Monday, December 31, 2018

Things Savored

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 365:Today, I am grateful for things savored.

My one little word for 2018 was "savor". It has been another year of learning through intentionally choosing gratitude and savoring the smallest things. It is the little things that make up the big things. I am still contemplating next year's word. 

3,141,600 minutes spent. 2,191 days of thanksgiving documented. Some are big things. Some are tiny luxuries. Many are feelings, moments and lessons learned along the way. 

Life is full of things to savor. Even in this imperfect world, we can find joy in making note of all that is good. Our God is so faithful in his provision of good things. I went to look for a verse and found my "verse for the day" was perfect. I always consider it a God wink when he provides tangible reminders that our communication is two-way. 

"I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." -Isaiah 43:16,18-19

"It is nothing compared to what I am going to do."  That is our God! He is truly awesome beyond my understanding. "For I am about to do something new."

I don't know what "Daily Gratitude: Year Seven" will bring. I am excited for the promise of one more year. It is a daily habit that has been life changing for me. Gratitude has been an anchor in grief, reminding me that we are overcomers in Jesus. Neither life nor death can separate us from his love.  

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39

No one knows what the New Year holds, but I know who holds the New Year in the palm of his hand. Because He is mighty... we can face the future without out fear. We can savor the sweet moments that come our way and grow in joy. 

Today, I am grateful for things savored.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 364:Today, I am grateful for citizenship.

In this country, we are proud of our citizenship and its benefits. We are a young country by the world's standards. We grew big and fast through hard work, determination, some ugly stuff we aren't proud of... and working together in community. We recognized God's protection as we wisely separated church and state... identifying God as our creator. There was no question of "Is there a God?".  As a new country, they had seen too many miracles to believe otherwise.  

As I watch the news... or listen to conversations, I fear we have lost our vision. It is not just the politics, but the politics inflame and enrage on both sides. Neither party is innocent. Money and power are the Baal of today. 

Today, I am grateful for the reminder that our citizenship is with Jesus. Through him, heaven in our home. God's light means there is no night. Jesus is our advocate before the Father, truly understanding our human weaknesses. His sacrifice paid the price. We can enter His gates with joy, thanksgiving, celebration and gladness. He still longs for us to be in relationship with him. He made the way. We need only choose.

Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 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. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. -1 John 4:14-17 NLT

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. -Philippians 3:20

When you are a citizen... you live by the laws of the land and enjoy its benefits. I just read in a Jonathan Cahn devotional that the Greek word means something a little different than our basic understanding: The Greek word behind the word citizenship specifically referred to a colony of people living according to the laws of their native country outside their native country. -Jonathan Cahn

We are not yet "home", but we live as though we are, because we are citizens of heaven living abroad. The reunions will be so sweet when we make it home. 

Today, I am grateful for citizenship.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 363:Today, I am grateful we can celebrate winter beyond Christmas. 

I am not going to lie. Winter is not my favorite season. Still, it is part of the circle of life and in nature's rhythm, winter is rest.

Today,  I decided that we needed to decorate the mantel for winter. Christmas decorations are put away and it is a long time until Easter. Thus, decorating the mantel is a way to bring some fun to the winterscape. 

This picture is not my mantel. Mine isn't done, yet. Still, I had a great time planning the many options. I want to celebrate winter with a happy heart. 

I forget to rejoice in all that we have when winter's chill settles into my bones. We have enough. Enough food. Enough heat. Enough clothing. Enough warm water, too. 

She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. -Proverbs 31:21

Today, I am grateful we can celebrate winter beyond Christmas.

Friday, December 28, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 362:Today, I am grateful for dresses.

Even in high school, I enjoyed wearing dresses. I find them more comfortable than jeans most days. Still... on day twenty-eight of Dressember 2018... I am officially tired of dresses!

Last year, I decided that I would simply support another's campaign, but when November rolled around, my heart said do it! So... hear I am... in a dress again. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the toughest so far. New Year's Eve is around the corner and it is still Dressember until the clock strikes midnight. 

Why do it? Here are statics from Dressember's founder, Blythe Hill:

The facts are these: there are over 20 million people (men, women and children) in slavery around the world, and about 80% of the victims are sexually exploited. According to Equality Now, sex slavery is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It's not just an over-seas issue either. The FBI reported that, although it's impossible to put an exact number on the amount of domestic victims, it happens all over the country (likely in your city), particularly on interstate traffic. The victims are primarily at-risk women and children, sometimes as young as 8 or 9, and can do virtually nothing to escape on their own. 

Little girls (and boys) in our own communities are more at risk than we know. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest days for human trafficking in our own USA. Gambling and the sex trades go hand in hand. Girls... more children than women... will be violated again and again. They have no voice and no choice. So... Blythe Hill dreamed up Dressember. It was of a personal challenge at first, but then friends joined in. This is one time social media did a good thing. 

Thanks to my friends who have donated (named and anonymous). I set my goal low, because I want to meet the challenge and I know December is expensive. My $300 goal pays for the first steps of reaching, rescuing and restoring one human life.

 A21 & International Justice Mission do the work. Every penny helps. They risk their lives, work with often unjust justice systems and invest in rebuilding the lives destroyed by today's slave trade. We can't undo the injustices created by of our ancestors. We can see that this generation will see sisters (and brothers in bow ties) coming together in unity to say "No" to this vile and evil reality. Souls don't survive much more than 5-6 years in the trade... and then they disappear. 

Can't they just get out? People in trafficking situations stay for reasons that are complicated. Some lack the basic necessities to physically get out - such as transportation or a safe place to live. Some are afraid for their safety. Some have been so effectively manipulated that they do not identify at that point as being under the control of another person. Some are been sold by romantic partners and family members. 

Here at home and abroad... the power of a dress is changing lives. It is the least I can do for "the least of these." 

Today, I am grateful for dresses.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Created Things

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 361:Today, I am grateful for created things.

These days between Christmas and New Year's are a time of squeezing in some work between holidays for many. For others, it is time off from the daily grind, allowing a few deep breaths before returning to work. For the children, it is time to savor their gifts and to stay up late. It is a sweet season, full of sweets and sweet moments. 

Have you ever considered the created things that are a part of our children's world? There are things barely even imagined when we were kids that youth today cannot imagine life without? Facetime and Google are so "George Jetson". Right? 

Because "God created man in his image", we are naturally creative. We have a desire to create things of beauty or to put chaos into order(and opposites attract). Some of us love to paint pictures and others paint with words. Some sing. Others create spreadsheets and organize closets into something beautiful.

We have our Father's imagination seeded into our souls. Children are full of courageous creativity until life, time and negative voices make them doubt their abilities. I fear we spend too many years forgetting we were made in His image. We miss delighting in the ways we look like Him. We neglect to take in the wonder of all created things. 

"for through him God created everything  in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him." -Colossians 1:16

Through Him...
God created...
Seen and unseen...
Yes, through Him and for Him.

Jesus arrived at the "appointed time" when there was finally a common Greek language throughout the Roman Empire... and a new road system created the opportunity for easier travel. The Way of Christ would travel to all people and all places. Jews and Gentiles would both hear and understand the Good News. Timing was everything... and the Gospel still echoes into this generation. 

Today, we await the second coming. It think about the the many created things that allow the gospel to make its way around the globe and into the most obscure, isolated places. The internet allows swift, fast and accurate communication to far away places. We can carry a Bible in multiple translations on our tablets and in our phones. Crazy, right?

Twenty-five years ago, some modern conveniences were science fiction. I imagine that the people of Jesus day were equally in awe of their roads and the convenience of everyone speaking Greek. It makes me wonder as the world becomes smaller... how far away we are from the next appointed time? As science pushes forward.. are we almost there? 

Zechariah, father of John the Baptist and a priest, was mute for his wife Elizabeth's pregnancy because of his unbelief that his wife could conceive and carry a child in her old age. He doubted and it displeased God.

"But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” -Luke 1:20

Zechariah and Elizabeth witnessed the meaning of "at the proper time"... for such a time as this.  Are we almost there, again?

Today, I am grateful for created things.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Stay The Course

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 360:Today, I am grateful we can stay the course.

Another year is about to wrap up and we will be learning to write 2019 without correcting the nine at the end. We have made our way through 2018 one day at a time. 

Some years are harder than others. Most are a mixed bag. Our character and strength comes from keeping our eyes on Jesus. He will never lead us in the wrong direction. Embracing His guidance makes all the difference. 

"It's dangerous to arrive without our character mature or intact. Character and strength often come through staying the course." -Lisa Bevere 

Jesus wore our humanness and understands we grow tired. He knows what it is like to not feel heard or understood. He showed us the way to peace was to love him with everything we've got... with our whole, undivided hearts. Then, in return, His love will fill us with a love that will leak into everything we do, including how we love our neighbors. 

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me." -John 17:22-23

He will grant us patience, love and courage. He will help us stay the course. Then the world will see Him through us.

Today, I am grateful we can stay the course.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 359:Today, I am grateful for Jesus! 

He is the reason for the season. The First (Alpha), The Last (Omega) and everything in between. How can I help by rejoice that this amazing God would create, love, rescue, redeem and never give up on us. 

Think about that first human breath, surrounded by animals with Mary cooing to him like every mother does. Imagine his last breath on the cross when the redemption mission was complete and the resurrection victory just three days away.

Every time Satan thought he had a foothold... Jesus intervenes. The promise of His birth sprinkles through the Old Testament prophets.  The Messiah prophecies are fulfilled over and over again in his life on this earth. His big second coming is just around the corner... a blink in God's time. 

Seriously... does it get any better than this? Such a strange and perfect way to save the world.

Today, I am grateful for Jesus! 

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Unexpected Gift

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 358:Today, I am grateful for the unexpected gift.

The Christmas season finds us looking through flyers, on commercials and everywhere we go for the perfect gifts for gift giving. We are easily consumed with trying to give the perfect gift. As we grow older, it is much more about giving than receiving. We want to bring joy. 

This season, I find that some of the best gifts are the unexpected ones. A coffee mug that says, "Start each day with a grateful heart", a beautiful bouquet of flowers and gift bag with comfort and joy in the form of a manicure and a blanket. Each was completely unexpected, thus each gift felt extravagant. 

The song "Be Born In Me" continues to be my Earworm's song to sing this Christmas season. One of my favorite lines is this: "Did you wrap yourself inside the unexpected so we might know that Love would go that far?"  

Isn't it true? God wrapped himself in our skin so that he might truly understand our human frailty and weaknesses. He came to be one of us... and with us. He arrived in an unexpected package and most missed Him. 

On this Christmas Eve, are we at risk of missing our moment at the manger?

This TRUE STORY happened to my sweet cousin Molly Clyden. She and her daughter, Lexi. They received an unexpected gift at Aldi yesterday. 

Molly was standing in the checkout lane at Aldi, trying to get a rough estimate on her grocery bill. She knew she only had $x.xx dollars to spend.  She was a little worried it might not be enough and was thinking on what what she could put back, if needed. There were only two checkout lanes open and plenty of shoppers. 

Molly looked over in the next lane and noticed an older gentleman with only three items in his hand. The lady in front of him had a huge cart full. Molly invited him to cut in front of her, since he didn't have much.  Molly explained she wasn't in a hurry. He told her he wasn't either, and he didn't mind waiting. Molly insisted, so he finally gave in and checked out  in front of her. 

The man said "Thank-you" and flashed a smile. When Molly finished unloading her cart, she heard him say something to the cashier. Molly couldn't hear what he said, but the next thing she knew, the cashier said, "Oh, it's all together!" and started ringing up my items. Confused Molly looked up and the man said "Merry Christmas, this one's on me." And he paid for her entire order! 

Molly stood there in shock... almost speechless...  and practically in tears. Of course, she told him "Thank you!" and kept insisting he didn't have to do what he did. Then Molly said "Well, can I at least give you a hug?" He said "Of course". Then he whispered in her ear "A good deed never goes unnoticed. Have a very Merry Christmas." 

Molly was fairly sure the customer behind her and the cashier had tears in their eyes as well. This man was a beacon of hope, goodness and love. Molly will never forget how he made her feel. I love that she offered a hug. Her hug may have been worth more that the price of the groceries to that kind and gentle man. Her gift to him was intended to save him a few minutes. His gift to her was unexpected and will be forever written on her heart. (Love you, Molly!  Thanks for letting me share this story)

On this Christmas Eve, don't let the unexpected gifts slip by unnoticed. Savor the sweetness of the still, silent night. Listen for angel choirs. This holy night changed everything for all of us who believe and receive. Remember the shepherds who experienced the unexpected gift of an angel announcement, a choir song and a star to guide them to Baby Jesus. 

"They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherd's’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them."-Luke 2:16-19

It was just as the angel had said. And, sweet Mary, kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart.

Today, I am grateful for the unexpected gift.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bell Ringers

Image result for salvation army bell ringing
Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 357:Today, I am grateful for the Salvation Army Bell ringers.

I can almost hear the chime of the bell. Salvation Army Bell Ringers are on my "once a year" list. I rewrite it just a bit each year. It is too important to leave it out when December rolls around.

These bell ringers bring so much heart to the season, with the simple act of ringing a bell. They reminds us over the noise of the season, that some have very little and the most simple needs.
Giving to the Bell Ringers falls under the "Randy rules" in our house.

My guy has such a good heart. When we first married...I learned to always have coins and smaller bills at the Christmas season because "You HAVE to put something in the red pot EVERYtime you go into a store with a Salvation Army Bell ringer." "EVERY TIME?, I asked. "Yes, every time!" He's bossy, but he's cute.

To clarify Randy's rules for the only have to give once per store...coming in or going out...but as long as we have enough ...we need to share. We must give.

I try to have a little cash on me for emergencies, but sometimes - I have to ask for cash back on my debit card to make sure I have something to give. I have tried to walk by - but he has trained me well, I just can't do it and have any peace.

Once, I went in and out of the store without giving, because I had no cash. I sat in the car... convicted... and then cleaned out the car of any change I could find. Randy wouldn't know, but God does... and he put Randy in my life to teach me a true generosity of spirit.

This year, I find my heart wants to give dollars instead of loose change. Not that we have much more this year, but I think that the more true gratitude increases, the more we can give with genuine joy.

Our "enough" and "more than enough"...however limited it may seem at wealth beyond measure to some in our community. If we have the internet service to read this post...we have plenty or more than plenty to give to a bell ringer.

Now...I visit Kroger a BUNCH during this season and they have some of the most faithful ringers. Lola Marie Toedebusch - my SIL- has joined the ranks of ringers in Inverness, FL in recent years. You are officially a "Ding-a-ling" ...or is that a "Ring-a-ling"? ... and a generous heart, too. I have to wonder if that was a Jake Smith rule, too. Kind of sounds like him.

Thanks to those who ring our friends, Kent and Brenda Geiger have started a tradition of ringing with their family.

The Salvation Army continues to fulfill the calling to help those with great need. They offer food, shelter and clothing... and so much more as they try to minister to the souls they serve, as Christ calls each of to do. A drop in the bucket is a gift to the Lord.

It reflects instruction in Matthew 25:
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ "-Matthew 25:35-40

When Joseph and Mary arrived that night in Bethlehem, the little family needed food and a warm place to stay. They needed a safe place for the birth of the Baby Jesus. They needed something to wrap the sweet, new baby in to keep him warm. His sweet family was not that different from many today falling on hard times. For them, it was the circumstance of the government census. Today, it may be illness or job loss. They would have been more comfortable at home with family to help, but they were far from home.

Today, the bell ringers will ring. They have become a symbol for Christmas. Many give because in another season, they received. Some will give out of guilt... I started my journey at that very place. But, the act of giving softened my heart.

Loose change to change a life. Break a $10 or a $20 bill and see how long it takes to pass that many ringers. Such a small price, but when we join in community... lives are impacted. Put the children in charge of the mission.

Today, I am grateful for the Salvation Army Bell ringers.

Those who rescue...

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and closeup

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 356:Today, I am grateful for those who rescue.
Today is day 22 in a dress to raise awareness and funds through Dressember 👗 👗👗.
Dressember funds A21 and International Justice Mission who are major contenders in the war against modern day slavery. The people who rescue are in danger at times. Their work is unpopular with those who live in darkness.
They expose criminals. They set the lost and broken free. They help them heal and rebuild their lives.Those who rescue face risks and the unknown.
Today, I am grateful for those who rescue.

Friday, December 21, 2018

I Can Choose

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 355: Today, I am grateful I can choose.

At this point in the season, I find I have a choice. 
I can fret things not done, and worry about my plight. 
Or, I can look at all that's ready... and take heartfelt delight. 

I can choose to gift the bell ringer , helping those with less.
I can happily choose to wear another Dressember dress.

I can look at the lines with hurried irritation ...
Or, take a deep breath... like a mini vacation.

I can fuss about the food or enjoy the company...
For each one round the table is more than dear to me.

When the stress starts to rise, my brain begins to rhyme
An odd stress response -that uniquely is mine. 

Time to focus on what matters most.
The Babe in the manger announced by heavenly hosts.

Listen for angels and look for His star.
We're almost to Bethlehem -it's not that far. 

Look to the children to give us our cues. 
Christmas is magic, in so many hues.

The true meaning of Christmas-
I don't want to lose. 

Today, I am grateful I can choose.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 354: Today, I am grateful for signs.

We live in a society that loves to use signs. From man's earliest days of manuscript, we have used signs to inform, guide and direct. 

The sign of the season is the star. Not all signs are hand drawn. When you are a God who numbers the stars and calls them out with "his great might and not one is missing", you can hang a special star to celebrate the birth of a special child. 

The prophets foretold of Jesus coming. So many clues are in Old Testament scriptures, so that when Jesus arrived, they would recognize the gift. Most didn't. 

"And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in manger." -Luke 2:12

The baby who would change everything came in such a humble manner, the mighty missed him. They didn't read the signs. 

It was the humble who first greeted the Baby King. The local leaders didn't recognize him. In time, wise men from the east would follow the star and find him with the gifts the wealthy bring, but in Bethlehem, his birth went unnoticed by many. 

With the hustle and the bustle of the season, how many will miss the signs again this year? 

My Bible Study group has been reading the New Testament chronologically, so December brings us to Revelation. An odd place to be in December? I am discovering that it isn't. Revelation tells of the spectacular ending to a love story that doesn't ever end. It will last for all eternity. His second coming won't be so humble. Are we watching for the signs?

Today, I am grateful for signs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Lights

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 353: Today, I am grateful for Christmas lights.

There is something in the twinkle of Christmas lights that make the heart happy. Light coruscating off delicate glass balls somehow reflects the joy of the season. In the bleak days of winter there this light... and hope... and wonder.  

God could have announced the birth of his son in so many ways, but he chose an angel chorus and a star. Light and song were his way. I think they still are. We are still moved by light and music. We feel them in our souls. They fill us up with the good stuff of the season. 

So tonight...when the day calms down... make time to enjoy the magic of Christmas lights. Savor. 

Savor has been my one little word for the year. I continue to need the reminder to slow down and enjoy the moments. In December, even more. I don't want to miss the light. 

"I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." -Ephesians 1:18

May our hearts and our homes be flooded with light this Christmas season. For those who choose to believe and receive... it is a glorious inheritance that will shine bright for all of eternity. 

Today, I am grateful for Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cup of Cocoa

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 352: Today, I am grateful for a cup of cocoa.

This season of deep chills and cold toes is one of the reasons we love hot chocolate. This picture (found on Pinterest) brought an instant smile. Cocoa and friends go together. Cocoa with marshmallows melting on top are the perfect touch of whimsy.

Imagine the shepherds in the field on the night they received the angel's announcement and songs. Had they gathered around a campfire to ward of the evening chill? I wonder if they had a hot beverage to warm them to their toes? I bet they had something in their food sacks, as we humans plan for creature comforts.

I savor my daily coffee... but enjoy tea, too. Cocoa... is for special occasions. No because of the cost, but because of the decadence and the calories. Chocolate you can drink! What a treat.

The night Jesus was born was a hot cocoa kind of night. A night for gathering and sharing something special. The shepherds had no idea it would be that kind of night until suddenly, the angels appeared in the heavens. Oh, what a night!

"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” -Luke 2:8-14

We can't always anticipate and plan for the special moments in life. In fact, our loving God enjoys surprising us with the wonder and goodness of His love. We never know when the day will bring a "cup of cocoa" moment. It is good to have some on hand.

Celebrate the special moments this season. Don't forget to have some cocoa on hand.

Today, I am grateful for a cup of cocoa.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Star

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 351: Today, I am grateful for the star.

The star is a special "character" in the nativity. It is a sign, a proclamation and the original GPS experience. What a wonder it must have been for shepherds, the magi and anyone else who followed it with curiosity and wonder.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  -Matthew 2:10

The star was a sign and another confirmation that God was breaking his silence after 400 years. The people had been given ample time to study the scriptures so that they might recognize the promised Messiah. 

Then, he arrives so unexpectedly. A miraculous, humble birth was not the venue they anticipated. God hung a brilliant star so they would not miss the moment. Wise men from the East saw it and made the journey of discovery, but others missed it completely. 

For those who missed it... what were they looking for? 

I guess that we humans haven't changed that much. There are times that we cannot see the truths in front of us because it is different than our expectations. That gift of free will makes us able to choose or refuse to recognize the Lord of the Universe. 

We sang "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" yesterday at church. It is one of my very, very favorites. I think I first loved it because of a funky version we did in high school choir with Anna Barnlund. And a minor key is always a favorite of mine, for it's soulfulness. As I have grown in understanding of the name "Emmanuel" ... meaning "God with us." ... it makes me love the hymn even more. 

How can we pause to recognize "God with us."? Look for the star. Find hope. Know peace.
Because of His great sacrifice, His Spirit is still with us. 

Today, I am grateful for the star.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

We are Family

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 350: Today, I am grateful "we are family". 

This week, a precious little girl was adopted. Aubrilyn has been in the care of one of church families from the time she was a baby. She was wee and helpless when we first held her in our arms. We've had the blessing and the privilege of watching her grow up, protected by her loving foster family. 

When she is a teenager, we will all be able to tell her the stories of when she was a baby. She has wrapped us all around her little finger and pulled us into her story. She has been teaching us to trust God's timing along the way. God has answered the prayers of many. Today, she has a new last name.

Aubrilyn is treasured and adored. She is taught manners, limits, sharing and to be loving and kind in her parents home. She is beloved in the eyes of God... and treasured by our congregation. She has been with us her entire life. We cannot imagine her family or our church family without her. 

Family courts make difficult decisions every day, while following the laws in place. On December 14th, Aubrilyn changed her last name to reflect her forever family. Our hearts are all full. For me, it is the second adoption for 2018 that has been close to my heart and urgent in my prayers. 

The coolest thing happened on Friday. In the still, calm of the early morning hours, Aubrilyn was not sleeping well. It had been a restless night. She tossed and turned and was struggling with sleep. Finally, Whitney and Brian did what parents do... they let her crawl into their bed... between them. She settled in to sleep. 

Before dawn, Whitney awoke to find Aubrilyn's hands on both sides of her face, as if to get her attention. Aubrilyn spoke these words with confidence and clarity, "We  are family." 

Brian and Whitney had not told the children, as they had planned to surprise them on Friday when they picked them up for Family Court. (There had been so many delays already, they didn't want to get the older children excited and find the court had changed its mind or the plan.) 

Who told Aubrilynn? How did she know? "We are family!" She knew it in her spirit before she could intellectually understand what was happening. Jesus invites us to watch and learn from the children. 

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.  But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” -Matthew 19:12-14

My Mama Ina Mae taught us the song "Children Talk to Angels". I don't doubt it's truth. Children are fresh enough from the hand of God that they still hear His whispers. Angels are present in our world. Listen to them and you will hear the good news of Jesus, too "We are family."  We can be fearless in that knowledge.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” -Romans 8:15 

To our eyes... it was 987 days in the making! In God's perfect timing, it was more of a wink or a blink. Aubrilyn Rose Carver, God has written you in the palm of his Hand. We know he has great plans for you! We can't wait to watch them unfold. 

Today, I am grateful "We are family!". 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dress Weather In December

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 349: Today, I am grateful for dress weather in December.

Today was unseasonably warm.  

Saturday is usually my long top and leggings day... but not in Dressember. Day 15 in a dress. I am reminded that those caught in slavery must wear dresses ... but without leggings to keep warm in the winter. They have no voice and no choice. They are at the mercy of their captors and their abusers. 

I've been up since 5:30 and just got home a bit ago. Short post today. 

Today, I am grateful for dress weather in December.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Stable Few

Daily Gratitude Year Six-Day 348: Today, I am grateful for "the stable few". 

I found this image on Pinterest. Someday, I will have more time for crafty things, right? The play on words makes my soul smile. I have long finished my Christmas letter with the reminder that we always have "room in the inn", so this caught my eye and captured my heart. 

"Are you part of the Inn crowd or the Stable few?" 

In today's popular culture, the message of the stable can get lost in the hustle, bustle and tinsel tangle. This little reminder could be tucked anywhere. It redirects our hearts to the manger moments in a humble Bethlehem stable. 

Do you ever wonder about that night? The shepherds witness an angel choir and are given directions for finding the baby King. I am sure it was not the night they were expecting. I am sure they were surprised to find such a humble little couple attending the precious baby boy. 

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:12

Would anyone believe what they heard and saw? Did they think the night air had taken its toll on them? Their hearts and heads must have been so full of the wonder of that night, but who could they tell that would believe them?

More than 2000 years later, we each must decide:

"Are you part of the Inn crowd or the Stable few?"  Don't forget to listen for angels, look for the star and find hope waiting in a manger. I am eternally grateful for that night that changed everything. Believe and receive. 

Today, I am grateful for "the stable few".