Friday, January 31, 2020

Good Help

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 31: Today, I am grateful for good help.

Not all help is good. Some "help" makes more work. I love this verse from Psalm 86. It reminds us of God's goodness, His unfailing love and help for those who ask. 

"O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help." -Psalm 86:5

We have to humble ourselves to ask for help. That does not come easy for many of us, including me. I love working with those who see a needed and jump in. But I know there is a special relationship that forms when invite someone into our chaos, admitting we can't do it alone. 

Humans were created for companionship. First with God... and then with each other. We are better together. We grow and learn from working, living and loving side by side. Our God models unfailing love and assistance when trials come. We don't have be be afraid or feel alone. We are protected and preserved by Him and for His glory. 

We can trust that he will not fail. 

Today, I am grateful for good help.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Little Consideration

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 30: Today, I am grateful for the people who show a little consideration. 

"A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." -Eeyore

It has been awhile since I've shared a Pooh quote. Jill and I had a thing for Pooh quotes. They were sometimes so simple... but profound. Pooh & friends could hit the mark where more eloquent language would fail, and I enjoy verbal eloquence. 

Pooh may have been considered a bear of very little brain, but his heart was giant. Perhaps it is better to have a big heart than a big brain. 

I learned a great deal from Pooh's patience with Eeyore. Eeyore tended to lean into the blues. He would look for the sad and forget he had a forest full of friends who were ready and willing to help him find his tail and pin it back on when it was lost. 

When Eeyore was troubled. Pooh would always help him.... but first he would take the time to listen to Eeyore. Listening is sometimes the best way to help someone turn a rough day around. Pooh would always show a little consideration for Eeyore's genuine feelings before he offered his own thoughts. 

I went to look for a scripture to go with this post and here was my "verse of the day": 

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. -Ephesians 4:2 NLT 

Sometimes I pick the verse... sometimes He does. I didn't chose it. It was there waiting for me at Biblegateway.com. Check it out for yourself if you read this before midnight. It always makes me smile... and gives me that reminder that our God is real, present and engaged in our lives when we seek His face, His Word and His heart. 

Pooh was always humble and gentle. He was patient and made allowances for his friends imperfections. He did it out of love. He accepted others with their imperfections and loved them where he found them. 

As believers in Jesus... we are to be humble, gentle and kind. We are to love people where we find them showing the same kind of patience Christ extends to us. 

Today, I am grateful for the people who show a little consideration. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Last Place



Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 29: Today, I am grateful for those who graciously take last place.

Waiting is hard. Coming in last is disappointing. Being left with the grunt work hurts the ego and it can be discouraging. Still, we are reminded that embracing the role of humble servant is a kind of service to the Lord. 

He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” -Mark 9:35

Do we graciously accept last place? Do we only find contentment in the winning? Where does our light shine more brightly? Attitude has so much to do the answer to these questions. 

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud."-1 Corinthians 13:4

Let grace and love lead. Last has its purpose and its place. 

Today, I am grateful for those who graciously take last place.




Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Blueberries

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 28: Today, I am grateful for blueberries. 

Right now, I have some blueberry tea steeping in my cup. The past year, blueberries and peaches have been a favorite. 

Blueberries are full of health benefits. They are full of antioxidants, they help combat UTI's, they lower blood sugar and break down belly fat. They are even thought to improve memory and are thought to induce cancer cell death. What's not to love?

My friend, Elaina, gave me some lemon blueberry bread from Great Harvest Bread Company and let me tell you... the combination is amazing. Add blueberries to pancakes or baking a pie are another way to enjoy them. In the kitchen, the possibilities are endless. 

Blueberries are so readily available, we take them for granted. They are so common, we overlook the special qualities. I am reminded of this scripture. 

"The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” -Ezekiel 47:12b

When we look at food as fuel and eat foods intentionally, there can be health benefits. Blueberries are excellent fuel for our bodies. In the middle of winter, blueberries remind us of warmer days. They taste like summer, even in the bleak days of winter. 

Today, I am grateful for blueberries. 

 

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Sweater

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 27: Today, I am grateful for sweaters.

In recent years, I run warm. I rarely find the need to wear a bulky sweater all day. I get to hot. Still, there are times that a sweater is the perfect answer to increasing comfort. Cotton sweaters are my favorite (I am allergic to certain wool fibers). 

When I think of a cardigan, I cannot help but think of Fred Rogers. I haven't seen the recent Tom Hanks movie, but I am a fan from childhood. I believe, his mother really did make his sweaters. The affection in his voice as he puts on his cardigan is genuine. 

"You know, when I put on one of these sweaters, it helps me to think about my mother," he continued. "I guess that's the best thing about things — they remind you of people."-Fred Rogers

The best sweaters are knit by loving hand, but even the one that comes home from Kohl's can wrap us comfort. When a chill takes us, having a wrap, a coat or a sweater provides comfort. Look at this little gem form Exodus:

"If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset.This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful." -Exodus 2:26-27

When the chill sets in, especially at night, something cozy to wear is not just a luxury, it is necessary for good rest. 

I love a cozy cardigan. They easily slip on and off. Mr. Rogers made them famous, but sweaters have been keeping us warm for centuries. 

Today, I am grateful for sweaters.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

New Life


Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 26: Today, I am grateful for new life.

There is something about new life that ceases to amaze me. No matter how many babies are born, each one is unique. Each one is a miracle. New life changes everything.

This precious little guy belongs to Ryan and Anna Leander (and big brother Elias). Milo Randall Leander was born yesterday. In fact... he is now only 24 hours old. He is brand, spanking new as my Mama used to say. (Disclaimer... he is NOT our grand baby, but he is so close to our hearts. He is deeply loved by many and has been since we learned he was on the way.

I love the grunts and mews that a newborn makes as they wiggle and squirm in their first days outside of the womb. Seriously, talk about a change of residence! They go from climate controlled cozy into a crazy new world. Milo seems to be adjusting to all of the new things around him.

I can't help but wonder how it was for Jesus to leave the splendor of heaven to take on our earthly, human condition. It is hard to imagine the Savior as a baby, even though Christmas just passed. It is the season we remember his birth.

"He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things." -Ephesians 4:10

He came so we could have life. New life. Abundant life. Do we take in the wonder of that truth like we do the miracle of a new baby?

Today, I am grateful for new life.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Ordinary Moments

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 25: Today, I am grateful for the ordinary moments. 

There is something special in the ordinary moments. Life is full of them. 525,600 minutes in a year. Not all are monumental... but each one is still a gift. Every single heart that keeps its rhythm... without missing a beat... is ordinary and a miracle, too.

"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude." -Brene Brown 

Paying attention and practicing gratitude can change our ordinary into extraordinary. 

"Give us this day, our daily bread" is the way Jesus taught us to pray. What is more mundane than our "daily bread"? 

For the Israelite who received manna every day for 40 years, I wonder if the miracle ever grew old? They longed for something different to eat, but they were living in a season of miracles. 

Am I really any different from them? I live in a time of instant communication between continents, air travel, clean water from a tap, ice makers and heaters that warm our homes. Are they not "ordinary moments" that are really little miracles? 

Today, I am grateful for the ordinary moments. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Polka Dots

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 24: Today, I am grateful for polka dots.

Polka dots are classic in design. They never really go out of style. There is something aesthetically pleasing about them. They are orderly but soft. They are not random but they don't feel regimented, either. There is something magical about polka dots. Vintage... but modern, too. Timeless. 

What else is timeless like polka dots? The way the precious blood of Christ removes our sin spots.

"It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." 
-1 Peter 1:19


 We drink the "living water" and are never thirsty again. 

" Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
-John 4:13-14

I am grateful for the blood that washes away the spots of my failure. I never need to be thirsty again. His love is timeless, too... like polka dots. 

Today, I am grateful for polka dots.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Self Care

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 22: Today, I am grateful for self care. 

When we take care of our cars, they go farther. When we care for our homes, they last longer. When we take care of our clothing, favorite pieces can last for years. Even shoes benefit from good care. Why is it we neglect self care?

From a Christian perspective, we focus a great deal on pouring out love on others. To love everybody, always... as Bob Goff would say... is being the hands and feet of Jesus where there is hurt, sorrow or brokenness. We cannot neglect the widows and the orphans... the sick, the hungry or the poor. We are told to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." -James 1:27

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

Still, there comes a time and a place that we must recharge. Jesus did this. After John the Baptist was beheaded, he spoke taught the people... but then he sent his disciples out in a boat so he could recharge. He may have prayed, wept and talked to the Father in his pain. We do not know. But we do know he made some margins so he could recharge. 

At other times, he would go off to "the wilderness" to pray and be still. To connect with the Father in the wilderness places was special. The Hebrew word, midbar, means "uncultivated and fit for pasture". There is nourishment there. It is ready and waiting, but you have to make the time to seek it out.   

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

Self-care is not really selfish when it is done for the purpose of refueling. When we do a little self care, we will have "our cups" refilled so we have more to pour out to those in need. It is really quite simple. So why is it so hard? 

These are some great self care tips. 

Today, I am grateful for self care. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Heart Tuning

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 22: Today, I am grateful for heart tuning. 


"Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart  to sing thy grace." -Robert Robinson

Robert Robinson penned these words at age 22 in the year 1757.The Old English seems archaic now, but it is a hymn I dearly love. It is all about gratitude and recognizing the source of good things in our lives. 

The song is not simply a "don't worry, be happy." It reflects on the blessings, the trials recognizing God's sovereignty... and his desire to be our redeemer. 

My favorite verse is "Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come;And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home."

Many are unfamiliar with the reference, but it is worth a peek into the scriptures. Many times when God wanted people to remember something important, stones were involved. Like the Ten Commandments given to Moses on stone. There was another example in 1 Samuel. The prophet place the Ebenezer stone to remind the people of God's faithfulness. 

"Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” -1 Samuel 7:12

It is good to remember and reflect. When life happens, with struggles and troubles, we can forget to sing his praises. What Ebenezer stones do we put in place today? They can help us tune our hearts to sing of His grace. 

Today, I am grateful for heart tuning. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 21: Today, I am grateful for grilled cheese and tomato soup.

It is one of my all time favorite meals. It shouts "comfort food". My brother and I could eat soup for every meal. There are so many varieties. For me, creamy tomato soup is heavenly. Add the grilled cheese (with jalapenos) and I am happy as can be. 

This picture is of a "Smoky Tomato Soup" recipe that I can't wait to try. Smoked Paprika, fire roasted tomatoes and Cayenne kick the flavor up a notch. My mouth is watering. Since the recipe has no cream, it is not too high in calories. 

The winter chill was heavy today. Soup always hits the spot and soup goes great with grilled cheese.  We have several weeks of "soup" weather ahead. 

Food doesn't have to be fancy to be special. Having someone to share it with makes all the difference. Preparing and sharing food is another way to say "I love you." or "You matter to me." 

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it."-Proverbs 15:17

The food can be simple, but where love abounds there is contentment. Tomato soup and grilled cheese can feel like a feast. 

Today, I am grateful for grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Healing Words



Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 20: Today, I am grateful for healing words. 

In previous posts, I have mentioned that my 6th Grade teacher... who is now my friend... gave me a Thesaurus at my high school graduation. She wrote this note inside: "Words are a powerful thing; use them wisely." 

Pat Braun Schroeder... I will always be grateful for your gift and your heart for young writers. Your encouraging words helped shape a classroom full of thinkers, doers, readers and writers. I grew up with the most amazing circle of friends. Am am grateful we had some educators who demanded the best from us. 

Words are, indeed,  powerful. 

This scripture from Proverbs is the same but in different translations. 

"Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." -Proverbs 15:4 (NLT)

"A healing tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful one crushes the spirit." -Proverbs 15:4 (TLV)

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."- Proverbs 15:4 (ESV)

NLT... I love it for its clarity and easy reading. TLV... not my usual but I could not resist the "healing tongue" translation. The ESV... it is an excellent translation that has earned it great reviews. If you go to Biblegateway.com  you can choose a verse and pick on "all translations". It is a fun feature. Comparing translations can help us unpack all the good stuff in a scripture passage. 

Healing words can lift our spirits and help us put the pieces back together when we feel broken. There is no room for deceit or perverseness. 

What healing words can we offer to another today?

Today, I am grateful for healing words. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Full Fridge

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 19: Today, I am grateful for a full fridge.


Our fridge is full. Not just condiments... but plenty of good and healthy food. 

Today, I made an Aldi run. I am always amazed at the quality of the food and the value. I am reminded that many do not have enough... let alone the plenty we enjoy. As I think about food prep for the week, I need to remember to be grateful for the abundance. I need to remember to share. 

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

It is a wonderful reminder of God's provision. To be grateful on this day for what we have. 

It is, also, a reminder of how God provided manna in the wilderness to the Israelite people for forty years. Their bread came daily... but could not be hoarded and kept. They had to trust Him new each morning. 

In this state of plenty, I need to remember to not trust what we have, but to rely fully in Him. We will enjoy the food. We will share it with others. We will not forget His goodness.  

Today, I am grateful for a full fridge.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Soft Blanket Throws

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 18: Today, I am grateful for soft blanket throws.

A super soft blanket throw is always welcome at our house. We have several. Most of us have our favorites, depending on the season and the temperatures. 

Yes, even in the summer months, a light throw helps us cozy up for the evening. In the winter, the softer, bigger and fluffier, the better. Our dog, Daisy Mae, will choose her napping partner because of their blanket choice. She has her favorites, too. 

The perfect throw delights the senses. Sherpa is heavenly. Other fabrics are rabbit fur soft to the touch. Seriously, each one gets a turn at being the favorite. Freshly laundered, the scent adds to the experience.

As the snow blankets the ground this winter day, we savor being wrapped in luxury and comfort. I don't love winter, but I must consider that the cold makes the experience of being enveloped in a cozy throw something special. Add a warm beverage and I realize that if there were no winter... I would miss these moments. 

"She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. " -Proverbs 31:21

"She is not afraid of the snow." The blessing of provision should never be overlooked. 

 Today, I am grateful for soft blanket throws.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Windshield Defrosters

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 17: Today, I am grateful for windshield/window defrosters.

There is nothing that assaults the senses like leaving a warm home or workplace to find your car windshield in need of serious deicing before you can drive. Brr. 

There are some home DIY tricks - like a spray bottle of 2/3 rubbing alcohol to 1/3 water- that work well. Still, there is nothing like having the extra time to warm the car and let the defrosting mechanisms do their job. 

"By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast." -Job 37:10

Much of the book of Job is about his trials and suffering. Yet, there is so much more. In the midst of trying reconcile the "Why?", Job's view of God sharpens. Sometimes... there are no simple answers. Sovereign is a big word. Some seasons are harder than others.

The snow covers the ground and it is beautiful... even if it is cold and bitter. When I have to go out, I am grateful for the conveniences that make it easier, like windshield defrosters.

Today, I am grateful for windshield/window defrosters.



Thursday, January 16, 2020

Unexpected Gratitude

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 16: Today, I am grateful for unexpected gratitude. 

Who are the people in your world who go unrecognized? 

The ones who do the humble, servant roles... quiet or behind the scenes. These souls are often the backbone of organizations and businesses. They may or may not be in the boardrooms. They are always behind the scenes making good things happen. 

Do we ever stop to thank the postman or UPS man? What about the custodians in our workplaces? 

The people who do the thankless jobs often are people who choose to find satisfaction in knowing what they do makes a difference... even if they are seldom recognized. 

I work in an old building. I remember the day a local marketing rep stopped in the office. They talked about their services and when a school might need them. Then they left. A few minutes later, they returned to the office. I thought they had forgotten something. She said something I will never forget. She said, "I know this is an old building, but it is so beautifully cared for. Please compliment your custodial staff on a job well done." 

Some people do a job to make a living. Others make a living at making a difference. 

I will never forget the years Walker was a sidekick for Jill and I, after we had the other three in school full time. We would drag him to Peoria for our errands with the promise that he could choose the lunch spot. Walker was a smart boy (he still is)... he always chose Panera. Talk about a "win-win". 

From the time Walker was two and a half or three years old, he would order for himself.  "Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a bread bowl, please." There was a worker, named Jackie, who would always take our order. We would wait a little longer in her line, just to have her serve us. She and Walker became buddies. She would say, "Hello, Walker." The order was always under Walker's name. It took no extra time to show him special attention, but it made all the difference in how we felt about our experience in her restaurant. We were grateful for her. She was sad when he had to start Kindergarten. 

I wish I had told her how much we looked forward to seeing her at the register.This scripture reminds me to tell people that we are grateful for their presence in our lives.

"We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers." - 1 Thessalonians 1:2

Today, I am grateful for unexpected gratitude. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

365 Opportunities

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 15: Today, I am grateful for 365 opportunities.

1 Year = 365 Opportunities.

Do the math. Even those who avoid math can find the beauty in this simple equation. On day at a time is still good advice. 

"This is the day that the Lord has made;

 let us rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalm 118:24

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is still a mystery. This day is a gift to be unwrapped. There are unique opportunities in this one day. It is up to us to find them. 

Savor this one. It is the only one you get today. 

 Today, I am grateful for 365 opportunities.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Handwritten Letters


Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 15: Today, I am grateful for hand written letters.

One of my favorite things is a handwritten letter. I tend to type more than I write by hand these days. I work at a computer. Typing is fast and always legible. Yesterday, I received a four page, handwritten letter from one of our neighbors from Peoria Avenue in Peoria. It was the sweetest surprise. 

I was reminded of the joy in a handwritten letter.Randy and I both enjoyed hearing what she and her family had been up to since our last correspondence... but mostly, we were thrilled that she was well. She is well into her 80's. 

A handwritten letter is a precious gift. In this age of email and texting, I find I am more sentimental about the very personal gift of a handwritten note. This verse came to mind:

"Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;" -Isaiah 49:16a

Imagine, God writing our names in His own handwriting! How precious and priceless that would be. I wonder what a "God font" would look like? 

In this new year of 2020, we can take a step back and create a handwritten letter as a gift. It is a piece of ourselves. I want to make the time to send a handwritten note back to Miss Melba in return. When we share our hearts in letters, a moment in time is captured. 

Much of the New Testament is a collection of letters. We love to read them over and over. We never outgrow the joy of receiving a letter with our name on envelope. 

Today, I am grateful for hand written letters.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Strength Training


 
Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 13: Today, I am grateful for strength training.
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. -Psalm 18:34-35
It is a scripture dear to my heart. I have very little arm strength from an old injury. My nerves are damaged. I can't do heavy lifting without further injury. I have had to learn new ways for simple tasks. I have learned to ask for help and rely on others at times. It is humbling... and frustrating. This scripture is like balm to the soul. 
"He trains my hands".... His training is superior. "He trains my hands for war"... and much more. I can "bend a bow of bronze". Bronze is strong. 
"You have given me the shield of your salvation"... His protection and his right hand for support. Invisible hands keep us safe. 
"Your gentleness made me great." There is a strength in gentleness. It leaves us in awe. Yes,we can practice gentleness. In fact, for most, it takes a little work to master the art of being gentle in word and deed. 
What areas of our lives are places we need to build endurance? Shall we add a little strength training?  When hard things come our way, we want to have some experience in managing trials or troubles.
Today, I am grateful for strength training.

  

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Days Not Wasted

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 12: Today, I am grateful for days not wasted.

"The older you get, the more quiet you become. Life humbles you so deeply as you age. You realize how much nonsense you've wasted time on." -Quotling.com

What a simple truth is spoken in this quote. Every day we avoid nonsense and focus on love is a good day.

This simple scripture comes to mind.


"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalm 118:24

Each day is a gift. We can unwrap it like a present or we can fight for control and waste time and energy. One of my favorite morning conversations is "Lord, what do you have for us to do today." The years have proved true that while we are making plans, the Lord directs our paths. It is full of plot twists, but He can be trusted. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Pause. Pray. 


"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." -Proverbs 16:9

He gave us free will... but He longs for us to partner with him on the journey. 

Today, I am grateful for days not wasted.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cozy Wraps

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 11: Today, I am grateful for cozy wraps.

When the temperature drops and the snows begin... as they have today... I am extra grateful for the cozy wrap. We have them strategically placed in the house so we can have one when we need it. 

I have one that is more fashionable and can be worn out. It is easy on and easy off... depending on the room temperatures. It was a gift from my friend, DeAnn. It always makes me feel wrapped in her friendship... another kind of cozy wrapping.  

Babies love to be wrapped. We call it swaddling. It keeps the baby calm and snug.  The most famous of all babies was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. 

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." -Luke 2:7

What a wonderful sight that must have been! Snuggling, huddling and taking in the wonder of the miracle child born that night. 

Winter is here, but we are safe, warm and content in cozy wraps. 

Today, I am grateful for cozy wraps.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Broken Hearts Clear Vision

 Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 10: Today, I am grateful broken hearts clear our vision. 

Sometimes, it takes heartbreak to clear our vision. 
We can't alway focus on what is important when we are being overstimulated. 

Information floods our days. From the screens on our devices to the billboards and signs we see on the roadways... not to mention the media connections we make everyday. Information overload is very real... and it is very distracting. 

There is a great value in taking first things first in the morning. This, for me, means coffee and Jesus. Not necessarily in that order, but who am I kidding... that order is good. Honestly, the first breath of the day can be a prayer. A simple "Good morning, Lord. What do you have for us to do today?" First things first. 

The news typically has something that breaks our hearts, but has the potential to fix our vision. I love the new stations that report a little good news along with the latest drama. The news can cause us distress, but it can also remind us of what is important. Where will we set our focus?

Where can we make a difference today? Joy is not found in what we get, but it what we give. We can look past the hurting in front of us, or we can attempt to offer love and help where there is a need. Focusing on gratitude and giving instead of wanting and getting, we find a peace that surpasses worldly understanding. 

"Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" -Psalm 118:5-6

That is a great promise! 

"Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing! God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says— he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners— he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen. God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked." -Psalm 146:3-9 (The Message) 

We can be the difference in a hurting world. We can make it our mission and our mantra. 


Today, I am grateful broken hearts clear our vision. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Elastic

 Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 9: Today, I am grateful for elastic.

One of the most amazing changes to fashion was the introduction of elastic. I will be the first to admit,  too much comfort in our clothing can make poor eating choices even easier... but in many cases... elastic is good. It gives a little and remembers where it started. 

Sweats, athletic shorts, leggings... and "sassy pants" are a few items that come to mind. The stretch capability and recover-ability of elastic makes it useful and comfortable in fashion.  

January is the month everyone focuses on eating better, after a month of feasting and celebrating. One can gain or lose a few pounds and elastic means the pants still fit. 

Elastic in sleeves helps them stay pushed up and out of the way. Before pantyhose, elastic garters helped keep a ladies stockings up. It is a versatile sewing notion. 

I think of all the times we are called to stretch as humans. It isn't always easy. Stretching means we are outside of our comfort zones. Yet, in the seasons of stretching we develop new skills and new strength. Elasticity eventually meets resistance when enough is enough. It is important to recognize that even elastic has its limits. 

In contrast, God's love is as vast as the heavens and his faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. We are loved more deeply than we can comprehend. 

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds." -Psalm 35:6

Elastic teaches us what it means to stretch.  

Today, I am grateful for elastic.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Bedtime

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 8: Today, I am grateful for bedtime.

Some days are long. Others fly swiftly by.Time marches on. One things I know for sure... bedtime is a sweet time. 

We learn to value rest as we grow older. Little kids fight taking naps. Teens learn to love them again. Parents of small children find naps to be a rare luxury. 

Life is full. Schedules are packed. Still, the sun always set at the end of the day, and bedtime happens. 

Today, I am grateful for bedtime.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Shoes Come Off

Daily Gratitude Year 8- Day 7: Today, I am grateful for the moment the shoes come off.

I love shoes. Our feet take us everywhere we go, yet they are often neglected. A good pair of shoes can make a real difference when the days get long. Still, my favorite thing to be is barefoot. We don't wear shoes in the house. It keeps the germs and the dirt out... but it, also, provide freedom for our feet. 

Mama Ina Mae didn't make us wear shoes outside, unless there was a reason. My Dad diligently searched for nails after we re-roofed the house one summer so we could fearlessly run barefoot again. Barefoot is my favorite, but I live in a time and a place where shoes are necessary. Cute ones are my favorite, but with each passing year, comfort becomes more important. 

During the winter months, I become acutely aware of the pleasure of kicking off my boots or shoes for the day. I always joke that my toes need to breathe. I will wear sandals any day I can get away with it, so winter shoes cramp my toes. Yes... the socks, too. Comfort rules. It is a sweet moment in the most ordinary days when the shoes (and socks) come off. 

One of the most menial, humble roles in Biblical times was the one of the servant who washed the feet of those who entered a home. Peers did not wash each other's feet, unless it was an act of great love and service. Jesus shocked the disciples when he proceeded to wash their feet before they ate their last supper together before his arrest and crucifixion. The shoes coming off as they entered the house was common practice.  The teacher washing the disciples feet was a most uncommon event. 

"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." -John 13:12-14

His instruction spoke to the high value placed on acts of service and humility. I never tire of reflecting on this passage. My "Verse of the Day" is a perfect compliment to John 13:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." -Ephesians 5:1-2

We are instructed to be attentive to how we walk and how we talk. Do we walk humbly? Are we willing to wash another's feet? 

It has been a privilege to teach foot-washing to the children at church on Palm Sunday. My girlfriend, Julie, and I have shared the practice with grade school children for many years. Occasionally, my girlfriend, Donna, has stepped in to help. It is one of our favorite Sundays of the year. We dress and roleplay as Martha and Mary. We take them back to 33 AD. 

Over the years, we have been delighted to see the children not only become comfortable with the practice, they look forward to it. So, do the adults. We all eagerly anticipate the moment the shoes come off. 

Today, I am grateful for the moment the shoes come off.