Sunday, September 30, 2018

Letting Go

Year 6-Day 271: Today, I am grateful for the beauty in letting go. 

As a Midwestern girl for all of my life, I live each season anticipating the return of fall The leaves tainted in so many vibrant hues of red, gold, amber and eventually... they let go and float away. Their beauty spent, but the memory will remain. 

There is a place on I-74 in East Peoria as you drive into Peoria heading west that is like a picture that ends up as a puzzle. The kind of puzzle with a thousand pieces that a family works on together. It is a snapshot of God's glory reflected in nature. 

One of the wonders of fall is to walk through the woods as the leaves are letting go. It is the most colorful rain. When I was shooting Walker's senior pictures, we had a day like that. They tumbled all around us reminding us that letting go is a part of the beauty in learning to live fully. 

One of the things that rocked the boat for those choosing to follow Jesus or choosing the world came down to this: "What things are you willing to let go?" Some followed. Some couldn't do it. They could not lay down their desires and plans to trust Jesus with their journey. A sense of control was more important than trusting God.

The ones closest to Jesus simply followed. They didn't worry or fret... they dropped their nets and went. Wow! What courage! Right? The Message translation grabbed my heart today. 

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." -Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

To trust and obey is a reflection of belief. Believing is receiving. Receiving brings a peace this world cannot steal. 

"The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I’ll stick with God; I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go." -Psalm 16-7-8 (The Message)

In the light of my imperfections and sins, I am always humbled by Christ's love and sacrifice. That he wants to personally guide our days and grant us peaceful sleep is a gift this world cannot know or steal. His love is enough. We learn to let go of things we hold dear, but can never satisfy. 

Today, I am grateful for the beauty in letting go.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

God Doesn't Hide

Year 6 - Day 270: Today, I am grateful God doesn't hide.

Randy and I just watched "The Shack". I had heard positives and criticism... it turns out, it was really quite beautiful. This verse from Isaiah goes well with the message from the movie. 

Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
 ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.-Isaiah 58:9a

God is good, even when bad things happen. He doesn't hide.  He loves all of his children, although some will chose to not return to him. He forgives the big and small sins, when we ask. He longs to be in relationship with us. He wants to heal our brokenness. He wants the conversation to be open, honest, frequent and real. He doesn't want us to miss what really matters. Knowing Him and choosing love.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return -Philippians 1:9-10

When the world seems crazy and evil has it's day, it is good to be reminded that God doesn't hide. Even when we don't understand, we can trust His heart. When we call on him, He will say, "Here Am I". 

Today, I am grateful God doesn't hide.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Stop Talking...Start Doing!

Year 6 - Day 269: Today, I am grateful for the reminder to stop arguing and start doing. 

"If we would do what Jesus said, instead of arguing about what Jesus said, the world would change." -Andy Stanley

Stop talking. Start doing. 

The complain train is so easy to board and ride into misery. Complaining never changed anything. I know... as I have ridden it to the end of the line a time or two. It takes intelligent, intentional decisions to avoid that pitfall... and prayer. Lots of prayer!  

People are never going to agree on everything all of the time. In fact, there are times when there are two paths to the same destination. There is more than one way to make popcorn, right? Still, if there is going to be popcorn, someone has to get off the couch and start popping. By skillet, by air, by microwave or Jiffy-Pop over a campfire. 

It is good to discuss Jesus words and ways, as "iron sharpens iron". We all learn more when come together in fellowship, searching the word. Still, the Bible is pretty clear that it is our acts that will spread the gospel and change the world. Not our smartness, our rightness or our head knowledge. We must apply it to our hearts and live out the gospel in our little corner of the world. 

When we stand before God, with Jesus as our defender... it won't be a test of our head knowledge and theological correctness. It will be an assessment of our heart and what we did with His sacrifice and His son. Did we love him enough to study and meditate on His Word? Did we fulfill the great commission and choose love while sharing His love with others? Did we believe, receive and then sit and argue who is the most right in scripture interpretation. That is exactly what the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus day did. 

To seek him with our whole hearts and find passion in the pursuit... it spills out in love. If He is in us, it leaks. Look at this passage from Paul:

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.  I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT)

"Forget everything except Jesus Christ..." That is the best place to start. Oh how sweet it is to dig deeper into the scriptures for the mysteries and wonder that unfold, but Jesus first. 

Every day it is a challenge to try and be more like him. Every day, we miss the mark in some way, as we are not yet perfected. Still, the Holy Spirit leads us on and the day is coming when we will "see Him as he is". But for today, we are to love as he loved and do as he did. 

Today, I am grateful for the reminder to stop arguing and start doing. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Year 6 - Day 268: Today, I am grateful for invitations. 

"God is always seeking you. Every sunset, every clear blue sky, every ocean wave, the starry host of night. He blankets each day with the invitation, "I am here." -Louie Giglio

What a wonderful explanation of why it is easy to feel close to God when close to nature. It is why I have never desired downtown city living. It mucks up the sky and I can't see the stars. Mama Ina Mae counts each sunrise and sunset worthy of watching from God's artistic hand. 

When I read this, I couldn't help but think of the parable where the good shepherd left the ninety-nine to search for one lost sheep. How precious each one of must be for the Lord to give that example. What's one sheep when you have so many? Apparently, not only precious, but worthy the risks of the dangers and darkness in the rescue. 

Every sunset is an invitation to say, "I'm hear. Can't you see me?" Do the stars twinkle and dance while the crickets sing? They sing of His glory. They invite us to experience the one who breathed life into dust. Our God was willing to take on our skin to experience our struggles and sorrows. All to call us back into relationship with him. Such amazing love!

Earworm is awake and singing a Christmas song. It's not too early is it? Mary would be quite pregnant at this time approaching Jesus birth. No. It's not too early.

How Many Kings (Downhere)
Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we've projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother's shawl 
Just a child 
Is this who we've waited for?
'Cause how many kings step down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

The romance. The love story. The invitation. It never gets old.

Today, I am grateful for invitations.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Unknown Heroes

Year 6 - Day 268: Today, I am grateful for those who don't know they are heroes.

"We can be in our day, what the heroes of faith were in their day... but remember... at the the time, they didn't know they were heroes." -A.W. Tozer 

Humility is so much easier to spell and talk about than it is to live out. To weave humility into our days must be an intentional act. Why? 

The world tells us that raising our level of power, status and importance is how we make a difference and living. Jesus taught us that spending time in service to the weakest, the sickest, the hurting and the broken is the way to make a difference, make a life and change the world.  

For the past 30 years, we have worshiped in a congregation that practices footwashing. It wasn't until teaching it to the children for the first time that I began to understand the importance of the simple act and tradition. It is intentional humility and an expression of love. Sometimes God has to change our station to equip us to change the world. 

We just watched the movie "Same Kind of Different As Me" on Netflix. One man's position as a wealthy art dealer changed in a heartbeat... and then again in another. Three lives were changed and a world of hurt and brokenness was impacted. It is a true story. (Not a high budget flick, but worth the time.) Ron Hall learned the meaning of love, friendship and life together.  

Esther and Joseph were elevated to fame and fortune before God's plan for their lives and impact was revealed. Both of them spent plenty of time washing feet. Their humility was a part of their character that made them perfect for their roles in God's ongoing story of love with humans. Saul/Paul had to learn humility. It wasn't easy for him, but he got there. 

Sometimes, doing the right thing is done behind the scenes. No one knows but the Lord. Even better. Random acts of love can change the world. 

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.-1 John 4:16

Today, I am grateful for those who don't know they are heroes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Heart Health

Year 6 - Day 267: Today, I am grateful for reminders to pay attention to heart health. 

I love words and writing. Adjectives bring me pure delight. Semicolons make my soul sing (after I pause, appropriately, to take in their significance). Still, words can be very dangerous, which is why I hesitate to write some days. I know that I am imperfect and have so much more to learn of His Word and His Ways. I never want to mislead, misdirect or misspeak. 

Daily gratitude has been a place of soul searching and growth for me in daily application of His Word to my life over the past six years. I contemplate what to do in year seven. Gratitude has been good for my heart. It changes everything. 

I love Max Lucado's reminder that it's not eloquence he seeks... just honesty. 

"Don't worry about having the right words; worry more about having the right heart. It's not eloquence he seeks, just honesty." -Max Lucado

We need to pay attention to our heart health. Look at this passage: 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. -Psalm 4:23

Look at "The Message" version that includes a few more verses:

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. -Psalm 4:23-27

Just as paying attention to heart health can determine our earthly days, keeping watch over our heart health in spiritual ways impacts eternity. 

When the Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to debate with Jesus over good theology, this is what Jesus said:

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40 

Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors, fishermen, talking to Samaritan women to invite them to the table of grace, love, forgiveness and new life. He wanted to offer living water. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to argue about which commandment was the most important. Their knowledge and love of the scriptures blinded them, made them proud, arrogant and rendered them ineffective in loving people. 

They missed an all important truth. When we love God with all of our hearts and begin to see with His eyes, out of that passion grows a real, deep and sincere love for others. Perhaps, that is why he commands that come first. 

His Word is full of mystery and answers. It is good for our hearts! 

Today, I am grateful for reminders to pay attention to heart health.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Simple Truths

Year 6 - Day 267: Today, I am grateful for simple truths.

"Love chooses. Fear reacts." -Lisa Bevere

What a simple, accurate truth. Perspective and love are our super powers. They change everything. 

We are not perfect. We are works in progress. The enemy knows our weaknesses, just as the Holy Spirit infuses us with self-control and the opportunity to choose love over fear. The outcome is determined by where we place our trust. 

We can be weary, but lift our heads and take on the day. When we are refreshed, we are dangerous to the one who wants to steal our joy and steal our peace. Love chooses. Fear reacts. 

Focus on the one who helps us see through eyes of love and fear loses its foothold. 

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. -Hebrews 10:35-36

We can be strong and courageous because He is the great "I AM". In Him, we can live... and move and truly be. Fearlessly, pursuing the heart of Jesus. 

Today, I am grateful for simple truths.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Freedom to Thrive

Year 6 - Day 266: Today, I am grateful for freedom to thrive.

"Perhaps, this is what this season is all about. Trusting in the unknown, finding gold in the little things, trading fear of what's uncertain for freedom to thrive within it. -Morgan Harper Nichols 

This weekend I was reading in Joshua as I was preparing one children's message and discovered another. I love studying the recorded story of the Israelites during their exile in the desert before entering Canaan. It is rich with lessons about how to live for and with God. There are examples of what what not to do, too.

Joshua is a part of that story, assuming leadership after Moses. Joshua was to lead the people into the long awaited Promised Land. He was a warrior but he was, also, in tune with the heart of God. He had human responses, but when confronted with "The Commander of the Lord's Army", he dropped to his knees with his face to the ground. 

Joshua at first wanted to know if the Commander of the Lord's Army was a friend or foe. I am smitten with this encounter. I keep re-reading it. Take a peek:

"When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”  “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the Commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” The Commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told." -Joshua 5:13-15

Neither!  Really? Was Joshua a bit taken back by that reply? I might have been. I would have expected a "Hey, I'm here to lead you into the promised land." Instead, what "the man" asked of him was to recognize that he was on holy ground. Not the response he was expecting, I am sure. 

Was he remembering the Lord's commission upon him?

Then the Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you. -Deuteronomy 31:23

"Be strong and courageous." It isn't about "the win". It is about the relationship. God longs for each of us to find our way back to the truth of His goodness. He wants to be with us. He is with us. In the knowledge of his grace and goodness, we can do more than survive. We can thrive. 

Today, I am grateful for freedom to thrive.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Impossible Prayers In Dark Places

Year 6 - Day 265: Today, I am grateful for impossible prayers in dark places.

God does some amazing things in the dark places of our lives. What appears to be a trial, is sometimes, God working things out. One thing I know for sure is that it is a special thing to pray with someone, when things seem dark and impossible. Bob Goff says it well:

“Grace works that way. It's a kind word from a gentle person with an impossible prayer. It's a force sometimes transmitted best hand to hand in a dark place.”  Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

When hope seems lost, we must remember that our God is bigger than our circumstances. His hand on us protects and quite. In the broken places, His light can shine through. 

Hospitals, jail cells, classrooms and locker rooms are all places where we can feel alone and abandoned. It is important to seek His face in the impossible moments, too. 

Impossible prayers are a specialty for our Lord. When we seek His face, he delivers all that we need. 

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. 

Today, I am grateful for impossible prayers.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Nature's Song

Year 6 - Day 264: Today, I am grateful for nature's song. 

The wind whistles through the leaves and they sound like a brush on a drum. The thunder rolls like the timpani (one of my favorite drums). Heaven and nature sing. Don't doubt it for a minute. 

Every once and awhile, I pull up this Lou Giglio video of a talk he does. It gives me chills every time. What if we captured the rocks crying out? What if we heard the stars singing? What if we had the skills to create a mashup for all to enjoy. Lou has talented friends. 

Watch what happens when Chris Tomlin's song "How Great is our God" is dropped in to join the whales and stars. It is indescribable. It must be experienced. Warning... 9 minutes... but they go fast.

Praise him, sun and moon!    Praise him, all you twinkling stars! -Psalm 148:3

He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” -Luke 19:40

Find your song today. Join nature's song. Quiet your heart and listen for nature to lead the symphony. He takes my breath away and gives me life all at the same time. 

How can we help but praise him? 

Today, I am grateful for nature's song. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Perfect Vision & Perfect Timing

Year 6 - Day 263: Today, I am grateful for perfect vision and perfect timing.

Be Thou My Vision is one of my favorite hymns. My friend Krys introduced me to the Rend Collective version. I treasure the old Glad version, too. 

And the Lord answered me:“Write the vision;   make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.For still the vision awaits its appointed time;it hastens to the end—it will not lie.If it seems slow, wait for it;it will surely come; it will not delay. -Habakkuk 2:2-3

Habakkuk 2:2 has become a life verse for me. I love it! 

Our days are not perfect here, as this world is fallen and the enemy of the cross is near. Still, our God is bigger, better, faster and sure that we were worth the attempt at redemption. Again, he trusts our choices. Crazy? 

Not if you are God and can control anything, but long for relationships out of choice and not duty or by God-powers. Remember, that need to love and be loved deeply in return is because we were made "in His image." 

Whatever happens in life, step back and wait for Him to reveal himself. He is always there. 

Today, I am grateful for perfect vision and perfect timing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Surrounded By Song

Year 6 - Day 262: Today, I am grateful to be surrounded by song.

Music is more than something for entertainment listening. It is so much more. Music is spiritual. It lifts our spirits, helps us get out a good cry, inspires us to stand strong or even calls us to make a difference. Music soothes the soul and calms anxieties if we choose the right song. Our choice in music can help direct our paths. 

Did you know that King Saul called David to his side to play his harp? 

And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away. -1 Samuel 16:23  

David spent hours alone in the fields with the sheep. The harp was his companion, as we imagine the cowboy with his guitar. Music soothed David and kept him company. He was an excellent musician and it allowed him to soothe the king. 

I wonder when the first song was sung and the first tune hummed? Was it about the glory of flowers in the fields or was it an attempt to join the birds in song? Only God knows? Music is an important part of any culture. 

The songs in our heart typically reflect who or what we worship and adore. I am grew up playing and singing. Some of my favorite moments of childhood involved school music groups and events. Swing choir, Madrigals, Band, musicals, competitions and at church... music brings us together. When we make music together... in harmony... the sound is more beautiful. 

Jingles get stuck in our heads. They are everywhere. The ones who write them are brilliant. Barry Manilow wrote some commercial jingles that are now deeply rooted in the history of the product or brand they were selling. Yes, they surround us.(Earworms love to sing commercial jingles.) 

When we are surrounded and swimming in song, we are empowered and recharged. At other times, a song humbles me to tears with the depth of God's love and Jesus's sacrifice. Sometimes, a song fills my heart to near bursting with praise and joy. 

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Ephesians 5:18-20

What will we wrap ourselves in this day? Fear or the confidence? Hope or dismay? The choice is a prayer ... or a song away. Some of my favorite songs are prayers set to music, just like the Psalms. 

"You unravel me, with a melody; you surround me with a song. 
Of deliverance, from my enemies, Till all my fears are gone.
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God" 
 -No Longer Slaves, Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

Today, I am grateful to be surrounded by song.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Divine Endurance

Year 6 - Day 261: Today, I am grateful for divine endurance.

Have you ever been broken? If you live long enough, it happens. Everyone has a season, a moment, a year... or even years of trials and struggles. Some, in that season, question how a loving God can allow suffering and trials. 

Man's (that includes us women) choices set the serpent free and evil became a daily presence. Choice was the very gift he gave us that other created creatures did not possess. Heaven and nature have to believe, praise and worship their creator. Still, God longed for a creation that would choose him with free will and not by design. 

God breathed into Adam.How cool is that? I forget to ponder the wonder of that breath. 

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. -Genesis 2:7

I've come to think of that moment as our soul breath. It paints a picture of the the moment the weak, dead and lifeless creation came to life. The only creation that cost God his breath...again and again. As long as we have his breath, we aren't finished. 

"He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless." -Isaiah 40:29

When we reach the end of our human strength... there is  divine endurance. 

I see this in my Mama every day. Huntington's is an ugly disease. Her joy has been her witness. During one hospitalization for an infection, her disease related movements pulled her IV out three times one day. She was helpless to control it. The last time she it came out, blood was everywhere. Mama loves to sing through her troubles, so we sang. 

"Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
Are you washed in the blood
In the soul-cleansing blood of the lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?" 

The old hymns are etched in her memory. It was a perfect song, as she was covered in blood. Truthfully, to her...  it was no big deal. Her God is bigger than any disease. 

At Mama's discharge, the doctor noted her unusual spirit and joy in the face of such adversity. It was in print, on the discharge papers. I think Mama is pretty wonderful, but she is mine and I am biased. What the Doctor saw was more than her own strength... it was divine endurance. 

She humbles me with her faithfulness. 

Today, I am grateful for divine endurance.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pack Light

Year 6 - Day 260: Today, I am grateful we can pack light.

"Every day we get to decide what we'll give to the world and what we'll take from it. Love big; pack light." -Bob Goff

I haven't purchased Bob Goff's "Everybody Always" yet, but it is on my list. I loved "Love Does". Why am I so smitten? Because it is so full of the simple truths about how Jesus changed the world and invites us to be on his team. 

The older we get, the more we discover that stuff means less, people mean more and moments are priceless. In a blink, everything can change. We need to be wise and good stewards, but we need to not cling too tight to things. 

When Jesus was building his team of disciples, those who couldn't pack light were left behind. It was the ones who dropped their nets and followed wholeheartedly who found themselves closest to the heart of Jesus. I can't imagine it. Touching his hand, the ability to hug him or to feel the beat of his heart in a comfort embrace must have been indescribable. 

I think of Lazarus, who lived with his two sisters. We don't know the backstory, but we know they were close to Jesus. Lazarus was not one of the twelve who traveled with Jesus. He, I suspect, cared for his sisters and their household. Not everyone can literally drop everything and go. 

Interesting note, it is suspected that some of the fisherman were quite successful in their family businesses. Business men who dropped everything and followed. How could they do that? There was certainly the element of faith, which is why they were chosen, but it is likely they had other family to help care for their wives and families in their absence. We know Peter had a wife and mother-in-law. He still followed. 

I like this quote because it reminds us of the value of packing light. The opportunity to simply change plans and go when the call comes. 

"Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me." -Luke 9:23 

It isn't a call to irresponsible behavior. We are to be wise. We are to be good managers of our blessings. We want to be able to say "yes" when the call to action comes. We want to be able to pack light and not look back. Sometimes, there is not need to leave home. There is work to do, today, for the kingdom in our own hometowns... but busy calendars are a burden. 

Jesus still says, "Follow me."  

Today, I am grateful we can pack light.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Full Inn

Year 6 - Day 259: Today, I am grateful for a full inn.

The house was full again, this weekend
 (not quite full... we still had two free sofas) . Pumpkin Festival is such a fun time for our family. Traditions old and new. How many P-Fests have we attended? Pretty much all of them since coming to Central Illinois. With little children... and now with our adult kids (don't take offense to the word "kid"... it is truly an endearment and does not take anything from your grown up status). 

This weekend we saw a parade through the excitement of a one year old. Walker was able to introduce his girlfriend, Abi, to the festival traditions.  One-year-old Elias loved the bands... especially the drums. We enjoyed introducing our niece Kenzie's people, Wayne Tracy and Gail Sievert, to the festival. Apple Cider Slushies were a hit. I smiled to know Gail was texting friends and family about them over the weekend. The Roth, Smith, Leander & Lindgren section was well represented, but we sure missed the ones unable to come because of work and life conflicts. Next year is only 364 days away. 

I love a full house. We stayed up too late. Talked into all house. Had a chance to hang out with our Ciara's friends, Leah Bohlman and Ian Cummings. It was a great time. 

Randy, Jennifer & I stretched our bedtime. We may pay for it later this week, but it was worth it!  

Full house. Full weekend. Full Festival. Full of thanksgiving. 

The inn has emptied out, but the memories remain full.

Today, I am grateful for a full inn.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Mistakes and Decisions

Year 6 - Day 258: Today, I am grateful for simple wisdom.

"A mistake repeated more than once is a decision." Paulo Coelho 

I really like simple wisdom. Our human nature is prone to complicate things. Keeping it simple clears the vision.

We all make mistakes. We all have learning curves. Still, a "mistake" that is intentionally repeated is a decision. 

An old friend, a recovering addict, liked to say, "If you hang out at the barber shop long enough, you're  going to get a haircut." It was a reminder that we have to do something different to get different results. He was right. 

As we walk through life, one step at a time, it is good to reflect on our decisions. We all blow it at times. We aren't perfect. Still, we put on step in front of the other and try to make the best decisions possible. I am grateful we have the Bible for a compass and the Holy Spirit to whisper encouragements. I am grateful for the intentional acts that have a positive impact on the world, 

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

Today, I am grateful for simple wisdom.

Friday, September 14, 2018

This Gospel Choir

Year 6 - Day 257: Today, I am grateful for this gospel choir.

Our Leah Roth Landis sang with this group, I believe. I never saw it in person but the videos bring great joy. Here is the last crew from ONU singing with all kind of joy.
As I watching it, I was struck by the diversity in this group from the ways they look, dress and wear their hair. The beautiful array of skin tones adds so much beauty to the mix. Our differences should be celebrated!
They come from different places, socioeconomic backgrounds and life experiences. What a beautiful bunch! This is not a professional video - but the music is still amazing. Enjoy. Watch the movements and the self expression. This is joy that can't be contained.
My friends... the kind of music we listen to and sing matters! So much out there promotes hatred, anger and other self destructive things. We all have our favorite style, but if it is positive... it can change our days.
God is love. Jesus came to pour out his love and blood to pay for our sin debt. He conquered death. Boom! He's coming back. Boom! That is something to sing about.
I am grateful for the diversity in believers and singers. I am grateful music is a way we can come together and grow in love.
Today, I am grateful for this gospel choir.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Year 6 - Day 256: Today, I am grateful for volunteers.

This week brings so many volunteers into focus. It is the anniversary of 9-11 and the Morton Pumpkin Festival. One the saddest of occasions and tear filled. The other brings people together in joy and celebration. Volunteerism was present on 9-11 and it fuels the wonder of the Pumpkin Festival every year. 

Randy has a t-shirt from Disney that his brother, Monte, gave him years ago. Monte has a drawer full of Disney shirts as a long time employee, and he didn't mind sharing. The shirt was for Disney "VOLUNT-EARS". The Mickey ears were the main graphic. Yes, even the most magical place in the world calls it's employees to volunteer. Why? Because it makes us better together. 

When we work side by side with a common goal, we are at our best. It isn't about getting paid or who is the most important. It is about a job that needs to be done. Often the job is overwhelming, but when volunteers come together with a sense of passion or pride in their work... the magic happens. 

It is why Jesus called us to volunteerism. Not for the paycheck, as it usually costs us something. It is the biggest volunteer job we will ever take on. It is where we find hope, healing, purpose and passion. The benefits far outweigh the personal cost.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20 

The world needs help and hope. Just like we needed help and hope on 9-11. And, any hometown festival is super powered by volunteers. Where we spend our time and energy, is usually a snapshot of what we hold most valuable. 

The things we build together last. The relationships we make while volunteering are some of the best. They things accomplished by volunteers are priceless. 

Today, I am grateful for volunteers.