Friday, March 30, 2018

Another Good Friday

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 88: Today, I am grateful for the good in Good Friday.
As you know...some things make the gratitude list once a year... and Easter Week events are almost always included. I reread a post from a few years ago and decided it is all still true today as it was then. For however many Good Fridays God grants us, may it never grow old. May we always feel the wonder like the first time we really understood not only the sacrifice, but the depth of the love that drove Jesus down the Via Dolorosa... the way of suffering. So here it is:  
Good Friday. Imagine the smells of the Passover feast all around. Women hustling to market to finish the meal preparations and attend to the details. Men trying to get the work done before sunset on the Sabbath.
Jewish tradition was that the Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. Saturday. I have read something twice recently and my friend, Clara Jo, shared it, too, so and it makes me pause and read some scripture with a different perspective.
While we observe a 24 clock. They used sunup to sundown (a twelve hour day about 6 am-6 pm). Observance in the Hebrew Bible was universally from sixth-day sundown to seventh-day sundown. Evening preparations with intentional rest were how they "started" their new day. They didn't wake up late and behind. They were ready for the day. I could learn some things from this practice.
Today, we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It has become known as "Good Friday". I thought that was an oxymoron as a child. It felt horribly sad and wrong, that Jesus would suffer and die. The knowledge that it was for my sins was a burden to a child's heart. I didn't understand fully the why...mostly the shame and the guilt. Somehow...I missed the love message. Not His duty and obligation...but Christ's choice. I return to a favorite thought ...nails didn't hold Jesus to the did.
Let's return to Jerusalem on that day...and Jesus is hanging on the cross. Pain and suffering beyond what we can fathom. There...not because Rome was against him or any wrong doing of his own, but because church leaders were furious, fearful and frustrated. They had found a way to get him arrested and crucified. The officials tried to get him released. The people chose a murder over Jesus the miracle worker. Public opinion changes like the wind. It is often unwise, with allegations unfounded. Are things so different today?
Jesus spoke very little from the cross. Science says every breath to speak added to his pain. He didn't have much human life left. Things were about to change. What he did say was recorded and significant.
1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Matthew 26:47
2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” - Luke 23:34
3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" - Luke 23:43
4. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” - Luke 23:46
5. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” -John 19:26-27
6. “I am thirsty” -John 19:28
7. “It is finished!” -John 19:30
Then, about 3 pm, as the temple priest are preparing the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and Jesus is on the cross. A little time passes and the work to prepare is nearly complete...on the cross and in the temple. The shofar (a horn) blew to signify the Passover would officially begin with a sacrifice in the temple. Jesus cries out "It is finished" with a sacrifice on the cross. The Passover sacrifice is slain. The earth shook, the sky went black and the temple curtain ripped.
The traditional perfect lamb had been slain. A new covenant was in place as another Perfect Lamb hung lifeless on a cross on a hill not that far away. The ripped temple curtain had separated the "holiest of holy" places in the temple. Only the high priests were allowed to enter after much preparation. The presence of God so strong, it was awe evoking. That temple curtain...torn and open, because Jesus had changed everything.
The Messiah had come. He was rejected and crucified. Propitiation (what a great word) for all who would accept the gift of grace for simple, true belief.
This CS Lewis quote is new to me: "It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion."
Such a high price. Yet, in my grown up feels different. I can see the "good" in Good Friday. I can see the love that knew no limits. The love that hung from a cross so we could be joint heirs in eternity with Jesus. The love that raged a death defying war against hell and won the fight to rescue His bride. That, my friend is crazy love in action.
As you make your weekend preparations...if you are heading to a place of worship out of obligation, guilt or duty...don't. Go in love. Fall in love. Accept His grace. Be renewed and restored to fellowship. His love never fails. It changes everything. In His time and according to the Master's plan, but I can assure you that love... always... wins.
Today, I am grateful for the"good" in Good Friday.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Worth More than the Price

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 87: Today, I am grateful He believed we were worth more than the price.

We are in the middle of Holy week. It is the week that is the foundation of our faith. If it didn't happen... then then what's the point? But, it did... changing everything.

There was political tensions in the days of Jesus, just as there are now. Some rooted in faith differences, some in plays for power and wealth and some were simply the trials of a modern culture. Yes, they believed they lived in a modern culture, just as we do today. For them, it was. What we see as ancient history was the "latest and greatest" of 30AD.

Jesus, like us, lived in "modern times". Whatever the people believed to be truth, was their truth. See, not so different from today. Just because someone sells something as truth does not make it real. The discussions where men and women gathered at the core, were not that different from the ones we have today, only minus anything that requires electricity. I'm pretty sure they talked about politics, their trades or businesses, the value of a shekel and asked each other what they believed would happen in the next few years.

Jesus was so much bigger than anything the people of the day ever imagined, yet his "packaging" was so unexpected. They missed the meaning, the message and the method. Even his closest family, friends and followers could not fathom the path to the cross until they were in the throes of it. What drove him to submit to the will of the Father? Love.

"He knew the price of those sins was death. He knew the source of those sins was you and since he couldn't bear the thought of eternity without you, He chose the nails." -Max Lucado

Could there be any other explanation? He had the power to command the angels. He knew it. Satan knew it. (See Matthew 4:5) The Father knew it. But the ones he loved so much would perish if he didn't do something. Beyond what he knew of heaven, we were his people and his purpose. So, he chose to bear the cross.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  -2 Corinthians 5:21

An amazing love drove Jesus to the cross... and love kept him there. Not nails. We were worth more than the price. How can that be? And, with the new covenant sealed in blood... there is no Jew or Gentile. All have the opportunity for adoption into the family of God. The ground is all level at the foot of the cross. No favorites. No VIP line or entrance. Just an overwhelming joy for those who humbly come to kneel, believe and receive.

Good morning, Earworm. Chris Tomlin's "The Wonderful Cross" is his chosen song today. Great choice. Do you know it?

"When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all" 

He paid the price. He became our "enough" and our everything that day he cried out, "It is finished". Do we savor it? Embrace it? Do we live in the light of it, knowing we were bought with a price? 

He looked at the mess we had made of things, and still deemed us priceless. Amazing love. 

Today, I am grateful He believed we were worth more than the price.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

One Mediator

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 86: Today, I am grateful for one mediator.

Have you ever been in negotiations for something with a mediator? A mediator is someone to add the voice of reason, the logic and a sense of calm when things become become more emotional than practical.

Some people have the gift of mediation, but I don't think it is a common gift. I remember listening to two politicians talking about Ronald Reagan's ability to get Congress to work together like a symphony. Reagan managed to create a sense of "we the people", beyond what most could do in that office. He was a born mediator and understood the power of common ground. 

Do we often contemplate the need for reconciliation with a holy and just God? The truth is, His holiness cannot tolerate sin. We need a mediator.

The scriptures are very clear that we have only one mediator before God, and that is Jesus. Who better to defend us? I keep going back to the truth that he chose to wear our human form to understand our temptations, our weaknesses, our joys and our sorrows. He was tempted beyond what most of us can even imagine. Yet, he was sinless. 

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. -1 Timothy 2:5-6

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. -1 John 2:1

He doesn't abandon us and his grace stretches far and wide. One mediator is enough. 

Today, I am grateful for one mediator.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Donkey

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 85: Today, I am grateful for the symbolism in the donkey.  

I love learning things about ancient Hebrew culture, traditions and the symbolism tied up in words and actions. Learning from Hebrew and Greek lessons always make me say, "Wow". One of those is the symbolism of the donkey. A king who arrived on a donkey came in peace. A king who rode a horse was ready for war. 

“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”-Matthew 21:5

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”-Mark 11:10

The disciples thought Jesus was going to boldly take over as the King of Israel. His mission was a little different than they had expected. This time, he was here to be with us, to know what it was like to be us and to walk in our skin. 

He came the first time as the perfect lamb to make the ultimate sin sacrifice and seal a new covenant that was available to all... Jews and Gentiles. Honestly, that was a little hard for his disciples to swallow, being Jewish. All would be welcome at the Lord's table. But, once they truly understood, they embraced it, taught it and lived it. 

The disciples were accustomed to church rules that basically kept people out if they didn't do everything just right or have a certain pedigree. Jesus blew that out of the water. He went to the hurting wherever they were, no matter their ethnic heritage or address. He respected women and warned that we must care for widows and children. Once they heard The Word speak the words of truth, each would make their personal decision to accept or reject. 

The early church met in homes and wasn't organized. They were a band of people attempting to follow Jesus and his example. Once the church organized... it wasn't long before we began to build doctrinal walls that separate us and keep us from coming together as one body. We still do that today, at times. How that must grieve our Lord. The church is the people. Believers are receivers. We were called to spread the good news and share His Word and His Way. Time continues to draw closer to the second coming. 

I am not super savvy on Revelation. It is prophecy and on the front end of it, I find it as confusing as most... although in recent years, I have spent time reading it. What I do know is that in Revelation, he does not ride a donkey. It is definitely a horse! 

"I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." -Revelation 6:2

As we war within ourselves and our culture as to who and what to make the Lord of our lives... remember that it is indeed a choice. Offered by one who came in peace... willing to be our sacrifice. And, he rose again. This Holy Week is a wonderful time to take a personal inventory as to who and what will make Lord. Next time, He won't ride a donkey. 

As we reflect on the peaceful entry into Jerusalem, with cries of "Hosanna"... we can choose this day, what we call him. We can be enemies, fans ... or we can call him Lord. 

Today, I am grateful for the symbolism in the donkey. 

Monday, March 26, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 85: Today, I am grateful for a Palm Sunday tradition... footwashing.

Maundy Thursday is the traditional day for foot washing during Holy Week in our congregation and many others, as it is the night of what we call "the Last Supper". For the children... we have chosen Palm Sunday.
More years ago than I can count, Julie and I decided to introduce it to the children during New Generation Worship (our Children's worship service). Julie and I dress and Mary and Martha and invite them into to our simple Bethany home.We have a great deal of fun with the idea of being whisked back in time to a different place. Lazarus is alive... again. Jesus a frequent guest in our home. It is the perfect time to pause and talk about foot washing.
The first year... some just thought it too weird.... but some participated. The next year... previous "watchers" could not wait to be included.
Last year, one sweet mother shared that her Son says it is his favorite Sunday of the year. How amazing is that? The best part is... this child grasps why it is special. He understands what it means to humble ourselves in love. It is a big concept for grown ups. It is a stretch for kids... but a good stretch. I wish I could remember his exact words, but we felt joy in the true recognition of the purpose of this ancient ritual... love through humble service.
"Mary and Martha" always model foot washing first, adding in many pieces of culture and some anecdotes from Jesus life. We cover a variety of material. The script is not exact and the children always help guide the learning with their questions.Honestly... I don't know how long we have been doing this. I am guessing,  at least 10 years. Last year was the first time the children asked to do the washing when we finished up. "Martha" and I looked at each other and said, "Why not?" Such sincere little souls and honest hearts made the request.
Thus, we began a new tradition. We washed their feet... but then they turned the it around. They wanted to wash feet, too.Not just to receive - but to give. They partnered up and we washed some more. My soul is still singing. This next generation of believers is learning about humble service. Again this year, some of the littlest guys and gals washed the feet of another. What a transparent display of love and service.
This year, Julie was ill with a bug that knocked her down. When she realized she would be unable to participate this Sunday, I am filled with gratitude that Donna Davis Roth stepped into Martha's role, wore her robe and washed my feet in more ways than one. Acting and drama are not really her thing, but children are. She wowed us with her ability to step into the role; her knowledge of the scriptures is a gift, making it all seem so easy. Her heart to serve took her out of the pew on Palm Sunday and back to somewhere around 30AD.    
Jesus challenged everyone to upside down thinking and to step beyond their comfort zone.Especially his disciples. Their rabbi...the master...the Son of God had no place kneeling before them and washing their feet. Ah...but there is the catch. He chose that roll. Humble servant...and mighty king. Jesus came as a servant leader and a servant Savior.
Jesus came to fulfill a mission from pay a sin debt he did not owe, so that we can live freely and eternally. He came in love, lived in peace and was filled with power. He terrified the church leaders and officials because he would reach out to the lowest on the social ladder and the most hated., and they changed. Jesus was rocking their world, so they put into motion the plan for his death.
Jewish leaders had know idea they were changing Passover forever. The one they hated would hang on a cross...the Lamb of God...with the power to set them free. But most denied and refused the possibility, despite the prophecies fulfilled.
Footwashing takes just a little time... but it requires us to pause, ponder and proceed with love. It requires a heart to serve. It just might be my favorite Sunday of the year, too.
Today, I am grateful for a Palm Sunday tradition... footwashing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Gratitude Filter

Year 6-Day 82: Today, I am grateful gratitude acts as a filter.

What does it mean to live a grateful life? I think that there are times that being thankful and being grateful are slightly different. Yes, they are words that are often used interchangeably, but that doesn't mean they don't have some unique qualities, too. 

Saying "thank you" is good manners. Good manners is practically a lost art in some places, but it never out of style. Being thankful is good and very personal. Gratitude is personal, too, but it feels bigger, broader and wider. We can keep our thankfulness private, but gratitude seems to demands a response.Thankfulness gives birth to gratitude. When gratitude is full, it must be poured out and shared with others. Maybe, gratitude is more of an action word. We can enter His gates with thanksgiving in our worship, but when we finish our prayers, living gratefully is a response. 

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. -Hebrews 12:27-29 (ESV)  

I adore the phrasing "our God is a consuming fire." Fire spreads. It is warm and it is contagious. 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. -Colossians 3:16 (NLT) 

We look for sunglasses that have UV filters to protect our eyes. The light is all good, but the UV rays can be damaging. Filtering sunglasses allow us to see more clearly and protect from what could be damaging to the eye. God's ways can be a little overwhelming, like sun. We cannot comprehend all that He is.

God is good, all the time, but he allows some things to happen that we don't understand, as we can't see His big picture. Gratitude, when applied daily, acts as a filter. We can sift through the tough stuff and keep the good that comes of each day in our hearts to strengthen us for the journey. 

This week, I have been reminded again that he is a mighty God who breathed eternal souls into us, and longs for us to find our way to the throne of His mercy, forgiveness and grace. 

Today, I am grateful gratitude acts as a filter.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Je ne sais quoi"

Year 6-Day 81: Today, I am grateful for "Je ne sais quoi." 

It translates, "I don't know what" but it really means when something is so special or unique it is indescribable. It can be attributed to an object, a person or a place. 

It is the piece of art that speaks to you. It is the scent of the rain on an old brick road in the place you grew up. It is the fragrance of corn tasseling mixed with fair food. It is that person who makes all your days better, simply by being there. I am not sure we have a true English equivalent of "Je ne sais quoi."

The French really do have a beautiful language. No wonder we find it romantic. 

I think there is something special about taking the opportunity to slow down. When we intentionally savor a time, a place or a person and embrace the beauty of their uniqueness. Our God delights in our individuality. It seems logical that he would want us to embrace it.  We don't have to chase after someone else's talents and gifts. We only need to offer our own to his service. 

He has planted each of us here at this time and this place, and he has given us a purpose. We are to make ourselves available to his service, embracing the gifts he gives each of us. Unique, full or promise and precious in His sight... that is how he sees His children. 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. -Romans 12:4-7 

Yes, uniquely distributed for the common good. The Spirit of God at work in our lives produces those moments when we smile, because we know it was a "God thing". Words can't really describe it, but we can feel it. 

Today, I am grateful for "Je ne sais quoi." 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

His Grace Is Enough

Year 6-Day 80: Today, I am grateful  His grace is enough. 

"When was the last time you let God's grace be enough?" 

Wow! What a question. In my first born, controlling ways, I desire to have a plan, a back up plan and a back up to the backup plan... this question made me pause and think. I attended a beautiful funeral this morning ... and then spent time with Mama before heading home. Some of the sweetest moments arrive unplanned, when we make ourselves available. 

This day was an unexpected change in my week, but I am grateful for the opportunity to simply be with loved ones in their grief and to spend some quality time with Mama without a schedule to keep. Today, felt like a grace day. 

First a service celebrating a grand woman who didn't preach at people... she just loved them like Jesus loved. She considered many "hers", far beyond DNA and biology. She lived out the truth that love is an action verb. Actions speak louder than in words. 

Then, an unexpected musical program with Mama at the home where she resides, before the return home. A sweet gal, Lisa H., is a  celebrity volunteer there. She knows the residents favorite songs and if she doesn't, she learns them. She calls the residents by name and her warmth fills the room.  Mama Ina Mae always has a request and they are rarely simple. Mama Ina Mae knows a lot of music. 

Lisa had managed to find the lyrics to Mama's request for "Children Talk To Angels" but Lisa wasn't sure how it would go, as it is not one she truly knew. It so happens, I can pick that one out on the piano, as we never had the music. We were able to sing it together to Mama's delight. Lisa's 8 year old granddaughter, Sammi,  was with her and picked right up on the chorus and sang along to make it a trio. Mama was tickled pink. The chorus is really catchy:

"Children talk to angels, at least that's what they say. Children talk to angels, almost every day. Be careful when you scold them, for the things they say and do. 'Cause children talk to angels like they talk to me and you." 

Seniors are such a sweet audience and entire time I was thinking it God's timing that I could be with Mama to enjoy the music, as we have shared music for a lifetime. Yes, it was a day where his grace felt full,tangible and overflowing. 

My one little word last year for "enough". This year, it is savor. Perhaps, it is good to look at savoring the enough. Finding the blessing in the pauses, the deep breaths, the God appointments and unexpected grace. 

Earworm is now singing Matt Maher's, "His grace is enough, I'm covered in your love. His grace is enough, for me." A great song and here is a scripture to compliment it:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10

It was a grace day. 

Today, I am grateful for His grace is enough. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Year 6-Day 80: Today, I am grateful for astronomers.

Astronomer Guillermo Haro was born on March 21, 1913 and died on April 26, 1988, after a long and successful career in astronomy.  It is his 105th birthday. This Mexican Astronomer made scientific discoveries that changed how we understood the stars. 

He did not always know he wanted to be an astronomer. He studied philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and intended to seek a law degree. That all changed when he took a job with Luis Enrique Erro at the Observatorio Astrofiscio de Tonantzintla as his assistant in 1943. His life took a plot twist and he never looked back. 

"Haro made numerous scientific contributions, including discovering the Herbig-Haro objects. These are small, bright nebula that form near regions where stars recently formed.Haro also discovered flare stars in the Orion constellation, and in stellar aggregates of different ages. Haro also listed 8,746 blue stars in the direction of the north galactic pole, 50 of which turned out to be quasars (which actually had not been discovered yet.) In 1956 he listed 44 blue galaxies, and discovered T Tauri stars, a supernova, more than 10 novae, and a comet." -Guillermo Haro: Five Fast Facts You Need To Know

Haro spent time at Harvard University, working with astronomers there, but spent most of his career in Mexico. He was the first person elected to the Royal Astronomical Society from Mexico. They say he was quite the personality, too. 

Don't we all love stargazing? It is a thing of beauty to lean your head back and look up. It is God's firework show, available every night that the clouds or clear and city lights don't interfere. In that gazing up position, we can take a deep breath and inhale the wonders of the universe and the sovereign hand that holds it in place. What an awesome wonder it is! 

It is a perfect day for one of my favorite verses from Isaiah:

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

We've been passing out this verse with glow in the dark stars for birthdays for our K-2nd grade children at church. We want to write on their hearts the the power of our God and his attention to the smallest details. Who would miss one star? He would. 

Wherever we are and no matter how lost we may sometimes feel... we are not missing. We need only look up. The stars are a reminder of his love. Astronomers help us discover how magnificent the tapestry of the stars works... and wows. 

Not a one is missing. 

Today, I am grateful for astronomers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Miracles Grow

Pinterest: Sonoma Christian
Year 6-Day 79: Today, I am grateful miracles grow out of difficulty.

Happy First Day of Spring!!!

Winter can be hard. Even when we work to frame it in a positive light. But, after a few more spins of the planet.. spring always arrives on time.

One of my Sunday School pals would read from the NLT translation of the Bible. It is really good. It is considered a scholarly translation, but it has some of the same easy to understand appeal of "The Message" (which is a paraphrase).  

This verse seemed perfect for what has been a long couple of months. My SIL, Jennifer, is not only family, she is one of my best friends. She lost her Mama in June of last year, and on Sunday... her spunky, spirited and special Grandma took her first breath of heaven. 

Jennifer wrote the most beautiful, eloquent tribute to her Grandma Mildred Voigt, who was, also, her babysitter when Mom and Dad worked, and her next door neighbor. She was priceless. She took a Harley Ride to celebrate on of her big birthdays in her 80's. God granted her almost 95 years and not a one was wasted. When the grandkids grew up, she continued to serve by baking brownies and cakes for the local State Police station where her Jennifer's mother worked. She gave, and gave although she had little by the world's standards. She was one of the richest women in Ashkum. 

She would rather walk around town pulling a little wagon, than get out the car to head to the grocery store. She would deliver goodies and pick up milk and eggs. She was funny, sassy and quick witted. She was as active in her Lutheran Church and never doubted God's grace and goodness, even when life was hard. She would tell you she beat cancer three times. She did. When others would take a deep breath over that answer to prayer... she would be more likely to do a victory dance.I see her in Jennifer, and am so happy for the years I had to get to know her. 

Today, I think of her reunited with loved ones and restored to something we can't even conceive, it is so good. 

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.-1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)

Just as spring does a victory dance warming winter's frozen ground... so he will restore you, after you have suffered a little. A priceless promise in the face of any difficulty. Thinking of Mildred restored is as sweet as the first day of spring. She was grateful for life... never complained... gave all that she had... and now has the eternal home she has been waiting for for most of her 95 years. 

Today, I am grateful miracles grow out of difficulty. Happy Spring.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Light That Remains

Year 6-Day 78: Today, I am grateful for light that remains.

It seems that grief and loss are at every turn this first few months of 2018. Some years, it happens Losing a loved one is never easy, but there is something uniquely beautiful in the grieving process. 

When family, friends and loved ones come together in grief, there is a unique vulnerability. New death and new life bring a rawness of emotions to humans. New life, we celebrate one with ease. Death is more complicated. We attempt to celebrate a life and manage the hurt in the loss all at the same time. 

Honestly, I think grieving is one of the most beautiful examples of  deep love and gratitude. To remember a life ... a life that that touched others... in thankfulness, is really special. 

We, Americans, are famous for euphemisms to avoid saying the words death or dead. Every end is a new beginning, but those who live in light and truth leave a little light for us to remember them. Our physical response to grief is deep but by embracing it, living it, plowing through it and finding the new normal, we do two important things. We honor the life that mattered and we develop new strength from the experience of loss. We can only feel great loss when we have known great love or great relationship.

The image is from Pinterest, Curly Girl Designs, Leigh Standley. Her art is full of texture, wit, wisdom and whimsy The quote: "There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains." Art with words delights my soul. And, this image has fresh green grass I can almost smell and fireflies sparkling in the dark. Hope, light and life in a tiny piece of art.   

In this season of lent, we are approaching Holy Week when we will dive into the events of the last week before Jesus crucifixion. I am confident that I have no idea what it would be like to walk side by side with Jesus... God in half human form... and then lose him to an unfair death that included beatings and the brutality of the cross. I can only attempt to imagine their grief. 

We are so blessed to have the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us four sets of eyes on the same powerful, true story. In it, we see how they came together in their loss. Each feeling the loss personally, but collectively, too. I am grateful they recorded the events with attention to detail. Every minute recorded is precious, even when the sorrow is deep. Of course, this death story includes a resurrection that conquers death. Pretty amazing. But wait, isn't it the same for us? 

He came as one of us, to understand and know what it was like to live in our skin. He felt temptation, grief, hunger, thirst, loneliness and was tempted by power and fame. At every turn he submitted to the Father's will, so he might remain "the perfect lamb" to take away the sins of the world in sacrifice. He was to be the blood covenant that would create a new way. In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile. We are all invited and the ground is level at the foot of the cross. No one is better or worse. We are all sinners in need of redemption. 

The days before the cross, we can only imagine. Yet, in a way... we get to do exactly that in a special way... as we will walk through Holy Week again. Isn't it true that His light remains? And, we have been called to be salt and light. 

We are eternal souls in temporary bodies. The light at the end of the tunnel of death is new life for those who call him Lord. For those who walked with him daily to the last minute confession before death for the thief of the cross, He longs for us to believe, repent, receive and live in full joy knowing death has no real power. It become a door to unseen wonders and sweet reunions. 

I can't help but be reminded of Billy Graham who promised in death he would be more alive than he was in his time hear. 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” -John 14:1-4 

Oh. the joy! Death didn't hold him down and we are free to be received into new life. The new life begins here... but the best is yet to come.  

Today, I am grateful for light that remains.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Daisy Mae

Year 6-Day 77: Today, I am grateful for puppies.

Well, we did it. Meet Daisy Mae. We have adopted once again. Our home has been dogless for about 3 years and my honey needs a dog. 

It took my heart time to heal after our Harley. When Randy (thanks a lot Tonya!) got wind of puppies in need of a home with the potential to be big... he thought we might "look". You don't look at puppies long without ending up with one. 

I have resisted, loving the freedom and the relief from the extra cleaning that comes with pets. But, when you love dogs, you never miss having one. It is like having a baby again, and that is much easier at 30 or 40... but we are working as a team. I think she is going to be worth the trouble I know she will find. 

She is mostly calm (unless showing off for a big audience) and seems to catch on quick to training. Perhaps, God is granting us that little blessing for taking in this homeless little furbaby. 

Daisy Mae came to us from the local TAPS shelter, a charity we know works hard to place homeless pets. Some have come from difficult homes. Daisy Mae's mother came to TAPS pregnant and gave birth to 9 puppies on January 6th. Several of her sibling have already found forever homes, but a few more are available. Mother was reported to be an American Boxer/Standard Poodle mix or Boodle. Father was reported to be a Great Dane. Look at those paws! 

Puppies and other furbabies become part of the family. Adoption is special because a choice is involved. Family isn't always about being of the same blood line, or even the same species. God gave Adam and Eve the jobs of caring for the animals He created. Some need more care than others. 

It always amazes me at the way a dog loves unconditionally. I find it humbling. Some days, I know I don't deserve the loyalty or affection. Yet, they patiently wait for our return to welcome us with happy tails and celebratory kisses. They love us with something near a sense of awe. 

As we raise Daisy Mae, there will be times she will not listen to what we say. She will not understand our will, that we will impose on her... for her good. We will do things to keep her safe that she may not always appreciate. We will try to keep her from foods that might make her sick. We will make sure she always has clean water and food that is good for her.

It reminds me of how there are times God allows some things and protects us from others. God knows the bigger picture of what is good for us and what might be destructive or unhealthy. He is good. All the time, but he manages the big picture that includes, but is bigger than our short stories or chapters. There can be rough chapters, as we learn to be obedient and seek His face for approval and not the world. 

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;-Psalm 111:4

Trust and obedience to His word and His call are not always easy, but always good. Sometimes I resist, but he is faithful and true. We can learn a great deal in the puppy experience... if we pay attention. 

Today, I am grateful for puppies.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Irish Blessings

Year 6-Day 76: Today, I am grateful for the Irish blessing.

One of the beautiful things about the USA is the mix rich of cultures. Many immigrants came with big dreams of building better lives and in a land with more opportunity. Many Irish immigrants came with little more than their clothes and recipes from the homeland... and the love of potatoes. Hard work didn't scare them and good humor helped them endure. Today, St. Paddy's Day has people thinking green.

I always smile at Irish Blessings. You never know where one is going. Some are sweet and sentimental. Others finish with a twist of humor and a good laugh. The movie "Leap Year" has one used in a toast at the wedding scene. It is one of my favorites.

"May you never steal, lie, or cheat, but if you must steal, then steal away my sorrows, and if you must lie, lie with me all the nights of my life, and if you must cheat, then please cheat death because I couldn't live a day without you. Cheers!" 

Isn't that the sweetest? The Bible has blessings, too. This is one from Deuteronomy with regards to blessings poured out for obedience. 

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. -Deuteronomy 28:1-3

To find favor with God... obedience is required... but the blessings are full. In this particular scripture, it promises blessings the overflow onto the towns and fields of those who seek His face in obedience. Blessed by association. 

Today, I am grateful for the Irish blessing... and the blessings found is scripture.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Quiet

Year 6-Day 75: Today, I am grateful for the quiet.

Kelly Rae Roberts is a mixed media artist. Something about her art... perhaps it is all the layers, texture and words combined... that makes me smile. I find myself pausing to look at all the different layers and it never fails, I discover something I missed. This piece celebrates "the quiet".

In this age of technology, it seems we add more buzzes, beeps, tweets, twirps and alarms every day. I have found that the quiet moments are the most refreshing. In them, we can take deep, full breaths.

Psalm 46:10 is on the wall above my kitchen sink.

“Be still, and know that I am God."

Be quiet... and content... and still. This verse feels like a cozy blanket or a soothing lullaby. It stills my soul like few others do. It is one I've claimed as a life verse. We learn so much when we listen for the whispers from heaven in quiet moments. 

Jesus longed for the wilderness moments to pray and spend time with the Father, away from distractions and demands. In the quiet, there is a unique intimacy not found in the crowds. Worshiping as a community is important, but there is something special in the quiet, prayerful moments.

Today, I am grateful for the quiet.