Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Perfection Not Required

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 151: I am grateful perfection is not required. 

I am often fascinated by the band of believers that Jesus put together to carry the gospel of Christ. What an eclectic bunch.

Different socioeconomic positions. Questionable characters before Jesus. Businessmen. Intellectuals. Impulsive personalities. And... John the Baptist... I know they were cousins, but he as certainly odd by societies standards. Still, they all had unique, God breathed gifts that would help expand the boundaries of the gospel. They couldn't keep silent about the Jesus they and come to know or experienced. 

They couldn't hide the light Jesus had poured into their darkness.

Bob Goff said this:

"Be the kind of light that makes people squint so hard they don't see you anymore." 

The idea is that all they see is Jesus. Oh, to be that kind of light. (Insert deep sigh of wonder and awe)

Frankly, if you get too close to me... there are countless flaws and weaknesses. I have buttons that can be pushed. I say things I wish I could take back. I blow it sometimes. Really blow it. 

Still, his grace is sufficient to cover my sins and my flaws when I run back to His arms. He has been in human form. He knows temptation and struggle because he became one of us and faced it all. 

He is the ultimate overcomer and encourager. In fact, he rarely chose the brightest and the best. Those who believed themselves "good" and "good enough" often rejected the gospel. They were religious but there was only pomp and circumstance. The relationship was empty. 

Jesus offered life to societies broken and rejected and made them shiny and new. He lit their light. Love fanned the flame and they burst into high impact individuals. Not by theology, education of fancy degrees... but by a passion to share what they had found in Christ.

They were bright and shiny... offensive to some, but others were fascinated and found their way to the light for themselves. Truth and light go together. 

Satan whispers the only light you can truly be beautiful in is the dark. 

Jesus proves that he can pour light into the broken places and everything changes from the inside out. For those who find the beauty in the nail scarred hands... how can we believe he doesn't find beauty in our mess when we return to him... lost children coming home. Perfection is not required. In fact... he can use the lessons learned in the trials, troubles and bad decisions.  

I started somewhere else this morning... but this passage from "The Message" version offered such encouragement I had to share it. 

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”-1 Corinthians 1:29-31 (The Message)

We don't need to come to him after we clean up our lives. We need to present our lives to him today... imperfect as they may seem... as living sacrifice to the work of the Kingdom of God. (Romans 12:1)
Let him be the polish that makes the light shine. We can't do it on our own. He is the power source. Plug in. 

I am grateful perfection is not required. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wedding Traditions

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 150: I am grateful for wedding traditions.

Warning... wedding pictures may continue.

This weekend, I was reminded once again of the value of traditions. Weddings are full of them. 

Emma carried a Bible that Grandmother and... I think her Mom... carried, too. (Donna you can correct that if you want). Chase carried a beautiful antique watch from Grandpa Lindgren that he had cleaned up and in pristine condition. When Chase was born, Dad put Chase's picture in the watch. Chase replaced it with Emma's. 

They had the old, the new and I am sure the blue was not missed. 

Traditions remind us all all the stories that lead up to our own being written. They are part of our roots, and they give us wings. 

Each church has some traditions. In ours, after the vows are said, the congregation, also, makes a pledge to love, support, guide and commit to helping a young marriage grow and thrive. We, too, answer "We do." To know that a "house full" of people... guest, family and friends... cared enough to be there and to pledge their help, encouragement, wisdom and support in the days that follow... that may be the best gift of the day. 

One giggle was when Pastor Aaron asked, "Is everyone was ready for these two to get married?" There was a resounding "Yes!".  He could not have blessed them with a more personal, special and Spirit filled service. 

Several in the pews were in Emma's grandparents wedding(Herb & Darlene). They watched her father, Jeff,  grow up, find love and marry... and, now, Emma. 

The first dance as husband and wife is a sweet moment. They enjoyed conversation and being as "alone" as you can get with all eyes on you. The repeating chorus was "It all comes back to you." 

That is their story. They saw far aways places. They attended different colleges. They made different friends. Then they took inventory of what they found beyond the borders of home. But they discovered the best one for them... the one they would choose again and again over any other... was the one who had already shared their first nearly 26 years. 

Our hearts could not be more full... to bursting with joy! 

Traditions remind us of where we come from and give us a compass as we press toward the future. 

The Word points us to the rich value of passing on traditions that remind of God's active presence in our lives... past, present and future. The traditions help keep us focused on him. They are not the answer or the way, but they help us find The One and The Way. 

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace." 2 Thess. 2:15-16
A new marriage... a season of hope and grace... and the traditions remind us to savor it all as we take in the once in a lifetime moments. 

I am grateful for wedding traditions.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Moments Captured in Photographs

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 149: I am grateful for captured moments in photographs.

My poor family endures endless pictures. Photography is a hobby and a passion, and they are my favorite subjects. 

It is official. Chase has had enough photos to last him for the next decade, but I am so grateful they took so many on their special day. I am grateful for each precious, fleeting moment captured. 

One of the greatest gift technology has given us is the photograph. We can capture real details in a picture that once required an artist's hand to paint. I loved my first SLR... a Canon rebel that Randy purchased for me as a gift. Film and "free extra prints" at developing. It was "the good old days". 

Today, we take more pictures, but many are never printed. It was one of my great fears of going digital... and my concerns were valid as I don't print as often or as many as I should. I know some fun Apps will do it for you each month. I need to look into that, except, I am a camera snob. I like my DSLR camera photos best. Still... as a wise person once said... "The best camera is the one in your hand." A camera at home is useless.

Captured moments... precious, fleeting and over in a blink. The ones we capture in a photograph, we can take out and treasure again and again. 

Another cute saying:"If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be one it.". A picture on the refrigerator says "you matter to me". 

We capture the little details of life in a picture. That is one of the sweet benefits of a cell phone. You always have a camera. I need to use mine more. Of course, that would mean I would have to know where it was and be able to find it in my purse. I rarely had it in my hand at the wedding. We were busy in the moment. I didn't want to miss the moments because I was fussing with the camera. 

Balance is good in all things. Pictures remind us what is important... and what is not. 

Hairstyles and clothing styles change with the season. The faces and the emotions captured are timeless. I love that we do so many "emotion" images in this generation of photography. 

As I look at this image... my heart is full. How do words even come close to capturing what this moment feels like?

A picture is worth a thousand words. This one is priceless.

On special days... like days of making a new marriage covenant... we put on our best clothes to make the best presentation to each other and to God. It is not about the clothes... but the clothes and the splendor are part of the offering. Bringing our best to each other and to the One who created man and woman for the marriage union. How beautiful is the gift! How great the joy!

"and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Colossians 3:10

New roles... a new name for the bride... and a new life as one devoted to each other. May God grant you mory years than tears and more life than strife, but most of all... may he keep you serving together... tenderly held in the palm of His hand. 

I am grateful for captured moments in photographs.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Celebrations

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 148: I am grateful for happy celebrations that bring us together

It has been a day with family and a day of rest. 

Laughter round the table is best. The wedding is now a memory, but the guests who came warmed our hearts with their love and support. Those who traveled many miles to share the joy met up for a little more fellowship and laughter on this beautiful Sunday. 

 Yes... today, I am grateful for happy celebrations that bring us together

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Wedding Day

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 147: Today, I am grateful for a wedding day! 

Today, as I prayed over the start of the the day, was reminded of the scripture from Isaiah about the stars. Chase and Emma love stargazing. 

Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing. Isaiah 40:26

He calls them by name... and not one is missing. What an awesome snapshot of our Father's knowledge of the universe he created... and his creation. 

Today will be full.

A groom will take his first look at his chosen bride. His eyes will twinkle.
A bride will float in the dress of her dreams to the one her heart waited for. 
Two sets of parents will give thanks for the answered prayers and the gift.
Families and friends will delight in the celebration of a covenant sealed. 
Hearts will overflow... and a few eye might, too. 

Today... one of "the stars" will change her name. The Father will know... and smile. So, will we.

Jesus first recorded miracle... it happened at a wedding. 

Today, I am grateful for a wedding day!

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Magic of New Beginnings

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 146: Today, I am grateful for the magic of new beginnings.

This morning... it is the dawn of a new day. It is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. Tomorrow... our son will take the hand of the woman he has chosen and claim her in covenant before God that they will be partners in life, in service and in love. 

Life. Service. Love. All of those things can have some bumpy roads, but love will cover a multitude of sins and imperfections. 

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

Love... in marriage... is a perfect commitment to an imperfect person. In the best fits, couples balance each other out with their strengths and weaknesses. Our kids have chosen well. Our hearts are full. 

God's gift of marriage is rich, full and hard work at times, but when well cared for, it will last a lifetime. Intimacy means people know us... really know us. When in that full knowledge of who we are - the continue to love us - that is the miracle of marriage. While culture calls us to chase the fleeting beauty found on the front of a magazine cover, true beauty will always catch our hearts.

A cup of coffee...warm and waiting.
A fresh picked peony from the yard.
A groomed lawn that says, "our home matters to me."
Clean underwear magically in the drawer.
The scent of a favorite cooking baking.
A shared bowl of popcorn or goldfish.
The secret glance of an inside joke.
Knowing what the other is thinking.
Speaking the same words at the same time.
A love note in the lunch box.
Giving up control of the remote. 
Watching the stars.
A senior couple walking along holding hands. 

Oh... the magic of new beginnings. Our hearts are full with our love for them and the joy of their well chosen, perfectly suited mate. Both have traveled to faraway places.. but when they were ready... discovered the best possible choice had been close by all along. 

I have savored being the first place girl in his heart for a beautiful season. It is with prayer and intention that I acknowledge and celebrate Chase's choice. Emma is tender with his heart. She knows him with the experience of nearly 26 years and loves him with a constant, patient love that melts a mother's heart. How do I even begin to thank God for this precious gift of a mate who loves my son differently than I do, but with a beautiful fierceness? 

He... too... is learning to always consider her heart when making a choice or decision. Neither will be perfect in the marriage adventure, but they will hold hands and press on. Annoyance blossomed into affection. Like grew into love. Shared history and joined dreams. 

It is a new beginning. Do we shed some tears? Of course, it is a happy mix of memories, moments, magic and meaning as two lives are joined. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." God is the Gorilla Glue.

Today, I am grateful for the magic of new beginnings.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

More Than Enough

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 145: Today, I am grateful His grace is always more than enough.

Sometimes... I am frustrated by human limitations. I make mistakes. I get tired. My body has some things that are broken. When juggling many tasks, I sometimes drop a ball, and it rolls away unnoticed... until I need it and can't find it. 

I don't know why two socks go into the dryer and one sock comes out. The twenty-four hour day seems impractically short for all that needs to be accomplished by human hands as the day is envisioned in my human mind.

My high school and lifetime friend, Kristin, once shared this thought a long time ago. I have kept it close to my heart for the great wisdom. It is from J. Vernon McGee:

"This is God's universe, and God does things his way. You may have a better waybut you don't have a universe." --J. Vernon McGee

Whoa!  Hold your horses. Again, I am reminded that I am not the center of the universe. Babies think they are... but they learn and grow. They mature and and learn to reason. 

The world today is constantly teaching and preaching "do what feels good" or "do what makes you happy". What happened to "Do the right thing, even if no one is watching." Character still counts. The funny thing is that most who chase the self-serving and self-elevating life find everything but happiness and peace. You can read about their trials in the gossip magazines. 

Just because something is accepted or popular doesn't make it okay or right. When in doubt, use the "litmus test" Jesus gave us to determine a path or a behavior:
"Does this choice help us seek, love and get to know the Lord with all of our heart?"
"Does this choice help us love our neighbors... all of them?"
This test never fails to help direct our paths, because it acknowledges Him in all way. 

We were created to know this God of the Universe. None of us are "only children" when we call him Father. Unlike Burger King... his slogan is not "Have it your way." His promise is that "In my way, all things work out for your good... but the story isn't over. Not my story... and not yours. Each season is a chapter, and his "Big Story" is still unfolding. 

Each day, I am tempted to review all of my shortcomings and things I didn't get done. I want to conquer the workload,  and win! Get real... I'd be content to have all the laundry done and the house clean at the same time. 

In truth, His call on our hearts is to seek Him, serve Him, serve others and love with open hearts. He will not be collecting my checked off "To Do" lists at the end of my life. He will ask me, "What did you do with what I gave you?" 

His expectation is that we live together in grace and in harmony. The best part of "harmony" is that that we sing different parts. United but unique, too. Perfectly blended. He wants us to embrace our part and find joy in it. We don't need a solo part to find the joy of being in the choir. 

Perhaps, imperfection is part of his gift. One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Corinthians 12:9. 

"Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." -1 Corinthians 12:9

Like Paul, I have an infirmity that God has only partially healed. I am reminded of it daily. There has been partial healing, and for that I am forever grateful.  I know that he is capable of a full healing, but I think that it keeps me humbled to have to rely on his strength and his grace. Perhaps, perfectly broken is better. It keeps me reliant on His grace and strength. 

He is our enough!

Today, I am grateful His grace is always enough... it's more than enough.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fear Calming Love

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 143: Today, I am grateful for fear calming love.

When a verse hits a homerun in your heart, there is nothing like looking at it in multiple translations. It is like wrapping yourself in a comfy robe and enjoying a second cup of coffee.

Since today is not that comfy robe day, I will delight in His Word that is perfect fuel for a Wednesday just a few days before a wedding... at the end of a school year... and just 48 hours before we fill the house with loved ones to join the celebration. 

The desire to get things "just right" can steal the joy. Satan loves it when we fret in the midst of what should be nothing but celebration and rejoicing. So... this verse sticks, today. 

I relish the reminder that "with his love, he will calm, all your fears." 

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

That was the New Living Translation and here it is in the New Living Translation:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. -Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

I encourage you to go to Biblegateway and type in the passage. Then, scroll to the bottom and click on the link to "All English Translations". Pick a favorite or two... or three. What about my dear old friend the New International Version:

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

In some, we see the Mighty Warrior who protects, rescues and saves. 

In other translations, I giggle to think of God loudly singing. It makes me think of Dad's raucous singing. Dad in church... he couldn't carry a tune. But he hit the "joyful" note with every loud, brash, spirited attempt. Imagining "Kenny in the Choir" in heaven makes me smile, laugh... and get a little "homesick" for loved ones gone. Dad was glad musical talent could be married into the gene pool. 

"He will quiet you with his love."  The image is pure comfort... and then he breaks out in singing. 

"In love... no longer will he rebuke... but celebrate." 

Such a wonderous love, the world attempts to achieve, but He is the source. To know Him is to know love... for He is love. He delights in us. Isn' that fun? Amazing? Awesome?

This day is His gift to be unwrapped with tender care, treasures, celebrated and embraced. 

Off we go... to embrace the day. 

Today, I am grateful for fear calming love

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The breath to pray today...

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 143: Today, I am grateful for the breath granted this day to pray. 

Anxious? Breathe. Tired? Breathe. Angry? Breathe. Excited? Breathe. Still breathing? Pray. 

One of the lessons in the past 4.5 years has been the incredible power of prayer. I've never doubted it. I simply did not use it to the maximum benefit. Why? I often left out "the listen". 

So often, our prayers become by rote, from habit or as part of a ritual. Learning the Lord's prayer... or reading Nehemiah 1... are great road maps of how to pray. In fact. Jesus didn't offer the Lord's prayer as a magical one, but as a perfect pattern when the disciples asked, " How should we pray correctly so the father listens?" 

We forget, so often, Jesus went to a quiet place of refuge to clear his mind of all things but what heaven might communicate. Jesus... the human part... knew the value of a quiet place. 

David penned this verse: 

"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" -Psalm 116:2 (NLT)

What a beautiful thought. 

For David, it was a reality that began as a child. He prayed as he kept the sheep. He was stunned no one would take on Goliath with his God on their side. He was prayerful when Saul sought his music and his counsel. He was prayerful in a cave, where he could have ended the his enemy. He was broken in prayerfulness when his sin with Bathsheba left him out of step with the Lord he loved. He grieve in prayer when the child conceived in adultery died. He was joyful in prayer for the life and wisdom of the next son, Solomon. He was patient in prayer. He was grateful in prayer. He was at peace in prayer as he waited for his earthly last breath and eternity with his Lord. (Thank you David, for writing so much down, so we can learn.) 

So many feel betrayed by a God who doesn't answer prayer, but did they stop to listen? Do we believe a God who loved us enough  to become one of us... to die for us... doesn't care? Do we find ourselves the center of our own universe, neglecting the one who raised His hand to order chaos and design the right hydrogen and oxygen balance to sustain human lungs? That is pride and arrogance, and I have been guilty. 

What an awesome God he is, yet he longs to be in relationship with each of us. Prayer is the language. There must be a sender and a receiver to have effective communication. He can even be funny and he  will leave you shaking your head in wonder at His crazy, perfect ways. 

Grandpa Lindgren's daily prayer was answered that he lived most of his days at home. For all of those days he cared for animals and embraced the land. Grandpa liked to get up first to tend the animals. Matt... like April and I ... lived with Grandpa for a time to help out. We girls helped with Grandma's alzheimer's, but, for Matt's season, it was the two bachelors. One in his 90's and one closer to nineteen

Matt tried to lessen the animal load by getting up before the crack of dawn to tend the cows, cats and chickens. It became a race. If Matt was up at 5am, Grandpa would get up at 4:45am the next day to "beat the boy" to the chores. Finally, Matt called a halt to what was becoming ridiculously early, even for farm folk. 

I am only about half Grandpa's age at this point in my life, but I am wondering if that time became a sacred and holy time of prayer. A time of offering prayer and listening for God's voice in the barn and chicken house. 

God had granted Grandpa land, a home, sons, grandchildren, love in two seasons... and he was one of the most grateful people I have ever known. I can still hear him saying with a nod of his head and deep sincerity, "I thank the Lord for that." He said that often. 

In the sunset fifteen months of his life, he spent time in a nursing home bed. I loved visiting him. A master storyteller... a concerned father... a loving grandfather and great-grandfather... and  he was the Solomon of my days. I asked him how he was doing in the home. He said, "Valerie, I have a lot of time to pray and I do. For all of you. I thank him for all the goodness and mercy. I thank him for my family and the farm. For my church and the people around me. I pray. I thank the Lord for that." 

I told him we all needed the prayer warrior. I remember the lost feeling when our most faithful prayer warrior was gone. His nursing home room was a war room. 

As long as we have breath... we can pray. To complete the act of prayer, we must listen. You can't mix a batch of cookies and never put them in the oven and take them out after the proper time. A wait and timing is part of the process. So is prayer. The waiting matters. The rewards are sweet.

We can pray any day, any where and any time... as long as we have breath. Our prayers are our song of gratitude to a faithful, present and real God. 

Today, I am grateful for the breath granted this day to pray. 

Monday, May 22, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 142: Today, I am grateful that Wal-mart is 3 minutes away... and my husband is handsome when he rolls out of bed. 

You think you have everything you need for a potluck recipe... and then you don't. 

I have grown up rural... and treasured the sweetness of that life. Today, I am working to the beat of a clock and "out of milk" was not in the plan. 3 cups - not 1/2 a cup... and even the best of neighbors might not appreciate a 5:15 am distress call... for milk. 

So... today I am grateful for the many ways the Lord provides for our needs. Sometimes, it is like manna... and other times it is in the blessing of pure convenience. 

My husband is my hero today. Susie ... I love you too much to call at 5:15.

Today, I am grateful that Wal-mart is 3 minutes away... and my husband is handsome when he rolls out of bed.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 141: Today, I am grateful for the decision made in the garden known as Gethsemane.

A favorite quote among gardeners is "Life began in a garden." It is, of course, a reference to the Garden of Eden, where God finished his masterpiece and breathed life in human skin. Sin, also, began in that same garden with distrust, arrogance, pride and selfish ambition destroying a relationship. 

Isn't it a wonder that God would take Jesus to a garden to begin what would be the hardest day of his life on earth? Remember, the Jewish day begins at sunset the night before. 

"The word gethsemane is derived from two Hebrew words: gat, which means "a place for pressing oil (or wine)" and shemanim, which means "oils." " -Ray Vander Laan

Ray Vander Laan, a master in divinity and continuing education in Jewish studies, believes that to deeply understand the Bible, we must not forget it was written in a culture, reflecting the people and the ways of the day. It is timeless, but with the cultural clarity... it comes to life in new, exciting ways. Archeology, cultural studies and God's word come together, brilliantly illuminated. Ray created videos we watched years ago. I still remember some of the big "ah-ha" moments the  "wows" at how God's timing is perfect and His truth is clear. Good stuff (not meant to be an advertisement... but it got me hooked on digging deeper).

Imagine this... Jesus fasting and going up against the devil in the desert. He did not submit to brutal temptations at his lowest moments. He has been where we are.

Then, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane... the garden's name with roots in the idea of a place for pressing (oil or wine) and "shemanium" meaning oils. This is the place where Jesus prayed with the weight of our sins pressing in on him, but he did not reject or refuse the Father's will and his plan. He asked to have it removed, but God said "no". 

In that garden where he was pressed down by our transgressions, Jesus submitted saying, "not my will, but your will be done."  The burden was unimaginable. It pressed him down and he asked for a way to "remove the cup". The Father did not spare the Son who would redeem many with his choice. 

 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. -Luke 22:44

Think about the things you already know... or are learning for the first time.

God's holiness is repelled by sin. Like opposing magnetic forces. Jesus loved us enough to sacrifice himself for our redemption. To change us for sin-loving to God seeking beings. He didn't want to do it, but he was uniquely qualified for the battle. Jesus was heaven's special forces on a redemption mission.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. -Luke 22:42-43

The Jewish custom of atonements involved the sacrifice of a perfect lamb... and anointing oils represent an outpouring of God's spirit. Pressed down and poured out was our willing, conquering Savior. Because he said yes to the trial... he claimed the victory over death, for him and for us. Our soul breaths marked for eternity for those who accept the gift, believe and receive. Redeemed and restored.

I think it interesting that the oil of the Bible... olive oil.. is known for it's health benefits more than 2000 years later. Our God does not change. 

His ways are perfect. Not always easy, smooth ride... but always perfect. As we accept and press on and through the trials, we grow and become "big picture people". Our small stories are a part of his plan to redeem all who will say yes to the Lord's invitation to know him and love him. 

Sin began in a garden... and in a garden, a humble "thy will be done" would defeat Satan. It would insure suffering... but change the end outcome for all who would choose to believe and receive the atoning gift of his blood pressed down and poured out for us. 

What parent wouldn't take the beating and punishment of death for a child they loved? As a child, the telling of Jesus in the Garden and the cross made me sad. As a grown up, it reveals his love for me as a profound and conscious decision to love and sacrifice himself for the sin of the human race. For me. And, you. He was broken... and beautiful. 

Holy meets the hideous and broken. The Holy One says, "My love can transform you, but it comes at a price. I will pay that price for you, because you do not have the means on your own."  Then, the decision is left to the one who desperately needs restoration. Intimacy required. We must confess to receive the gift.  

We are not quite finished with the garden thoughts. In another garden came the astonishing truth that "He is not here. He has risen." The victory won. Look at John 19:41-

"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid."

Mary Magdalene gets the garden surprise when the three days in the grave are over. He appears to her in the garden near the tomb. Once again, life begins anew... in a garden. New life. New hope. A new way. 

Choices in Gethsemane echo into eternity, as do our choices today. 

Today, I am grateful for the decision made in the garden known as Gethsemane.