Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Touch

Year 6-Day 31:Today, I am grateful for a touch.

What an amazing thing is the human touch. It gives preemie babies strength to fight for their lives (fight little Remi... fight). Preemie twins are now placed together at times to help them encourage each other to fight and grow. An elderly person in the nursing home, given a baby doll to touch and hold, finds agitation slips away while rocking "their baby". Human touch is healing.

When we hurt. When we are scared. When we are sad. The right, compassionate touch fits the need. The hug or the arm around the shoulder... or holding a hand. Appropriate human touch is a beautiful thing. It helps us connect with others... deeply connect. 

Little children find courage at the touch of a parent's hand. God says there will be woe for those who fail to help the children and widows. Widows and orphans... they need loving touch. They need to know they are not alone. 

This is why the cause of human trafficking is so close to my heart. It encompasses so many of the widows and orphans that no one helped. They are victims pulled into the darkest side of this human existence. They are lost and wounded children of God. Again... touch should always be appropriate, safe, encouraging and compassionate. Those who are rescued and recovered have to relearn the joys and comfort of healthy human touch. 

I am studying in the gospels right now. The truth is, Jesus did not need to touch someone to heal them, but he often did. Some people found their faith in being able to physically touch him. He savored and celebrated those who took him at his word, and simply believed... as did the centurion who is one of my personal favorites. For most of us, touch makes all the difference. 

Jesus... in this scripture, sought to know a man's heart before he healed him. Actually, he knew the man's heart, but wanted him to speak it. Don't we all need to confess things out loud at times? This man was broken, lonely and desperate when he met Jesus. 

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion,[ Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”  Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.-Matthew 1:40-42

In an instant, everything changed. At the touch of the Master's hand... healing and restoration. Oh, what a day for that man!

Other scriptures tell us that Jesus felt the healing power leave him when someone touched him, even in passing. This happened to a woman who had been bleeding for many years. In Jewish culture, this made her about as "unclean" as a human could be. She, like the rest of the crowds, were pressing in to get a glimpse of Him or a touch. 

So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. ” -Matthew 9:19-22 

She trusted that with just a touch... her life would change. That is Jesus. That is grace. That is the power of a touch. 

Today, I am grateful for a touch.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rough Waters

Year 6-Day 30:Today, I am grateful for what we learn from rough waters. 

This is an old quote. Very old. Still, the truth is as deep as the sea. I simply do not learn the things I need to learn in the times that the waters of life are smooth. 

Life is full of plot twists and unexpected turns. Things turn out different than we thought they would be... even if we do our best to follow the ancient path (I am loving that phrase... ancient path... from Jeremiah 6:6). The biggest surprise is that each wave that rocks our boat for the moment, we learn later is merely a training grown. 

What if the hardest thing you ever have to face is the first hard thing? 

Seriously... think about it. Rough seas and waves of trouble build our courage, our faith and our trust. Now, that doesn't mean we don't grow weary in troubled waters, but we grow, we stretch, we learn and we give into the "thy will be done" that doesn't always come easy when I have such great and well planned ideas as to how my life should unfold. 

I have so many blessings to count. I live in those blessings every single day. I try to give thanks for them, because I know how quickly things can change. I am often reminded that Job is a long book... one with an ending of blessings and abundance... but there are some rough chapters in the middle. 

Our God is faithful. Our God is good. He comes to us in the rough waters and longs for us to spend quite time with him on the smooth, open beautiful seas. When I learn to be grateful in the rough waters, it helps me truly savor the smooth seas. 

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![a]”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Matthew 14:27-27

Do I have the courage to get out of the boat...even though he reminds me that He is right here to help? It is a lesson I apparently need repeating with some regularity. He is faithful. 

Remember... Peter is the only one who got out of the boat. 

Today, I am grateful for what we learn from rough waters. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Soundtrack of our Lives

Year 6-Day 29:Today, I am grateful for the music that makes the soundtrack of our lives.

Last night was the Grammy's. We did not watch as they go way to late for us. This morning, I took a quick peek at the winners. True confession... didn't know many of the songs except in the Christian Contemporary and Country categories... a few in pop/solo. Still, I am reminded that this is the music that makes up the soundtrack of our lives. 

I remember movies like Ghostbusters, Footloose, Pretty Woman and Karate Kid as much for their soundtracks as the movies themselves. Dirty Dancing and Grease... can sing along with them all. Music is from the soul. 

I have to keep this short this morning, so I want to challenge you to consider the music that makes the soundtrack of your life and make a quick list. I will make you smile.  

For a special group of Jr. High Students this weekend, it is the music of "Beauty and the Beast". For some Grammy winners - it will be "that song". For those who get engaged in the next few weeks around Valentine's Day... the song playing on the way home will be remembered. 

Music. It fills our lives, from soft drink commercials to hymns of worship. I keep a list of "Soul Songs"... I have since my sister died. They are the current songs that lift my spirits, make me smile or call forth the tears I need to cry. Yes... music matters. 

This scripture reminds me to remember who I am singing for with each break of day. 

"Listen, you kings! Pay attention, you mighty rulers! For I will sing to the Lord. I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel." -Judges 5:3

I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel. Love that! 

Zach Williams "Chain Breaker" has been a favorite of mine this year. Was thrilled to see it was honored. 

Today, I am grateful for the music that makes the soundtrack of our lives.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Light Always Wins

Year 6-Day 28:Today, I am grateful light always wins.

Light, glorious light. It lifts the spirits and makes the soul sing. It does. 

We have been been blessed with some sunny and warmer weather on this January weekend. The view outside looks nothing like January... and much more like March. This, too, shall pass, as winter still needs to do her quiet work, but for these sunny days, we will savor the light. 

My guys are science guys... and so is my new daughter.. I love to hear them in conversation and learn quite a bit from listening. Science is a reflection of our God who loves order, patterns and numbers... and then... there are times when we just have to wonder at his miracles. 

Light can be gentle or really bright. Children love a nightlight and adults who want to avoid stubbed toes benefit from them, too. Light cast out darkness. 

When you put light up against darkness... light always wins. Always. The darkness cannot consume it. That is no accident. It is by Divine Design. 

Pure light casts no shadow. Light a match and hold it up against a wall. The match itself will cast a shadow, but no the light. Try it. I promise. The flame will cast no shadow. The reason why flame often does not make shadow is because it itself is the source of light. Well... doesn't that have spiritual significance? 

In Matthew 4:15-16, Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry. John the Baptist has told the people that he is coming. And then, there he is. The now grown up odd little boy from Nazareth who is doing great things. Matthew references 

"In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” -Matthew 4:15-16. Isaiah 9:1-2

This is a verse rich in the promise of hope for the Gentiles... anyone not Jewish. Jesus is the light who has shined into the darkness.He will drive out death's shadow by casting his light. The Light of the World arrived in a strange package. A light in the starry sky appeared to honor and announce his birth. Those who sought him... found him. It was as true then. It is true now.

A month after Christmas... are we still seeking and chasing the star? 

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. -James 1:17

In life and in death... he never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He is the source. 

John the Baptist was cousin to Jesus and son of the priest, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth. Zechariah was struck mute until the birth of John because he ticked off the angel Gabriel with his disbelief. (Note to self: don't irritate your angels.) When he could speak again, after the birth of John, he spoke this prophecy:

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,and to guide us to the path of peace.” -Luke 1:78-79 

It is not an accident that the song "Morning Has Broken" feels like a spiritual song. (Thank you Earworm for singing in my ear this sunny morning.)The morning light from heaven is about to break upon us with great promise and hope. 

This month has been a month of grief and sorrow in our own family, in our community, in our church family and beyond. But, His light casts out the shadow of death and wins. For those who know and trust him as Lord, there is peace. His precious light conquers the darkness.

Today, I am grateful light always wins.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Litmus Test

Year 6-Day 27:Today, I am grateful for the litmus test.

What is a litmus test? Remember the science lab from school days. 

Litmus Test: a test for acidity or alkalinity using litmus; 
a decisively indicative test.

Because language evolves, the noun has come to mean more. It is now used in language to describe an action that calls someone out on where they stand or what they think. They must move or choose one response or another, giving a glimpse into their thoughts, beliefs and what they feel is right or wrong. 

I was studying Luke 6 today. That chapter is full of challenges. I need more than a day... or even a week to absorb all that it has to teach. Still, this scripture stood out. (The image here is from French Press Mornings.)

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.-Luke 6:45

Yikes! Right? That wild little thing called the tongue is so hard to leash. Still, from it flows what is in our hearts. Again, yikes! It is the litmus test for that which fills our hearts. 

Perhaps, some find it easier than me. I like words. We are called to choose our words with love, kindness, forgiveness, praying for wisdom and with patience. Some days are harder than others. 

If at the end of the day, I had to sit with Jesus and playback each conversation... what would he hear. The truth is, he knows our minds and our hearts. Nothing we say or do is in secret. But the image of sitting with him and reviewing each day - yikes! 

Still, knowing this is true, it can lead us to better choices. 

Today, I am grateful for the litmus test.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Feed Fear or Faith

Year 6-Day 26:Today, I am grateful we can choose to feed fear or faith. 

"Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will starve." -Max Lucado

At the end of the week, I can always use a good Max Lucado quote. 

This quote immediately set my mind to thinking about an old fashioned scale. The kind of scale that you add and subtract to each side until it is balanced. 

Often, the thought of balanced scales is a considered positive. Not this time. We definitely want our faith side to be heavy. In fact, we want to be so loaded down with faith, that the scale is firmly tipped and weighed down by faith and fears are lifted away. Any way you slice it... fear is the opposite of faith. 

How many times do we hang out with a "balanced scale" of the two, cheating ourselves of the comfort of being anchored by faith? I know, I do. I speak "trust" but live "worry". It is all part of being human. Still, I cling to the promise of a God who knows the intimate details of our lives, and longs for us to trust him. Matthew 6:25-34 in the "The Message" brings it to life in today's language. Kind of long but good. 

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds."
“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." 
Yes... that was long, but my heart never ceases to need this reminder. I need the reminder that he savors attending to our tiniest needs and the details of our life when we fully tip our scale to faith. I know. I've been there. And, I've known what happens when in fear, I squeeze him out forcing things to be my way. His way is always better. 
Nothing like a little encouragement... and a little challenge... all rolled into one. He is the Lion of Judah... we can be fearless. As CS Lewis wrote, "He is not safe, but he is good."
Today, I am grateful we can choose to feed fear or faith.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Angry Words

Year 6-Day 25:Today, I am grateful we can choose our response to angry words. 

"People say a lot of things in anger. It is our choice whether or not to listen." -Mrs. Potts, Beauty and the Beast

It is musical weekend at MJHS. It is my favorite extra curricular event of the year because it involves so many students. Some, who may have never really spent any time together because they are in different grades, different music groups or different social circles. They talent is always beyond what we expect and the kids pour their hearts into the practice, sets, shows and performances. The teacher team is our Choir Director, a Special Ed teacher and a Language Arts teacher. The Art teacher helps with sets, too. What a team effort. If you are local... Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm. A cheap date night. 

I love to look at quotes from the show the week prior. This one jumped out as a great one. It captures one of the great life lessons I learned a long time ago. Others cannot control my feelings... I choose the emotional response by what I tell myself in my head. Yes, words can hurt, but we don't have to own another's anger. Yes. Relationships can be complicated. 

Much of when time the Beast is raging... much of his conflict is internal. Belle didn't cause it. Neither did his faithful castle staff.  His own behaviors led to his imprisonment in a body that reflected the ugly in his heart. He was imprisoned in misery in his own castle. Mrs. Potts, the teapot, lends wisdom to the show. She mothers everyone. I adore her. 

Angry words can fly so fast. Especially when we are tired... physically or emotionally. We can't take them back and some of the damage goes deep. We can train ourselves to not instantly respond to them when they start flying from unexpected places at the strangest times. The castle staff remind the Beast over and over that he must not lose his temper if he is to win the heart of the smart, sweet, beautiful and wise Belle. Yes... her brain and her heart are what melted the Beast's gruff exterior to discover the prince inside. 

When pondering a scripture to connect, I am reminded of the one time Jesus exhibited anger. It was because of the desecration and the shame the people inside were bringing to God's house. It was intolerable in a place that should be treated as holy. Beyond that, he was usually on the receiving end of the anger. 

Like us, Jesus felt hurt when treated poorly. More of his displeasure came when those who were hurting or vulnerable were mistreated. He would not tolerate them being rejected, mistreated or written off because they were Gentile or without status. He was the greatest example of love changing everything. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.-Philippians 4:8 

As humans we get hurt. Some say that anger is always a secondary response... there must be some other emotion touched before anger rises. Most often it is fear or hurt. It can, also, be a result of insecurity or a sense of injustice. In the case of injustice, it can be motivating but we must be cautious as anger can quickly turn self-destructive. 

Whatever is true... check the facts. 
Whatever is honorable... do that!
Whatever is just... in the eyes of God.
Whatever is pure... protect it, seek it and rescue it. 
Whatever is lovely... enjoy it.
Whatever is commendable... note it.
If there is any excellence... celebrate it.
If there is anything worthy of praise... give thanks.
Think about these things... for these things are good. 

Angry words happen. Our response can be chosen. In the end, practicing self control and choosing love... that is the game changer. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose our response to angry words. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Spirit of Gentleness

Year 6-Day 24:Today, I am grateful the corrective and restorative power of the "spirit of gentleness".

Most of us aren't perfect. Most of us live, work, worship and wander with people who aren't perfect. Relationships are complicated. 

Jesus tried to teach us the secret to relationship success, but we forget or get distracted. He told us... in my very paraphrased version... "Love God... like crazy. Love people like crazy. Do this and everything else falls into place." It changes the longings of our hearts. If I am granted another 30 years, I will still need correction and improvement. 

Why is it that transgression of another makes us feel a little superior. That is the raw, honest truth. We all have different struggles. What is easy for one, is another's daily cross to bear. Our uniqueness as individuals is a delight to our Father as much as our struggles break his heart. 

This verse uses the phrase "in a spirit of gentleness". That is how we are instructed to walk with brothers and sisters who are struggling. My tongue can be quick and sharp. My love of words that can be so helpful to articulate a thought, can also pierce and wound another's heart. Words can, also, be loving and gentle. They are the better choice.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." 
-Galatians 6:1-2 

Did you know that "The Spirit of Correctiveness" is not one of the Fruits of the Spirit? I know... kind of disappointing, right? It is easy to judge and correct those who are already struggling. Yet, don't we all struggle sometimes? 

We are to walk together and help carry each other's burdens. We can gently guide, suggest and correct without acting superior or being ugly. When I have a struggle, I am grateful for those who stick by my side until I can press through the trial... whatever it may be. 

Today, I am grateful the corrective and restorative power of the "spirit of gentleness".

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Lessons In Tenacity

Year 6-Day 23:Today, I am grateful for lessons in tenacity. 

Some of my favorite sources of quotes are great inventors and scientists. I admire many of them for their tenacity. They didn't give up when something went wrong, they thought, worked and wiggled their way around the problem to eventually find a solution. Success came from trying one more time. They continued trying when everyone else gave up and laughed at their foolishness. That is tenacity. 

A long time ago, a friend taught me to look to the spider as an example. I know many are not fans of this 8 legged creation, but I have always been grateful that they catch flies and other bothersome bugs in their webs. 

The spider spins his web over and over again, because the wind, the rain and human hand so quickly and easily destroy his home. He doesn't give up and stop spinning. He simply spins again. 

Loving art, I find the intricacies of the spider's web are beautiful in design, although their purpose is deadly. The spider in this picture built and rebuilt just outside the sliding door to our yard. The web would feed her and do some pest at our door. She eventually moved. 

There are times we all grow weary. We get tired of trying. We lament no results. My friend reminded me to look to the spider as a reminder to not give up, no matter how many times it feels like the best laid plans and preparation are destroyed. 

I have a rose bush that we planted at our lamppost in remembrance of my sister. For many years, it was just a green bush with some thorns, and an occasional bloom that felt a little more like a tease than a victory. My Randy would probably have ripped it out, but he loves me and let it stay, knowing it was important to me. Then, it happened. Much to our surprise, it had some years it was loaded with blooms. Time and tenacity... a perhaps a few less neighborhood dogs peeing on it on their daily walks... made the difference. All I know is that my heart soars when it blooms. 

The same it true for doing the right thing. You can try and not feel there is any real pay of. Do the right thing anyway. Do it for the one who calls us to be salt and light... and to care for those who are hurting, broken down by life and in need. Press on with tenacity of the spider. 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9 

Today, I am grateful for lessons in tenacity. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Winter Invites Quiet

Year 6-Day 22:Today, I am grateful winter invites a quiet life.

Why do I forget that an overscheduled life happens by my own hand at the calendar? Winter is the perfect time to slow down and savor a quiet life. In fact... we can schedule in home time, meal around the table time, board games with family time, clean out the closet time, creative time and cozy time. 

Intentional living... seeking a quiet life... is just that, intentional. 

 "...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Now a quiet life doesn't mean we are isolated. Far from it. Delivering a plate of cookies or a bowl of soup to a widow, that includes a visit and a cup of coffee and conversation fits right into the idea of a quiet life. 

Quilts rise and fall in popularity, but they are always practical. The women of of our congregation have a long tradition of quilting together. It is a time of fellowship and working with their hands to create quilts that will be donated to the annual Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale in March. It is a task that involves busy hands paying close attention to their work. They create these quilts in community. The work of their hands will raise funds for the basic needs of the hurting in our local communities and abroad. Hunger will satisfied. Educational kits with needed supplies will be sent to Third World countries. Buckets of items to meet basic needs of people when disaster strikes are filled in part because these ladies gather to quilt. 

Our quilters are multigenerational. What a rich fellowship they share. I am sure the conversations are entertaining at time and rich in sharing and wisdom. 

Of course, any time people... men and women...  gather, one of the biggest challenges is to "mind our own affairs". In Paul's letter to the the Thessalonians he delivers a warning about that very issue... and slips it into his instructions about aspiring to a quiet life.  Don't we all need that little reminder at times. If a prayer request doesn't end in prayer time, is it just gossip? 

Celebrate the chance to slow down and make it happen. Schedule it if that makes it happen. Soon the scent of Spring will be in the air. The quiet life is never easily obtained, but if there were ever a season that calls us to slow down... it is winter. 

Attitude Update: Day twenty one of intentionally trying to NOT complain about winter. I've not been perfect... but doing pretty well. Holding my tongue, instead of jumping on the "complain about winter" train when the grumbling starts... it is still intentional. I hope that by the end of winter, it will come more naturally. It is a work in progress.

Step back and slow down whenever you can. Make it happen. It is good for the soul. 

Today, I am grateful winter invites a quiet life.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Singing With Stars & Whales

Year 6-Day 21:Today, I am grateful for a chance to sing with the stars and whales.

I am still smiling after worshiping with our children at church today. It simply had to be be my gratitude post for the day. Hours later, I am still smiling. 

For many years, my dear friend Julie and I led the children in worship service as the adult sermon was happening in the sanctuary each Sunday. Although it is no long a regular service spot for us, we were able to step back into that role this Sunday, for just a little while. 

The theme of the message upstairs was creation... so I was tickled to get the chance to teach out of Genesis and the Psalms. Pausing to take a look at the creative nature of God always leaves me a bit breathless. Today, it literally gave me the chills... the good kind. 

We began with Genesis 1. Verse 2 is one that leaves me in awe of the power of God. "And the Spirit of God was hovering ..." Hovering. Let's look at the definition:

Hovering: to remain in one place in the air, remain poised in one place or between two states

The children attempted to jump and hover... but they could not stay suspended by their own whim or will. That is a God-power we simply do not possess. His days are not our days. His ways are not our ways. 

He gave us day and night to help us keep a rhythm and an order. We flourish under these conditions. We rest, we work, we play and we rest again. There is a purpose and an expectation of what is expected. We keep moving forward. We cannot bring back yesterday or make tomorrow come any faster. We are bound by time and space, but our God can hover. 

We looked at the Psalms and lavished in the beauty of what was written. If you want people to remember something, set it to music or poetry.

"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;

   he puts the deeps in storehouses. "-Psalm 33:6-7

My friends... we are Children of the Star-breather. I don't know about you, but I love how that sounds.

Psalm 148:3 says: "Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!"

We learned the song of the stars today. Did you know that stars make sounds? Some pulse creating a drum like beat and others sound like orchestra strings. Remember that Jesus warned that if we failed to praise him, the rocks would cry out. (Luke 19:40) Apparently the stars do, too.

Psalm 148:3: Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps.

Most are aware that whale and dolphins have calls that sound like sing that they use to communicate. Imagine how beautiful it all sounds to our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe. 

Take the time to watch this video. I promise you won't be disappointed. In fact, gather the children. It is a bit of a science lesson and a beautiful example of how some of the sweetest discoveries are unexpected. At the end, don't miss the opportunity to "Sing with the Stars and Whales" with your loved ones. Let me know if you experience "the chills"... the good ones. Our "God of Wonders"... He is simply awesome.

Today, I am grateful for a chance to sing with the children, the stars and the whales.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Year 6-Day 20:Today, I am grateful for the blessing of reunions.
These past two days we have gathered to remember my Uncle Mel and say “until we meet again”. As people came to offer their sympathies to my cousins, his grandchildren and the extended family... it was an evening and day of reunions.
At one point I paused and took a minute to take in the sight. So many people talking, hugging, reminiscing and catching up. All came for the purpose of sharing sympathies,
Stories and remembering someone special. When you are “country”, each loss is felt by the community. Yes, the roots run deep.
Some faces I had not seen in more than 30 years. Others were familiar and beloved for all of my childhood. Uncle Mel’s schoolmates,
fellow farmers, business associates and children he helped get to church, now adults.
We gathered to mourn a loss... but in the undercurrent was the joy of heavenly reunions. Faith, family and friends... and fellowship. So much gratitude for a life well lived.
Marj Atelevich Fremouw ... thank you for coming. What a special reunion. Uncle Mel would be grinning that big grin.
Quick post from the road.
Today, I am grateful for the blessing of reunions... hear and in heaven. ❤️

Friday, January 19, 2018

Pop of Color

Year 6-Day 19: Today, I am grateful for a pop of color on a winter landscape.

This image is of an old covered bridge in Vermont. I imagine that someone has written a book on covered bridges, but I have never looked for it. I know that Brown County Indiana has a festival every year celebrating the old fashioned covered bridge. Today, I am celebrating the pop of color on a winter landscape. 

This is day 19 of intentionally not complaining about the cold and the winter. I've not been perfect, but the slip ups have only been a few... and it has been pretty cold. 

This picture (from Pinterest) reminded me of the that winter's landscape is the perfect showcase for a "pop of color". A pop of color is good for the soul in the midst of the cold January days. 

Each season has its own unique qualities. Winter's canvas means that we can easily spot the red cardinal or a blue jay in the yard. In fact, I saw a blue jay this week. His blues were spectacular framed in white and grays. Don't forget the evergreens! when all the other trees are bare, they provide winter greens and blues that are spectacular when frosted with snow or ice crystals.

For those who live where the seasons change, many of us will say that is why we stay. It isn't just about the falls or the springs... it is all of these things and more. It is the carousel of colors unique to each season... and winter is not without it's joys.

"While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” -Genesis 8:22

That was a God promise after the Great Flood. The seasons continue to change and this winter, we can choose to delight in the creation that inspires the Crayola Big Box of crayons (my favorite). Color impacts our mood... and it can calm our emotions. There is a calming coolness to a winter landscape... but joy come from a pop of color. 

Today, I am choosing to be grateful for a pop of color on a winter landscape.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Precious Pictures

Year 6-Day 18: Today, I am grateful for precious pictures. 

This photo was taken at the holidays just a few month before my Dad died. It has been at my desk at work since April of 2013. It have been a "prayer trigger" reminding me to pray for my Uncle Mel, Dad's only brother. 

Sunday evening... they had a heavenly reunion. So many he loved and missed were already there. His heart longed for heaven, but leaving loved ones behind here made that last step a big one. 

When I see this image, I see relationship. They were quite a pair. I am reminded of the countless cups of coffee, the endless debates, meals at the kitchen table, the "Dickie" brand work clothes, the brown work boots with the scent of fine black dirt. What a pair! 

I remember the children in the community this pair and Grandpa Lindgren would taxi to the little Clifton  church they grew up in so they could hear the Good News of Christ. They would divide and conquer to get everyone there and home again. They could be quite a team when they had a common goal... and they could drive each other nuts. 

I love that if Uncle Mel knew we were in town he would always stop by. I left home after college and married Randy... more than 30 years ago. As long as he was able to drive, he was present in our world. Even after Dad died. I remember one Prime Rib meal he really enjoyed around my brother Matt and Jennifer's table where we have gathered in recent years. He was tickled to be there but didn't want to impose. Oh Uncle Mel... you were never, ever unwelcome at the table. 

This picture reminds me that they had voices you could not tell apart on the phone. I recall a mission trip to Haiti that cost him a tough battle with shingles, and the days he lay in Mom and Dad's bed trying to press through the pain. It was an example of "presenting his body (and his heart) as a living sacrifice". April and I learned some comfort nursing with Mama Ina Mae's direction. 

I remember the times their stubborness led to division, but in time, they always returned to starting and ending their days together... even into their 70's. Dad would find Uncle Mel in the morning and Uncle Mel would stop by Mom & Dad's in the late afternoon. 

No one teaches love better than a sibling. For those blessed with a full life, siblings are our first "until death do us part" relationship and shared living quarters. No one teaches forgiveness better than a sibling. These two were sons of thunder, for sure. 

Death brings grief to those left behind. My heart aches for my cousins, as the loss of a father is unique loss. The loss of a grandfather is, too. He taught them to work hard, to seek the scriptures for wisdom, to be present, to press on, to laugh, to tell stories and to smile... even when the days were hard. How I love his big grin in this picture. 

Soon, we will gather to honor and remember the life and the legacy. We will offer remembrances and swap stories. I wonder if heaven has an ugly formica table (vintage 1960's) for them to sit around with harvest gold chairs that spin? If it does, Grandpa Harry, Uncle Mel and Dad are around it and April is serving up the coffee from an old silver percolator pot. 

Uncle Mel will be missed, but he finished his race and has found his reward. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. -Hebrews 12:1-3
Press on... and treasure that which is precious.  
Today, I am grateful for precious pictures