Friday, November 30, 2018

Exceeded Expectations

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 334: Today, I am grateful for exceeded expectations.

This year... this month... or more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.  -CS Lewis 

In today's society, we have lowered our expectations of other humans. There was a day when people did the right thing, not because it was good for them personally, but because it was right and good for the greater good or a common goal. 

Perhaps, it is something that cycles over the course of a century or a millenium? This verse popped into my head and I think it is appropriate here:

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. -Judges 17:6

The era of "the judges" was a tough one for the Israelites. The people were a bit lost after the deaths of Moses and then Joshua. They were in the promised land, but missing the guidance of a strong, God focused leader. "all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes." It is easy to imagine such a time. Simply turn on the news.

This is a season of hope. While the media loves to stress us out with the "hopelessness" of this moment in time, we can choose to refocus on what is real. There are people everywhere who every day wake up to exceed other people's expectations. We can be those people.

"The Dream Center" in Peoria was highlight at the "Love Peoria" night with Bob Goff a few weeks ago. How wonderful it was to hear and see the good that is being done in our community. The work... done in the name of Jesus ... is changing lives. One person at a time. Real relationships manifesting real changes. Our God still saves. He hasn't changed. 

In Springfield, "Wooden It be Lovely" was brought to my attention by my life long friend, Roxanne Stelle. Old furniture given new life by the very women trying to rebuild their lives. The Methodist church down there dreamed up the program. It, too, is changing lives. 

Dressember... wearing a dress every day to grow awareness and raise funds to free slaves here in the USA and around the world. 

Why do we tend to wait for someone else to take up a good cause? There is so much good to be done. We can live our lives like mission seeking missiles. We can seek out and find the good that needs to be done. Little acts of love that accumulate are the way to change the world. 

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.-2 Corinthians 6:3  

CS Lewis was simply observing human behavior. Isn't it good to know that we can act outside of what is expected to be Jesus hands and feet in a desperate, hurting world. Random acts of kindness can change another person's day... their week... and eventually their life. 


One of my favorite old quotes: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” -Stephen Grellet

Do it now! We shall not pass this way again. 

Today, I am grateful for exceeded expectations.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Our Most Important Work

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 333: Today, I am grateful for children are our most important work.

"Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work." -CS Lewis

There is no joy like sitting with a small child and discovering the world through their eyes. To listen to them put big thoughts together through limited language is one of my favorite things (along with bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens... thanks Earworm). Let us not forget that their sweet souls are the freshest from the knitting hand of God. There innocence is tangible at times.

CS Lewis and Dressember have been my unintentional themes this week. This quote reflects the importance of groups like International Justice Mission and A21 who receive much needed funding from the Dressember campaign.

The number of humans caught in the web of human trafficking is mind boggling. Did you know that the Superbowl is one of the biggest events of the year in the USA for those in the sex trade? This is not just an international problem, it is more local than you know. Law enforcement is stretched and poorly funded at time. In human trafficking, the more innocent the victim, the higher their value. In a short time, they become the used, damaged goods used carelessly by the heartless and the evil. They are expendable commodities.

My Dressember team this year is "Freedom by Dress". Most of my team have young daughters. My heart goes back to a story in my past of a young woman Dad met during his Gideon Bible jail ministry. She had no choice and no voice. She was not chained like so many youth in the trade, but her story was scary, real and took her freedom. Her goal was to break free and disappear. I never knew "the rest of the story" as she did indeed vanish from our lives. I was in my teens. I still remember the reality check of knowing the kinds of evil and dangers she faced were very real and closer than I ever believed.

Again and again, Jesus spoke to caring for widows and orphans. He reprimanded the disciples publicly for keeping the children from reaching his lap. They recognized Yeshua as someone special.

For souls caught in human trafficking, their wounds are deep. Rescue takes courageous men and women to fight the fight and that require funding. Love is an action verb. Some children long for the newest toy on the TV. Others desperately need rescue, warm clothing, shoes, counseling and tools to begin rebuilding a life with the freedom to choose.

I promise that after this week, I will not harp on Dressember all month. I will make my fundraising page available. This will be my scripture for the month of Dressember:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. - James 1:27

https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/fundraiser/valerie-smith

If your Christmas giving has room for a donation, we will wear the dress for you, too. 

Today, I am grateful for children are our most important work.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Compound Interest

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 332: Today, I am grateful for a lesson in compound interest.

Looks like it might be a CS Lewis quote week. Dressember will begin on Saturday, I am in need of reminders that change comes when ordinary people get involved in the smallest ways.

A part of me was simply going to give a donation and be done this year. I love dresses, but every day in December is still 31 days without comfy, cozy sweatpants. Then, God placed reminders in my path that changed my plans.

This quote is another new one to me. I believe I read Mere Christianity or parts of it in college. It is a treasure trove of wisdom but necessarily a quick read if it is savored. Look at this quote:

"Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." -CS Lewis

For those embracing the "Love Peoria" movement... this quote is perfect. If you are volunteering to be a bell ringer or to shop for a family in need this Christmas, you are compounding the good. Increased acts of kindness and heightened social responsibility can begin the change this world so desperately needs.

Jesus ministry was as much meeting the needs of the people around him as it was teaching great spiritual truths. They needed both, but pain is distracting. In some cases, the pain resulted in a soul seeking out Jesus. In other cases, Jesus loving, compassionate power caught their attention and then He could speak to their souls.

Do we use the power and resources available to us today for good or evil?

Be encouraged... our Lord is aware of our feelings, failings and shortcomings. He walked in our skin. He still loves us. Here is a passage that challenges us to get involved in the good there is to be done. Not just in our churches, but in our workplaces, neighborhoods and schools, too. The gospel can be wrapped up in our service. The gospel is never inactive.


Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority... For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature. -1 Corinthians 13:5-6,8-9 
Doing good increases the good. Doing the selfish and self-serving thing gives the evil one his edge. The way, the truth and new life are available to all who choose the path. "No man can serve two masters." What are we doing with what we are given today?  Doing good increases the good.
Today, I am grateful for a lesson in compound interest.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Articulate Words of CS Lewis

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 331: Today, I am grateful for the articulate words of CS Lewis.

There are many smart people out there, but not all of them are good communicators. CS Lewis was both brilliant and articulate. It has been awhile since my last CS Lewis quote and this one might be new to me. I believe it is from "Mere Christianity".

"Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."

In our sinful human nature, pride comes easy. It was Satan's sin. Before Adam and Eve took one bite of forbidden fruit, their hearts they were prideful. Humility... real humility... grows from the intimate knowledge of God. Are we still in awe of him?

Think about it. The God who is Lord of the Universe chose to come to earth and live in our skin to understand our weaknesses and save us from our sins. Love grows where there is humility. Love was born in a stable and humbly made His bed in a manger.

It seems like a crazy, reckless kind of love, but isn't that exactly how love is? It doesn't have to make sense. Love is an intentional decision not based on merit or worth, but on sacrifice and seeking to be in a relationship. Even when the cost is high, those who know love celebrate it.

This season, we can choose love. Not just in word, but in actions. Not just donating to a great cause, but embracing it.

I have committed to Dressember, again this year, to fight the fight against human trafficking. This early winter weather has me savoring every last day of November before I put on a dress for 31 days.
Being cold is miserable, but the whole idea of Dressember is to choose the dress daily, because there are women, children and even some men who have no voice and no choice as to who uses their bodies.It may mean setting aside pride in appearance to stay warm.

Dressember might be the perfect daily reminder to set pride aside and choose love.

Today, I am grateful for the articulate words of CS Lewis.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Home Safe and Sound

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 330: Today, I am grateful everyone made it home safe.

The weather outside was frightful. The winds were blowing, the sky was snowing and the ice was growing. Some had to go out in the weather. 

It is an ordinary blessing, but not one to take for granted. 

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. -Psalm 121:8

This time of year is full of collisions on the road and illness strikes. It is good to pause and take in the simple joys of a day that ends in a safe commute home.

Today, I am grateful everyone made it home safe.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Give and Take

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 329: Today, I am grateful for the "give and take".

"Live is full of give and take. Give thanks and take nothing for granted." 

This quote is perfect for the last week in November. December approaches quickly. We are soon to be completely wrapped up in the holiday hustle and bustle. I is easy to lose the focus on Christ in Christmas as schedules get full and demands are great. 

This is where I need to stop and remember that gratitude can pour sanity back into December. I want to remember to slow down and take nothing for granted. Every moment spent with family and friends is precious. 

A dear friend of mine died last Tuesday, before Thanksgiving. It reminded me that we have to take advantage of every opportunity to gather together. Life can change in a heartbeat. I will always be grateful for every shared meal and the conversations that followed. Moments matter.

Today was full of baby dedications, a bridal shower and Christmas program preparations. There are so many reasons to give thanks to God for his abundant blessings.It was a good day.I am reminded of this scripture passage:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks. Take nothing for granted. 

Today, I am grateful for the "give and take".

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Stacks of Books


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 328: Today, I am grateful for stacks of books.

"Fill you house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." -Dr. Seuss

I cannot imagine a time when stacks of books were not available . As a child, we would stop at the library often. I was always thrilled when we could check out multiple books. For an avid reader, two weeks can translate into several books. Before the internet , we relied on our library visits to satisfy the need to read. 

I still love a good paper version of a book, but in all honesty, audiobooks are where I find the time to do most of my leisure reading. 

Books for learning and study, I prefer on paper. I am grateful for the online versions of the Bible that make almost all translations available at a touch or a click. I have the NIV, ESV and NLT at home for study. Stacks of books can fit into one device these days. 

I am currently making my way through "Everybody Always", the follow up to Bob Goff's "Love Does". I, also, enjoy a good romance, suspense or mystery story. Books are a weakness for me. I can get lost at Barnes & Noble for hours. 

Amazing treasures can be found in used book stores. Never let a little dust keep you from opening up the pages. I love to hunt down older Og Mandino books to give away without the expectation of return. Og is still one of my favorite authors... even after 30 years. If you haven't read "The Greatest Salesman in the World" or "The Greatest Miracle in the World", you are missing out. Also, "Mission Success" is another favorite. 

Do you think heaven will have libraries for leisurely reading? Being created "in His image", we are curious by nature. The Word talks about the value of writing things down. The Ten Commandments were written down. John alluded to a book that was never written with "The Complete Miracles of Jesus". 

"Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written." -John 21:25

There are always books waiting to be read, and that makes us rich. A stack of books is a little like a flying carpet. Anywhere you want to go, a book can take you there. 

If you can read and have books available - you live a privileged life. If you have access to books, you are blessed beyond measure. 

Today, I am grateful for stacks of books.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Answered Prayers


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Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 327: Today, I am grateful for answered prayers. 
This little bit of sweetness on my lap is now much bigger. She is officially our niece. Her last name is the same as her Daddy and Mommy's. She is our Smith family's constant reminder that God grows us in the waiting places and that he answers big, bold prayers. My reflections on this years blessings find this little one at the top of my list of reasons to pause and say "Thank You" to the God who is with us through all of our days.
Our nephew and niece longed to be parents, because they had love to give. Their path was by no means easy or ordinary. They experienced so many different losses along the way, it is hard to put it all into words. The day this little girl was placed in their arms, they were grieving the loss of an Uncle who was near and dear. In the midst of sorrow... God moved and they had to chose to say "yes" or "no" to this little one who needed a safe, loving place to grow.  
You can't always take a picture of an answered prayer. She is the exception. She is a constant reminder that "God's best" is not directed by our hands. It is when we sincerely pray, "Thy will be done" that he moves in mighty and mysterious ways.  
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9
Today, I am grateful for answered prayers. 

Thanksgiving Day


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Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 326: Today, I am grateful for Thanksgiving Day!
It comes once a year. It is family and friends who are like family. It is laughter and food and so much more. It is a pause to remember all of our blessings and God’s faithfulness... even through the hard seasons.
Together is the best place to be.
Short post. Family time is precious. ❤️
Today, I am grateful for Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Lessons from the Kitchen

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 325: Today, I am grateful for lessons learned in the kitchen.

I grew up with people who cooked. There was no "fast food" until Hardee's arrived in Kankakee and we would go on special occasions. We rarely went to a restaurant. Mama cooked. I'm not that old... my parents were that frugal . Dad liked watching Mama cook. He was king at the table and she was his servant queen. Very traditional and old school... and that is exactly the way they liked it. 

Mama Ina Mae never lost the wonder of abundance in the kitchen. A full pantry, a full freezer, plenty of milk for all and money to buy what she needed. She never took any of it for granted. She grew up sacrificing, so others could have what they needed... or wanted. "Milk is for the babies. One glass a day for the big kids." was Grandma Maxines' firm reminder. That was the rule for making sure everyone had what they needed. As a child, I recall Mama drinking a gallon of milk in no time, which was fine by me. I'm not a milk drinker.  

Lessons learned in the kitchen are too many to list. The camaraderie of working side by side with loved ones while preparing a meal is unique. My cousins... the Navy chefs... I know would agree. James and David cook big when they cook for a ship or a special event for dignitaries and they don't cook alone. My sons have figured out that there is romance in cooking together. Smart boys, right? 

For Thanksgiving, we will come together as sisters (by birth and in-love), brothers, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins to make it happen. We have a huge meal attended by many. Mama is the oldest of ten and all are welcome around noon on Thanksgiving Day. Some come for all day. Some come later in the evening. Some live too far away, or are serving in the military. As least 40 - 50 people at noon... and the count is closer to 60-90 before the day is done. 

My brother and sister-in-law are gracious in sharing their home. It is a three ring circus at times, but the more the merrier. Friends,extended family, and neighbors come, too. It is the best family gathering of the year! Our Bess Family Thanksgiving extravaganza can't be explained... it has to be experienced. It is loving and loud. It is laughter and making more memories. This year, we will share our meal with Kenzie's Bradley University roommate from Hungary. 

In the kitchen, we learn about sharing and being welcoming. We learn patience while waiting for things to finish cooking. We learn to pay attention or things get burnt. We learn many hands make light work. We learn the seeds of love sprout and dig deep roots while we work side by side in the kitchen.

This scripture is perfect for the day: 


Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.-1 Peter 4:8-9 

This weekend, make the moments count. I lost a special friend yesterday and I am reminded that the sweetest memories I have of Mike are the times we were shared a meal and fellowship in a home. I can't recall the conversations, but I know how the times together mattered. As my friend Julie says... "cherish every moment". Savor every minute. 

Today, I am grateful for lessons learned in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lessons in Humility

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 324: Today, I am grateful for lessons in humility. 

That is a tough statement. No one enjoys lessons in humility. We all love being right. In fact, when theologians ponder the "original sin" at the fall of Adam and Eve, they agree it was the arrogance and pride in their hearts to be equal with God that was their sin and undoing. It happened long before they took a bite of forbidden fruit. 

Satan planted the seed of discontentment and humans have spent thousands of years trying to excuse our desire to be right over humbly accepting when we have done, said or been in the wrong. One of the most beautiful phrases in any language is "I'm sorry. I was wrong." Owning the error or our ways is as important and asking for forgiveness. 

"Quit being "right"; be humble." -Bob Goff

Relationships need humility to be truly fruitful. When we are open to learning from each other we grow in unexpected ways. We need each other. God decided "It was not good for man to be alone." 

 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. -Ephesians 4:2

We all have truths that we hold on to with both hands. They give us direction, a cause and a passion for our days. There are times God reveals things that change our opinions... even in our more mature years. His Word is a beacon of truth, light and life. It is full of mysteries that are revealed as we become more in tune with the Spirit. We need to seek to find... to walk the walk. Sometimes our path is messy, imperfect or seems broken, but that is exactly where Jesus is waiting to meet us. 

Love God like crazy. Love others like crazy. It is the truth that changes everything. 

Today, I am grateful for lessons in humility. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 323: Today, I am grateful for the toothbrush and toothpaste.

This may be another first in 6 years. How could I have neglected to be grateful for the humble toothbrush and toothpaste? Good oral hygiene is good for our health and our relationships. Taking care of our teeth brightens our smiles. 

A bright and easy smile an set people at ease and invite conversation. People are more confident in their smiles when they have teeth that are clean and fresh. 

For those in a crisis, a toothbrush and toothpaste can make a very tangible difference in how a person feels. 

This season, be sure to donate items for mouth care to the local charities along with food items. 


May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.-Numbers 6:25

 Today, I am grateful for the toothbrush and toothpaste.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thorn Bushes Have Roses

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 322: Today, I am grateful thorn bushes have roses. 

If you can't change a situation, reframe it in you head. This timeless quote from Abraham Lincoln does that very thing. 

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." -Abraham Lincoln 

I know it is not "rose season". Still, the message in this little quote is powerful. The pressures of the holiday season are upon us. Are we caught up in the thorns or rejoicing over the roses? 

Choosing our attitudes make a difference. 

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.-Romans 14:17-19 

Focus on the good. Celebrate the blessings. Lift each other up. Don't sweat the small stuff. Look for the roses in the thorns. 


Today, I am grateful thorn bushes have roses. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

God Looks For Beauty

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 321: Today, I am grateful God looks for beauty, not typos.

I found this quote today:

"God isn't an editor, He's a creator; He's not looking for typos in our lives. He's looking for the beauty in them." -Bob Goff

Simply stated, but full of encouragement and meaning. The creator of the universe finds us uniquely beautiful. I am not sure I can even begin to comprehend the amazing, matchless, deep love of God. 

We can be fearless because he loves us. We can feel beautiful, because he sees beauty in us. Even when we feel like a hot mess. 

I love this quote:


She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.-Proverbs 31:25

Laugh, sing, dance and try new things. Where we see failure, he sees teachable moments. Our stories aren't over. They are still being written. 

Today, I am grateful God looks for beauty, not typos.

Friday, November 16, 2018

My Shoes Don't Leak

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 320: Today, I am grateful my shoes don't leak.

Most of my shoes are not new, but they don't leak. If they do leak, I throw them away (except when I take them to Fred's shoe repair if they are favorites until he says "no more"). 

I do not have a true frame of reference for being truly hungry. Thirsty working in the fields, perhaps, but not hungry. With the multiple clothing sizes in my closet, I could open my own second hand boutique. God's provision has been far beyond what I really need. 

Like many girls and guys... I love shoes. I have things that make a new pair of shoes worth buying.  Funny how my criteria has changed over the years (from cute first to comfy first), but I am just as picky as I was in college. 

But to this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear!  For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other alcoholic drink, but he provided for you so you would know that he is the Lord your God. -Deuteronomy 29:4-6

Their clothes and sandals did not wear out!!! Isn't that amazing? In the harsh desert environment, provided daily food (no party foods like fancy breads and wine) but he provided their daily needs. Jill and I savored this scripture when we spent a year reading the Old Testament with our Jr High youth at church. It was not boring. It was enlightening. God's faithfulness and provision never fail when his children listen, trust and obey. 

This scripture from Deuteronomy 29 is from a passage where Moses is addressing the Israelites, reviewing their covenant with God. It foreshadows future generations that include "foreigners" or Gentiles as you might be familiar with the term. 

“But you are not the only ones with whom I am making this covenant with its curses. I am making this covenant both with you who stand here today in the presence of the Lord our God, and also with the future generations who are not standing here today. -Deuteronomy 29:14-15

Forty years in the desert was an education in learning to trust and obey. It was a time for them to learn to be grateful for manna and quail... even when it was on the menu every day. It was a season of being grateful the shoes you have... and not obsessing about the ones you want. Want and worry are in constant conflict with trust and obey. God desires... actually, He commands us... to trust and obey. 

I have surpassed 40 years, and I still have not truly learned to trust his hand. I try to help and redirect God at times with my own plans. I am grateful we can continue to live, learn and grow for all of the days he grants us. I am learning to grow joy... not only in the abundance... but in any season of enough. 

Today, I am grateful my shoes don't leak.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Garage

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 319: Today, I am grateful for a garage.

Our little luxuries are not something to show off or brag about... they are a perfect place to build gratitude. 

I will never forget going from no garage to a one car that the Love of my Life always insisted held my car, even during the years I worked part time. When we built a new 2-car garage at our first home, it meant we both were spared the scraping of ice and snow from the windows on winter mornings. I was so excited for Randy. 

When we moved to Morton, the house had an attached garage. We had never in all of our lives had that luxury. Believe me when I tell you that we do not take it for granted for even one day. 

When my brother and SIL moved to their current home, my SIL still says that her favorite part of the house is the attached garage. Living in the country of flat land and winds, I know exactly what she means. Jennifer occasionally texts me her wind and weather alert that includes "weather small craft advisory". 

Jennifer and I have discussed this advisory at length.We are pretty sure that for them it means that at any time a small car, camper or boat could come flying through the air. The warning actually means that the winds are just under gale force. A garage protects from gale force winds. An attached garage means that dinner groceries don't end up in someone else's yard when moving them into the house. Jennifer still says often that it is her favorite part of her house. 

But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, -Isaiah 25:4

Now, to compare our Lord to a garage may seem silly, but it is a very visual reminder of His constant covering in our lives. When life heats up or cools down... He is with us. When we are scared or discouraged by ruthless people, He shelters us with his love. We can trust on his faithful presence... even when he is quiet. 

Today, I am grateful for a garage... and His shelter in times of storm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Reminders

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 317: Today, I am grateful for reminders.

I think my brain is like a hard drive that is nearly full and operates slowly at times. I have things in my cloud that I can download, but it takes me a little time. 

I view the world as if everyone and everything is connected. Thinking in that direction has benefits and challenges. Sometimes it slows my thinking down while I wait for it to all fall into place and make sense. There are times it doesn't make sense, but that is where faith is born.

I learned many years ago that I don't have to understand God's ways; I simply need to trust his heart. 

Our God is a big picture God. He is Lord of the Universe and our little stories may seem insignificant...  just a blinks on the tapestry of time. They are our blinks. We need to spend them well. We must never forget to seek out... no more than seek... we need to chase the heart of God. 

"He leaves reminders everywhere of His tremendous love for us." -Bob Goff

"Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." -Luke 12:7

Now... God loves bald people, too. No worries. They must be a smile in his heart. No need to count their hairs so he can reflect on their sparkling eyes and easy smiles. I love that passage about the hairs because it declares that our God is in the details. Look... I get a semicolon, too. Pause and reflect! 


"Fear not;" No need to fret or fear. I love that reminder. He's got this day and the next. He holds all of our tomorrows, too.  

Today, I am grateful for reminders.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Cozy at the End of the Day

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 316: Today, I am grateful for the cozy at the end of the day.

This day has been a marathon and tomorrow is longer. I had to put daily gratitude off until just now. With a fresh cup of decaf coffee and a blanket... the bed is looking good. Soon. Very soon. 

I need that brief time before bed when all is quiet. We are early to bed and early to rise. The hushed moments before sleep are just as special as the ones before daybreak. These are sacred times. We are are not alone. We are not lonely. We are simply quiet and content. Hygge is the Danish word. 

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
 to sing praises to the Most High.It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening," -Psalm 92:1-2


Proclaim your faithfulness in the evening. That is perfect for today. 

Today, I am grateful for the cozy at the end of the day.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veteran's Day


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 315: Today, I am grateful for Veteran's Day.

My great uncles served in WW1. Their graves bear military markers. I was told they died not in battle but from illness brought on by the conditions of war. My father (the reserves) and Uncle Mel (Korean War) served. My sister, April, served as well... and her military funeral will always be a bittersweet memory. Our nephew Robin has served... fell in love with Alaska where he was stationed... and stayed.

They all experienced the brotherhood and sisterhood of basic training and assignments. They didn't choose who would be their leaders or their bunk-mates. Like family. You get what you get. Somehow... if you hear them talk... you discover a kinship not born of blood but of common values and love of home and country. It is the call to serve and protect... and for many... the chance of an education. Training and the need to trust each other is vital. The camaraderie is real.

My identical twin cousins, James and David, still serve. They are both Navy men. They have served in places together and apart. I am so incredibly humbled that they have made it their careers. We pray for their safety and their wives and sons (yes all boys) when duty calls them far from home. They know the taste of separation, the unknown and the joy of sweet reunions. They are good men and bring honor to our family.

Those who serve witness the best and the worst in human behavior, depending on the day. Training matters when trouble unfolds. The armed forces would prefer volunteers over drafting or mandatory service. Choice is a powerful thing.

A few years ago, a friend in law enforcement felt clearly called to military service. It was a choice he wrestled with prayerfully. Adam and his family continue to be often in my prayers.

Together... in service... it is not about race or religion. They are brothers and sisters in arms. Brothers and sister of the human race under a star spangled banner that has been a symbol of freedom. One of the great perks of my job is to lead the Pledge of Allegiance every day.

The choice to disrespect the flag is offensive to the men and women serving to protect us. Yet, they will put their lives on the line... some of them dying... every day so that fellow Americans can behave abhorrently with freedom. That... is why we salute them today.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

I love hearing stories of those who pay for the groceries, a cup of coffee or the meal of a service person. Small acts of kindness mean so much. Today at lunch, we saw Vets in their hats and in full uniform.

Whenever we see someone in uniform, we can thank them for their service. Especially today, but why no everyday?

Freedom isn't free. To quote a superhero - "With great freedom comes great responsibility."

Another great quote- "They serve not because they hate what is in front of them... but because they want to protect what they love at home.

Today, I am grateful for Veteran's Day.