Sunday, March 31, 2019

A New Lens

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 90: Today, I am grateful for a new lens.

For those who know me best... no... it is not for my camera. I have made a conscious decision... starting today... to reframe this eternal winter (okay, it has only been 6 months) in a new light. Instead of lamenting the spring that doesn't seem to get sprung... I will choose to celebrate every day that is sunny! 

Today is a beautiful winter day! The sun is shining. It is not snowing (although I saw flurries  this weekend). The sub zero days are behind us. This winter day is quite perfect (even if it is technically spring).

The power of a lens changes everything. 

Paul, I believe, made use of reframing to help him endure trials and hardships. He had an amazing way of turning things around in his head and joy would burst out of his mouth. It is why Paul and Silas could sing songs of praise in jail after they received a flogging. Instead of lamenting their troubles and pain, they sang joyfully. 

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” -Acts 16:25-28

Their situation was so much bigger than my annoyance with our long winter. Still, they praised God in the middle of their woes. I am humbled by their attitudes and their response to suffering. They inspire me to try harder and do better.

What can you look at with a new lens today? Most of us have something that could stand a re-framing and an attitude adjustment. 

Today, I am grateful for a new lens


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Heartlight

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 89: Today, I am grateful for heartlight. 

Remember E.T.? It is a classic 1982 film by Steven Spielberg. It is about a little boy, Elliott, who finds an alien accidently left behind by his family on the strange planet Earth. 

From the film, the candy, Reese's Pieces, made their way into our hearts along with the lost and scared little alien and Elliott. Neil Diamond's song, "Heartlight", was a huge hit from the soundtrack. (My Earworm is singing it loudly.)

"He's lookin' for home
'Cause everyone needs a place
And home's the most excellent place of all
And I'll be right here if you should call me

Turn on your heartlight
Let it shine wherever you go
Let it make a happy glow

For all the world to see"

E.T.'s heartlight would glow brightly when he was in communication with the spaceship and his family.  It, also, glowed when Elliott's love provided the power to resurrect ET when they thought he had died. ET longed for home, but his time in the human world brought him new friendships and a new family. 

The poignant scene where they are saying "Goodbye" to E.T. is emotional: 

E.T. (to Elliott): Come.
Elliott: Stay.
E.T. (after touching his heart where there is a ruby-glowing light and then touching his lips, expressing his pain over leaving and separating): Ouch.
Elliott (after repeating the gesture): Ouch. (Then they embrace in the blue light of the spaceship.)
E.T. (after touching his long finger lightly to Elliott's forehead, his fingertip glows and he indicates): I'll be right here.
Elliott: Bye.


Deep sigh.

Do we allow our heartlights to shine? We were called to be salt and light. Jesus is our lightsource. We don't have to worry about a power failure when we He is the power source. We are fragile in so many ways, but He is greater than any obstacle, foe or situation we face. When we plug into Him... it is kind of like E.T.'s heartlight glowing when connected to the mothership. 

We can be more loving, more patient, better behaved, more kind, more generous and more forgiving when we are plugged into Jesus. Through His Spirit, we are never left alone. We can always be lit from within. 

"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed." -2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NLT 

Hunted but not abandoned. Knocked down but not destroyed. Light from within and ready to light the way home. We have His light shining in our hearts.

Reese's Pieces, anyone?


Today, I am grateful for heartlight. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Deep and Wide

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 88: Today, I am grateful for a love that is deep and wide.

Math was my academic nemesis. I could do it, but it was not fast. Accuracy required extra work. As an adult, I've realized that while my letters stay in order... I easily invert numbers. I still check and double check numbers, phone numbers, times and dates. 

Figuring volume is one of the equations used in math and science: Volume = length X width X height. There are times it is helpful to know how much a box, a container or a refrigerator will hold. I am blessed to be married to Mr. Math, who can calculate most things in his head... no paper or pencil necessary. 

Sometimes, it is hard to visualize volume. When we were comparing refrigerators this week, Randy said, "The difference is the size of two 12X12 boxes." As a scrapbooker, I speak in the language of 12X12 papers... so I instantly understood how much more room was in the larger freezer. 

There are some things we cannot imagine. Try as we might, we cannot fathom the love of God for us. It is a big, deep, wide and consuming fire burning for us. He longs to bring us into the warmth, joy and hope found in His love. 

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God" -Ephesians 3:17-19

When Christ makes his home in us, we become more grounded. Growing roots helps us weather the storms of life. We can experience it. Live in it. Mature in it. Celebrate it. We can be completed in Him with a new fullness of life and power. 

Can we measure it? No, but we can trust that it is enough. He is enough. 

Today, I am grateful for a love that is deep and wide.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Interruptions

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 87:Today, I can choose to be grateful for interruptions.

Most of the time, our first response to interruptions is irritation. It is a knee-jerk response to anything that causes us to abort our plan or our timeline. 

I am fairly sure, this instinct within us does battle with our commission to make disciples. The call of Jesus on our lives almost always requires interruption. 

This echoes many of my favorite Biblical examples. Noah, Moses, Jonah, Daniel, Joseph, Rahab, Ruth, Paul, Silas, Mary, Gideon and more. Each one allowed the their lives to be interrupted by God's plan and embraced it. Talk about plot twists! 

Another Joseph... the Carpenter... melts my heart with his acceptance of the son he did not conceive, the wife he waited to touch until after childbirth and the interruption of training a child in carpentry when he likely knew the boy would never take over the family business. He still invested the time, the love and taught him the trade.

"We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This quote brings new light to the passage from Luke where Jesus is trying to explain the cost of truly being one of his disciples. Yeshua... I adore his Hebrew name... drew people to him with his gently spirit, his wisdom, his justice and his love. 

When he was popular, everyone want to be with him. When he was rejected, they abandoned him. He wanted to be sure that they understood the call, the commission and the conflict it might bring to their lives. Let's look at Luke 9:

"He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62

I do not believe Jesus is calling them to be irresponsible toward their homes and family obligations. He wants them to clearly understand there will be times of internal emotional conflict and sacrifice for the sake of the call. 

Following Jesus requires being open to interruptions. We can't look back on the "what if's" or the "if onlys". We must trust him for our daily bread and allow Him to be our "enough" for this day. 

Today, I can choose to be grateful for interruptions.




Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Jehovah Jireh

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 86: Today, I am grateful for Jehovah Jireh.

Yesterday, we came home to a freezer that was thawed and a fridge growing warmer. The refrigerator was dying a not so slow death. It was almost twenty years old, so it has served us well. Still, it is not what we had planned to do with the evening. 

The mess was irritating and the waste made me feel almost ill, but in the light of a new day... there are blessings. 

*Lowe's was having an appliance sale.
*Garbage goes on Wednesday so we can get rid of the spoiled food. 
*The Love-of-my-Life & I worked on the mess as a team.
*Responsible money management meant we could purchase what we needed.
*The refrigerator we selected had the biggest mark down (and it was my favorite).
*The sign said "7-13 days for delivery"; one "just happened" to be stock surprising the salesperson with the instant availability. 
*A truck was already coming to our town today, so they loaded it up. 
*Tonight, we will have a clean refrigerator that works!

I am reminded of "Jehovah Jireh" which means "The Lord will provide". 

This week, my Bible study group is in Genesis 22. It is one of those challenging passages in Genesis. Abraham leads Isaac up Mount Moriah to be sacrificed. How horrible! Despite what seemed clear instructions from God, Abraham is obedient. Isaac was promised to seed of a great nation. He was their miracle baby in old age. How could a loving God ask such a thing of him? Here is a scripture snippet:

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,  Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”


Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” -Genesis 22:6-8

Abraham carried the fire (I am burning to know how he did that?). He, also, carried the knife. Imagine the weight of his heart. 

Isaac helped carry the wood that would be used for the sacrifice (kind of like Jesus carrying the wooden cross of his sacrifice). Isaac would occasionally say, "Dad, we forgot the lamb." 

You know how kids repeat themselves when they think we missed their point. Abraham said these words that rock me to the core of my soul when faced with overwhelming circumstances. "God himself will provide the lamb..." God did provide the lamb! 

The rest of the story: 

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”-Genesis 22:10-13 

He is Jehovah Jireh... the God who provides. He blesses obedience. He provides and keeps his promises. 

A refrigerator is truly insignificant in light of what Abraham faced at Mt. Moriah. Still, I think it is good to pause and give thanks. His provision is real. His timing is perfect. 

 Today, I am grateful for Jehovah Jireh.



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A New Sunrise

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 85: Today, I am grateful for a new sunrise.

There is nothing like a sunrise, except maybe a sunset. The wonder of the chance to take on another rotation of the planet and embrace it. Jesus prayed: 

"Give us today day, our daily bread."-Matthew 6:11  

The Savior of the world took things one day at a time. He didn't wrestle with two. One day is enough to manage. Worry about tomorrow is wasted energy. 

Perhaps, that is why God made the sunrise so magnificent and full of hope. It is our reset. 

I was driving at sunrise recently and saw a horizontal rainbow of color across the horizon. It was not this image, but one very similar. The barren end of winter landscape was colored by the light breaking through at dawn. What a breathtaking sight to behold. 

"Morning is here, the day is new. Perhaps this is where The Light breaks through." -Morgan Harper Nichols

I know I have been grateful for mornings and new days, but I think today is a first for the beauty of the "sunrise". The actually wonder of it has escaped being noted. Today, we pause to take in the rainbow of colors. 

The new day is a bit like a blank coloring page. We have so many choices to make, and we will. But for real beauty, we must invite "The Light" to break through. 

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." -John 8:12

Tomorrow, there will be a new sunrise.  New beauty to behold. Another chance to invite The Light to change our day.

Today, I am grateful for a new sunrise.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Monday Mantra

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 84: Today, I am grateful for a Monday mantra. 

"Lord, whatever this day may bring, thy name be praised." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who says your mantra can't be a prayer? I think a short simple prayer can be multifaceted. This one is a commitment, a conversation, a prayer and a mantra that helps us press on. 

Every week brings new adventures. Some days bring unknowns. There is comfort in knowing we are never alone. He is always with us. In the most simple conversations of prayer, there is a companionship with an Almighty God, a brother who chose to die for us and a Holy Spirit that never leaves us alone. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

Let the day begin!

"Lord, whatever this day may bring, thy name be praised." -amen

Today, I am grateful for a Monday mantra. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Ministry in the Making



Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 83: Today, I am grateful for the ministry in front of us. 

What is your ministry? Most of us have one, even if we don't recognize call it a ministry. Sometimes, the Lord leads us into a ministry we did not anticipate, but ihe uses our gifts to bear fruit. What appears to be an "accidental ministry" may be the hand of God revealing his purpose and his plan.... in His time.

"Ministry could be simply about loving the person in front of you." -Heidi Baker

We all need love. Some need it more than others, and they are likely the prickly ones in our paths. 

We have the sweetest gal in our congregation. Her name is Grace. She often bakes up some cookies and brings them to church without no recipient in mind. Sometime, over the course of Sunday School and worship, Gracie feels the nudge of the Spirit directing her gift. It is the sweetest thing. Literally and figuratively. Her baked treats are her ministry. My neighbor, Susie Ackerman, bakes and blesses people unexpectedly all over our neighborhood and beyond. Her chocolate chip cookies are about as famous as the Toll House version. It, too, is a ministry. 

I know a sweet gal back home that makes sure no one goes for chemotherapy alone. What a beautiful way to "play in the key of Jesus", as Bob Goff put it. Marcia's smile and warmth make a rough day more bearable. 

There is a young lady who greets at Wal-Mart in our town who is considered "disabled" by society, yet her greeting and genuine caring about others shine brighter than her intellectual limitations. She is precious, as she serves God in a Walmart vest. 

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

Look at where your passions are found. How can you use it to love others and share the gospel? Don't lose heart. Trust God's word, it doesn't need amending. Do what is good, loving, kind and right in the eyes of God. Watch him stir your heart and provide a ministry that fits just right. 

Today, I am grateful for the ministry in front of us. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Humility: A Visual Aid

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 82: Today, I am grateful for visual aids.

I love things that help me visualize a thought or an idea more clearly. Not hearing aids, but visual aids. Understanding grows and clearer vision forms. 

Humility can be a visual aid, helping us view our world and God more clearly. Without it, we become prideful, self indulgent and resistant to new learning. Trusting in our own powers and abilities leads to trouble and broken relationships with God and with others.

Long before Adam and Eve disobeyed with their hands, they disobeyed in their hearts. Pride seeded their full blown defiance. 

"Be humble. The world is bigger than your view of the world. And certainly, God is much bigger than your view of God." -Eugene Cho


When clothed in humility, we see Him more clearly. His greatness is still beyond our measure or comprehension. Humility makes us more honest about our need for God's grace. It propels us closer to His heart.

"Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.  But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. " -Habakkuk 2:2-4

God says: "The proud trust themselves and their paths grow more crooked. The righteous trust him and they live by their faithfulness." If God says it, I believe it. 

The moon have been beautiful this week. The stars hang in the sky without falling. Nature is waking up. Spring is about to be sprung. The hand of our Almighty God commands the seen and the unseen. Nature is His design. The magnificent in a landscape is His whimsy. 

 "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." -Hebrews 11:3

Faith is being sure of what we hope for an certain of what we do not see, but I still appreciate visual aids. 

Today, I am grateful for visual aids.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Live in the Light

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 81: Today, I am grateful we can live in the light.

I hesitated to use this passage as it is the words of Elihu from Job. Job's friends were a comfort to Job in his pain, loss and misery when they sat with him in silence. Then, they started talking. Many of their words were condemning, hurtful, inaccurate and far from supportive... but in the middle of their rants they had some good thoughts. This is one of them:

"God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life." -Job 33:28

Elihu was the young man in the group of friends who came to "support" Job. He waited to speak until the others had taken repeated turns out of respect for their age. 

When Elihu finally takes the floor he rambles on... and on... and on. Some of what Elihu says is true, but in some remarks he misses the mark completely. Elihu knew a great deal about God... and felt he knew Job. He is bold in speech but lacks understanding of God's relationship with Job. I was exhausted by the time he was finished rambling. I can't imagine how it felt to Job in his suffering. He had the confidence of youth, but limited understanding. 

Still, this passage is articulate and captures the hope we feel when our trust is in the Lord. In our lowest lows... we can still live in the light. That is a significant part of the nature of God. He always lives in the light. He is light. The flame of one tiny match has the power to cast out the dark. I find that amazing and humbling at the same time. 

Elihu was wise in his own eyes. He got some things right... but he missed the mark. Job didn't need Elihu's wisdom. He needed his support and comfort. God sheds his light into Job's darkness with a restoration beyond imagination. 

"He redeemed my soul from the pit... I live to enjoy the light." 

Today, I am grateful we can live in the light.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Birds Don't Worry

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 80: Today, I am grateful the birds don't worry.

The calendar says the season is now spring. Little signs are popping up all over. The robins have returned. The sunrise finds the birds singing as they look for straw and grasses to build or refreshen a nest. The blue jays will steal a nest if they can. 

My sweet mother-in-love, Shela, avidly watched the birds. In the later season of her life, there was so much she could not control because of health issues. Her faith and hope never waivered. I used to send her "Birds and Blooms" magazine as a gift, because she enjoyed it. I remember wondering if the the day would come I would find it an interesting periodical. Indeed, the day has arrived. 

I am confident Mom Smith watched the birds with this scripture in mind: 

" 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.' "-Jesus, Matthew 6:25-29

There is a calming reassurance in the whispering breeze that says, "Child, it will be alright. Trust in me."

Trust, in a world where there is much uncertainty, doesn't come easy for most. To grow the roots of our faith, it helps to pause, reflect on God's goodness with gratitude and look for His reflection. His reflection can be found in the strength of the grasses that renew every spring and the brave little first flower of spring. We can see him in the rainbow colors of a sunrise and the faithfulness of the sunset. We can see him in the worry free dance of the birds. 


'“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.'"-Jeremiah 17:7-8

Take a minute today to listen for the birdsong and watch them dance. 

Today, I am grateful the birds don't worry.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Amazing Things

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 79: 
Today, I am grateful we are capable of amazing things.

Time for a midweek pep talk! Did you know that you simply were not designed to be ordinary. You were created in the image of God. He breathed his breath into man HIS breath. 

"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." -Genesis 2:7

Our God breath made us different from the animals who were ruled by nature and instinct. We have some have nature and instincts, too, but we do not have to be controlled by them. We must choose to love or reject our creator and each other. 

After God's amazing work of creation, by dust and by rib... he then chose the womb. To see a baby developing in the womb by sonogram is breathtaking. The miracle of that little heartbeat growing louder, bigger and stronger is mesmerizing. Then the arms and legs begin to form. It is a miracle every time! 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb." -Psalm 139:13 

Knit together by God's hand is an amazing way to begin. 

From our birth, we begin to grow in knowledge, skill and strength. A newborn knows the familiar voice of a mother or the reassurance of a heartbeat while sleeping on a father's chest. Each day... week... month and year bring new learning and new skills. We are never to old to stop learning (that is straight from Mama Ina Mae) and growing. What is amazing today, might be old news tomorrow, so don't forget to savor today's moments of wonder!

Spiritually, we can grow, too. The truth is... we are instructed to grow:

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." -1 Peter 2:2-3

Sometimes we are tempted to "stay babies", experiencing the benefits of God's mercy and grace but not really bathing in it. Changed lives and new hearts come from jumping in with both feet. The joy that comes from the knowledge of our sins being forgiven is nothing compared to the power he pours into any heart that is willing to chase after his. He will not leave us orphans! He will encourage us in our first attempts and forgive our failures. He whispers, "You can do it! I AM with you." 

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." -John 14:18

He comes to us and enables us to change from the inside out. Through his adoption, we discover that we are equipped with the superpowers he bestows as one of His children. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23

Not in our own strength and power, but by Him... through Him... and in Him.  Some call them "fruits" and think you are "fruity" because of them. I prefer to think of them as superpowers from a supernatural source. 

Remember Edna Mode from The Incredibles? "No capes!" We don't need them. They are flashy and can be dangerous. When plugged in to the power source, we can impact our little corner of the world and... maybe... even beyond. 

Today, I am grateful we are capable of amazing things.




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Happy Little Accidents

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 78: Today, I am grateful for happy little accidents.

Life happens when we are making plans. Planning is great. Responsible people have a plan. Absolutely! Still, some of the sweetest moments come as happy little accidents. 

Randy and I were celebrating an anniversary in Galena, IL. We love the old buildings and the quaint feel of the town. The Love-of-my-Life knows I love theater and a town nearby was presenting "Footloose", which is a favorite. 

He didn't realize "nearby" was about 45 minutes and we had already been in the car for several hours making the trip. He said we could go... or look for something else to do. I was torn. He was so thoughtful (and even purchased the tickets) but the travel time would make our dinner plan more complicated. 

We left it open as we walked around Galena. We came upon an advertisement for a one man show about Mark Twain. The tickets were reasonable. We decided to take the risk and go for it. We were so glad we did! 

It turned out that the show was presented by Jim Post who was part of "Friend & Lover".  They wrote and sang "Reach Out In The Darkness". Jim Post now looks more like Mark Twain than a rock star. His presented the show as Mark Twain and it was phenomenal. Sadly, we were two of only about seven people to see it that night, but he gave it all he had and performed as if it were hundreds. We loved it!

I will always remember that evening as a "happy little accident". 

We took a note out of Ecclesiastes:

"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love...  -Ecclesiastes 9:9a

Much of Ecclesiastes is Solomon trying to get a handle on what matters and what doesn't. His wealth and power were unmatched, but he found himself struggling to find meaning. It isn't stuff. It is in relationships. It is savoring time together... with God and loved ones... and embracing the happy little accidents. 

Today, I am grateful for happy little accidents.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Number Seven

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 77: Today, I am grateful for the number seven. 

Remember  Sesame Street? "This day was brought to you by the number '7' and the letter 'G'."

Today is Year 7-Day 77 of daily gratitude (or Day 2,268). 777 was the last three numbers on my odometer when I parked the car after a four hour drive last week. 7 always makes me smile. 

It is one of the numbers that recurs frequently in scripture. I have always thought of it as God's favorite number. Seven is the Jewish number representing creation, thus there are seven days in a week. In Hebrew, it represents good fortune and blessings. It is considered one of the greatest power numbers in Judaism. It is associated with completion, perfection and rest.

If a number seven shows up in scripture pay attention, take note and look a little deeper for God's power to be displayed. There are 7 days in a week, 7 notes on a musical scale, 7 colors in God's rainbow, 7 divisions in the Bible, 7 days in the Passover feast, 7 Spiritual gifts given by the Father and many more. Keep Digging! 

My Bible Journaling friend, Patricia Alejandro Paterno, says God's word is like a castle full of hidden passages to be discovered. You enter one scripture and tunnel through popping out at the door of another. It all comes together in an "ah-ha" moment. 

I adore that image more than I can express with words. The wonder of it never ceases to leave me burning with a desire to learn more. His power, mercy, perfection and love leave me breathless. 

This day was brought to you by the number "7" from a God who completes what he started. 

Today, I am grateful for the number seven. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Month in Job


Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 76: Today, I am grateful for a month in Job. 

Yes, Job!  Not the book of the Bible most people read for pleasure. It is a weighty and hard read, but it is full of wisdom. I am humbled by Job's life and legacy. 

I cannot fathom the pain of losing all ten of my children and their families at once. Surely, it was a gripping grief beyond agony. Then, his body was covered in sores and the pain was overwhelming. He could not even find solace with his wife. It says that she "found his breath repulsive". I imagine, she too, was buried in the deep sorrow of their losses. With his sores, he probably did stink. 

We know Job wondered, prayed and begged God to help him understand. God was silent, until much later in the story. In retrospect, God was silent for a reason. If only his friends had been silent, too. Their "helpful" words were not helpful. 

Job truly was righteous and diligent in following the commands of God. In the beginning, he was blessed beyond measure. Then... came his season of suffering that was not sent by God, but God allowed it. Job's suffering was long... most of the 42 chapters of the book. In the end, God brought a healing and a restoration to his life. He was granted a long life and 10 more children who would bless him with grandchildren. 

As a parent... and as one who has walked with those who have lost children... I am confident that Job never saw his last ten children as replacements for those who died. It doesn't work like that. The heart that is broken by the loss of a child is fractured in a way that only God can heal. The scars don't go away, but that is a part of God's perfect design. They scars make the heart more beautiful. Empathy grows in the fertile soil of broken hearts. 

We grieve big when we love big. Most would tell you they wouldn't trade the tears, if they had to give up the sweet memories, too. 

Job experienced the sovereign part of God's character; he knew his goodness, too. What feels like punishment is not always correction or justice. Sometimes, it is more. 

"He makes these things happen either to punish people or to show his unfailing love." -Job 37:13 (NLT)

In the moments when hope seems lost, He is there. His unfailing love comes to us and He is with us. He is clothed in majesty and pours light into our darkness. 


Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty.The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” -Job:37:22-24 (ESV)

We could search the heavens and see his wonders, but not find him. He doesn't hide, but we have to invite him. He comes when we call. Silence does not mean he is absent. He reveals things in His time. His ways are higher than ours. He doesn't appreciate people who are full of their own wisdom. He wants us to tune into him and recharge through Him. 

Today, I am grateful for a month in Job. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Unattached

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 75: Today, I am grateful we can choose to be unattached.

This little bird image evokes a sense of frustration and sadness. You can feel the frustration as he attempts to fly, but the thread keeps him from successfully taking to the air. Poor little guy!

This verse is illuminated through the art. (Image credit unknown.)The truth is, we easily attach ourselves to things that are not important in the big picture of life. The things that don't really matter become unnecessary burdens. They don't help us love God better... or love others more.

The "Stuff-Mart" is an old Veggie Tales reference from my children's youth. Those who love the world find themselves belonging to it. They are never satisfied for more than a minute.

"Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away." -1 Corinthians 7:31

The Stuff-mart... and even Amazon... will never have the answers that satisfy our souls. Only Jesus can give us that kind of peace. In Christ, our everyday wardrobe changes. 


"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." -Colossians 3:12 

Tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are the answer to "What to wear?". We can use the things in our blessings basket, but we are not to love them. There is no peace in chasing after stuff. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose to be unattached.