Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Work With Heart

Year 7-Day 120: Today, I am grateful we can work with heart.

When we work with heart, the load is lightened. Why? The burden of the labor is removed. 

In the beginning, God assigned Adam and Eve to care for the garden. They were to tend to the plants, to eat and enjoy the fruits of the trees, plants and flowers. 

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. -Genesis 2:15

The work was pleasing and rewarding. No timelines and all the wonder of a garden and the animals surrounded them. It is a great reminder that perspective is powerful. 

Satan planted the seeds of dissatisfaction in their hearts. They grew pride and arrogance from that seed. Satan was, is and will always be a liar and they fell prey to his deceit. The gift of free will is a gift... but it comes with choices that lead to consequences. 

Today, we still have choices in how we view the work of the day. I need to be reminded of this. Any job we do with the purpose of reflecting the Father becomes a work of heart. It becomes a kind of worship. 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, -Colossians 3:23

I often need this reminder. Comparison is the thief of joy. There is no need to compare our work or station in life to another. Someone onces said, "The ground is all level at the foot of the cross." The important thing is that we are working in a way that honors the Father, is worthy of the Son and in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

Let our hearts burn with a holy purpose as we do whatever work we are assigned. One day at a time. 

Today, I am grateful we can work with heart.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Habits of the Happy

Year 7-Day 119: Today, I am grateful for the habits of the happy.

These is an amazing little list! Not one of these things has to cost money... even number four. Most of us have plenty in our closets and food pantries to help the less fortunate. Sometimes they need our time more than money. 

Misery loves company and the miserable ones in our midst do their best to drag everyone else down. We can choose to resist. We can choose happy. 

#1 might be my favorite on the list. Ignore nonsense! How much time, energy and worry do we waste on nonsense? Too much. 

The characteristics listed here were modeled by Jesus. He ignored nonsense. He listened long before he spoke. He learned the carpenter's trade. He helped the sick and ailing. Laughter might be the hardest one to document, but I know he loved the children and children always make us laugh. He was up early to prayer. He was the Messiah but asked no special treatment. He was thankful before meals, when he faced trials, when he was with friends and when he prayed in solitude. He was thankful in all things.  

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” -Luke 22:19

He gave thanks for the bread. Such a simple, common meal. He knew there were tough hours ahead, but in the moment... he was grateful and celebrated God's blessings. 

It is a good day to consider the habits of happy people and embrace them. 

Today, I am grateful for the habits of the happy.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Hard Things

Year 7-Day 118: Today, I am grateful for hard things.

If I could pass one nugget on to the next generation, it would be this. "Embrace the hard things." The generation before us said "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." They were right. 

We have a culture that is increasingly accustomed to smooth waters and easy access to what we want and need. Still, if we live long enough... there where be rough waters and storms. 

What if the first hard thing we face was the biggest trial of our lives? We would crumble. Everyone needs a little training ground. Every hard day is practice for that big thing that will eventually come. 

Satan is alive and well. Evil exists. Bad things happen to good people, including those who love the Lord.. It comes with living in a fallen world. We are not exempt by our social status, by the degrees behind our name or by the number of good things we have done. God is good, but life can be hard. 

I love this movie quote:

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great." - A League of Their Own

When we make it through the hard things, we grow more resilient. We learn to trust the Lord with all of our hearts and not lean on what we think we know. In the end, it isn't about what we know... it is about WHO we know. 

He promises to be with us on the mountain... and in the valleys. He is with us when it looks like there is a night in the lion's den ahead or a fiery furnace. Our God is present. He is with us in the trials and as we train our heart and minds to look to Him for all of our needs. 

I don't love going through the hard things, but I know they work together for His glory. 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. -Romans 8:28

Today, I am grateful for hard things.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Pure Affection

Year 7-Day 117: Today, I am grateful for pure affection.

I saw this picture and my first thought was "Oh, Yeshua", which is Jesus name in Hebrew. My second though was "pure affection". Something about the image touches my heart. The love is tangible. There is something about a kiss on the head that fills us with warmth. It is nurturing and protective. 

Can you feel the intimacy? 

I am so grateful we can pray and be intimate with the Lord. There is no magic formula. It simply requires taking the time to be still and present. It may begin with reading a scripture or a favorite worship song, and suddenly, it is as if He is raining kisses from heaven. 

He knows the number of stars in the sky and he calls them by name, and we are even more precious in his sight. He was willing to step out of heaven and into our human skin to show us His great love.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.-Isaiah 40:29

We can take a deep breath and know we are loved. No matter the circumstances... we are His. He can calm our fears and recharge our weary hearts. His affection for us is deep and wide, covering a multitude of failures and shortcomings. We can quiet our spirits and gentle our hands for the work he gives us. 

 ...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.-1 Peter 3:4

We can grow and go. He is always with us. He wants to be with us. 

Today, I am grateful for pure affection.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Blooming Pots

Year 7-Day 116: Today, I am grateful for blooming pots.

All around the neighborhood, bursts of color are starting to appear. Pots are popping up. The assortment of flowers is always interesting. What one neighbor has great success with growing, another does not. 

Pots are a great way to grow flowers, because we can move them!  If the sun is wrong or the shade to long, the flower pot can be relocated.

The Love of My Life watches the pots in front of our garage all summer. He moves them, turns them and mixes them up as he sees fit. They all get slightly different sun/shade hours. Pots are moveable soil that allows us to find the right light. 


Sometimes we have to move! There are times we have to do something different to gain different results. One of my favorite Albert Einstein quotes is the definition of insanity: 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Sometimes we have to change up the flowers or move the pot to bear the fruit we want to see. 

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. -Luke 8:15  

If the soil is good...the water is ample for the plants need... and the sun to shade ratio works, the flower pots will bear glorious fruit. Unlike things planted in the ground, we can move pots around. We have to be patient and consider the seed needs and the sun requirements in our choosings. 

When we have a burning desire to be successful and are willing to invest the time, the flower pots will bloom. Patience and proper care prevail! I am getting excited for the season.

Today, I am grateful for blooming pots.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Power Steering

Year 7-Day 115: Today, I am grateful for power steering.

I am old enough to remember when power steering as a standard feature in vehicles was talked about and advertised as a feature for selling. Today, it is the standard. What is power steering? If you have ever had it go out in a car, you know.

Power Steering is the mechanism that reduces steering effort on a steering wheel.
 Driver's use less effort to turn the wheel when driving at typical speeds, and reduces the physical effort necessary to turn the steering wheels when a vehicle is stopped or moving slowly. Once a luxury, it is now a standard feature. 

Corrie Ten Boom quotes are some of my favorites. Corrie was witty, sassy and so spiritually grounded and insightful that she never ceases to blow me away when I uncover a new nugget of her wisdom. This on hit the mark today. 

"Is prayer your steering wheel, or your spare tire?" —Corrie Ten Boom (author of "The Hiding Place")

Corrie Ten Boom was a WW2 concentration camp survivor. Before her arrest, she was the first licensed woman watchmaker in the Netherlands, following in her father's footsteps. Their devout faith in God and knowledge of the Bible meant they understood that the Israelites we God's chosen people. Hitler's genocide of the the mentally disabled, who were by design forever children, was an abomination to God. His campaign against all Jews was ludicrous.  

The Ten Boom family could not sit idly by. Their ties in the community were deep. They walked and talked like Jesus. They served the least of these... and the wealthy, too. 

Corrie was a powerful prayer warrior. When she and her sister, Betsie, were arrested for assisting Jews, she spent a month is solitary confinement. When she had her first "day in court"... and it was a kangaroo court... she was questioned about her many years volunteering to help the mentally challenged and disabled. This was her gutsy response to her interrogators at her first trial:

 "In the eyes of God, a mentally disabled person might be more valuable "than a watchmaker. Or a lieutenant." (Women Heroes of WW2 by Kathryn Atwood)

They should have recognized that Corrie was out of their league. Even in prison and Ravensbrück concentration camp, she was constantly encouraging others and making a difference. She is one of the most beautiful women in history. Not for her face... although her face radiated joy... but for her heart. Prayer was her steering wheel. 

She didn't look for God when she had troubles. She talked to him intimately every day, throughout the day. The Holy Spirit was her comforter and her guide. Jesus was always with her. In the good days and the hard ones, Corrie had power steering. 

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." -Romans 12:12 

We, too, have access to power steering. Prayer is a front line offensive action... not a last resort.  

Today, I am grateful for power steering.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Herbs

Year 7-Day 114: Today, I am grateful for herbs.

Every summer, I try to plant a few herbs in my pots. I am not super successful, but I keep trying. I love fresh herbs. There is something about farm to table that simply tastes better.

My favorites are the the basils, chive, the mints and the oregano. There are so many basils that you could have a whole basil garden. Not all basils are the same. 

I am reminded that good seeds and good soil make a difference, too. Gardening, like farming, is part knowledge, part art and a whole lot of heart. Gardening is mini farming. 

Again, I am reminded of our assignment in Genesis. Handed down to man at creation: 

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. -Genesis 2:15

An important  assignment.. and the work was not punishment, but a joy and a pleasure. Gardeners still feel that way today. 

Gardens come and go. Some years are more successful than others. The gardener keeps trying. One bad year is not a reason to give up. One bumper crop is not a reason to get lazy. Plants thrive some years and other years they perish because of drought or heat. 

One of the things that fascinates me is the "going to seed" process. Most plants, at the end of their life, start a new beginning by going to seed. What looks like death is a new beginning as seeds fall to bring new life in a new season. 

There is some great analogies that can be made to our faith walk. Mature is not always beautiful by the world's standards, yet there are seeds that fall to bring new life. Our idea of beauty changes. That which has weathered the storm, endured the heat and brought forth fruit is a rare kind of beautiful. I will remember that as my herbs reach maturity this year. 

Today, I am grateful for herbs.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

No Comparison

Year 7-Day 112: Today, I am grateful there is no comparison.

Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. Each of our fingerprints is unique. We are all different. We are all extraordinary in God's eyes. Savor that thought. Burn it into your memory. 

I liked this quote:

"Don't compare your life to others. There's no comparison between the sun and the moon, they just shine when it's time." -Unknown

Both the sun and the moon give us light. Yes, I know one reflection the sun... but it still lights the night. That is exactly what we born to do. We are to reflect the Son. He is the source and we are to reflect his light. 

Solomon once wrote that to everything there is a time, a season and a purpose. To waste time and energy on comparisons is simply that... a waste. 

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9 

With free will comes choices and responsibility. It is easy to feel "less than" another who is more successful or someone with shiny gifts. Embrace the light you are given and shine. No comparisons and no compromise. 

Today, I am grateful there is no comparison.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day

Year 7-Day 111: Today, I am grateful for Earth Day!


What a beautiful Earth Day here in the Midwest. Sun and spring like temperatures give us a reason to celebrate. 

This is the planet that was created for us. It is a gift and a responsibility. If you live with anyone under the age of 30, you are reminded often to live more "green". Our youth are much more conscious and conscientious about caring for the planet than we were raised to be. 

Not all of their behaviors pay homage to their desire to care for the earth, but neither do mine. They are the generation that is coming up with things like shoes made from recycled plastic. It is never too late to start living differently. 

Reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and our oceans is a worthy goal. Taking reusable bags to the grocery store not only reduces waste, the bags you bring from home don't break. It is a win-win. I've been forgetting mine recently and Earth Day is a reminder to do better tomorrow. 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” -Genesis 1:26

Our assignment was clear. We can't take it lightly. Every little act of kindness to the earth makes a difference. When many people join together, there is change. Slow... but moving in the right direction. 

Today, I am grateful for Earth Day!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Daybreak


Year 7-Day 110: Today, I am grateful daybreak.


I am a morning person, don't hate me. I know others have different biological programming, but I am at my best in the morning. It is my favorite time of day.

For me... there is something holy in the break of day. For those in the country, it might mean a rooster crows or the cats meow at the door for breakfast. In town, the street lamps dim and go to sleep as the sun begins to rise. There is a calm and quiet about the moment that stills my heart. It is a time of worship. It is a time of gratitude.

It won't be long and the scent of dew on the morning lawn will fill our noses with delight. It passes quickly, so we must intentionally pause to take it in with something close to reverence. Then the sun begins to peep up from the landscape. Here in the flat Midwest, is a glorious appearing with great views. It can be savored on an interstate commute or from the farmyard window or porch. I adore daybreak for the feeling of newness and hope.

Today is Easter Sunday.  The entire Christian community is reflecting and revisiting the events surrounding Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. Isn't it kind of crazy that our faith is often represented by an instrument of torture and death? 

Three men died on crosses that day. From a distance, no one could tell one from the other. Two were experiencing the wages of sin, and the third, was fighting a holy war to redeem the lost, broken and defeated. It was the blood shed in atonement and sealing a new covenant between God and humans. The victory was declared when not only the cross was empty... but so was the tomb. It was discovered at daybreak.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. -Luke 24:1-3

Can you picture it? Hands and hearts full of purpose, only to discover Jesus was not there. The stone was rolled away and the death linens folded. What a strange way to declare victory.

The men had to check it out. This is what John records:
and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. - John 20:7

Imagine the soft, golden light of morning illuminating the empty tomb. When did they move from feelings of wonder to seeds of hope? Did all the things he told them about what was to happen, finally begin to make sense in the light of a new day.

Oh, it was a new day. A daybreak like no other! The truth of the resurrection would soon be revealed to each one of them. Death had been conquered and hope was alive. The sin debt paid in full, not for one man or woman... but for all generations who would come and "believe without seeing". It happened at daybreak.

There are things I cannot really know or understand, but when the sun rises each morning, I am reminded that a new day is another chance to try again, love a little more and serve Him with whole hearts. For me, it is a sacred time.

Today, I am grateful daybreak.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Sunday's On The Way!


Year 7-Day 109: Today, I am grateful Sunday's on the way!!! 


I'm an 80's girl!  Carman Licciardello made us swoon with his Italian ways and edgy, creative lyrics. I first saw him at First Church of the Nazarene in Kankakee, IL. "Sunday's on the Way" is one of my all time favorites. Every year when Easter Rolls around, I am reminded that Jesus's victory over death was Satan's worst nightmare come true (to date... he's got another day coming!!!). 

In silence we wait  religious easter god jesus religious quotes faith religion religious quote christ saturday jesus christ jesus quotes holy saturday holy saturday quotes amenEnjoy this reminder that Satan's temporary victories are just that... temporary! Our God is bigger, stronger and wiser than the ways of the world. Satan and Death are defeated by his blood and resurrection. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muK1DPKhKJ8

"Sunday's on the Way" Lyrics: 
The demons were planning on having a party one night.
They had beer, Jack Daniels, and pretzels,
there was red wine, some white.
They were celebrating how they crucified Christ on that tree.
But Satan, the snake himself, wasn't so at ease.
Well, he took his crooked finger,
And he dialed the phone by his bed,
To call an old faithful, to see if he was dead.
"Hey grave, what's going on, did my plan fail?"
Grave just laughed and said, "The dude's dead as nails."

*chorus*
On Friday night, they crucified the Lord at calvary,
But he said, "Don't dread, three days' later I'll live again, you'll see!"
When problems try to bury you, make it hard to pray,
It may seem like Friday night, but Sunday's on the way!
A tranquilizer and a horror flick, couldn't calm Satan's fears.
So Saturday night, he calls up the grave, scared of what he'd hear.
"Hey, grave, what's going on?"
Grave said, "Man, you done called me twice,
and I'll tell you one-more-'gin, boss, the Jew's on ice."
Satan said, " Man grave, you remember when,
Ol' Lazarus, was in his grave.
Everything was cool then four days later... BOOM,
Ol' Lazarus, he was raised.
Now, this Jesus, he is much more trouble
than anyone has ever been to me,
And this man said he only gonna be dead, for three days."

*chorus*
Sunday morning Satan woke with a jump,
Ready to blow a fuse.
He was shaking from the tips of his pointy ears,
To the toes of his pointy shoes.
"Hey grave, is he alive, I don't wanna lose my neck?"
Grave said, "Satan, you are a wreck.
Cool your jets Big D, my sting is still intact.
Jesus is dead forever, he ain't
never coming back.
So mellow out man, just go drink up or shoot up,
just leave old grave alone,
And I'll catch you la... la...
Oh no! Oh no! OH NO! OH NO!
Somebody's messing with the stone!"
Well, the stone was rolled away,
and it bounced a time or two,
and an angel stepped inside,
and said, "I'm Gabriel, who are you?
If you're wondering where the Lord is,
at this very hour,
I tell you he's alive and well,
with resurrection power!"
*chorus*

I never tire of the excitement of the empty tomb! 

I don't want to forget the sadness and sorrow those who knew and loved him felt on Saturday. They wept together. They remembered together. Their grief was deep, real and devastating. They were living it together... in community. Saturday was their waiting place.

Peter was trying to reconcile his denial of Christ... three times. The three Marys and Martha loved Jesus deeply. They felt lost and broken. Lazarus... surely, he wondered how the one who had raised him back to life was now dead. James, John, Matthew, Thomas and the others all tried to put out of their heads the pain of the cross, the image of Jesus on the hill and Judas betrayal. 

They had no idea that the next 24 hours would change everything... again. Forever. If Jesus end had been the cross, he would have been like the other two men crucified that day. What seemed like the end on Saturday, was really just a waiting place. Sunday was on the way!!!

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.  -1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NLT

Today, I am grateful Sunday's on the way!!! 


Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

Year 7-Day 108: Today, I am grateful for the good in Good Friday.
Good Friday. Imagine the smells of the Passover feast scent the air. Women hustling to market to finish and then home to finish the meal preparations. So many details. Men trying to get the work done before the sunset marking the start of the Sabbath.
Today, we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It has become known as "Good Friday". I thought that was an oxymoron as a child. It felt horribly sad and wrong, that Jesus would suffer and die. The knowledge that it was for my sins was a burden to a child's heart. I didn't understand fully the why...mostly the shame and the guilt. Somehow...I missed the love message. Not His duty and obligation...but Christ's choice. I return to a favorite thought ...nails didn't hold Jesus to the cross...love did.
Let's return to Jerusalem on that day...and Jesus is hanging on the cross. Pain and suffering beyond what we can fathom. There...not because Rome was against him or any wrong doing of his own, but because church leaders were furious, fearful and frustrated. They orchestrated a way to get him arrested and crucified. Some of the officials tried to get him released. The people chose Barabbas (accused of murder) over Jesus (the miracle worker). 
Public opinion changes like the wind. It is often unwise, with allegations unfounded. Are things so different today?
Jesus spoke very little from the cross. Science says every breath he took to speak added to his pain. He didn't have much human life left. Things were about to change. What he did say was recorded and significant.
1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Matthew 26:47
2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” - Luke 23:34
3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" - Luke 23:43
4. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” - Luke 23:46
5. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” -John 19:26-27
6. “I am thirsty” -John 19:28
7. “It is finished!” -John 19:30
Then, about 3 pm, as the temple priest are preparing the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and Jesus is on the cross. A little time passes and the work to prepare is nearly complete...on the cross and in the temple. The shofar (a horn) blew to signify the Passover would officially begin with a sacrifice in the temple. Jesus cries out "It is finished" with a sacrifice on the cross. The Passover sacrifice is slain. The earth shook, the sky went black and the temple curtain ripped.
The traditional perfect lamb had been slain. A new covenant is sealed as another Perfect Lamb hung lifeless on a cross on a hill not that far away. The ripped temple curtain had separated the "holiest of holy" places in the temple. Only the high priests were allowed to enter after much preparation. The presence of God so strong, it was awe evoking. That temple curtain...torn and open, because Jesus had changed everything.
The Messiah had come. He was rejected and crucified. Propitiation (what a great word) for all who would accept the gift of grace for simple, true belief.
This CS Lewis quote is new to me: "It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion."
Such a high price. Yet, in my grown up shoes...it feels different. I can see the "good" in Good Friday. I can see the love that knew no limits. The love that hung from a cross so we could be joint heirs in eternity with Jesus. The love that raged a death defying war against hell and won the fight to rescue His bride. That, my friend is crazy love in action.
As you make your weekend preparations...if you are heading to a place of worship out of obligation, guilt or duty...don't. Go in love. Fall in love. Accept His grace. Be renewed and restored to fellowship. His love never fails. It changes everything. In His time and according to the Master's plan, but I can assure you that love... always... wins.
The cross... once an instrument of death and torture... is now so much more. It is a reminder of His cost. The empty cross represents his victory... and it is our price tag (Thanks to my friend, Craig for that thought).
Today, I am grateful for the"good" in Good Friday.

Maundy Thursday


Daily Gratitude-Year 7 Day 107: Today, I am grateful for Maundy Thursday.
Image may contain: plant and textMaundy Thursday is a day of remembering Jesus choices. In his last day ... before he would be taken, tried and crucified ... he chose, again and again, to act with love.
Jesus every action was seeking God’s will and searching for ways to show the depth of his love for people. His sincerity poured out as he washed feet, planned for the Passover meal, prayed for wisdom and guidance, and in his healing of the injured soldier.
The weight of it all must have been soul crushing. Still, not only was he obedient to God’s will, he showed extravagant love over and over.
He left us an example and a legacy of love. We can break out of the darkness of sin that cocoons us. We can be transformed. We can spread our wings and fly. We can spread our arms and choose extravagant love.
Today, I am grateful for Maundy Thursday.

A New Book


Daily Gratitude-Year 7 Day 106: Today, I am grateful for a new book.


No photo description available.I have always been a fan of children’s books. They can teach us so much. My friend, Krys, introduced me to this one... “The Rabbit Listened”. I love when adults recognize the value in children’s literature.

This sweet little book teaches empathy. Compassion can be taught and caught. Sometimes... we don’t want a fix or even encouraging words. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen and be with us.

My mind goes back to lessons from Job’s life. It reminds me of the value of sitting in compassionate, quiet companionship. This little book teaches what Job’s friends missed. (Thanks Krys)

Today, I am grateful for a new book.

Sunshine

Image may contain: flower, plant, outdoor and natureDaily Gratitude Year 7-Day 105: Today, I am grateful for sunshine.
Short post...
There is something about sunshine that changes everything. Sunshine makes you want to stretch lazily and smile.
A full day of living in the sun is a reason to smile and give thanks.
Today, I am grateful for sunshine.

HOLY WEEK

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 104: Today, I am grateful for Lessons from  Holy Week.(Warning long... but it was how it came today)

I am revisiting an old post with lessons learned from Barabbas.

For me... day two thousand two hundred ninety one days of gratitude written down. The old saying is true - "The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Every single day I learn something new through the simple offering of gratitude.

Today, I am grateful that there are still new things to celebrate... and some of the once a year repeats become fresh faced in new light. For instance - one year I am grateful that hot water cleans and helps sanitize... at another time, I am simply grateful it wakes me up and washes away an old day. Same item... different gratitude.

On the 2,295th day, I want to love math, but unlike letters, numbers (for me) seem to get mixed up and out of order. I will drive myself and others crazy making sure I have a phone number, time and date correct on my calendar. Still, in the middle of the befuddling mysteries of the math universe that stump me... there are the tens! Clean, simple and uncomplicated are the tens.

Tens are divisible by 2 and 5... my other favorites.

More than 100 times this year... the sun has risen. Even when we couldn't see it, it was there.

More than 100 times this year... the sun has set, before I close my eyes to sleep.

More than 100 times this year... we have paused.. together... to offer up thanks.

This year... one hundred four days into the year... we find ourselves at the beginning of  "Holy Week".

On Palm Sunday - Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, significant because the king who arrives on a donkey comes in peace. They waved palm leaves and sang "Hosanna".

On Monday... what were the people thinking?

The church and civic leaders were feeling threatened and fearful.  This man of miracles was causing quite a stir. He was getting hard to ignore. People were drawn to him. They were following him. They were leaving their careers and families to be with him. His message of loving God and loving each other was not the same as other revolutionaries of the day... such as Barabbas. His message was one of serving, caring and forgiving. He was a mystery to those in power. He terrified them as much or perhaps more than Barrabas.

On this day in Holy Week - the officials were dealing with two "Sons of the Father". Jesus... and Barabbas. I just learned this recently. The name Barabbas is composed by “Bar” that means son and “abbas” that means father. He was literally named “son of a father”. Coincidences or confirmation of God’s sovereign plan.

Jesus...the son of the Father God sent on a rescue mission ... but I did not know that there was another perfect part of God's plan. It was the role of Barabbas.  The sinful son if the father would be set free. He would not be put to death for his sins. Pause and take that in!

Much of government,church sanctioned and Roman, saw both Jesus and Barabbas as insurgents. They were stirring up the people and rocking the norms of society. This from Mark 15:7-

"And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas."

Barabbas may have killed in cold hearted murder... or was he defending his cause? He may have... like many in times of government overthrows... taken what did not belong to him for the cause. I don't know... but I do know that was not who Jesus was and is. Jesus raised the dead, healed the lame, cast out demonic spirits and cured the lepers. His peaceful revolution terrified many more than Barabbas' ugly violence, because if Jesus rose to power, where would they be? Jobless? Powerless?

Jesus... guiltless... would die in Barabbas' place. And... in place of all who come to Him... to the foot of the cross...  with their sins to be forgiven and spared... they will die to self and be reborn with the cause of Christ upon their shoulders... no longer weighed down by the heavy cross of sin. We are... like Barabbas... set free!

Aren't we all "sons and daughters of of the father"? Aren't we all like Barabbas, set free and Jesus takes our place?

"But they all cried out together,“Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why?What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will." -Luke 23:18-25

On that day, Pilate to his wife's distress, delivered Jesus over to the "urgent, demanding and loud" will of the people. Government went with what was popular... not with what was right. Imagine that? But, that choice led to the fulfillment of scripture again and again. Prophecy becomes history... again and again.

Wow! Right? All the pieces come together during this Holy Week of events. It is the week that opened the gate for all to become the children of God. By the way... I forgot to ask God for a scripture this morning. They were coming fast to my head without that request. Well... he humbled me once again. This is His choice through a “verse of the day”:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.-Romans 5:6-8

Love never fails. Love always wins. We can't be "good enough". We have to be loved into the folds of His grace. But...our love must be reciprocal... not all God giving and us taking.

Reciprocal... like in math... where the equation gets balanced. We couldn't pay for our sins in a way to satisfy God's holiness. It is who HE IS. Holy and justice... but  . So, He became human. He balanced the equation so that we may become sons and daughters of the Living God... joint heirs with Jesus.

We must return to him with the gift of our hearts... and make our lives a living sacrifice to his will and his way. Does that sound scary? Truly, it is where life really begins, joy takes root and every day has meaning. It's pretty awesome!

Like the journey of 100 days or 2,295 days of Gratitude begins with a single step. So, does the journey to the foot of the cross.

One prayer confessing the knowledge that we all... including me.. sinners in need of a Savior. One prayer acknowledging Jesus as Lord and inviting him to wash away all of our sins and literally balancing the equation. What used to equal death... now equals eternal life. This world no longer holds us down.

The cross is our portal. His death and resurrection becomes our victory song. The believers’s death is a door.

Today, I am grateful for lessons from Holy Week.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Barabbas

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 104: Today, I am grateful for Lessons from  Holy Week.(Warning long... but it was how it came today)

I am revisiting an old post with lessons learned from Barabbas.

For me... day two thousand two hundred ninety one days of gratitude written down. The old saying is true - "The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Every single day I learn something new through the simple offering of gratitude.

Today, I am grateful that there are still new things to celebrate... and some of the once a year repeats become fresh faced in new light. For instance - one year I am grateful that hot water cleans and helps sanitize... at another time, I am simply grateful it wakes me up and washes away an old day. Same item... different gratitude.

On the 2,295th day, I want to love math, but unlike letters, numbers (for me) seem to get mixed up and out of order. I will drive myself and others crazy making sure I have a phone number, time and date correct on my calendar. Still, in the middle of the befuddling mysteries of the math universe that stump me... there are the tens! Clean, simple and uncomplicated are the tens.

Tens are divisible by 2 and 5... my other favorites.

More than 100 times this year... the sun has risen. Even when we couldn't see it, it was there.

More than 100 times this year... the sun has set, before I close my eyes to sleep.

More than 100 times this year... we have paused.. together... to offer up thanks.

This year... one hundred four days into the year... we find ourselves at the beginning of  "Holy Week".

On Palm Sunday - Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, significant because the king who arrives on a donkey comes in peace. They waved palm leaves and sang "Hosanna".

On Monday... what were the people thinking?

The church and civic leaders were feeling threatened and fearful.  This man of miracles was causing quite a stir. He was getting hard to ignore. People were drawn to him. They were following him. They were leaving their careers and families to be with him. His message of loving God and loving each other was not the same as other revolutionaries of the day... such as Barabbas. His message was one of serving, caring and forgiving. He was a mystery to those in power. He terrified them as much or perhaps more than Barrabas.

On this day in Holy Week - the officials were dealing with two "Sons of the Father". Jesus... and Barabbas. I just learned this recently. The name Barabbas is composed by “Bar” that means son and “abbas” that means father. He was literally named “son of a father”. Coincidences or confirmation of God’s sovereign plan.

Jesus...the son of the Father God sent on a rescue mission ... but I did not know that there was another perfect part of God's plan. It was the role of Barabbas.  The sinful son if the father would be set free. He would not be put to death for his sins. Pause and take that in!

Much of government,church sanctioned and Roman, saw both Jesus and Barabbas as insurgents. They were stirring up the people and rocking the norms of society. This from Mark 15:7-

"And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas."

Barabbas may have killed in cold hearted murder... or was he defending his cause? He may have... like many in times of government overthrows... taken what did not belong to him for the cause. I don't know... but I do know that was not who Jesus was and is. Jesus raised the dead, healed the lame, cast out demonic spirits and cured the lepers. His peaceful revolution terrified many more than Barabbas' ugly violence, because if Jesus rose to power, where would they be? Jobless? Powerless?

Jesus... guiltless... would die in Barabbas' place. And... in place of all who come to Him... to the foot of the cross...  with their sins to be forgiven and spared... they will die to self and be reborn with the cause of Christ upon their shoulders... no longer weighed down by the heavy cross of sin. We are... like Barabbas... set free!

Aren't we all "sons and daughters of of the father"? Aren't we all like Barabbas, set free and Jesus takes our place?

"But they all cried out together,“Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why?What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will." -Luke 23:18-25

On that day, Pilate to his wife's distress, delivered Jesus over to the "urgent, demanding and loud" will of the people. Government went with what was popular... not with what was right. Imagine that? But, that choice led to the fulfillment of scripture again and again. Prophecy becomes history... again and again.

Wow! Right? All the pieces come together during this Holy Week of events. It is the week that opened the gate for all to become the children of God. By the way... I forgot to ask God for a scripture this morning. They were coming fast to my head without that request. Well... he humbled me once again. This is His choice through a “verse of the day”:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.-Romans 5:6-8

Love never fails. Love always wins. We can't be "good enough". We have to be loved into the folds of His grace. But...our love must be reciprocal... not all God giving and us taking.

Reciprocal... like in math... where the equation gets balanced. We couldn't pay for our sins in a way to satisfy God's holiness. It is who HE IS. Holy and justice... but  . So, He became human. He balanced the equation so that we may become sons and daughters of the Living God... joint heirs with Jesus.

We must return to him with the gift of our hearts... and make our lives a living sacrifice to his will and his way. Does that sound scary? Truly, it is where life really begins, joy takes root and every day has meaning. It's pretty awesome!

Like the journey of 100 days or 2,295 days of Gratitude begins with a single step. So, does the journey to the foot of the cross.

One prayer confessing the knowledge that we all... including me.. sinners in need of a Savior. One prayer acknowledging Jesus as Lord and inviting him to wash away all of our sins and literally balancing the equation. What used to equal death... now equals eternal life. This world no longer holds us down.

The cross is our portal. His death and resurrection becomes our victory song. The believers’s death is a door.

Today, I am grateful for lessons from Holy Week.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Family Ties

Year 7-Day 103: Today, I am grateful for family ties.

“Family... the ties that bind and gag.” That is what someone once said. For us, getting to see Smith/Morgan family is always special. We try to savor every Precious minute of togetherness.

Holidays can be stressful for many. Easter is a week away and the meals are being planned. What matters most? Not the perfect ham or sunrise breakfast meal... it is the fellowship with family and our faith families as we prepare too celebrate the holiday that changed everything.

I am reminded of Jesus, the week before he faced the cross. His mother, the other Mary’s and Martha were all busy with Passover meals. The Seder meal that reminded the people of Israel of their journey to freedom. The sacrifice of the perfect lamb and the meal of bitter herbs and matzo.

Whose Matzo balls did Jesus prefer? No one knows for sure, but probably, his mother’s. Reflecting on the purely human moments in Jesus life always makes me pause.

He had a family, just like us. Perhaps, they were messy...  and meddlesome ... and wonderful, too.

Make the most of the moments!

Today, I am grateful for family ties.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Known Locations

Year 7-Day 102: Today, I am grateful I know where my wallet, glasses, keys and phone are at this moment. 

My friend, Connie, posted this and I laughed out loud. This is the story of my life. One of these things always seems to be missing. 

How does it happen so often? I am a creature of habit, but the coming home scenario changes at times based on frozen food, cold milk, a box at the front door or a dog that really needs to go out. In those moments, I carelessly set something down in the wrong place. 

There are times, something outside of "normal" interrupts set patterns of behavior. 

Jesus disciples had normal patterns of behavior that included Jesus.... all the time... every day. He was with them to teach and encourage. Suddenly, Jesus was gone. 

I cannot imagine how the disciples felt in the days after Jesus was crucified and taken to the tomb. Everything was wrong. Their world had been turned upside down. The must have felt lost and out of place. 

They gathered together in fear and in shared grief. They were broken and confused.Then, what was most precious and lost to them suddenly appeared!  Jesus was in their midst. 

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! -Luke 20:19-20

There sorrow turned to shock... and then joy! Jesus had conquered death. He had redeemed them with his blood. Suddenly, the world seemed right again. The men who left that upper room were different than the ones who had arrived. 

They no longer needed to grieve. What seemed lost had returned. Their gratitude and celebration overflowed. They rejoiced together. Their joy must have been full.  

Today, I am grateful I know where my wallet, glasses, keys and phone are at this moment.