-tied quilt or a warm blanket. 

When we wait on the Lord...the kava kind of wait... we wrap ourselves around him, clinging to Him. We seek to be in Him. Hearing His thoughts and letting His thoughts become a part of ours. That is where strength is born. Waiting on the Lord...clinging onto Him and seeking to be in Him... yields divine strength. 

Alone...I am weak and anxious. He is strong. When I bind myself to Him, strength increases. Without him we can do nothing. In him, we can weather the worst and most terrifying storms.  He is our hiding place. Kava is an action verb. Those who "kava" renew their strength. 

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

Let's pray. 

"Lord, teach me kava. Teach me to wiggle my way in to your being so that my spirit is strong and calm and sure. Your compassion never ends, but the trials of this world are real. 

Today, a local family...woven deeply into our community, our faith community and our hearts... is hurting. They are deeply loved. They are living with the reality this world's trials and illnesses. Grant them the strength of kava. Give those around them wisdom to love them well. Protect them from careless words and send them your strength in just the right ways.Guide the words and actions of those closest to them. Grant gentle mercies in the trials.

Let us  seek to be so tightly woven that nothing can separate us from you. Let us clearly hear your voice when the Spirit whispers our name. Our hope is in you, Lord. Only in you. - Amen"

This Isaiah 40:31 passage is not overused.  For me, it was misunderstood. I have new eyes for old words.

Today, I am grateful that "wait" is an action verb.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Arts in the Park

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 209: Today, I am grateful for "Arts in the Park"... another reminder to "love the city you are in." 

Last night, I was too tired to cook. Too tired to do much of anything extra. But, instead of lamenting the fullness of the week... and one more day to go... we chose to plug into the offerings of our small village. I am so glad we did!! 

Randy and I sat in Idlewood Park park from 7-9pm listening to live music. It was the last of the free summer concert series on Thursday nights we call "Arts in the Park". It was presented by the Morton Fine Arts organization. We have enjoyed every show we attended this summer. What typically might have been nap in the chair time... or TV time at home on Thursday nights...has been fun evenings out. Impromptu dates in the middle of the week that fit right in to our schedule (and budget). 

Dinner at the park was under $10 and benefited a local organization. The music by "Cousin Eddie" was fantastic. Really good! The atmosphere casual. The people relaxed. Friends joined us. Friends and community members were all around. I sat there thinking, about our blessings. 

One pair of young siblings were an additional show a they turned cartwheels, giggled and gathered dirt from head to toe. Randy observed that they must have found a mud puddle! They were filthy and so happy. The husband was up and down several times tending to everyone's needs. They were such a sweet sight. 

The wife, I did not realize until we were leaving (there were in front of us) held a baby. A very, new baby was cradled in her arms. I only noticed the babe as they packed up to go. We imagined they were heading home for quick baths (or maybe not so quick based on the dirt to skin ratio) for the older children and the hopes of everyone getting a good night's sleep. The kind of good sleep that comes from an evening in the fresh air. I hope they did. 

Earlier this month, Jeremiah 29:7 grabbed my eye. It has resurfaced again today. This morning, the lesson is once again a reminder to care about the welfare of where God has planted us. The city, the people, our neighbors (all of them) and even the leaders . Let's look at it again: 

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.-Jeremiah 29:7 

So, we are not exactly "in exile". Still, we all have seasons we feel certain we are "in the wrong place". The seasons life feels like we are in the wrong town, the wrong climate, the wrong state, the wrong culture, the wrong job, the wrong heath situation, the wrong school. the wrong neighborhood or maybe... the wrong church or even thew wrong marriage. The challenge and direction in The Word is to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you." 

What if we began to pray fervently for the welfare of the place and the people around us? It is where we have been planted? It is a way to "love our neighbors" and it honors God. I can't promise the circumstance will change...but I can promise that we will change. From the inside out our hearts and attitudes will soften. 

Nearly 30 years ago, we came to the Peoria area. We have spent most of it in Morton...the village our boys call "home". It is where we have been planted. It is not an exile situation by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think it is where we thought we would be, either. It is definitely, where God has placed us. He has allowed us so many amazing relationships and opportunities to serve. 

Each one of us comes to a place where we must look at where we are and choose. Will I be content where I am? Will I choose whining and complaining because it is not where I want to be?

Choice to act outside of human nature is part of our "soul-breath". God breathed it into us. It is our human superpower because we were "created in His image". 

I am grateful for THIS place!  We have made a life not just a living. It is not always "a wonderful life" but there is such goodness and opportunity around us. We sleep safe. We travel roads in relative safety. We drink clean water. We have "people". We have heat and air conditioning. We have pumpkins and sweet corn. We have enough. We have plenty. We have abundance. We have music in the park on a Thursday night. 

Today, I am grateful for "Arts in the Park"... another reminder to "love the city you are in." 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fresh Ambition

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 208: Today, I am grateful for the fresh ambition of the morning. 

Some weeks are so crazy that from sun up to sun down it is a fast paced run. It happens. The end of summer is like that for many.  Almost to the point that we begin to anticipate the routine of school and fall. It is one of those weeks. 

For me, morning is my time of day. Everything seems doable after a good night's rest. Nothing seems impossible. 

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24

The truth be told...some mornings are fresher than others. Today, it is a get through it and make it count kind of day. Do as much as you can and when the sun sets, let go of the burden. Today will be what it is... and it will be enough. 

His grace is sufficient for this day and the next.  I need that reminder. The whisper in my ear that says today was enough and tomorrow is the dawn of a new day. 

Yes, I love the smell of fresh ambition in the morning and the confidence that we are never alone. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 207: Today, I am grateful for lipstick and other good distractions.

Mama Ina Mae always said that you could throw on a little lipstick and blush and be good to go. I would trade the blush for mascara. To each his own. The point is that if you highlight a few good features...the bad hair day is a little less noticeable. 

Again...I think she had a good point. She likely learned it from Grandma. We can't control everything, but we can accentuate the positive. Don't you love this image I found on Pinterest? 

It is easy to become overly focused on what is wrong. We forget to maximize the things that are right. Human nature would rather we look down than up. We tend to frown to the ground instead of up to the God of the Universe. The One who keeps us delicately spinning in our little orbit a perfect distance from the sun. The one who has many lives to keep beyond mine, but I...we... get to be a part of His story. How amazing is that? Trials come, but they also go. 

 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? ince you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." -Luke 12:25-31
My young friend Ben has a "life verse" that has become one I claim, too. Sometimes, what makes no sense is a test of trust. Do I trust him? With just the good, or the tough stuff, too. 
Our Lord is actually quite amazing at comforting us through the darkest of days. I know this from first hand experience. I may not like the situation, but it is what it is.
Thank God, He is who HE IS (you know...'I AM"). I love a "be" verb.  When struggles come, I love this verse:
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so,I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5
It isn't what I would have chosen, but "because you say so, I will." Love that thought! Thanks Ben Geiger.
Life has mundane moments. Troubles. Bad days. Bad hair days, too (which are really not life threatening). To grow to a place of offering up worry and submitting to a sovereign God is a goal. It is a destination. It is evidence of faith.  
It is a process and he faithful to forgives when we fail. He smiles when we succeed. He looks past the mess and to the heart of the person. The world is not as loving, but there is always lipstick and mascara.  
Today, I am grateful for lipstick and other good distractions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Citrus Smells

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 207: Today, I am grateful for the fragrance of citrus. 

There is something about the smell of citrus. It brings the senses to life. It is the fruit that is ample in the winter months because it ships well and the colors shout summer. 

Citrus fruits have long been used to bring life to tables, dishes and even new life when used as cleaning products. I adore the colors and the smells. 

Peel a citrus fruit in secret and you will be discovered... for the fragrance fills the room. The aroma gives you away and clings to your hands. It is awakening and energizing. 

There are people who bring are like a breath of fresh air scented with citrus. They make us feel alive, awake and ready to go. We can choose our fragrance from a shelf (I love Amazing Grace, Angel, Burberry, Be Delicious and Happy)...or by an attitude. Our attitudes can bring life or cause distraction and add burden.

Yesterday, frustrating and out of my control computer changes impacted my aroma. Today, I will try again...and try harder. 

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, -2 Corinthians 2:15

I think I need some citrus to start may day! 

Today, I am grateful for the fragrance of citrus. 

Monday, July 25, 2016


Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 206: Today, I am grateful for firewalls. 

I loved this found image of an old switchboard operator. She was the original "firewall" of modern communication.  She was there to connect and disconnect the community phones. 

What seems archaic now, was very  modern at the time. She knew everyone's business and some more mature village people refused to use the phone for that very reason. Not so different from today, right?

Today, we think of our computers when we hear the word "firewall". A firewall is a a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication. They are there for our protections, although, there are times we fuss because they can interfere with desired connections.  Still, we are better with them than without them. 

Another firewall is the the term used in construction to keep fire from coming in or spreading out. Fire is a destructive force.  A building with a firewall is safer. 

The old line "fight fire with fire" was the bold and courageous use a controlled fire to stop the spread of on that is out of control. Scary, but it works. Fire cannot spread where there is nothing to burn. A wall of fire can be a wall of protection. 

My scrapbooking friend Cathy lives in Colorado. She experienced first hand what fire can do.  They, at one point, had to evacuate. They survived, and so did their home. I will never forget her talking about a stone quarry near by that used to be perceived as an eyesore. That very stone quarry became the "firewall" that protected their neighborhood when fires were out of control.  She remarked that she will longer see anything "ugly" in that stone quarry. 

Zechariah, in Old Testament prophesy, at one point has a vision and a message. God says:

And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst." -Zechariah 2:5

When fires of all kinds rage around us, we need firewalls.  We might not always appreciate them, but without them we would be in a whole lot of trouble. 

Today, I am grateful for firewalls. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Winning...Losing...or Learning?

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 205: Today, I am grateful to rethink the opposite of winning.  It is not losing... it is learning. 

Win or lose?
Win or learn?

In Sunday school, we were listening to John Ortberg talk about Silicon Valley corporations who will not hire people who have not failed. 

Really? Interesting right? 

Through failure people learn what not to do and how to improve the process. Through failure we learn humility and how to listen to guidance. Through failure, we get better. 

Teaching people how to find lessons in their failures might be better than the "everyone gets a trophy" approach.  Encouragement builds character more then ribbons and trophies. Our tennis coach was a master at this. He built up youth by getting to really know them, observing their strengths and weaknesses and then character building by stressing integrity on the journey.  He liked to win but not at the price of integrity or loss of character. He believed in "Character before victory.", his favorite John Wooden quote. 

I am not trying to paint rose colored glasses on messing up.  We succeed or we learn what doesn't work. What you frame as failure, you might "re-frame" as a lesson learned.Here are some common lessons learned.

Preparation matters. 
Failure isn't final.
Snooze buttons are dangerous.
Organization is a skill that counts.
Quality materials make a difference.
Time spent greatly increases positive success and outcomes. 
Most success is not quick or guaranteed.
Success can make us too comfortable.
Consistency is a strength.
A good team makes all the difference.
Some days are wins.
Attitude is a superpower.
People make mistakes.
I make mistakes.
Love always wins.

Isn't it amazing to live in a time where people get to explore and try new things over the course of a lifetime? What new thing have you tried lately? What natural talent is being ignored for fear of failing? What heart's desire is never presented before the Lord for fear he may send us down a new and scary path? God still opens doors and prepares his people for the next thing. 

Try new things!  There are lessons to be learned... and some wins to sweeten path. 

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."-Isaiah 43:19

Mama Ina Mae says "learn something new every day". 

Today, I am grateful to rethink the opposite of winning.  It is not losing... it is learning. We are never too old to learn. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Grateful Spot

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 204: Today, I am grateful for my cousin Tara...and the organ donor...and her new life. 

This is my cousin Tara. She is the daughter of "Aunt Mama" Bonnie. I look like her mother and she...from a distance...walks and carries herself much like my mother. No, we weren't switched at birth. Tara's dark hair makes us very different...but we do share the hazel green eyes. 

Tara just posted this selfie and it literally filled my eyes with tears. I think she is so beautiful. With failed kidneys, dialysis and all that goes with it... Tara's strength has been tested and at times, she has been exhausted. She was fighting for life ever day. She was covered in prayers and fought the battle day by day. 

This past spring - the call came. It was not the first time they had the call. They let you know one may be available, but then there is testing for compatibility. The organ goes to the person at the top of the list who is compatible. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. She never gave up. Never gave in. 

The news she was really getting the kidney started a whole new chain of prayers. These continue to be answered as she heals and gains new strength week by week. 

Then yesterday, she posted this "selfie". I cried. Her skin is glowing, again. Her eyes have sparkle and the whites of her eyes are so healthy. My cup overflows that she will continue to raise her children, love her husband, treasure her family and they will never forget that every day is a gift. 

I am grateful for the donor and try to remember to pray for the grief in the hearts of the donors family. I am grateful for the Kidney Transplant Team at Barnes in St. Louis. I the kinds of people who work in those units. Their compassion and care gave her hope and courage. 

I am grateful for the hand of God that guided surgeons, care givers and all who took part in Tara's miracle. I am grateful for her church and church family. I know has been a source of refuge on the hardest, scariest days of the journey. 

Today, I am grateful for my cousin Tara...and the organ donor...and her new life. 

Winnie the Pooh has his thinking spots. For me, this photo is a celebration of restoration. It is a grateful spot. 

Today, I am grateful for my beautiful cousin Tara...and the organ donor...and her new life. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

These Present Problems

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 203: Today, I am grateful when the problem is not the problem.

"The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem."  - Captain Jack Sparrow

Wisdom from Captain Jack Sparrow as only Johnny Depp can deliver.  Captain Jack never let the fact he was without a ship demote him. He looked in the mirror and always saw a captain.  Attitude can make or break us. It can sink the ship or keep it afloat when water is coming in faster than we can scoop it out. 

If you think you are are. Ever have seasons you are bailing water and trying to stay afloat? Don't we all?  

Back to the lesson from Elizabeth Elliot.  "Do the next thing. Do the thing in front of you." As my sweet friend Peggy and I used to say when we were in the middle of a big volunteer project..."Just keep swimming."  Now we borrowed that from Finding Nemo that was popular at the time, but the mantra got us through some days of wondering how the project would come together.  Some days, you just do what you can and add what is left to a list another day.  I am learning it is okay to be "in process". 

I like to conquer a task. Complete it. Check it off. Celebrate the accomplishment. The proverb- "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." sounds great. Right? But, even if I do ALL the laundry today...there is more by bedtime. The mopped floor gets dirty again. The toilet paper roll empties. Life is just so daily! 

"Danger...Will Robinson...danger!" - Robot, Lost in Space

Dangerous thoughts. The "I can't win" attitude steals our captain's hat and sinks a struggling ship. What if I respond with:
I still have a ship.

I still have a washer and dryer.
I still have clothes...clean and dirty.

I still have detergent. 
I still have a mop.
I still have a bucket!

Quite frankly... my problems are often far more related to my attitude than my actual circumstance. Some days, when sitting in what feels like a sinking ship, it never dawns on my that I know how to swim! And...the time I spent bailing water got me closer to shore. And, the swim to shore burns calories! 

We are all works in progress. We all have jobs, goals and assignments for this day. The best thing we can do is make our own lists...but then let God direct our days and our ways.  How many times to I miss the "God appointment" because my list is too, too busy? 

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -Romans 12:1-2

I am so far from perfect! Still, we are offered this encouraging word:

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."  -Phillipians 3:12

Press on!  Toward the goal.  With an attitude of gratitude and a contentment with the things in front of us getting done. One thing at a time.  Let Him handle the big picture. He's got this. 

Today, I am grateful when the problem is not the problem.

Willis Carrier

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 202: Today, I am grateful for
Willis Carrier.
It is hot. I love my Carrier air conditioner. I am grateful for the man who invented it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 201: Today, I am grateful for order.

Order is a beautiful thing. Chaos is scary. 

I really do like things in order. A clean space is a happy space. Even in the creative mess of my Scrapcave, I do better when there is order. Actually, my creative space is is deceptively organized mess. 

Don't laugh, but alphabetical order and Roy G Biv (the rainbow order of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo & violet) for colors make me giddy. Oh, yes. Order is a beautiful thing. 

Now, the process can be painful. From disorder to order, often requires change. A change of habits, a change of location, a change of process and a change of daily stuff management. I like to completely clean things out and then put things back with order. Clean slate style. 

The Love of my Life calls it micro-cleaning. He prefers I do it when he is not around as the mess gets worse before it gets better. His offers to help scare me. He would definitely be done faster and the dumpster would fill quickly. Still, I like to be sure before I purge. 

I think there is a lesson in simplicity to be learned. Too much stuff leads to disorder. Disorder raises anxiety. Real simple can result in real peace. God's peace. 

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." -1 Corinthians 14:33

What "stuff"? Anything that creates overload, chaos and mess in our world. Where can we simplify? Limit the "extra" activities. Buy all the same brand and style socks to make matching easy (I really need to do this...the sock basket is my nemesis). I like to alphabetize spices. Designate a day for certain tasks. Order is comfort. 

When we create order...we imitate our Creator who hung universe in place. Creating order... perhaps, it is a taste of heaven. Not boring. Simply wonderful. 

Today, I am grateful for order.