Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Gift of Life

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 304: Today, I am grateful for the gift of life.


Not every day is a good day.. but every day has gifts. I love the dawn of a new day or the start of a new year when birthdays roll around. 

Today, I wanted to thank everyone individually for the amazing birthday wishes, but I don't think I will have the time. I am always overwhelmed by the affection and love shared at birthdays. To simply be alive, truly is a gift. So many of our loved ones are battling some serious health issues right now, it reminds me to not complain about the daily aches and pains. 

Today, I was reminded by the most amazing Jr High staff of what it means to embrace life with love and humility as they all dressed up for the annual staff Halloween competition. The camaraderie between students and staff is really special. Creativity, ingenuity and some acting skills made it an especially great day to be alive. 

Today, cherished neighborhood children rang the bell for "trick-or-treat" and a special little boy named Elias came by car to collect some candy, hugs and kisses. 

Today, I know our days are numbered, but that is no reason for dismay. In fact, the opposite is true. We can live fully in these days, because we are redeemed for eternity. Our debt paid in full. Another reason to celebrate. 

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—    how fleeting my life is." -Psalm 39:4

I am thankful for this day. 
I am reminded our purpose is to reflect His glory. 

Today, I am grateful for the gift of life.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Autumn Sun

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 303: Today, I am grateful for autumn sun.

Sun in the summer days is expected... and at times lamented, when the heat becomes blistering. In the fall, the sun is cherished and sought after for its heat and the feeling we get when we see the sun break through to warm the day. There is nothing quite like autumn sun, because instead of bringing new life, it sustains it for a few more days. We know winter is coming. 

We may see the first snow on Halloween in more than 100 years. It might even be inches. The weather can be a constant source of surprise to us, but not to God. He alone knows the power in every storm and the splendor of every sunset. The night and day belong to Him... the wind, the snow and the starlight. 

Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun. -Psalm 74:16

We can fret about the winter coming or we can savor the autumn sun that makes the trees appear to be burning without a true fire. Take in the wonder of it all. 

Today, I am grateful for autumn sun.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Changing Leaves

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 302: Today, I am grateful for the changing leaves on display. 

The threat of snow is upon us. We have done it again. It seems we skip a real fall and jump too quickly into winter. I refuse to not take a moment to pause and take in the wonder of the changing leaves. It is the midwest at its best. 

We drove into Peoria tonight. There is a stretch of I-74 in East Peoria that is picture perfect this time of year. The trees are simply spectacular. The splendor of it all is beyond what the human mind could ever imagine. I can't help but see God's thumbprint everywhere in autumn's showy display. I adore fall. 

There is a unique beauty in the leaves that close to letting go. They are waiting for their final dance as they float to the ground in what might be described as nature's ballet. The show always seems to be over too soon, but the memory is sweet.

"Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy." -Psalm 96:12

That is perfect language. The trees are singing. 

Today, I am grateful for the changing leaves on display. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Ordinary arts

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 301: Today, I am grateful for the ordinary arts we practice every day. 

Simple acts of kindness are more valuable than they appear on the surface. 

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." -Thomas Moore

The tiniest acts of kindness can echo into eternity. People often underestimate the impact of a kind word or a little encouragement. People remember how you made them feel. 

One of the New Testament resurrections was a woman named, Tabitha. She was always doing kind things for others. Her death was a loss to the community. Many grieved... but then she received a healing... a resurrection. She would live to continue her daily walk of living in love. Her ordinary acts made her stand out. 

"There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor." -Acts 9:36

Acting in love and kindness was who Tabitha was. It wasn't an act but a lifestyle. How do we grow these every day skills? One day at a time. Practicing hospitality and serving others will create change. 

Today, I am grateful for the ordinary arts we can practice every day. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Stories Behind the Songs

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 300: Today, I am grateful for the stories behind the songs.

I adore ballads. Story songs have been my favorite from childhood.  I cut my teeth on Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash. For some songs, the song is the story. On the other hand, the best songs almost always have stories behind them that touch us in places we don't always share. Soul illuminating lyrics that make us feel something beyond the words. A prime example is Bart Millard's "I Can Only Imagine". 

Many know Danny Gokey from American Idol. He has built a career in Christian music. His first American Idol audition was only a month after his young wife died after what should have been a fairly routine heart surgery for someone with congenital heart disease. Her survival rate was 90%. She fell into the 10% who did not make it. Devastation is not just a word... it is a place visited in our darkest moments. God is there in the hard stuff, but it still hurts. 

Flash forward to this interview from 2015. 6 year past his greatest grief of losing his wife... and this song comes his way. It came from a songwriter who witnessed an open heart surgery. That alone would grab Danny's heart, but listen to the whole story. It is worth a few minutes. 

The Great Physician is enough. We lack nothing. Dark and light cannot co-exist. Light always destroys darkness. God wins. 

Job (Job 9:32-35), breathless and broken, begged God for a mediator. Someone to plea for mercy before the Father. God always answers our prayers, but in his own time. Jesus came... and then he sent the Holy Spirit when he returned to heaven to be our comforter and constant companion. "I am with you always."

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you." -John 14:16-17

We can get through the hardest days because we are never alone. We can survive the darkest night when His love crashes in to illuminate our trial with his love and faithfulness. We can tell our hearts to beat again. 

Enjoy the video. 

Today, I am grateful for the stories behind the songs.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Mint Tea


Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 299: Today, I am grateful for mint tea. 


Harney & Sons Peppermint Herbal Tin, 20 Count

A cup of mint tea makes me think of Mama, Uncle Lee, my sister April and Laurie Jean (my sweet college roommate). Mint tea is good for what ails you. It settles the stomach and warms the soul. 

For me... it is the taste and the memories evoked that keep me restocking the cupboard. The tea pictured is as close as I have found to what Laurie and I shared in our college days. 

A shared cup of tea is a social behavior that dates back to ancient times. Not only is it good for you, it is an act of hospitality that is simple, but memorable. Mint is one of my favorites, for the flavor and the memories. 

I am reminded of the words of Jesus about the value in offering hospitality to strangers as well as friends. 

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home."-Matthew 25:35

This cold, rainy day is a perfect day for mint tea. I am heading to enjoy a cup as soon as I hit "post". 

Today, I am grateful for mint tea. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pie

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 298: Today, I am grateful for pie.

Pie. I think this is a first. Another neglected gratitude after almost 7 years. It should be on my "once a year" list like heat, air conditioning and clean water. I love pie. 

Mama Ina Mae could make a mean pie crust back in the day. She made pies for special events and every holiday. A good pie crust in the feel, not the measurements. Lard makes exceptional pies but there are other ways. If using shortening, it should be Crisco. Always remember to not work the dough or it will get stiff. Pie crust is an art. 

Mama was good at it. I have sweet memories of her covered in flour, just like the kitchen island as she rolled out the dough. Dad loved pie. Cherry, Pineapple (Uncle Lee's favorite), pecan and pumpkin were most common. Peach, lemon meringue, apple and blueberry, too. Then... there were the rhubarb pies that made us swoon when the rhubarb was ready to harvest from the patch behind the Morton building. Pies never lasted long around the farm table or at potluck meals. 

The Love-of-my-Life surprised us with a Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch pie tonight. We shared it with our Friday night crew, which is good because I have very little self control when it comes to that particular Confectionary pie. Our little hometown bakery has mastered the art of pie! Their coconut cream is another family favorite.  The thing about pie... there is a pie for just about every palate. 

God gave us the fruits of the trees to eat and enjoy. They are a blessing mentioned in the scriptures. The blessing is tied to obedience:

"Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed." -Deuteronomy 28:5

When fruit is plentiful, a great way to use it is making a pie. 

Today, I am grateful for pie.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Five Minutes Peace

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 297: Today, I am grateful for five minutes peace.

There is something so amazing about five minutes of peace. The uninterrupted moments of quiet are not easily won in this world of the never ending "busy". 

The image is from a book by Jill Murphy that we had when the children were small. The Mother Elephant could not find five minutes to call her own. Every mother knows, even in the bathroom, it can be hard to find sanctuary. 

The children grow up to fast and the house is not as noisy as it used to be, but that does not mean peace is more easily found. With technology everywhere, we may feel as if we are never alone. Information, music (which I love), timers, beepers, text alerts, buzzers and more are a part of our daily lives. It can all be quite alarming at times. 

A little sanctuary is good for the spirit, mind and soul. 

"But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." -Luke 5:16

Jesus modeled it. We are made in His image. He walked in our skin and understands the demands of daily human life. He savored the times he could slip away uninterrupted to pray and spend savor a quiet moment. We, too, benefit from peace and quiet. 

 Today, I am grateful for five minutes peace.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lessons Learned in the Band

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 295: Today, I am grateful for lessons learned in the band. 

Back in the day, we thought we were pretty cool when we made a Superman shield in marching band as we played the movie theme. Wow. The bar keeps getting raised higher and higher. 

Is it too much?
Can it even be done?
Will the judges hate it?
Can we get the pieces to all fit together?
Can every student rise to meet the challenge... because every member counts?
No one sits on the bench in band. 

Take a peek at our MHS band program in this video. Music is a theme this week. It speaks to the soul when words fail, and it can lift a student up and beyond their self determined limitations. When you join the band... you have to be "all in". It is exhausting for students and parents. 

Students learn to balance intense practices with the demands of high school academics. It isn't easy, but for those who return every season, it is worth it.  This year's show was "Candy Land". You get a glimpse of it here. 

https://vimeo.com/368161673?fbclid=IwAR3VhT-HmHEh8Gk7b27v080c9RNSA4LoVRJAuHq_oXKMRQfkYxkl7me4uMM

One of the things they take away is that there is value in being a small part of something bigger than yourself. Each one has to move, march and play their instrument... giving their peak performance... at each event or competition. But they are all a part of a body with a common goal. 

It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. "1 Corinthians 12:11-13

Like the band, we each have strengths, gifts, talents and weaknesses. Alone, we are limited, but together, we can be shine the light of Christ that impacts lives far and wide. We can lift each other up, encourage... and even carry when one finds the load too heavy. We can teach and learn in a community. It is good. 

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Words Fail & Music Speaks

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 294: Today, I am grateful when words fail... music speaks.

My friend, Clara Jo, shared this image with me. The girl knows my heart. Isn't it a great image? The message and the graphic are a perfect combination. 

Music speaks to our souls. It impacts our moods. It can inspire or create a sense of calm reverence. In every season, music ministers at times words fail. 

"You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!" - Isaiah 55:12

The mountains and the hill will burst into song and the trees will clap their hands. There is a unique music in the Midwest autumn as the fall colors brilliantly proclaim the glory of the Lord. The leaves sing of summer's colors one last time before they take their final bow... and dance to the earth for winter's rest.

"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." -Colossians 3:16

We are to sing with happy hearts... full of gratitude. 
We can sing when words fail. 

One of the songs that comes to mind is "10 Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord Oh My Soul)'.

Today, I am grateful when words fail... music speaks.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Marriage Union

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 293: Today, I am grateful for the marriage union.

I am blessed to have a good guy to call my own. He still makes my heart skip a beat and he keeps me laughing. I find that in this season of life, I appreciate even more the many ways we work together toward common goals. Life doesn't slow down because the kids are grown. 

I loved this quote:

"Marriage was never meant to be a power struggle. It was meant to be a power union." -John & Lisa Bevere

Yes... a power union not a power struggle. A lovely image appears in my head as I consider what that means. We are joined together in a marriage because two are better than one. We were designed for relationships... first with God and the with each other. 

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.-Ecclesiastes 4:9

We should savor the relationships that make us better, stronger, wiser and more patient. Marriage is one of those relationships... and it needs attention and care. I know I am guilty of letting the calendar get too full or overcommitting. The Love of My Life is a patient soul. Together is still my favorite place to be. 

Today, I am grateful for the marriage union.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

We Can Do Hard Things

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 292: Today, I am grateful we can do hard things.

"I've never met a strong person with an easy past." 

Great quote. Source unknown. The truth is timeless. We learn to survive hard things by experiencing some tough stuff along the way. 

Most of us don't sign up for the hard things. In this fallen, imperfect world where sickness and evil are present... difficulties happen. They arrive unexpected and unwelcome... but they arrive.

God gave us stewardship over the earth, but that is not control. He set the earth the perfect distance from the sun for human life and set the moon and stars in place to guide the night. We can love and care for the earth's lands and oceans, but he determines their width, their depths and the rains. He is God. We are not.

He allows things to happen that we do not understand, but it doesn't mean he is absent or disinterested. He is sovereign and that can be tough to swallow. Still, I am old enough to know that today's disappointments and struggles, may be His hand at work in ways we will never understand. Especially, in the moments of discouragement and life disruptions. His plans are not revealed to us like a fortune cookie. 

His heart longs for us to return to him. Does he allow a crisis to get our attention? I will not pretend to know the mind of God. In fact, I know well that I cannot fathom the wisdom of His ways. I simply long to trust him with my days... all of them. The good ones...and the difficult ones, too

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." -Psalm 51:12

"...  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:20

The hard days and nights will come and go, but He will never abandon his children. Everytime we get through something hard, we are better prepared for the next trial. Press on. Press through. Press into the shelter of His mighty and comforting hand. 

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

All things... even hard things.

Today, I am grateful we can do hard things.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Salt Water Cures

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 291: Today, I am grateful for salt water cures.

This little quote struck a sweet chord today. Salt water is good for whatever ails you. 

Do you know a cure for me?"
"Why yes," he said, "I know a cure for everything. Salt water."
"Salt water?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said, "in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.” — Karen Blixen

Hard work, a good cry... or the beach. 

We had the joy of watching a special young couple take sacred vows today. They are heading to the beach for their honeymoon. Perhaps, that is why this quote jumped out. A beach sounds so lovely as our temperatures are dropping. It will be a perfect place to relax after all the hustle and bustle of a wedding. 

There is a time and a season for everything. Today was full of happy. But a life well lived will result in a few tears, too. Whether we are dancing in the waves out of pure joy or pressing through sad days... salt water is good for the soul. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. -Romans 12:15

Today, I am grateful for salt water cures.

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Way in the Wilderness

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 290: Today, I am grateful for a way in the wilderness.

God is awesome every day, but I forget to pause and take in the wonder of His power. I am in awe of our access to the throne room of a living God, who is waiting to spend time with us. We need to simply be still.

When we pray "Thy will be done", we are bowing to God's sovereign plan. Sovereign means his plan... not ours. Even if we don't understand or like the plan, he has promised to be with us on the journey. Always!

He never promised it would be easy; the promise is that we would not be alone or forsaken. He knew the feeling of forsaken when he hung on the cross alone. He does not want that for us... ever! Not in our celebrations or in our sorrows. "Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15) 

When God is up to something, sit back and watch him go. 
Look at this verse:

"Remember not the former things,  nor consider the things of old.Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people" -Isaiah 43:18-20

This might get confusing but bear with me. God literally "made a way in the desert" for Moe and Valerie. Long before Moe's pancreatic cancer diagnosis, silently God was at work weaving friendships that have lasted a lifetime. 

The image is of my friend, Moe. His beautiful wife, Valerie, took this picture. Valerie was in my sister's class in school and Moe was in mine. A year ahead of Moe (and me) was a guy named Tom who married one of my dearest friends, Lana. Lana's sister, Diana, was close friends with Valerie, Moe's wife.(You can re-read to catch up) Tom and Moe played football together at Central High School in Clifton, IL. Tom (& Lana) & Moe (& Valerie) both came to the Peoria are and lived in neighboring apartments as newlyweds right here in our little village of Morton. When Moe and Valerie needed to move to Bloomington, Randy and I took over their lease. I remember thinking God had a hand in that... and he did. 

32 years later... God still writing this story of friendship and faith. 
("Earworm is singing "God's not done writing our story".)

Today, Moe and Valerie live in Texas. Tom and Lana call the Peoria area home. Moe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and needed treatment at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. It so happens that about 18 months ago, Tom and Lana bought a vacation home in Arizona, near the Mayo Clinic. The house was currently empty. Tom and Lana offered Moe and Valerie a place to stay while he had surgery and whatever treatment was necessary. They would not have to get a hotel! Talk about their gratitude cup overflowing!!! 

God literally made a way in the desert... with clean water and comfy beds... and the luxury of a home where your dog and kids can stay, too. 

Moe's surgery was on Monday. Pancreatic cancer is not the cancer diagnosis anyone wants to hear, but Moe was diagnosed earlier than some because his caregivers at home knew what to look for as markers. The diagnosis feels weighty, but people have been praying without ceasing. Yesterday they received this word from the Mayo Clinic care team:
"No evidence of disease!" 

Yes... Moe will not need chemo or radiation. He sees the doctor next week for post surgical assessment and then every three months. Read it again. "No evidence of disease!" 

More than a place to stay to rest and recover, God moved in a mighty way. Moe and Valerie have claimed every small miracle along the way, from early diagnosis to housing in Arizona. 

Big... bold... beautiful...bountiful blessings from above. Coincidence that it all came together perfectly? Okay, believe that if you want to, but I know it was and is a God thing. He never fails. He is always good, even when life is hard.

He's been writing this story for more than forty years. 

Today, I am grateful for a way in the wilderness.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A "Kindtober" Challenge

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 290: Today, I am grateful we can make it a "Kindtober".

I just saw this list and I love it. I wish I had found it sooner. It could be adapted for November, too or simply use it as a kindness countdown to Thanksgiving. What if more of the world was intentionally kind? It would change everything. 

The greedy are never satisfied. Those who selflessly and humbly pour out kindness on those around them never seem to run out and the feel blessed, even if they have very little in material wealth. Truth? 

There is joy in giving. Paul spoke of this joy in his letters to the Corinthians:

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. -2 Corinthians 9:11-12

The temperatures are starting to drop. It seems as the days turn colder, the needs around us become more evident. It doesn't cost much to be kind. We simply have to make the time. 

Today, I am grateful we can make it a "Kindtober".

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Answered Prayers

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 289: Today, I am grateful for answered prayers. 

These past weeks have been full of constant prayers. Sometimes the load seems heavy, but we must never forget that our God hears and answers prayers. 

Life in Christ does not mean we will always be spared the tough stuff. I does mean we are never alone. We are a body of believers and together we find his answers are sometimes "yes"... sometimes "no"... and sometimes it is "wait for my best".

In all of our seasons, we are given this instruction:


Never stop praying. -1 Thessalonians 5:17

This has been a week of answered prayers. It will be a post that I don't have time to write today, but it will come. Tonight, I find the old hymn "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" is running through my head, along with the newer worship song " Savior. He can move the mountains. He is mighty to save. He is mighty to save" 

The cup of hope overflows. 

Even when it seems God is far away or even silent... he is always up to something. 


Today, I am grateful for answered prayers. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Alarms

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 288: Today, I am grateful for alarms.

I rarely use one, but I always have one set... just in case. My brain is programmed that if I decide on a time and repeat the pattern, I don't typically need my alarm. In fact, I usually wake up before it goes off... even if I lay in bed waiting for it to sound. My Dad did the same thing and my brother, Matthew, too. 


Alarms can create stress, but they keep us on track, too. In the kitchen, alarms are essential. Some baked goods require a precise amount of time at the correct temperature for the best results. Cooking you can do with a smidge, a dash and a handful... baking requires us to be more exact. 

"Sound the alarm" is a cry for help or assistance. We have an alarm system in place in most public buildings, and some have them in private homes. Safety first, right? Alarms let us know it is time to flee a dangerous situation. 


If you watch the creatures of air and fields, they seem to have their own alarm system, too. If we watch them, we can be alerted to danger and even weather changes. As humans, we can become easily distracted and engrossed in things that are not to our benefit... and those things do not help us further the gospel. 

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." -Romans 12:2-3

Honest self evaluation, humility and sincerity help us transform into "new people"; full of His Spirit and ready to answer any who ask about the hope we have in Him. Sound the alarm. Our God is still active, present, near and waiting. Are we ready?

Today, I am grateful for alarms.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Yeshua

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 287: Today, I am grateful for the name Yeshua. 

I read Ted Dekker's Books 33AD and 30AD. They are set in the time of Jesus ministry and crucifixion. They are fiction, but they are filled with the culture and customs of the time when Jesus walked the earth in human form. In the book, they referred to Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. 

The books were good, but it is the intimacy that seems to come with thinking of Jesus as "Yeshua" that has stuck with me beyond the reading of the books. 

The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning "to deliver; to rescue." 

I love how the name falls off the tongue. Speaking His name always brings a sense of peace, but his name in Hebrew... it calms my soul. Yeshua. What a beautiful name it is! 

This day has had it's share of troubles for loved ones near and far. We were not promised an easy path, but we were instructed to seek his face every morning and at every bend in the road. Life's path is not always easy, but we are not abandoned or forgotten. 

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. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. -2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Where there is trouble, Yeshua is near. Where there are questions, Yeshua will lead us in The Way we should go. When we feel marked for trouble, our God does not abandon us. When we suffer... Yeshua is with us. When we die to self, we are born again into a new way of living. Life with Yeshua... life in Yeshua... it is where we find peace and rest. 

Today, I am grateful for the name Yeshua. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Burn The Ships

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 286: Today, I am grateful we can "burn the ships".

This year, my one little word has been burning. I still have much to learn. 

The idea of "burning" came up today in a relatively new "For King and Country" song. The name of the song is "Burn The Ships". 

The phrase origin goes back to 1519, when Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz. He instructed his men to "burn the ships". He wanted it made very clear that there would be no turning back. The would be committed to the mission before them. Quitting to return home was no longer an option. They had to forget what was behind them and press on into the unknown. 

Our faith walk can be like that, too, except we know there is the promise of heaven for those who believe, receive and find new life in Christ. Yes, there are unknown joys, successes, failures and sorrows ahead, but we are never alone. We can face the future knowing that prize is worth it. We can choose patience through the hard days. 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. -Philippians 3:13-14

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

"Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships

And don't you look back"

Great lyrics for a new day, a new week and new challenges ahead. 

Paul wrote this to the Philippians:
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. -Philippians 1:20

Keeping our eye on the prize and our heart in the mission changes everything. Our mission and purpose is simply this, "Thy will be done."

Today, I am grateful we can "burn the ships".

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Stars

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 285: Today, I am grateful for the stars.

The days are getting shorter. It increases the opportunity to look at the stars. Every clear night, the sky show is spectacular. They twinkle and shine. My favorite night skies include stars the look like glitter. 

This passage is perfect: “The Lord merely spoke and the heavens were created. He breathed the word and all the stars were born.” -Psalm 33:6

I take the stars for granted because they are always there. But, they are spectacular.  “He breathed...and all the stars were born.”  Power, majesty and mighty... shimmering across the sky. 

Today, I am grateful for the stars.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Quiet Moments


Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 284: Today, I am grateful for quiet moments before God.

There is something powerful in the solitude where we wait for God. There is no specific time of day... although I am a fan of mornings. It can take place anywhere. 

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. -Psalm 62:1-2

"He alone".. we can read it and say it, but do we believe it?The unshakeable fortress is quite a description. We sing his praises on the good days. What about the days that are taxing in different ways. There, too, we are to wait quietly and patiently/

Today, I am grateful for quiet moments before God.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Morning Joy

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 283: Today, I am grateful for morning joy. 

The freshness of a new day is never ceases to amaze me. I can't believe the difference a little sleep can make. It is why we often say, "Let me sleep on it." Things can and do look different at the dawn of a new day. 

Just as "always kiss me goodnight" is good marriage advice... wait until morning to decide is good living advice, too. Morning, somehow, realigns our thinking and can help us... as my GPS says... "recalculate". Some days, we need to recalculate. A good night's sleep can be essential to clearing the mind, especially after tears.

"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."-Psalm 30:5

We mess up, but we still have His favor for a lifetime. We may weep in sorrow, repentance and even regret... but there is new joy with each new day. Chin up, Buttercup! The tough times are temporary. His faithfulness and love are forever. 

Today, I am grateful for morning joy. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Things We Can Control

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 282: Today, I am grateful for the things we can control. 

Control. Such an ugly word at times in a country where we are prideful about our freedoms. Yet, part of being truly free is knowing... in freedom... we can make better, more loving choices.

 "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." It is a phrase I remember hearing often in the arena of medical ethics. Being "free" doesn't mean we are without responsibilities. On the contrary, freedom is a gift. With that gift comes the need to use it wisely. We can be free and controlled at the same time. The two do not have to be opposing forces. 

"5 Things we can control every day:
Attitude. Words. Actions. Manners. Effort."


That is a great list. Yes, these things require us to be intentional.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:13-14

We are free to choose being loving over being right. We are free to choose listening over being heard. We are free to go beyond what is expected to honor the one who couldn't control us, but loved us enough to die in our place. Every fresh touch of His grace leaves me breathless.

Today, I am grateful for the things we can control.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Past is in the Past

Daily Gratitude Year 7-Day 281: Today, I am grateful the past is in the past. 

Many of us spend a great deal of time lamenting the things we should of or could have done. The old saying is true... the past is in the past. Digging it up and rehashing it is a waste of time and energy. 

We can learn from the past and we should, but let it be. We can't change it. The present and the future need our focus and our energy. We cannot evaluate today clearly if our head is too much in yesterday. 

I love this scripture: 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. -Philippians 3:13-14

"I press on!" "Press on" has become one of my favorite sayings in recent year. It holds encouragement, but it leaves room for the reality that some days... some seasons... some years are hard. Looking behind us while moving forward is dangerous. We are wise to fix our eyes on "The Hope" and the horizon. 

Today, I am grateful the past is in the past.