Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Light Through Glass

 Daily Gratitude Year 6-Day 177: Today, I am grateful for light through the glass.

One of my favorite spots near Traverse City, MI is the nearby village of Suttons Bay. Since it is on the road known as M22 it is a tourist hot spot on the way to a lighthouse. Suttons Bay is a place I find calls me to return. Loaded with unique little shops and so much art my heart beats faster at just the thought of it. 

There is one little shop that is is full of glass, garden art and whimsy. Today's image is a little bowl formed from glass. The thing that caught my eye was the light shining through and bringing it to life. Look at the sweet beads of glass that create a border at the top. Red, blues, yellows, greens and more. 

Glass is a wonder for it's transparency, but when color is introduced, it becomes magical. There is nothing else like it. It is no surprise that colored glass has been popular for generation after generation. 

God's love for us is transparent. No hidden agenda, but full of surprises. He created man and woman for a relationship with him. He is crystal clear about his desire to be for us, with us and not against us. His ways are far from transparent, wrapped up in his perfect will. Perhaps, that is another element that makes the transparency of his love so beautiful. Even when the big picture seems cloudy, stormy or is too much to grasp, we can trust his love.

We can count on him to light our days and guide our ways, one day at a time. Like light through the glass, he illuminates our daily ordinary lives as we trust his grace and provision. Sometimes, he adds a little color to our lives for whimsy through people, places and nature.

"We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" 1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

This is a snippet from The Message version of the "Love Chapter". 

His love shines through like light through the glass.  

Today, I am grateful for light through the glass.


Sculpter Artist’s Attention To Detail



 Daily Gratitude Year 6-Day 176: Today, I am grateful for the sculpture artist’s attention to detail.

As you know... I am an art lover. Somehow, I think we see our God more clearly when surrounded by the people who let their imagination run wild with unusual, unique creations. A creative spirit that has been set free delights us all with the wonders and wows.

One goal of this trip to Traverse City was to get to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons during business hours. Our last visit, only a few things were open, but we fell in love walking the halls of the old state hospital.

The building once was home to many with physical and mental health problems that families could not ... or would not ... care for at home. Now, it houses shops, dining, two bakeries, a coffee house, wine stops and it holds a gallery of the Traverse City areas finest artisans in shops and walking the halls.

This little puppy captured my affections with his shaggy mess of a mop. He is sculpted out of old book pages. Each strand of hair is rolled tight. I cannot imagine how many hours were spent rolling and attaching each piece. He wanted to follow me home, but he was appropriately priced as art... not a craft. He was perfectly charming while guarding the halls and greeting visitors.

The story of the fight to save the historic buildings is written down with pictures on the walls for visitors to read with a museum like quality. The beautiful metal gates, refurbished from the hospital days, now seem to create a sense of stepping back to touch history while adding a unique charm to shop openings.

What was once a place of sorrow... is now a place of joy, Michigan style.

It is much like how we see the empty cross of Jesus Christ as a symbol of new life, forgiveness and hope. Seriously, who wears symbols of torture and death with such passion and conviction? Okay, some people do, but typically those who do are expressing deep pain or long steeped anger and personal suffering. Believers wear the cross in victory! We wear the cross with new freedoms, daily victory and great hope.

Jesus’s resurrection changed everything, including the meaning of the cross and the emotions it would evoke. Even death on a cross. A place of death became a door... or a portal. Like the final plague in Exodus 12 - three spots of lamb’s blood on the two posts and top of the top door beam, causing the death to Passover the Israelites homes, sparing their firstborn sons.

Look what God did? He wove into his plan a mirror... an echo... of the Passover. The three spots of blood on the door during the exodus with Moses and the blood on cross, inverted this time, as God as initiated his redemption plan or is it a coincidence?

The first Passover... the triangle of blood points to God, seeking his grace sparing the sons of man before fleeing Egypt with Moses. The second time, during the Passover week remembrance... blood spots connect to make a triangle pointing down, as God poured out and pointed down his amazing grace like a funnel, forgiving all who would come, repent and seek has face at the cross of Christ. Now, lay one triangle over the other and what do you get? The Star of David.

Please note... today’s pondering thoughts come from several different readings. Not my own original inspiration, yet as they come together I find myself in awe of God’s puzzle pieces. Do I see it as coincidence or intentional? My choice.

I simply marvel at the possibilities of intentional detail in every movement of the hand of God connecting moments hundreds of years in the making. Thousands of years into the  love story between God and his messy masterpiece... us.

Can we hide from the God of the universe?

“Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.” -Jeremiah 23:24

His ways are not our ways, but he loves to leave us clues to help us unravel his greatness. He celebrates our personal quest to find him and says if we seek Him with our whole hearts, we will find him.

He is like the artist who carefully designs and executes every detail.... understanding the medium... with our weaknesses, and strengths. He is the potter and we are the clay. Free-willed, flawed and faithfully tended are we by his loving hand.

Today, I am grateful for sculpture artist’s attention to detail.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Life in a Notthern Town


Daily Gratitude Year 6-Day 175: Today, I am grateful for life in a Northern Town.

The Love of My Life is a Michigan boy. Traverse City is his home and it is a beautiful place in winter and summer. I prefer summer. The little nearby towns of Kingsley and Interlochen are still home to many of his extended family.

There are so many things I love about the area. The bay will take your breath away... not just with it’s beauty, but with it’s freezing cold waters. The wild life is ample and nature sings the beauty of the Lord.

Today, we visited a farm with Holstein cows in the pasture and a famous ice cream shop on the land.  We parked by the barn and made our way to the farm fresh goodness. Our little niece, Adelynn was wowed by the cows and the treats. It was so much fun.

I was reminded as I looked over the pasture of the scripture in Psalm 50:10-11 that says,

“For all the animals of the forest are mine,
    and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird on the mountains,and all the animals of the field are mine.”

It is all his and we are the stewards. How seriously do we take his tender care? It is the best. The very best.

Today, I am grateful for life in a Northern Town.

Love Lit in the Kitchen



Daily Gratitude Year 6-Day 174: Today, I am grateful love grows in the the kitchen.

“The torch of love is lit in the kitchen.”-French saying

The French got that right. Nothing like teamwork in the kitchen to spark a little romance.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and those who spend time together develop rich memories and foster love. In fact, it is not just romance that develops within the kitchen walls. The kitchen can be a place where multi-generations come together to share, to teach, to learn, to laugh and to savor the goodness... not just of the food but the relationships.

In this season of summer gatherings, it is good to simply be together. The fruit of the labor is not just delicious... it is love.

Today, I am grateful love grows in the the kitchen.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Pick Your Battles

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 173: Today, I am grateful we can pick our battles.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise woman. She said, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." There are times we need to take a stand. There are times we need to walk away from the battle. Wisdom is knowing which to choose. 

This image is hilarious. There is no doubt that this image would reflect any evening at my brother's. They have Lilly the Cat (actually Lilly has them, and she might be 😉holding them hostage ). We have Daisy Mae the Dog. If there were ever a battle over beds, the outcome would be the same as this picture. Daisy Mae might be a princess, but Lilly is the queen! 

Some battles can't be won. Some aren't worth the time or energy expended. Others are worth taking on, even if there are giants in our midst because the right thing is simply that... the right thing. 

Sometimes the little guy with the courageous heart can win. Long before David was king, he had that little encounter with the giant Philistine, Goliath. He was embarrassed for his people, older brothers included, that know one had enough faith to take on Goliath. David knew that God was on his side and Goliath had been mocking God. David volunteered to do as a boy, what no man in Saul's army was willing to do. He volunteered for a showdown with Goliath. 

David took his slingshot and choose five stones. I love that it only took one! Even when the battle seems unwinnable... our God is bigger. 

David knew how to pick his battles. He chose to seek guidance through prayer and God never failed him. Never.  

Today, I am grateful we can pick our battles.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vanilla

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 172: Today, I am grateful for vanilla. 

That lovely little extract from the vanilla bean that ups the "yum" factor in so many things. I like the smell, too, if it isn't too overpowering. 


Back in the days of King Solomon, spices were as precious as gold and jewels. They were often gifted and traded. When the Queen of Sheba visited him, her caravan was loaded with spices. I don't think vanilla was one of them.

Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. -1 Kings 10:10

The known history of vanilla in a nutshell is this: The Aztecs conquered the Totonacs in the 15th Century and acquired vanilla; The Spanish conquered the Aztecs and gained vanilla. 

Today, we use vanilla in baking, frostings and so many other things. Vanilla ice cream is more popular than chocolate in the USA. The vanilla version is more user friendly when served with pies. 

One of my favorite hot teas is a London Fog. It is Earl Gray with cream, lavender and vanilla. 

Imagine a world without vanilla. It would change the taste of things. 

Today, I am grateful for vanilla. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Path Clearing Storms

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 171: Today, I choose to be grateful for the storms.

This past 6 weeks seems to stormy for many. This quote resonated deeply this morning. 

"Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path."

The painful, scary, new and unsure ground we walk, just might be our training ground as He clears the path to what comes next. 

This life is an adventure. But... recently... I have been introduced to the idea that it is more of a quest than a journey. Like Indiana Jones, do we seek His face with a passion. What holds us back from diving in with both feet? 

For me, being a safety girl by nature, it takes a storm to get me to move in a different direction. I need one path blocked or another cleared. It takes me awhile, and a stormy intervention at times... until I surrender to His way and His will without forcing not my own. That is the ugly truth, and I probably am not the only one. 

The Israelites and their season with Moses in the desert is one of my favorite places to read and learn. Moses did NOT want to lead the people. He wanted Aaron, the priest, to lead. He had been a Pharaoh's grandson, so power didn't really intrigue him as it does some. He was passionate about the God who loved his people and when they needed a rescue. God let Moses see a Hebrew slave being beaten to death, and Moses intervened killing the cruel slavemaster, instead.  He fled to the desert. Talk about a storm in his life. 

Read Exodus 3. Moses fled to the wilderness of Midian and married Zipporah. His father-in-law, Jethro, was a priest, like his brother Aaron. They were in his inner circle. Moses was out shepherding when God sent an Angel of the Lord to appear in the flame of a burning bush, and then God spoke directly to Moses of his God assignment. Moses was full of questions and arguments. Moses surrendered. Some would say, "God won". That may be true, but it was Moses free-willed act of submission to a God who had big plans for him that interrupted history, changing the lives of an entire nation. God led him to save his people out of slavery. God's will worked out for the good of all who loved him. Imagine that? 

Some would say one storm led to another, for Moses. And, that may be true. But in Moses's quest for God and the truth, he found one of the most intimate relationships ever recorded in the scriptures. I used to feel sorry for Moses that he didn't get to enter the promised land, but it was Joshua's turn to lead. Heaven is even better than any land of milk and honey on earth. And... Joshua would help them remember their days in the wilderness under Moses's leadership with stones of remembrance. 


I am pretty sure this one chapter or two in Exodus could keep me challenged, fed and growing for weeks. Maybe even months. 

Don't forget to take of your shoes and embrace the talking bush. The very thing that feels like a storm, just might be holy ground. 

Today, I choose to be grateful for the storms.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Actions and Truth

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 170: Today, I am grateful true love reveals itself in actions and truth.

There was a fun old song  by Betty Everett called "It's In His Kiss". It went like this:

"Does he love me, I want to know
How can I tell if he loves me so
Is it in his eyes, oh no you'll be deceived
Is it in his eyes, oh no you'll make believe
If you want to know, if he loves you so
It's in his kiss
That's where it is, oh yeah"

Now, I am not saying a kiss is the only way (or even the best way) to figure out if it is true love, but the tune is catchy and it makes a valid point. Love... real love...  expresses itself in actions and truth. 

True love waits.
True love listens.
True love is patient.
True love is kind.
True love is humble.
True love is tenacious.
True love bears all things. 
True love encourages.
True love lifts up others.

I remember Dad saying, "You gotta back it up." When a man gives his word... or a woman... we have to own it, live by the commitment and seek forgiveness when there is wrongdoing. Love is a perfect commitment to imperfect people. And, there are many people... by God's grace... who love us in our imperfections. Saying "I love you" means nothing if you can't back it up. 

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. -1 John 3:18

I think John addresses how casually and flippantly we throw out the word love. Over the course of 2000 years, technology has changed, but people haven't changed that much. Cultures can evolve but the ways we express love are still mostly through our actions. How we live life reveals the truth about whom we love. 

Love isn't always easy, but it is always worth it. 

I've been savoring the Sidewalk Prophets song, "Come To The Table." It oozes love and you the peace of Jesus is nearly tangible. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXxLwxfo0U

In our country home, there was always room for one more at the table. There was enough food for five or for twelve. There was always good food and fellowship. Conversations, questions and listening. Love manifests its truth in our actions. 

Today, I am grateful true love reveals itself in actions and truth.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pinterest

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 169: Today, I am grateful for Pinterest.

The joke is that I get on Pinterest and come out 3 days later. It is more truth than fiction. Still, it is a wonderful resource for just about anything.  For those of us who nurture our creative sides, it is like going to the most amazing fair or art show. For those who cook, it is an endless cookbook with legitimate success... and our favorite epic fails. 

Test spot... and then we pressed on. 

On Pinterest, we don't take ourselves to seriously. We dream big dreams. I have the most amazing porches and sunrooms there. Bathrooms and kitchens, too. 

Pinterest if half responsible for me "breaking the house" last summer with my epic fail... but it turned out just fine in the end. In fact, it wasn't the end of the story, until it did turn out alright.  

Disaster! 
I wanted to whitewash the fireplace, but I was inexperienced. There were some imperfections in the mortar that made the job even harder. When I finished, it was a mess. The Love of my Life made fun of me, but he did not throw a fit. We jumped into problem solving mode. He was sweet about my attempts for an inexpensive update to the decor. This picture does not do justice to how bad it really was.  

A new paint, a Wagner sprayer and some teamwork and we had a lovely, fresh fireplace in a color we both like. Goodbye 1970's!  Hello, fresh fireplace face! 

The thing I love about Pinterest is that it gives us the courage to try new things. It inspires us to live creatively and think outside of the box. It reminds us that a little adventure is just a Pinterest pin away.

Fresh. New. And a splash of my favorite blue.
At the end of the day, my failure was washed away and all things were made new. Well, isn't that an easy transition to spiritual things. 

"And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”"-Revelation 21:5 

There are times I mess up, but his grace and his promises are true for me and for you. I love a new thing.  His grace is fresh every morning. I don't need to fret or fuss. I only need to pray, listen, trust and obey. 

What new thing is he doing in your life right now? Is it time for a little adventure. I think there are times the enemy whispers words of fear so that we miss some of the blessings, goodness and adventures the Father has for us. 

Live with courage. Walk in faith. And, if you fail at something... make it an epic adventure. Failures and disappointments are often the training ground for the good things He has ahead. No need to fear them, just plow through them. 

Yes, I am grateful for the skill building, teaching,  idea sparking, helpful resource known as Pinterest. 

Today, I am grateful for Pinterest.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Good Dads

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 168: Today, I am grateful for good Dads.

If we want the world to be a better place, we must begin with the family. If a mother is the heartbeat of a home, a Dad sets the mood and the stage. Will it be fun? Funny? Faith filled? Positive? Encouraging? Will it be a place they want to return to when they are grow ?

I am truly grateful for the exceptional Dads in my life. My own feared God,loved the Gospel and the land he worked. The Love of my Life is one of the most hardworking, patient,selfless, genuine fathers I know. Our children adore him.. and so do I. Even now, our boys are men, my heart melts when he is hanging out with them. 

We have great fathers in our congregation, neighborhood and extended family. They are game changers for the children they help nurture.

One of my favorite fathers are the ones who loves someone else's biological child. These men are exceptional. They bring hope and healing to the children who have suffered some kind of loss by divorce or death.As one song put it, "You were the Dad you didn't have to be.". It always chokes me up, because it matters so much. 

Today, there was a line at the changing table at church in the baby nursery. All men. Times have changed. One thing today's children are experiencing is Dad's who are competent and capable of tending to their needs. I think they will understand more of God's love because they have seen their fathers in nurturing rolls. 

Today, I am grateful for good Dads.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

The City on a Hill

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 167: Today, I am grateful for the "city on a hill". (long post warning)

(The photo credit goes to my sunny and sassy friend Claire Cummings. Her timing (or His timing) was perfect. Thank you.) 

This has been a full month. My sweet Mama Ina Mae has had two hospitalizations since April 28th related to infection. She is finally on the road to recovery.

For those who do not know, she has Huntington's Disease. It is a not a nice disease, as it has the qualities of Alzheimer's, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and Parkinson's all combined in one life changing package. Mama is the 2nd of her siblings to be diagnosed. She was blessed with late onset, but it isn't an easy path to walk. Nothing about it is easy... but she warms our hearts with her grace and genuine joy as she faces every day with a smile and an "it's alright" or "I'm alright". 

I won't dwell on this often, as it gives the disease too much power. She awes all of us with the way she faces disease but she is not defeated! 

This is Huntington's as defined on the HDSA website: 
"Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease." 

When I say it is a nasty little disease, I do not joke or say it lightly. They are making great advances through science and feel a cure or more effective treatments are very close, but we are not there yet. Hope rises. I think it floats. 

Beyond the uncontrollable jerking movements, many who suffer from HD become mean and aggressive. They can be very difficult to care for not just medically, but emotionally. In fact, at Northwestern, where Mama is treated, her physician is working on a study to help the many HD people who become irritable, angry, or even aggressive. Mama is not enrolled in that study. 

It seems that the Holy Spirit has, to this point... protected her spirit. Her joyful spirit has not waned. She humbles me with her resilience and ability to rise above the circumstances. She never complains. 

Her Care Teams at both hospitalizations commented on her attitude and sweetness. The Northwestern resident from neurology asked her if she knew "where she was", while standing by her bedside. She told him "The Huntington's Hospital" and then surprised both of us when she said, "On the 14th floor."  I said, "Mama, how did you know that?" She pointed to the room number that was listed on her patient care whiteboard. "The room number is written right there." Well, the physician laughed out loud and said, "I think I'm done with that assessment." 

Then, two weeks ago, she was at St. Mary's in Kankakee for another infection. The staff seemed to wonder at her attitude and repeatedly told us how much they enjoyed her sweetness. Each caregiver seemed to find their opportunity to tell us that "some Huntington's patients are irritable and even mean". We know it is part of the disease for many.

We tried to explain that Mama has Jesus and for now, he has protected her spirit. And, she isn't afraid of her diagnosis. In fact, she was asked, "Do you fear HD will shorten your life?"  Her reply... and I can directly quote her reply..."Oh, heavens, NO!" 

She completely trusts that her Heavenly Father is the author of life and delivers us from this disease ridden, painful, sometimes evil and always troubled world when he calls us home. What should she fear? The Lindgren motto was: "Be paid up, prayed up and ready to go up." 

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.-Matthew 10:28

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. -Philippians 1:21

She has no fear. She is a quiet, gentle warrior. I have to share what the doctor wrote on her discharge:

"Patient is in good spirits, today. She is laying in the bed, just hanging out. She was alert and oriented. When I walked in the room, she acknowledged me and we had a discussion about her care. She is very excited that we are discharging her home. I did share how inspirational she is that she has such an amazing attitude in life with a devastating diagnosis of Huntington's chorea, and she has inspired me to approach my life better." - St. Mary's  Hospitalist 

I have never seen such a personal note in a discharge. What a special doctor! I am overwhelmed and overjoyed that he wrote this down. 

This disease is hard. The staff  have seen it at the hospital.  Mama was different. We sang "Are you washed, in the blood" when she pulled out her IV (accidently with Huntington's jerking ) for the third time in one day and ended up in a blood bath. You have to sing or cry. Mama and I sang! She was such a good patient. (A special shout out to the nurses and aides who gently loved on her every time they fought to find a new place to put an IV.) 

I have waited to write this... sorry for the long post... but I wanted to tell it well. Claire provided the perfect picture. It all came together. Mama has been salt and light since she found real joy at the foot of the cross. Who knew she would have a new avenue to sing of His love, His mercy and His grace through her disease. 

I love this passage... on the picture I choose "The Message" version. 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

She teaches us so much as she walks in grace and light. She is salt and sassy. On the days it is hardest to see her sufferings, she smiles at us and says "I'm alright." or "It's alright". Her light shines bright. She has a supernatural, eternal source... and she is plugged in!  

Today, I am grateful for my "city on a hill". 

Friday, June 15, 2018

More Than Survivors

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 166: Today, I am grateful we can be more than survivors. 

Remember thinking, "If I can just get through May, with all of it's commitments, celebrations and appointments." ? And, you did. We look at the calendar, the house, the "to-do" list and wonder how in the world we will get through all that needs to be done with a 24 hour day and a 40 hour or more work week. Not to mention the volunteer commitments that aren't just to church and community... but to God.  

There is good news today and Beth Moore says it well:

"You have a provider who wants you to be more than a survivor." -Beth Moore

Our God doesn't want us to just hang on by a thread, he wants us to thrive. It is so easy to accept and embrace being overwhelmed. We, instead, can pause, breathe and proceed with the knowledge that our plans are great, but his Spirit will guide us if we listen. We will choose better the way we spend our 24 hours each day.

 "...and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever." -Ephesians 3:19-21

How do we take on the overwhelming tasks of life? 
*With the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
*FIlled with the fullness of God.
*With the knowledge He is able.
*With the arsenal of His abundance.
*Plugged in to His power.
*Basking in His glory.
*In the fellowship of His people.
*With the promise of forever.

This may wear our bodies out, but we are eternal souls. A very old Amy Grant song was "In A Little While". It was one of the soul songs of my youth. My favorite line was "We're just here to learn to love Him. We'll be home in just a little while." 

Whatever the day brings, look for the eternal purpose beyond the current chaos. Live as one who knows the victory belongs to those who know Him. We are overcomers... and that is so much more than simply being a survivor. Our provider's resources never run out. 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

You've got this. Go take on the day. 

Today, I am grateful we can be more than survivors. We can be overcomers.





Thursday, June 14, 2018

Joy in the Holding

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 165: Today, I am grateful for joy comes in the holding.

We live in a broken world. We live in a world where lies abound and it is hard to find what is real. So many are lonely, lost and hurting. Many find themselves living on the edge financially, spiritually and emotionally. It is hard to breathe.

"Joy doesn't come when you are trying to hold it all together. Joy comes when you let go and let God hold you." 

What a powerful and true statement. Letting go of what we thought it would be and embracing what it is. It is what it is... but this moment isn't the end. There is nothing more intimate than turning to our God with our naked hurts, griefs and brokenness to discover all he is is beauty in our ashes. He doesn't even see our failures as final. His peace pours over us and into us when we show up at his... tear stained and tattered... ready to say, "I can't do this alone. I need you, Lord, I need you." 

He allowed his disciples storms and then he calmed them. He allowed them to question him. He would answer... but not always with words or what they expected. He would often tell parables... stories with lessons... to make sure they would not miss the point. Don't we all love a good story?

We can wrap ourselves in His Word and be held. We can cry out in prayer and be held. We can sit, breathe in and feel the Holy Spirit wrap us in faithful arms of love. 

Earworm is singing this morning, "Held", by Natalie Grant. A piece of the lyrics:

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held."

Good choice, Earworm. 

The strangest part of the supernatural love of our awesome God is that in our darkest moments, he becomes even more real. Very, very real. We run to him... or away from him. He is our anchor... and the anchor holds. 

Today, I am grateful for joy comes in the holding.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

To Be Loved

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 164: Today, I am grateful to be loved.

We are full swing into the weddings and anniversaries season. One of my brother's friends always referred to his wife as "his bride". Doesn't that help us frame a relationship... even years into a marriage. We savor the joy; not just loving but being loved in return. 

Love is not always romance, flowers and fun. Some days... it is work. 

Most of us experience a heartbreak or two, before finding our special person. At the time we hurt, we don't think the sun will ever shine again. Why is it that years later, we can clearly see that the breakup that hurt was really just a chapter and part of the path to one much more suited to share our lives. 

I love this passage from Roman. "The Message" said it beautifully. 

Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. -Romans 9:25 (MSG)

To be chosen, loved and treasured... is there anything sweeter? Marriage is one of the ways God shows us what it means to truly love. Sacrificially... putting others needs before your own. Protecting their hearts and their guarding them from things that might wound their souls. 


Love isn't always easy, but it is always beautiful. It drives out fears. It bears all things. I sweetens our celebrations and divides our sorrows. 

Today, I am grateful to be loved.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Gratitude Guides Us To Goodness


Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 163: Today, I am grateful gratitude guides us to goodness. 

I believe gratitude helps guide our mind and hearts to the goodness of the Lord. It is good for our souls and reveals so much about His love. Our gratitude pleases God... and it changes us. 

Psalm 27 is an amazing song of King David.

David... the boy who defended his people with a slingshot and a stone. David was the one who comforted King Saul with his music and married Saul's daughter, Michal at her request (1 Samuel 18:20-27). David was a best friend... like a brother... to Jonathan, the King's son. David became the hated target of the king. Talk about the complicated life. 

Saul's hatred and jealousy toward David and unstable moods made life difficult for all around them. I am so awed and encouraged by the way David managed the trials in his life. I wonder when he wrote Psalm 27? Was it a lifesong he kept in his heart from many years, before writing it down? 

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27:13-14

I should memorize this Psalm to recall on tough days. It is a good one. It is packed full of the reality of life's troubles. Still, our God is bigger. In fact, he is wants to draw us closer as we bow, like David, to the sovereign reality that His big picture is not see by us. He wants us to be hungry for time with him. He longs for us to crave him like chocolate and coffee. He wants to be our first love. 

David had a heart that beat for His Lord. He did not always understand his ways, but he would pause to reflect on God's goodness, even when life was not going so well. His faithful heart pleased the Lord. 

We used to sing a children's song called "Davey, Davey" and the chorus was "I want a heart that beats for you."  I think we grown ups loved it as much as the kids.
  

"I remain confident of this... I will see the goodness of the Lord."

I love David's optimism. But it was not through rose colored glasses. Oh, no! He had tasted the goodness of the Lord, but he knew it didn't exempt him from problems. What he did know, is that when nothing was going right, he had a Great God who would... in time... make it right. 

Earworm is singing, "Everything's gonna be alright."  And my mind wanders to the quote... "If it isn't alright... it isn't the end." 

There are more chapters to be written in our stories.Just like David's. This might be our worst day, but it isn't our last day. And when we do face our last day, and we know Christ as Lord... that last day is the door to our first breath of heaven. It is why Paul was so confident that live or die... we win when we know Jesus. 

"I remain confident of this... I will see the goodness of the Lord." 

We can continue to collect daily gratitude so that we can read, re-read and revel in his radical, redeeming, rescuing love. ( I can't help it... I adore alliteration.)

Today, I am grateful gratitude guides us to goodness.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Baseball Champs


Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 162: Today, I am grateful for an amazing weekend of baseball for some really special guys.

Morton Baseball... 3A State Champs... first time since 1984. This groups is special, because they were in 7th grade when I started at Morton Jr. High. It has been so fun to watch and hear about them as they have grown from boys to men.

This is one of those gratitude posts that will remain short and sweet. I loved the pep talk Coach Crawford gave reminding them of all the time, practices, parent sacrifices and support and where they come from... Central Illinois. We've got heart and some great baseball.

Their energy and excitement is contagious... so are the nerves. You can watch and see when they know they are getting close. What an amazing moment when finally... it happens. They've watched. They've waited. And, now it is their time to shine.

Many of these boys have played together since MYBA... Morton's youth baseball organization. So many years of playing in the dirt, hits, misses, practices and games. Countless! Moments like this are once in a lifetime.. but the hard work that leads to them requires intentional decisions... daily.

I am so excited for their them, their parents and the community. I hope they savor every minute. <3 font="">

Today, I am grateful for an amazing weekend of baseball for some really special guys. It was, indeed, a great day to be a Potter.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Choose Who's Driving

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 162: Today, I am grateful we can choose who's driving. 

"Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) was a great movie. If you haven't seen it... as it is by now considered old or classic... it is worth the time. Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy create a wonderful film together about the deep enduring friendship between an southern jewish matriarch and her black chauffeur . Their friendship crosses social and cultural barriers of the day. The film starts in the 1940's and ends in the early 70's. 

Hoke drove Miss Daisy all over town and eventually became her housekeeper, too. They fuss at each other, but the relationship grows when the learn to really listen to each other. Not just superficially, but to what the other was really saying. 

Listening isn't always easy. Many of the woes in today's world grow from our inabilities to communicate effectively. Everyone wants to have their say, but few listen. When we learn to listen, we gain insight and understanding. This Bob Goff quote sums it up well. 

"Most of our decisions are driven by either love or fear. Figure out who's doing the talking, then decide what you'll do. - Bob Goff

Love or fear? When we learn to courageously love, fear loses its power. Who's doing the talking?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. -1 John 4:18 

We can choose love. We can allow fear to cripple us. Choices. When we attempt to see others with his eyes, everything changes. When love drives our actions and decisions, it has an impact on all we say and do. 

Love changes everything. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose who's driving. 

Puppies

 Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 160: Today, I am grateful for puppies.

We wanted a good girl. One that would be loving, sweet, friendly to all and obedient. Turns out... she is kind of pretty, too.

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4 lbs in 9 days. We can almost see her growing. There is, indeed, a bit of Great Dane in her, but we are pretty sure she will be just large... not giant.

A few months ago, I was wondered if having a puppy was going to do us in... as babies and sleepless nights are for the very young. Her sleepless nights were short lived. She learns house rules quickly. Today, I am reminded of the sweetness of a fur-baby.

My friend Donna Davis Roth shared a Dave Ramsey post to my timeline this week. Read it if you love your pets. It made my day. It reminded me of just how much they help us live life more fully.

They keep our hearts tender. We cry over them. We laugh when they are goofy. We celebrate their learnings. They sense our happy times and ours sad. Happy tails make for happy hearts at home.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:7

Our little girl is not perfect... but she tries to please... and is perfect for us. She just wants to be with us and for us to give her our undivided attention. She loves unconditionally and celebrates each homecoming. She believes in us, trusts us and loves to be loved. I think dogs were one of His most special creations.

In Frozen, there is a song that goes; "Reindeers are better than people." It always makes me smile because it points out the grace our pets show us and how loving and caring for them grows our hearts and keeps us tender.

Our sweet boy, Harley, is a tough act to follow. It took me three years to even consider another dog. I was getting quite comfortable with the ease of not having the responsibility. It was easy and good. But, the Love of My Life needs a dog. Then, I heard echoes of my Jill saying "What does he ever ask for?" She said the same about Todd one time long ago when he wanted to add a second dog to the house. She said "yes" in love... and so did I. Come to find out... I needed a dog, too.

If looking to increase your household by four paws...please consider TAPS(Pekin IL). There are so many dogs and puppies who need good homes.

Our kids, Chase and Emma, just adopted the perfect senior dog from TAPS a little over two weeks ago. She was housetrained and eager to love and be loved in returned.

Daisy Mae's mother, Louise, is a Standard Poodle/Bulldog mix who was recently returned to TAPS. She is young, had a litter, been spayed and she needs a new home with a back yard.

Today, I am grateful for puppies of all ages... the fur babies who become family and teach us so much about love.