Sunday, December 31, 2017

He Is Enough - Year 5 Day 365

Daily Gratitude Year 5 -Day 365: Today, I am grateful another completed year of daily gratitude.

This world is full of trials and tribulation. Some will reflect on this past year with joy and others with tears. In truth, most of us will experience both of the course of 365 days. 

This year, my one little word has been "enough". I have prayed on it. Pondered it. Savored it. And, now... I will summarize the lessons of "Daily Gratitude-Year Five": In gratitude, He is enough. 

Brief history of this daily gratitude adventure. What began as a missed November 
2012 Facebook challenge to write a daily point of gratitude, became a January 2013 goal.  I would begin the year 2013 with one month of gratitude. I am not the biggest fan of winter, so I knew it would be good for my soul. By March 2013, I was hooked. 

Getting up every morning to spend time with the Lord and seeking his face with gratitude was life changing. Some days it comes easier than others, but I cannot even begin to put into words how "looking for the grateful spot" has made all the difference. Joy is fuller and sorrows are softened, when bow our heads in prayers of thankfulness before we lift our eyes to seek His face. 

1,826 (one Leap Year) Days of gratitude. Crazy, right? So... is Year Six on the horizon??? I always have to pause and contemplate another year.  It is a time commitment. I could do it privately on my own... but a public forum is accountability and I am truly humbled by how many stop by each day to share a minute of their day to share in daily gratitude, affirmation a post came out right...  or a word of encouragement. Here is each year in a nutshell:

Lessons in Gratitude- Year 1: "Gratitude doesn't change God, it changes us!" 

Lessons in Gratitude- Year 2: "Strength grows in a grateful heart." 
Lessons in Gratitude- Year 3: "Courage grows in a grateful heart."
Lessons in Gratitude - Year 4: "Vision clears in a grateful heart."
Lessons in Gratitude - Year 5: "In gratitude, He is enough." 

Am I done learning? Not even close. The world seems to be growing in impatience. It is so easy to get sucked into the doom, gloom and the woes. It is easy to feel helpless, but as long as we have hands to serve and feet (or a computer) to carry the good news, we can find His peace. Even in the most troubled times. 

Look at this verse of hope: 

"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

Don't you love that last part? "But take heart; I have overcome the world." Note the pause... the semicolon. 

Take heart my friends. We can face 2018 knowing that Jesus' status is unchanged. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Good Shepherd and the Overcomer. He is our Prince of Peace, even in the most troubled times. He still hovers over the Earth, keeps the stars counted and knows the number of hairs on our head. Nothing is too hard or too much for Him. 

Thank you for sharing year five with me. Your companionship really does make it even better. I hope you will continue on this journey. Perhaps, you might start your own daily journal of one little gratitude a day.(or just try it for January or February)

If you prefer an easier read than Facebook:

Gratitude is amazing. The more we pour it out... the more we find to be grateful for in our daily, ordinary lives. It is soul satisfying and God pleasing. Gratitude doesn't change God. it changes us. In gratitude we discover, He is enough. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can pause to take in the fullness of the gift of each new day.

Today, I am grateful another year of daily gratitude.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

White Wonders & Winter's Work

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 364: Today, I am grateful for snow white wonders and winter's work. 

This little collage (Pinterest found) seems to capture the snow white wonders of winter. Isn't it beautiful? 

This season... although not my favorite... has a glory all it's own. When the snow falls and blankets the ground in a pristine white covering, how can we not pause to take it in. 

I love to watch the animals, who seem unbothered by the frigid temperatures, go about their work and play. The warmth of woolen mittens and a cup of something warm, it stirs something inside us that the other seasons can't quite reach. In winter, we are forced to pause. 

Yes, winter is the semicolon season. Embrace the pause... and pay attention. The thought is not quite finished. 

Winter's rest has a unique purpose... all its own... that must be accomplished. Dormant is not dead. Hibernation is not hiding. It is winter's work. 

Again this scripture comes to mind: 

"You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter." 
-Psalm 74:17 

Boundaries, order and all things in their season. 

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." -Psalm 19:1

Nature cannot help but showcase the miracle of His mighty hand as it caresses a weary world and allows us the winter season. 

Today, I am grateful for snow white wonders and winter's work. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fallow Ground

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 363: Today, I am grateful for fallow ground.

Most farm kids grew up hearing the phrase "fallow ground". I remember conversations, "That is fallow ground." Or, "Are we leaving that "fallow?" By definition, fallow ground is "plowed and disced, but left unsown for a period of time to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production." Farmers might work the ground with a plow and disc harrow, but leave it unsown to give it time to rest and restore. 

It is an old farming practice with Biblical roots:

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.”-Exodus 23:10-11

It is good for the land. It means better and more abundant crops when the land has healed. After the rest... it must be broken up and leveled before planting. 

Today, modern farming practices including crop rotations in two or three crops. It means the practice of "fallow ground" is not as common. Today, as I was reading, I was reminded of the lesson and the luxury of "fallow ground". Time to rest and restore... and then breaking up fallow ground to bring new, better and richer crops. There is a lesson here.

What part of our hearts, life practices or daily walk have we left fallow and unused? What or why do we hold back? What gift, talent, land, use of time or opportunity has remained unused. What area of our lives is rich and ready to be planted and harvested? 

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord,that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. -Hosea 10:12 

God wants us to seek him with our whole hearts. He longs to be sovereign in every unused portion... holding nothing back. The unused parts, when surrendered to His hand, can yield a bountiful harvest. It is so easy to let fear hold us back from the offering. (Romans 12:1-2)

Feelings of inadequacy or being unqualified are the enemy's way of keeping us chained by fear. We all have fallow ground that is rested, ready and waiting to be used for the King. Breaking ground on something new is not only exciting, it is often where God can use us best. It is the place where we are not weary and worn out... but wonderfully fraught with potential. 

The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” -Matthew 13:23

It is a great day... as this year is wrapping up... to consider what unused piece of our hearts we might surrender to his service in 2018. He longs for an intimacy with us that is indescribable. What many don't know, is that the emptiness they feel is a puzzle piece in their soul that only He can fit and fill. 

We were first created for relationship first with Him.  He longs for us to be "all in". He is itching to use the fallow ground of our lives to His glory, to feed, build up and encourage others. In the process, we find a deeper intimacy with the Lord of our Hearts. What are we waiting for? It is time to break up the fallow ground so it can be useful, once again. 

Today, I am grateful for fallow ground.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Treasure Pleasures Unfettered

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 362: Today, I am grateful for treasure pleasures unfettered.

One of the greatest tragedies of daily living is ignoring a creative calling. We all have them. Some are more "artistic" than others, but each of us has something that makes our soul sing. What?

So many talents and treasures are left uncovered.

Sharing a meal.
Encouraging the discouraged.
Organizing chaos.
Carving wood... or ice.
Cake decorating.
Decorating a home.
Growing a garden.
Playing a musical instrument.
Managing a group.
Leading a team.
Fundraising to meet needs.
Character assessments.
Caring for youth.
Bringing dignity to the elderly.
Record keeping for good management.
Writing music.
Teaching music.
Dance... performing or teaching.
The list goes on and on...

"It'd be tragic if the treasure and talent within you was buried under the opinions and expectations of strangers." - Lisa Bevere

Human voices can truly confuse us. We were designed to be in relationship with God, yet, we allow ourselves to be directed and led by human, popular opinion. It messes with our compass.

"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" - John 5:44

Our Lord calls us to be free to be who He intended us to be. Unfettered. I really like that word. "Released from restraint or inhibition". We are free to be all that he intended us to be, if we listen to His voice over the crowds. 

Unfettered, but choosing Christ as our compass. He will be our "True North" and will illuminate the path. One of the enemies biggest lies is that submission to a sovereign God will clip our wings. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He wants us to fly by faith, knowing we can rest in the shelter of His wings. He longs for our faith to be bigger than our fears so that we can explore, discover and live life more abundantly. 

"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. Amen." Ephesians 3:19-21

The love of Christ surpasses knowledge. We can be filled with the fullness of God. 
Filled with the one who can do far more than we can conceive. He is able!  The possibilities are truly endless. There is a power at work within for those who say "yes" to His best. 

We are on the cusp of a new year. New adventures ahead. 

Today, I am grateful for treasure pleasures unfettered

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sun Reflecting on Snow

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 360: Today, I am grateful for winter sun reflecting on snow. 

In winter... light and warmth are cherished. When sunlight reflects off of snow, it increases the brightness. It can be blinding, but it still makes us smile. 

Winter sun with snow to magnify the light... it recharges the soul. The part of us that becomes weary in winter cannot help but sing when the sun bursts forth to conquer any gloom. 

"You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter." -Psalm 74:17

Yes, there are boundaries on the earth. There is order in the seasons. Still, he loves to surprise us with unexpected gifts... like winter sun. 

Today, I am grateful for winter sun reflecting on snow. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Things above

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 359: Today, I am grateful we can think on things above. 

Dr. Seuss once wrote: "Oh the thinks we can think." He hit the nail on the head. Our minds are powerful. They say we don't even completely understand what the mind can do. We all know what happens when negative thoughts set in. Nothing good comes of it. 

I think it must make God sad when we compare ourselves to others. 

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Teddy Roosevelt

In scripture, we are reminded that each one of us was knit in our mother's womb with wonder and delight. Each of us is full of promise. We need to remember that the one who called us according to his purpose has equipped us and will make a way. 

"Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth." -Colossians 3:2 

Each of us must choose our focus as we make our way. As we come to the end of another year... what has been the "main thing"? Is He the main thing? What little daily steps do we take to keep our minds on Him?

Today, I am grateful we can think on things above. 

Monday, December 25, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 358: Today, I am grateful for Simeon. 

Simeon was a man who loved God and served him. The Spirit has promised him he would not die before seeing the Messiah. 

What a promise! What a wait! A lifetime of expectancy. 

He knew when he saw Jesus, immediately who the child was. The Spirit revealed the truth of the child in  his arms. Simeon broke out in praise to the Father as took the baby in his arms. 

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” -Luke 2:28-32

I think of the expectant waiting of small children as they try to sleep on Christmas Eve. The truth is... a Christmas wish list will be forgotten and the hot item this year will soon be forgotten. With Jesus... he is so much more than we ever expect. Trusting him leads to new adventures and opportunities. 

He is enough. Always.  Simeon knew he would see the child born in his lifetime, but he did not know when that would come to pass.He waited in prayer and with hope. 

Both Simeon... and Anna, who is mentioned later in Luke Chapter 2 experience a wait that finally ended. The gift of the Christ child was a very real answer.They had ideas, but nothing could compare to God's way. 

I inspired by their examples. 

Today, I am grateful for Simeon... and Anna. .

Sunday, December 24, 2017

God's Timing

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 358: Today, I am grateful for God's time timing.

Imagine... a teenage girl about to give birth far from home.
Her husband, older than she, but no more experienced than his young wife.
The government demands only added to the burden. A crazy leader who was unpredictable in word and deed.
Yet, it was finally time for the prophecy of the Messiah to come to life.

God's timing does not always make sense immediately, but it is always perfect.

His ways are not our ways. He sees the bigger picture when I can't wrap my head around much more than one day at a time.

Jesus was born at time without internet, cell phones and cars. He was trained in a trade during a time and culture that it was respectable work. Not glamorous, but honest work. I love that his earthly father's trade was one that used wood, nail, patience, creativity and courage to begin. God specifically chose the couple, the time and and the place.

It would all come together to glorify God and his decision to join us in human form to truly know what it was like to be in human skin. Long awaited... but right on time.

This season, we get to pause, practice gratitude and celebrate the birth of our Savior. Because he came... we have new hope and a joy the world cannot steal from us. Odd little package.. a baby in a manger. Not where you typically find God... or is is?

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:12

Why a manger? Why not a manger? 

Where do we find him today? Why not a grocery store line, the carpool line or a coffee shop?He came to know us and go before us, so that we would be spared the price of our sins. The eternal, chose to be limited by human skin and walk with us. 

He acts in ways that are a mystery to me... but I love to wonder at it all. Especially tonight. 

Listen for Angels. Look for the star. Don't miss the manger. 

Today, I am grateful for God's time timing.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Disposable Tissue

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 357: Today, I am grateful disposable tissue. 

I know it is good to be green. To be Earth conscious and diligent. Still, there are some things that are a luxury and a health aid in the season of bugs. 

I know today, my gratitude should be something beautiful. Then again, maybe it is. 

Today, I am grateful for Kleenex and Puffs. Amen. 

Friday, December 22, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 356: Today, I am grateful for inclusion.

I always was sad when "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was excluded from the reindeer games. Children can be cruel. For that matter, so can adults. We love to set up hierarchies and clubs where some are "in" and some are "out". Not very friendly, but it is a reality. 

I remember in Kindergarten being excluded because something was wrong with my clothes. Something I didn't even understand at the time. I remember getting notes on my report card because I was much happier playing with the boys, and my teacher felt I needed to play with the girls. Seriously? The boys would build an amazing castle out of the "brick" building blocks and I always got to be queen. Why would I want to play with the girls and share the crown?

We have all had seasons when we feel included; times we've been left out. Isn't it good to know we have a Savior who came as good news to all people. 

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”-Romans 9:25  

Soon we will celebrate Christmas. We will exchange gifts with loved ones and share once-a-year holiday meals. Some around the table we wish we could see more often. Others, may test the limits of our grace. Still, each one belongs. Beloved is a beautiful word. 

Hosea's story is one of God boldly calling a faithful servant to do something that seemed crazy. Marry a prostitute? It is one of the most unusual love stories in the Bible, but that is what makes it so special. When we are at our darkest... His love wants to find us. When we feel unlovable and excluded, God says, "My beloved, you belong." 

Day 22 in a dress, for the cause of Dressember to fight human trafficking, the sex-trade and other modern day slavery. 

""...and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’"

When changed by grace, all things become new. We no longer need to feel excluded or an outsider, because we belong to Him. The stain of our past is washed away by his love, grace and he calls us to belong.  

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2 Corinthians 5:17


Today, I am grateful for inclusion.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Board Games

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 355: Today, I am grateful for board games. 

This was too funny not to share. I love Scrabble.  I love that my newly married into the family daughter, Emma, understands that when forced to choose between the highest scoring word and the coolest word... it is a tough choice. All of us have suggestions for more letters.

I love that the Christmas season brings time for board games with family and friends. It is good to sit around the table and laugh together. It is the good stuff. 

This is one of the great things about adult children. The games are no longer Candy Land, Trouble and Connect Four. They are strategic and some are even cooperative. I can't wait to see what the season brings. 

Board games have been around for centuries. In fact, Senet is the oldest known board game has been found in the tombs of Egyptian kings like Tutankhamun. Others like The Royal Game of Ur, Nine Men's Morris and Mancala have strong links to culture and have a place in history. 

Being playful is a part of who God made us to be. We need to play, just like we need to work. We weren't just designed to tend the garden, but to enjoy it. Right? All things in balance. What kind of mind creates games? One created in His image:

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." -1 Colossians 1:15-16

Board Games make a great gift, but did I ever contemplate the creative mind that puts it together? Not until today. Relationships can be built and strengthened through play. I wonder what games Jesus knew as a child? I imagine he played games like any ordinary child. Perhaps, even board games. 

If the opportunity comes up, play a game. Enjoy the fellowship. Listen to the conversation. Behold the fellowship. Take it in. Savor the moment. 

Today, I am grateful for board games. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 354: Today, I am grateful for Bethlehem. 

"O Little Town Of Bethlehem"... so insignificant... but God can do so much with people, places and things thought insignificant by the world.  In fact... I think he delights in doing the unexpected. Illuminating his light and truth through the ordinary, we get a snapshot of His glory. 

The simple image here, is brought to life with simple lines, lettering and a scripture we know and love. The image was found on Pinterest. I could not find the artist name to give credit. It makes me want to try something similar. Such a simple line drawing, brought to life with scripture. 

The verse is perfect for the art.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Luke 2:1,4-5

 Simple, insignificant Bethlehem becomes the place of wonder and prophecy fulfilled. 

"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." -Micah 5:2 

What seemed like an inconvenience to Joseph and Mary at the end of her pregnancy, was part of the plan. Did they realize it at the time? Matthew did when he penned the first Gospel of the New Testament. 

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” -Matthew 2:6 

For ordinary man, seeing is believing, but faith calls our hearts to step out in trust. The Spirit whispers that nothing is ordinary when God is in it. Not Bethlehem. Not our ordinary days when bow to the sovereign King of Eternity. 

Today, I am grateful for Bethlehem.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

St. Nicholas & Dressember

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 353: Today, I am grateful for St. Nicholas.

The spirit of charitable giving, good will and rescue... this is a beautiful way to celebrate the season. 

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of those who need to be rescued and redeemed. 

Santa Claus ... the true story ... was born during the third century in the village of Patara. The area was Greek at the time. Today it is the southern coast of Turkey. Raised by wealthy parents, but orphaned young, Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. 

Nicholas was made a bishop in the church at a young age. He was known for his spirit of generosity for those in need. His heart for children and his concern for sailors and ships was common knowledge . He understood the reality that poor orphans ended up in slavery, including prostitution. 

One of the most retold stories of his compassion toward the poor, was for a father with three daughters. He did not have the resources to provide a proper dowry for his three girls. They were of marrying age, but unwanted without something of value to bring to the marriage. The man was heartbroken and feared for his daughter's destiny. They would be sold into slavery... and possibly prostitution. Not by choice, but by circumstance. Without money or a husband, his death would leave them unprotected. 

The story says that Nicholas became aware of this father, his daughters and her troubles. The tale has been retold over the centuries with slight variations. Some say Nicholas threw bags or balls of gold into an open window landing in shoes or stockings left by the fireplace to dry. Traditionally, oranges have represented balls of gold. We still hang stockings by the fire keeping the tradition. The three daughters were rescued by his gift of gold for a dowery. 

On giving Tuesday in Dressember, the legend of St. Nicholas connects so beautifully. If you look at the list of people to whom he is considered the patron saint... it is those that even society sees as lost souls who need protection and redemption. It is quite a list. Remember, children were very much second class citizens of the day. And women were often left with only their bodies to trade to feed themselves and their children. Have we really come that far. 

An estimated 45.8 million slaves exist today. Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry. 5.5 million children are forced into slavery. 17,500 people are trafficked and traded in the United States alone, annually. The average price of a human life? $90 

Again... it think of Rahab (Joshua 2). The prostitute who helped the Israelite spies, who was redeemed and became a great-grandmother of King David, son of Jesse.She is boldly listed in the genealogy of Jesus. 

"Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse," -Matthew 1:5

Rahab rescued the spies and they rescued her. Not quite that final scene from "Pretty Woman" but then again... not that far off. 

Nicholas used his wealth to give and lessen  the burden of those hurting and at risk. 

James 1:27 has a powerful verse:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

We can argue religion, doctrine and theology... but loving God with our whole hearts means seeking out the hurting, broken and lost for rescue and redemption. Nicholas lived out what he believed. He is worth remembering. Jesus died that all who call on him, might be saved, rescued and restored. No longer orphans and widows... but sons and daughters of the King. 

Remembering the good St. Nicholas... fighting modern day slavery with Dressember... kneeling at the manger and at the cross... it is the opportunity and the beauty of this day. 

Today, I am grateful for St. Nicholas... and Dressember.