Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Something New

Year 6 - Day 212: Today, I am grateful for something new. 

There is something soul refeshing about a new thing.

New day planners.

New pencils.
New jars of peanut butter.
New jobs.
New neighbors.
New cookie sheets.
New cars.
New pajamas.
A new marriage.

Yesterday, in a place far away, one of the most special men in my life said "I do" again. He had already loved the "until death do us part" kind of love and lived through the loss. There are no words for that kind of loss... only sorrow and tears. There is no way to measure the heaviness of the burden. You can't go around grief... you have to go through it. 

It takes great courage to love again with a whole heart. Fear would say "hold something back", but love always wins. God keeps his promises. "Joy comes in the morning." 

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

There is a special joy that comes with new beginnings. New beginnings are full of hope and promise. They are a call for celebration. "Today, is the first day of the rest of your life." Yes, the saying is old, but the truth is big. We can't let what has gone wrong or been hard in the past steal from today's goodness, promise and new opportunities. 

Honestly, I think the new thing that matters most to our Lord, is that we wake up each new day determined to passionately love again, as if today would be our last day. To share His love and to love others, with the kind of love, grace and forgiveness he grants us with each new morning. 

I am so happy for this new marriage. For the gift of new promises made in a covenant before God... joining two families together in a new beginning... I find words of thanksgiving are not quite enough. We have to feel the gratitude. Live in the moment. Dance the hula (way to go Blake). 

When we honor God with our lives, he can take the broken pieces and make new beginnings. Something sweet. Something beautiful. Something new. 

Congratulations, Todd & Sarah. We love your special lady... now your wife. Our hearts are with you.

Today, I am grateful for something new. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Unspeakable Joy

Year 6 - Day 211: Today, I am grateful for unspeakable joy.

Sometimes, there are no words. When a moment is so filled with wonder and wow... you have to smile until it hurts or a laughter bursts.

The picture is our great niece. She loves giraffes. This child is a special gift. She is a reminder that God reigns and that he speaks into our sorrows and brings unspeakable joy. Her parents have not taken one moment for granted from the moment God placed her in their arms. A love grown in the heart is as deep, and real and precious as a love grown in the womb.

I am so grateful for the miracle of adoption. It is a long road that is often speckled with fear,disappointment and uncertainty. It takes an unwavering commitment, because the process is hard. When patience, perseverance, courage and love win... it is an example of unspeakable joy.

We have been blessed to have adoption stories woven into our family tree and in our neighborhood for many years. It is a unique and breathtaking because God moves twice. First he knits a unique child in a biological mother's womb... and then he paves the way for a forever family to open their hearts to receive the gift of raising the very same child.

My friends Kim and Melanie were some of the first friends I knew whose parents were very open about the truth that they were adopted. Back in the day... many kept it a big secret. I remember them explaining how with biological births... you get what you get. The difference, "My parents choose me." Unspeakable joy.

Today is a good day to say a prayer of gratitude for the biological parents who love their child enough to give that child an opportunity for a better, safer life with hope for a bright future in someone else's arms. Pray for their wounds and brokenness to heal, knowing that their sacrifice is a special kind of love.

Remember, Jesus was placed in Mary's womb, sharing human genetics, but it was Joseph who would adopt him as his own in every way. Unconditional love, protection and teaching him his carpenter's trade. Joseph offered guidance and other things earthly father's provide. He was his real Dad. Jesus had two fathers.

In the Christmas story, Joseph holds a special place in my heart. His faith, kindness and devotion melt my heart. Present at the birth, but not really the father. He let love win.

One of my favorite scriptures is about adoption speaks to God's plan to redeem his special, free-willed, free-wheeling creation.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. -Ephesians 2:19-20 

And another: 

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. -Ephesians 1:5

I don't pretend to understand the depth of His love. The closest human experiences are choosing love in marriage and the love we have for a child. Sacrificial love that says, "I will care for you. I will put your needs before my desires. My desires change to love you better." God gives us adoption experiences so that we might understand that kind of love. A love so powerful it brings us tears of joy. Unspeakable joy. 

Back to the picture. There is no better place to view the world, than sitting on Daddy's shoulders. Our nephew is a tall guy. Imagine being inches away from a giraffe's nose when you love giraffes and have never been so close to one! Unspeakable joy.  

Today, I am grateful for unspeakable joy.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Fresh Cut Grass

Year 6 - Day 210: Today, I am grateful for the scent of fresh cut grass.

The summer is slipping away. One of the joys of living in the Midwest is the changing seasons. 

For many, including my guys who do the mowing, the change in seasons means it will soon be time to put the mower away. They look forward to it, and I completely understand. It is a job keeping up with yard work! In the fall, the work still exists, but it changes. We aren't quite there yet.

Today, we can still take in the scent that follows cutting the grass. Scentsy had "Fresh Cut Grass" as a scent for a time. It makes a reappearance every once in awhile to the joy of those who love it. It is a clean, green scent. 

This time of year, it is easy to start feeling the disappointment of grass that isn't as green because the summer sun has baked it or pets have taken their toll. When we fall into the trap of comparing our yard to the others that seem in better shape for the moment. We start to covet the grass on the the other side of the fence. 

"If the grass looks greener on the other side... stop staring. Stop comparing. Stop complaining. Start watering the grass you are standing on." -Angel Chernoff

There are times we all need a gentle reminder to be grateful that we have a yard, grass to cut and a mower that works. The scent of fresh cut grass in the air is a present reality. 

King David had a full life of walking with the Lord. He learned to trust him as a child and lived a big life. Still, he had moments that he needed to remind himself of God's infinite, endless goodness. Perhaps, that was his mood when he penned the 23rd Psalm. 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. -Psalm 23:1-3a

The 23rd Psalm is like a deep, clean, green breath of fresh air. As a child, I associated it with sadness, because it was used at nearly every funeral I attended. As an adult, I read "Traveling Light" by Max Lucado and fell in love with this lyrical piece of scripture. We try to carry burdens on our own, but God says: "Rest. I've got this. Trust me. I will take care of you. I will feed you. Death cannot hurt you, when you are mine. I will never leave you." 

My friend Julie, teaches this passage as a memory verse to young children. What a good thing to have in their memory "cloud" for downloading anytime they need it. It is a personal and full of hope. It is fresh and new each time it is said and read. 

Learning scripture, seeding it in the hearts of the young so it can grow, keeps it written on their hearts. Ready when then need it. It keeps us focused on God's goodness and his very really presence in our daily lives. Each time we recite it, it is like the smell of fresh mown grass. A delight to the senses. 

Today, I am grateful for the scent of fresh cut grass.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Examples of Integrity

Year 6 - Day 209: Today, I am grateful for examples of integrity.

Rare. Right? Even in places you expect integrity to shine... men and women fail to meet the expectation. Why? Because it is easier to do the easy thing, than it is to do the right thing at times. 

"When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity, regardless of what others may do - you are destined for greatness." -Napoleon Hill

Greatness is not necessarily riches, position, fortune or fame. Greatness is much more about the genuine impact made by ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things in common places. 

Not out of a desire to be great, but out of a heart that beats to serve, share and lift up those who struggle. Once again, I opened my Biblegateway to add scripture and look the "Verse of the Day":

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:14

I never get used to it. That was not the scripture I had in mind. His is better. It is always better! We can press on. Our reward is not on earth, but in heaven. Pilgrims but not settlers.

When trying our best, we can miss the mark. Thank goodness for his grace does not require perfection. Paul, in this letter to the Philippians reflects on the awful things he did in the name of the church and religion. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus changed everything. He went from knowing about God, to actually encountering him. Real life. Real time. Real scary. And then, a new relationship changed everything.

I've long thought Saul/Paul's conversion was more of a recruiting mission by God. Kind of like when the Cubs recruited Ben Zobrist. Ben was a great player... playing for the wrong team. (With no disrespect to Royals fans.) Getting the right players on the team makes all the difference.

Honestly, I wonder if the Cubs took one look at Ben Zobrist's reputation for integrity and being a team player and knew the potential for greatness, if he could continue to work at the game with good character and the highest standards. Look at the platform God gave him to share Christ. With the Cubs 2016 World Series win and MVP, he was on countless talk shows and watched by millions. His faith and integrity are a curiosity to many. Curiosity often precedes seeking.  

Like Paul, Ben is not perfect. But his actions show that he wants to chase the heart of Christ in his work, in the community and at home. Instead of sitting perched waiting for him to mess up, we can pray for guys like Ben. May they continue to be salt and light in a world where money, power, fame and fortune call the shots. Talk about a mission field! Who can withstand the pressures without a mighty God? 

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." -Philippians 3:12-13 

Before his conversion, Saul/Paul had a strong curiosity about what made Christians tick. That they would die for what they believed intrigued him. "Saul approved of the stoning of Stephen." (Acts 8:1) 

Stephen was deeply loved and deeply mourned. This, too, peaked Saul's interest. He was zealous for the law and considered great and powerful in the minds of many, but he was not satisfied. He knew important people, he knew what it was like to be feared, but he didn't know peace. It was not until he came face to face with the Prince of Peace... blinded by His glorious light... that he truly found his worth and a new sense of wonder in living each day. 

Saul's life change warranted a name change. Saul/Paul would leave a life of importance to find new life. The only thing that didn't change in Paul's life was the level of his passion. In Christ, he would influence others, acting with integrity instead of insult and injury. 

We can be grateful for Paul, for Ben and other examples of integrity. Give thanks for those who went before us. Pray for those who try to live for Christ in the public eye and all of its pressures. 

Today, I am grateful for examples of integrity.

Friday, July 27, 2018

All The Pieces

Year 6 - Day 208: Today, I am grateful for a God who can mend a broken heart... when we give him all the pieces.

"God can heal a broken heart, but he has to have all the pieces." - The Sovereign Word

This one took my breath away. Wow. There is this place where scripture and the reality of daily living collide. That crossroad has a name. Decision.

Do I say I trust Him, but hold back the pieces of my life I don't want to give up? I think it is an easy pitfall. Trusting him means offering up control... it means giving up all the hurt, mess and brokenness.

Human nature is an interesting study. That study is valuable when it helps us make better choices, make changes and live fuller lives for all of our days. Sadly, some humans would rather be miserable.

Remember the old adage: "Misery loves company."? It is a sad truth.

Why is it so hard to release the hurt, sadness, grief and disappointments. We can choose to wear them like war medals, but they get so heavy. They weigh down our spirits like a ton of bricks. We are warriors... but we have limits to our own strength.

When tough stuff happens, the feelings are deep and real. We have to feel them to heal them. But, then, we have a very important choice. We must choose if misery is our destination and comfort zone... or if life is still a grand adventure? Are we broken and beautiful or are we broken without hope?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Do we cling to that blessed assurance? Are our convictions about his goodness stronger and bigger than todays trail? Since it is impossible to fathom and understand the mind of God, we learn to trust his heart and obey his commands. Trust and obey. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.-Romans 8:28 

It is true. I know. I've seen it unfold time and time again. Other times, we will not see the reasons on this side of heaven. He is still God. We are not. Yet, in our deepest, darkest, messed up places... he waits for us to bring our broken pieces to the foot of the cross for comfort, healing and restoration. He promises a future to those who seek Him with their whole hearts. He offers a forever that can't be imagined with what we know in this life. 

We all have days we want to cry out, "Beam me up, Scotty." We are tired of this planet and its many woes. That day is coming. One way or the other. But, until that day, we live, laugh, learn, love... and even lose, but we have hope. We can choose a future without destruction. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  -Jeremiah 29:11-13

It is always the right time to give him "all the pieces", holding nothing back. 

On one of my favorite CD's (Songs inspired by The Story) Brandon Heath sings the song "Bend". It is the story of Joseph in a ballad form. Enjoy it. We can bend...


Today, I am grateful for a God who can mend a broken heart... when we give him all the pieces.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

No Secrets

Year 6 - Day 207: Today, I am grateful for a love with no secrets.

Honesty... even when unpopular... is still the best approach to any situation. It should not be intentionally unkind... Paul said to "speak the truth in love"... but truth hidden is eventually revealed. Honesty upfront can prevent deeper wounds and woes later. It is why the Lord told Moses to tell the people to "Donnot bear false witness.". In today's language, "Don't lie." 

Lies damage relationships deeper than most things. It is why it makes God's big ten list of "dos and don'ts". Those six commandments that God gave us to help us live better with others... they don't just hurt the other person. They wound our spirits, too. 

Here is a big truth: not only does God know our secrets and our shame... he knows all of our hiding places. 

"There is something so liberating in knowing that there is no secret sin, shame, or regulation that has sway over you. It is very empowering when you realize that God knows even the darkest secrets and broken rules and yet still openly declares His love over you." - Lisa Bevere, Lioness Arising

I've mentioned often that one of my favorite verses in recent years comes from Genesis. Adam and Eve are hiding, caught in the reality that they messed up, but naked. 

“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” -Genesis 3:11

He already knew the answers. He's God. He asked because they needed to come clean. Their souls needed confession and forgiveness. Major mess up for the humans! His love was deep and wide and ready to help them manage the mess. 

They received consequences, but even in His discipline, God granted them gifts. Yes, childbirth hurts, but is there a greater joy than a baby in your arms? A man's job is obviously work, but it is also rewarding and fulfilling. People that find a work they love to do, love doing it for as long as they can. I cannot help but savor the truth that God's love for us is not declared when we achieve perfection, but when we are a hot mess. 

He sees beauty in the ashes. He sheds light into our dark places and illuminates our lives when we offer them up in the daily sacrifice of obedient living. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. 

This world is full of lies. Turn on the TV and watch a few commercials and you will be inundated with them. Look at the tabloids, the ads and the stories. Telling the truth is kind of a secret weapon. Unexpected this day in age. We need the full armor of God: 

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. -Ephesians 1:13-17

Talk about dressed for success! The belt of truth, the shield of faith, the peace that comes from the Good News and the shield of faith against flaming arrows. He sees us... naked. He loves us in our messes. He guards and protects us for the sake of our souls. 

An unconditional love with no secrets is a powerful love. It is available to all who confess, believe, repent and receive. (Romans 10:9) 

Today, I am grateful for a love with no secrets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

10 Ways To Love

Year 6 - Day 206: Today, I am grateful for a list of 10 Ways to Love.

Love is an action verb. Whitney Houston had a hit song that asked, "How will I know, if he really loves me?" The answer in the song was, "It's in his kiss." Poor Whitney. She was a great talent with a life full of sadness and struggle that led to a tragic end. 

A kiss? Cute and fun, but not the real answer. A kiss can be everything from electric and hot ... to tender and warm. A kiss is a sweet expression of affection. Real love requires more effort. 

The Bible is full of lessons about loving. We just need to pick it up. Here is an amazing list that we can highlight in our bibles with red hearts. 

*Listen without interrupting. Proverbs 18
*Speak without accusing. James 1:19
*Give without sparing. Proverbs 21:26
*Pray without ceasing. Colossian 1:9
*Answer without arguing. Proverbs 17:1
*Share with honest affection. Ephesians 4:15
*Enjoy without complaint. Philippians 2:14
*Trust without wavering. 1 Corinthians 13:7
*Forgive without punishing. Colossians 3:13
*Promise without forgetting. 1 Samuel 20:23

These scriptures are amazing reminders of what it means to actually act out in love.  

The photo is from my son and daughter-in-love's wedding. Hello love!  It was a perfect greeting when they looked at her shoes for the entire day. From first look... to kicking them off at the end of their special day. What a tremendous message it sent! I smile to think she might pull them out again on a day he is making her crazy, just to remember love is welcoming, love is a choice and yes... love is a decision. 

It is still the season of weddings and anniversaries. We have three more weddings in the next month. Each one is unique and special because the couples are unique and special. 

One couple is choosing love again after different kinds of losses, making it extra sweet, beautiful and courageous. One couple found each other in high school and finally get to say "I do", although they have been one in heart for many years. The third share that sweet, new love that says, "I found you!". Finally. After waiting and praying for God's best in their lives, they get to join together before Him in love. Yes, each of these three weddings will be beautiful and sacred as they invite Jesus to the wedding and to strengthen their marriage.  

I love being in love... 33 years together and 31 wed. Trust me, we are NOT perfect! Far from it. Still, there can be joy in the challenge of choosing love daily and intentionally. The Love of My Life is good at it. His actions speak louder than words every day.  I say the words with ease, but have to remember to choose my actions wisely and guard time for us. 

Love should never be taken for granted. It is a gift and earth days are numbers. The blessing of one to share those days is just that... a blessing. Work the "10 ways to love" list and it will add peace, joy, gratitude and fun to your days. It will improve relationships.

Note... this list can be applied far beyond marriage and family. Use it at work, at play and in the grocery store. Love changes everything. Love intentionally. 

Today, I am grateful for a list of 10 Ways to Love.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Our Soul's Protector

Year 6 - Day 205: Today, I am grateful for our soul's protector.

I grow increasingly weary of the media. The talk of bullies is daily. The ugly in the world gets top billing in any news hour. Yes, bullies are real, but they are not new. The Bible is full of bullies, bad guys and believers. 

I had a revelation as a child. The one who bullies thinks they will feel bigger and better when stepping on another person's feelings, rights or space. It is as if they think they can build themselves up by putting others down. It never works, my friend. Never. They grow angrier and uglier.

Some of the Bible's worst bullying types would use the pride and arrogance of the kings and queens to manipulate and achieve their own agendas. This happens in the book of Esther and in the book of Daniel, too. I am sure there are others, but these came to mind quickly. Noah faced bullies who mocked him as he built the ark. Joseph faced multiple bullies, including the boss's wife.  Elijah was bullied by the prophets of Baal until their big showdown that made Queen Jezebel more determined to get his head, when her prophets were embarrassed as God showed his power through Elijah.

People want what they want, often caring little if others are hurt in the process of getting whatever "it" is. Money, fame, prestige, power and fame

Jesus was bullied by the church leaders more than the public ones. Isn't that interesting? Oh, bullies are not new, although the social media has exploded the opportunities for them to stalk their prey. He outwitted them every time... until he submitted to the Father's will and became the Lamb of God.

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. Matthew 10:28 (The Message)

I enjoying The Message translation of this passage. It is a reminder of the soul's value and strength and the impact of God in the equation. 

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." Such an interesting wise woman. She was bullied because she was not pretty enough by society's standards. Perhaps, that made her more sensitive to others who were treated unfairly because of the color of their skin or gender. She was the 1st Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. JFK appointed her the 1st Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Eleanor Roosevelt did not fret her days away trying to make herself pretty to improve public opinion. No. She spent her days making a difference. She found ways to be fearless... and learned to make her frustrations fruitful.

We need not fret the bullies. We are each uniquely created... knit in our mother's womb. We can know the one who holds our body and soul in His hand and finds them precious. 

Today, I am grateful for our soul's protector

Monday, July 23, 2018


Year 6 - Day 204: Today, I am grateful for the hat. 

Another first time gratitude. How have I missed it?

From baseball to fashion hats, they all serve a purpose. They protect us from the sun and shade our eyes on a hot day. They are the finishing fashion statement for a royal wedding. They are a conversation starter with military veterans. 

Hats can be a symbol of where we come from and what is important to us. A guy in a cowboy hat... there is something about a guy in a cowboy hat with a "Yes, Ma'am." to set a girls heart aflutter. In the winter, they are necessary protection on the coldest days.

Seriously, I think this is a first time for hats and we are halfway through year six. It is a reminder that there are so many things to be grateful for that I take for granted every day.

When the sun beats down... we have the luxury of shade under a hat. Shade can be life saving. In the case of those who labor in the sun, a good hat helps protect from sunburn that leads to melanoma. 

I smile when I remember Dad dividing his hats between the "work hats" for the fields and the "good hats" for going to town. Mama Ina Mae would wash them and put them out to dry on Tupperware canisters as drying racks. The favorites were washed often.

Shade... style and symbolism can all be found in a hat. How is Jesus like a hat? The Lord is our shade and our protector. 

The Lord is your keeper;the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,nor the moon by night.-Psalm 121:5-6

Today, I am grateful for the hat... and Jesus.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Who goes first?

Year 6 - Day 203: Today, I am grateful for the ones who go first.

Everyone knows that first child is the practice child. They go before the other siblings, testing limits and setting down the foundation for house rules... although by the last child parents are pretty tired and things often seem to be a little looser. 

I've heard younger siblings say, "I'm so glad my older sibling went first." Now, every family is unique, but these are some common generalities.

A piece of artwork from a Bible Journaler took me to Judges 4 & 5. Deborah, the prophetess took leadership when the people of Israel were doing their own thing, not asking for God's direction. They only wanted him when they were in trouble. No man seemed fit to lead. Deborah was chosen by God. 

Yes, a girl. She was willing to be brutally honest and sometimes told people what they didn't want to hear, when it was the truth. The people, men and women,  lined up to talk to her and seek her God given wisdom. She was a Wonder Woman, when they were used to Superman.

Deborah sat under a palm tree. The people knew Deborah's tree and sought her out. For a woman to be held in such high esteem in that day was unusual. Her authority was God given. When she spoke for the Lord... it carried authority. Why? Because, when Deborah spoke, God showed up to back her up. There was no doubt that God was in the lead. 

"And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” -Judges 4:14a 

Barak led the soldiers. Deborah led Barak. God led Deborah. God went first! If God goes before us, then what have we to fear?

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
-Romans 8:31

I am learning that life is more about knowing the right questions than knowing all the answers. 

Deborah is an incredible example of faith and courage. She trusted big and big things happened. Next time we are stressed and in distress, we can ask:
"Does not the Lord go out before me?"

Today, I am grateful for the ones who goes first.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Clean Counters

Year 6 - Day 202: Today, I am grateful for clean counters.

This is not my forte. My house is pretty tidy, but my kitchen counters are my nemesis. They won't stay clean. I want them to, but they are the thing that gets out of hand quickly. 

We did had a little project in the kitchen to help with the clutter. Randy-My-Love isn't sure if it will work, but it looks cute and it makes me happy. If it will help with clutter, remains to be seen. 

A clean counter feels better than a cluttered one. All of those clean counters I see on TV belong to people that don't really live in their TV houses, but it sets the bar high. Of course, people with clean counters might have cabinets and closets that are dangerous to open. I know this because I am not above a quick tidy that includes "stuffing" stuff wherever it will fit. You see. Outward appearances can be deceiving. 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

For me, this is one of the most humbling verses in entire Bible. It goes right along with "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." We think we can hide from God, but we can't. There are no dirty little secrets from the master of the universe. He knows if the counter junk gets shoved in a drawer at the sound of company approaching. He knows our thoughts. 

Remember when Adam and Eve hid from God in Genesis 3? 

Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11

Spoiler alert. God already knew where they were hiding and their nakedness had no sin attached until they disobeyed. Imagine that? I really can't. God knew they had eaten the forbidden fruit. They were naked and afraid for the first time. We can't hide from God. 

It is a good thing God's grace is not dependant on clean counters. What he does ask is a sincerely repentant heart.  Remember:

People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

On the other side of the coin,  people might judge my housekeeping skills by my kitchen counters... but my Lord knows when I am doing my best to seek His face and shows grace. He loves beyond measure, no matter how messy our lives might be at times. He loved us enough to die in our place. That is a deep and abiding love. 

Randy-My-Love will enjoy the clean counters, for however long they last. I will, too. I will delight in his pleasure at my efforts. Still, if I lose the war on counter clutter in the near future, his love is not dependent on tidy kitchen counters... which is a very good thing. 

This is another example of marriage being a wonderful way to better understand God's love for us. 

Today, I am grateful for clean counters.