Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Joy Has Deep Roots

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 212: Today, I am grateful joy has deep roots.

In farming, we learn young that deep roots make a difference when a dry spell happens. A good root system can be a game changer for a crop when drought occurs. Roots make a difference. 

Joy has deep roots. It is does not depend on circumstances that change like the wind. In one minute... actually... in one second, life can change. There are amazing highs and incredible lows. It is a matter of what we have, but who is with us on the journey. 

"She lived joyfully, not because here circumstances were joyful, but because she was joyful. -D.F. Uchtdorf

Make a joyful noise. Make a joyful contribution. Make a joyful moment. Even in the darkest days, joy has a way of bubbling up and offering us a "fresh breath", when Jesus is our source. The winds may blow, but there is peace and confidence in the one who commands the winds and the waves. 

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.-Romans 15:13

Today, I am grateful joy has deep roots.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Endless Mercy

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 211: Today, I am grateful for endless mercies fresh each morning.

This is a beautiful passage. So rich in the love, truth and hope found in knowing the God of the Universe, truly is present in our daily, ordinary lives. 

Every day we try. Every day... we blow it in some way. Still, His love endures.  He is our portion. He is our "enough". In Him there is a peace and a contentment that eludes a world that is wanton and desperate for more. 

Enough is such a beautiful thing. "The Lord is my portion." He is our enough. His mercy pours out and into our imperfections.  

A new day is a new beginning.  I adore the dawn of a new day. I hate to miss it. There is something holy in the moments before, during and right after the break of day. It is another chance to live for and with the One who was willing to give up heaven to know our trials, our hurts, our joys and our celebrations. 


they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  Today, I am grateful for endless mercies fresh each morning. -Lamentations 3:23-25 

Make today worthy of His gift. Make a moment. Make a memory. 

Today, I am grateful for endless mercies fresh each morning.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Thermal Cups

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 210: Today, I am grateful for cups that keep cold things cold and hot things hot. 

I love my thermal Tervis cups. I drink a ton of water during the day. I like it cold. My guys don't care as much. I know the body prefers the tepid water, but since water is my primary beverage... I prefer it my way. Cold. 

On the other hand... I like my coffee hot. Thermal cups are certainly the answer to keeping it that way. They are great for travel when I can't sip and enjoy my favorite hot beverage in leisure. Coffee is a necessity. 

As I began this quick post I wondered what scripture would apply? Then, it came in a flash.There is a passage in Revelation about how distasteful the lukewarm church is to God. It is one of the warnings in Revelation. 

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. -Revelation 3:14-16

If I can be picky about how I like things... as a mere human... is it any wonder that God is clear about His desires for his people and His church? Are we "Living In Laodicea"? Check out the old 80's song by Petra with that name. It is an oldie but a goodie. I don't want to be spit out. 

Today, I am grateful for cups that keep cold things cold and hot things hot. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Be Strange

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 209: Today, I am grateful we can be strange. 

"Be strange. Someone out there loves the person you hide." - unknown

Don't you just love it? It is true. The people that "get us" are so special and dear, but we hide from them trying to act like everyone else. 

Be silly.
Laugh hard. 

Make wishes on dandelion puffs.
Drink coffee any time... any where. 
Smell the clean laundry. 
Wrap yourself in the crisp, clean sheets.
Wear sandals until it snows.
Eat ice cream for breakfast.

Remember The Doors song "Strange". (Earworm just started singing it.) Embrace it, baby!


Strange is not an easy definition. It is defined by culture, values, sense of morality and experiences. When we seek Christ's face, we are often considered "strange". 

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,-Ephesians 2:19

We need to remember that we are not here to blend in with the world... as our citizenship now rests in heaven. We are here to lend a hand, light the way, share with those in need and to tell the Good News. Do not worry if people think you are strange. 

Today, I am grateful we can be strange. 



Saturday, July 27, 2019

Trains

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 208: Today, I am grateful for trains.

Trains changed travel. They shortened journeys and made cross country transportation possible and more comfortable. Independent travel grew and the itch to see more of the country spread with the locomotive. 

Even with all of the modern transportation options available, trains are still moving people from point A to point B. We use phrases such as "my train derailed", and most listeners know exactly what we mean. 

Sometime, I lose my train of thought and other times I can keep the train on track. Trains references continue because the landscape of America reflects that they are still in fashion. 

Freight trains are still moving goods from one place to another. They aren't glamorous, but they get the job done. 


Spiritually, staying on track can be a challenge in this world of distractions. Life can be overwhelming. Still, we know that God makes all things beautiful in his time. He has a plan. His schedule will be kept, although no man knows the day or the hour of his return. He won't come by train, but we are in training until that day arrives. We are told to be ready. 

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. -Matthew 24:36-42

It is hard to imagine that day when Christ returns, but train stations might give us a glimpse. The train waits for no one when the conductor makes that final call. My Dad always said we must be "paid up, prayed up and ready to go up." 

Today, I am grateful for trains.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Mature Love

image credit: Sujata Setia/But Natural Photography
Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 207: Today, I am grateful for mature love. 

Love that is young, fresh and new is sweet. It is magical. It is fun. 

Love that is well seasoned by years, stretched through life changes and weathered by a few storms is my favorite. It always has been. 

You see, I saw my Grandpa Harry  Lindgren fall in love again after my Dad's mother, Mable, died with cancer. She died when when I was two. I have a few strong memories of Mabel Daschner Lindgren... but for most of my childhood and young adult years Grandma Marge was the only "Grandma Lindgren" I really knew. She was the second chance at love for my Grandpa Lindgren. She tried to resist him, but that charming, chivalrous man wore her down. 

I've always said that Grandpa Lindgren was one of the first great loves of my life. He made me feel special and treasured. He was full of stories, mischief, laughter and fun... all woven into one smart, hardworking, humble, God-fearing man. They say you often marry a man like your Dad... but in truth... I think I married one like my Grandpa. 

Grandpa and Grandma Marge would hold hands. They would kiss. They looked out for each others needs... but their wants, too. Grandma didn't ask for much.... just visits with her children and grandchildren. 

Grandpa Harry made sure Grandma Marge had a good sewing machine and plenty of yarn for crochet. He conceded to her "fancy tables" at every holiday. The food was worth the fancy. She could cook!  (Yes, Dad and Uncle Mel had to deal with fancy dishes and multiple forks. They did... and they lived.) She would cook the cow tongue for Grandpa with a happy heart when a new cow went to butcher. (Sorry if that grosses anyone out, but I was raised believing it was a gift if Grandpa shared his cow tongue.) Love can be expressed in so many ways. Some of them are strange. All of them are beautiful.  

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 
-1 Corinthians 13:7

These qualities in love make all the difference. A love that endures... it is precious and priceless. 

 Today, I am grateful for mature love. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Crazy Ones



Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 206: Today, I am grateful for the crazy ones.

What? The "crazy ones" is a quote from an Apple commercial. Genius. Pure genius. You can see the commercial in the link below. 

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." -Apple Commercial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rwsuXHA7RA

To change the world takes courage. To think outside of the culture... out of the box... takes not just intelligence, but the ability to see there are possibilities beyond the what is familiar and comfortable. 

The Love of My Life and I recently took a short trip to an unfamiliar place. We used GPS to arrive safely at our destination. It was such a sci-fi moment when GPS first became available to the consumer market. What a difference it makes in our lives today. If you have a cell phone that has the internet access... you have GPS available with a simple connection.

Cell phones are the norm, not the exception. We can change providers and keep our old numbers, if we choose. There are so many choices for staying connected to our friends and family here and around the world. We are living in amazing times because the courageous could not stop pressing toward their dreams. 

I think about those who first heard about Jesus. His life, his miracles, his crucifixion and his resurrection. People were marked as crazy for following a carpenter's son from the humble town of Nazareth. But, those who encountered Him were never the same. 

What about Saul/Paul after his encounter with Jesus?  He acted like a madman according to those who witnessed him shortly after his Damascus road conversion. He had lived through a blinding and a healing. Let's take a look at the impact of his crazy conversion:

"Saul spent a few days getting acquainted with the Damascus disciples, but then went right to work, wasting no time, preaching in the meeting places that this Jesus was the Son of God. They were caught off guard by this and, not at all sure they could trust him, they kept saying, “Isn’t this the man who wreaked havoc in Jerusalem among the believers? And didn’t he come here to do the same thing—arrest us and drag us off to jail in Jerusalem for sentencing by the high priests?”
But their suspicions didn’t slow Saul down for even a minute. His momentum was up now and he plowed straight into the opposition, disarming the Damascus Jews and trying to show them that this Jesus was the Messiah." -Acts 9:20-22 (The Message)

But for Saul/Paul, there wasn't enough days left in his life to preach the gospel of the Good News and the hope found in His Jesus, The Messiah. He is our Jesus, too. To choose Christ...  and to follow his instructions to love our neighbor and our God... it looks foolish to many. Yet, for those who make the decision, the ancient way that seems less travel and a little nuts... it is in Him we find peace, joy, contentment and so much more.

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. -John 20:31

Today, I am grateful for the crazy ones.






Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Fonts

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 205: Today, I am grateful for fonts. 

I have a font problem. The Love-Of-My Life once questioned, "Are all of these fonts on the computer really necessary?" Being a wise man, he accepted my "Yes" and left it at that. I love him... and I love fonts. He chose not to press the issue. 

Creating Keepsakes had a program called "Fontastic". It had the vast selection of fonts on one CD. From cute and playful to regal and pompous, there was something for everyone. 
Literally... a font for every occasion

Of course, I had my favorites and I still use some of them today. Yes, I still have those fonts on my computer to this day. 

Helvetica is what I use to write daily gratitude posts ( http://fromvaleriesheart.blogspot.com/before I copy and past them to Facebook. Clean, fresh and good enough for most occasions. Helvetica translates cleanly into other fonts when a change is required.

Going beyond what is written in a text, the font chosen gives additional meaning to the communication. Is it formal or casual? Fonts give us clues....long before a story or letter is read. 

And the Lord answered me:“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. -Habakkuk  2:2                                                                                                  

Write it. Make it plain. 

Today, I am grateful for fonts.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Just Do It!

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 204: Today, I am grateful we can chose action. 

Do you think the people who create slogans for Nike are Bible readers? It struck me that there is scripture that has all the makings of a sports slogan:

Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”-Ezra 10:4

Just do it! Don't mess around. Don't waste time. Don't make excuses. Just do it! "Be strong" rings a familiar bell, too. 

There are times we are called to action. There are times we know a task needs to be completed and we procrastinate. Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. 

It is a great day to get things done. 

Today, I am grateful we can chose action. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Past Is Dead

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 203: Today, I am grateful for the past is dead. 

"If you don't let the past die, then it won't let you live." 

We can beat ourselves up with "should ofs" and "could ofs" but the past is just that... the past. 

We can learn from mistakes, but don't have to tattoo them on our minds, carry them on our shoulders or etch them into our hearts. We can be free of the burden of regret. 

Paul is my favorite on this topic. I smile everytime I am reminded that God say Saul's passion and boundless energy when he was killing Christians. Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and started the process of Saul/Paul changing teams. Saul/Paul never dreamed he would end up on Team Jesus, but he did. In fact, he would be one of the reasons the Gospel would spread, in spite of the opposition from so many different places. 

Paul relished the grace and mercy that Jesus poured into his life. He was a new man. The old was dead and gone. 

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. -Corinthians 15:10

Not without effect!  Don't you love that? 

Yes, he worked hard to make his life a daily offering. He was passionate and tireless in pursuing the work of "The Great Commission." He was perfectly imperfect, as he offered the shapeless clay of his life to the Master Potter. We can learn so much from Paul's example.

Yesterday's gone. Learn what you can, but don't let old failures cast shadows on today's mission. Seek the Son and follow the sun. 

Today, I am grateful for the past is dead. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Places We Choose

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 202: Today, I am grateful for the places we choose to stay.

I heard a new quote today:
"You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." — Joan Didion

Read it again:
"You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." 
That is serious business. 

Sometime, it is so much easier to leave. To walk away and wash your hands of the entire mess. Still, there are times we know we must choose to stay. To walk through the hard and come out the other side. 

Walking through the fires of life is not easy, but it is refining. We were never, ever promised the path would be easy; we were promised we would never be alone. 

Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20 

Always. 

I can't help but think of Jesus when he faced the cross. He knew Judas would betray him. He knew the cross was ahead of him. He knew his friends would fail him. He knew there would be pain, suffering and times he felt alone. He knew offering his life in service and in sacrifice would change everything. 

He chose the place he would not walk away from. From the Upper Room... to Gethsemane ... to the kangaroo court where he was convicted of a crime he didn't commit... to the cross on a hill known as Golgotha to pay for the sins that were not his own.

We have to pick the places we don't walk away from. Even when the path is hard. Even when the fires are burning. Even when it seems hope is lost. We are never alone.

Today, I am grateful for the places we choose to stay.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Swimming Pools

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 201: Today, I am grateful for swimming pools. 


It is hot! Sweltering hot! Weather advisory hot! There is joy in the relief that a swimming pool brings to a hot and weary body. 

My kids are spoiled... but grateful... they were raised with our best friends having a pool in their backyard. And then... our neighbors had one, too. The public pool was never a big draw from them. They didn't like the crowds. They had the people they knew best to share their summer days. What a sweet treat is was. We made forever memories. We are still making memories at Club Leander. 


I can't imagine having no way to cool off in the extreme heat, but many are at risk in these days of temperatures in the 90's and climbing. It is good to check on elderly neighbors and the sick. They may need some assistance. 

Our power has been out a couple of times this summer. We are grateful the problem appears to be fixed, just in time for the heatwave. Even with the comforts of air conditioning, there is something special about a dip in the pool. Perhaps, it is because so many senses are impacted. The touch of the cool water, the warmth of the sun, the scent of all things green and chlorine... and the giggles that go along with a splash.  A pool is one of the highlights of summer.

I can't help but think of the poor, lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Every time the healing waters bubbled... he couldn't get there fast enough to be the one healed. Then he encountered Jesus. It is recorded in the Gospel of John:

"Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days.  Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches.  Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed!" - John 5:1-9 

"Would like to get well?"  That is like asking if a person worn out by the heat if they would like a dip in the pool.  Yes! Yes! And, again, "Yes"!  

Rest, respite and restoration come through Jesus when we put our trust in him and bathe ourselves in the wonders of his love, mercy and grace. Do we relish His mercies like we do a cool swim on a hot day? 

Today, I am grateful for swimming pools... and Jesus. 



Friday, July 19, 2019

Overcomers

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 200: Today, I am grateful we can be overcomers.

Every life has rough seasons. Some are brief and other seem to go on forever. Isn't it good to know that we are never alone in our journey! Even when it feels like we are fighting an uphill battle, He keeps us from falling. He is our strength when our human strength reaches its limit. 

The way the scriptures read... our Lord would prefer we put our full trust in Him from the start. He wants to be present in our trials and tribulations. He is greater than anything the world throws at us. 

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4

Moses overcomes his speech problems. Esther overcomes the temptation to rely on make up and finery to impress the king. Joseph overcomes the trials in Egypt and saves his family. Those are big examples of God moving in the midst of the people, but he moves in tiny... yet mighty... ways, every single day. 

Prayer keeps the communication lines open.                                                                                                                                                                                         
Today, I am grateful we can be overcomers.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Abigail

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 199: Today, I am grateful for Abigail Davis... who stole my baby's heart. 

In the next year, I will gain another daughter by law... but already in love. They both have July birthdays. They both have "Davis" in there family tree. Today is Abi's birthday. She is a sweet reason to celebrate. 

She is loving and tender with Walker's heart. She is hard working, kind and compassionate. She is beautiful, too.  She is thoughtful. She loves animals... all of them... and would rescue every one if she could. She will make an amazing nurse when she finishes her studies. 

Love isn't something we "fall" into. It is a conscious decision to love an imperfect person every day... day after day. In marriage... we are blessed to have that person loves us back with the same eyes, full of love, honor and forgiveness every single day. 

We love how she loves our baby boy. Again, Song of Songs 6:3 is perfect: "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine." 

Abigail is a sweet reason to celebrate. 

Today, I am grateful for Abigail... who stole my baby's heart. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Zucchini Season

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 198: Today, I am grateful for zucchini season. 

Zucchini squash is a wonderfully versatile vegetable. It can work as a side dish or be turned into a main meal. It is delightful in zucchini breads with just enough cinnamon to wake up our senses to the promise of fall. Zucchini is a vegetable that grows in abundance. 

We have someone at church with an ample garden. On Sunday mornings, it is not unusual to see vegetables for the taking at the door when we leave. We've already enjoyed two cucumbers earlier in the week, and tonight some summer squash. The sign says - "Please take"... with no signature to give the gardener credit. I am grateful for their generous heart and the vegetables they labored and watered to provide. 

The poor zucchini has become a joke because it is a such a huge producer. The more you give away, the more fruitful the vines become. Do we sometimes, in real life, complain about abundance? We do. Crazy, right? Human nature lends itself to readily jumping on the complain train. 

For 40 years, God provided for the people of Israel in the desert. Manna, quail and water. They what they needed. Not always what they wanted, but God provided from them abundantly. Their sandals never wore out. 

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. -2 Corinthians 9:8 

Our God still generously provides for His children. Sometimes, we have left overs to share.

Today, I am grateful for zucchini season.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Original Compositions

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 196: Today, I am grateful life is an original composition.  

Yes!  You are an original! So, am I. Even identical twins have things about them that are unique. Every day we get up and write a new stanza to our lifesong. 

Everyone is going to hit some wrong notes along the way. It is how we learn what works and what doesn't. It doesn't mean we should stop or give up. 

We can learn so much when we hit a wrong note... and practice is the best way to achieve excellence. Perfect moments are rare, but the more we practice, the fewer the mistakes we make. Our unique composition becomes more joyful and confidence grows on the journey.

"Everyone hits a couple of wrong notes. Keep playing your song." -Bob Goff


What happens when we hit the wrong note? We cringe, right? Some people quit. Some give up the piano because it takes to much effort to get it right. Isn't that sad? Fear of mistakes leads some to give up the music of life. That is one way of defining tragedy. 

Jesus always seemed to be pausing to take in those around him with unique stories. He made the time for the intersect and changed lives as people believed and received. 

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.  -Psalm 40:3

Be an original. 

Today, I am grateful life is an original composition.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Interruptions

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 195: Today, I will choose to be grateful for the interruptions.

This articulate quote resonated deeply with my soul today. 

"When she finds herself overwhelmed by interruptions and distractions in life, she takes a deep breath and turns her focus to the present moment where she asks her Father, 'What do you want me to learn here? What do you want me to see?' For she knows it is here, in this unexpected place, He will calm her mind and give her peace." -Morgan Harper Nichols

Wow! Right? I often pray "What do You want me to learn?" but praying for clearer vision is equally important. 

Interruptions and distractions are inevitable in life. They can easily lead to "me" thoughts. "Me" thoughts can turn very selfish. To love Jesus and others better, we must pray for clearer vision. We must look for the needs around us, beyond our personal agendas. They are often our "God appointments" for the day. 


In 2016, I chose "vision" as my one little word for the year. This scripture became a life verse that is now etched on my heart. 

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.-Habakkuk 2:2 

What do we write down and carry with us? Did you know that for many, the act of writing something down helps the human mind retain it? It is like the grocery list you write out, but forget at home. Often, our minds can tap into that memory because it was written down. 

In 2016, my one little word was "vision". I spent the year learning "Vision clears in a grateful heart." (Daily Gratitude, Year 2) It really does. When I learn to be grateful for the interruptions and distractions, my real mission becomes more clear. 

Ear Worm is awake and singing Amy Grant's song from the 80's, "In A Little While". I have always loved this song. It taught me to look for good, the more and the better through life's bumps and bruises. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY-k2hnIE7E

"We're just here to learn to love Him... we'll be home in just a little while."  

Look for the lesson. Look for opportunities to lean into His grace by being present in another's trials... and their joys. 

Today, I will choose to be grateful for the interruptions.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Stay Free

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 194: Today, I am grateful we can stay free. 

What does it mean to be free and stay free? For those of us in the USA, freedom is something highly valued and fiercely defended. Still, there must be laws and guidelines to help us live peacefully and fruitfully with the people around us. 

Some laws are nuts. There are some strange laws in my state of Illinois. A few will make you say "What?". Take a peak:

https://www.pantagraph.com/entertainment/the-weirdest-laws-in-illinois/collection_cd8ecb82-0f89-57bd-8f08-34b86f8ee192.html#16


Don't make soap in Normal, IL without a license and don't pee on the street signs. Both are illegal. If you live in Galesburg, you can't keep a smelly dog. Smelly cats are, apparently, allowed. Who comes up with these laws? Most of them have a very old history, that at the time, made perfect sense. 

Today, if you get a soap making kit for Christmas and you live in Normal, I don't think you will be arrested... but the law still stands. You may still be arrested for peeing on a street sign. This behavior is as frowned on today as much as it was 100 years ago. Laws are created, most of the time, with the general public's best interest in mind (not always... but most of the time). 

When we consider our freedom in Christ, I love this verse:

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. -Galatians 5:1

What ties us up and steals our joy in Jesus. He died to free us? Then, again, Jesus clearly stated that he didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill its purpose:

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. -Matthew 5:16-18

He knew the law. He understood God's holy and just nature demanded blood for the atonement of sins. The part of his nature that is love came up with the solution. He took on human skin but maintained his divine nature so that he could be the perfect lamb to set us free from the exhausting labor of attempting keep the law perfectly. We have a loving Heavenly Father who would not give up on his rebellious children. Love found a way. 

The scripture declares that He wants us to "stay free"!  Do we tie ourselves in knots over the legalism? We are called to live our lives as an offering...holy and acceptable to the Lord our God. (Romans 12:1) Being free of the law is not permission to live without laws or boundaries. Humans needs limits and boundaries. They help us love each other more fully and they help us reflect God's love. But when the choice comes down to extending the law or extending love. Jesus always choose love. 

The instruction is to not be so caught up in the legalism that we put our trust in the law to make us right with God. If that worked as a plan... Jesus died for nothing. 

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” -Galatians 2:21

We are free!  Grace upon grace. Morning after morning. Savor it. Cherish it. Let it set a fire that burns in our souls that drives us to share this amazing gift with others. 


Today, I am grateful we can stay free. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Paint Brush

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 193: Today, I am grateful for the power of a paint brush. 

It seems many in my world were using paint brushes or rollers today. A paint brush is such a small, low tech tool... but it can do amazing things. The success lies in the imagination of the one who holds it in their hand. 

Not everyone is feels comfortable creating pictures with paints and a brush, some stain decks and paint rooms. The mighty little paint brush is full of possibilities.  

We are full of potential, too. 

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

We don't always need to have a set plan. It is more important to simply get started. Flexibility when life hands plot twists makes a world of difference. We can't always change our circumstances, but we can choose our attitudes and how we respond. In other words... we can't always choose the paints... but we get to choose the paint brush. 

Today, I am grateful for the power of a paint brush. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Good To The Last Drop

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 192: Today, I am grateful for things that are "good to the last drop".

This is Boone the Raccoon. He has adopted my friend, Denise, and her family. She has a constant stream of wildlife that join her more domesticated animals and they act outside of nature, based on relationships. She recently posted the cutest video of Boone and the cat playing in the yard. It isn't unbelievable or strange... it is life with the Varners. 

If you know Denise... she is full of warmth, love and life. It is no wonder God's creatures, human and animal... great and small...want to be her friend. Her animal menagerie is an excellent of example of how love changes everything. She has opossum, raccoon, chicken, cat and the dog acting like family because she loves them all.  Her love changes everything.It is the lesson I don't want to miss. 

Love does change everything. It makes our sorrows softer and our joys fuller. Love unites, it doesn't divide. It strengthens our hearts in the hard times and it makes us more gentle, even when we are angry or disappointed. Real love is a priceless gift. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

Do we fully embrace what it means to be fully forgiven and deeply loved? Can we even imagine Christ's sacrifice that cost him his blood... until the last drop fell and he proclaimed, "It is finished."? My human mind still struggles to fully understand his grace, but I know that it is good... and full ... and enough. 

Enjoy the snapshot of Boone. (Thanks Denise!) He is fully embracing the goodness of the moment. 

Today, I am grateful for things that are "good to the last drop".