Sunday, May 31, 2020

Listening Lessons

Year 8-Day 150: Today, I am grateful for listening lessons. 

There are times in life, we don't know what to say. Words are useless when the grief is tangible. When that is the case... it is critical that we learn to listen. Not to respond... but to hear the story, the pain, the fear, the brokenness and the possible hopelessness. Listening is where we need to begin. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke this wisdom: 

"The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Our families are hurting today. Brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting today. How do we respond? 

Again... Romans 12:15 is appropriate: "....weep with those who weep." Today, we weep with those who weep. 

I have no words for what I cannot even begin to truly understand. My family came through Ellis Island after hardship at home ... I am third generation... but I still do not understand. If stopped on a traffic violation... I have no fear except the price of my ticket and the impact on my insurance. I have been followed around by store security... but only once... and I think it was because I had a big bag and time to spare. Once in my lifetime. I don't understand. 

My friend, Teresa Garner, posted a long but articulate and heartfelt post... with more questions than answers. Thank you Teresa. In a nutshell, we must be the change we want to see. How that happens, begins with me.... and each one of us.   

Each one of us as we recognize the smallest injustice and take a stand. To recognize injustice... we must listen. We must see with Jesus eyes. We must love with open hearts. Bob Goff says, "Love does"... but Bob would be quick to credit Jesus as being the original creator of that movement. We must learn to listen better. Listen and learn. 

We have so much to learn. 

Today, I am grateful for listening lessons. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Picture Speaks

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Source: Detroit News Photographer: George Murry-Facebook

Year 8-Day 149: Today, I am grateful when a picture speaks.

Most of you know I am a hobby photographer... a serious amateur. I am not an expert, but I know enough to share pictures with other.  Even though word wrangling gives me great joy, I love when a photo doesn't need words.  

The This picture was an answer to a prayer... and WOW! God does answer prayers. Look at the image. I believe it was taken by Detroit area photographer, George Murry. I don't know the whole back story, but the children were being read to in a story circle. She put her head on his lap. He instinctively placed his arm to cover her and hold her close. Breathtaking! 

Never underestimate the power of gathering people in a circle for story time. (Jesus used this approach often. He wasn't preaching... He was teaching... and often through parables)

Back to the picture here... look at this capture. Oh my goodness. As the story was read, this sweet little girl put her head in the lap of a friend. He protectively lovingly wrapped his arm around her. This picture speaks a thousand words without a single vowel. 

THREE gospels captured this passage. There are very few passages that make 3/4 gospels, but when they do... pay attention. Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:13-15 and Luke 18:16. 

"And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” - Mark 10:13-15

In Mark's version, it is clear that Jesus was very displeased when the disciples tried to keep the children away. In a world full of prejudice and hate in 33 AD... children we still simply children. We can learn from so much from them. Jesus said we had better pay attention to them and learn. 

The crowds around Jesus were mixed in race, native language and culture. It is why the establishment hated him. They feared his message of love, peace and equality in the sight of God. Each life of value. Each skin color beautiful. Each human soul worthy of any price... even his life. 

We can look to the children and learn about trust and love without reservations or limitation. This image is absolutely priceless on any day... but especially, today. (Thanks for sharing it Sarah Luparell Leander)

Today, I am grateful when a picture speaks.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Favorite B&B's

Year 8-Day 148: Today, I am grateful my favorite B&B's. 

This is not the post I started to write, but our niece posted this picture and my heart changed course. 

This is a snapshot of our nephew and niece's home just outside of Traverse City in the little town of Kingsley, MI. We call it "our favorite B&B" in Michigan, complete with an adorable, sassy and silly three-year-old "mini-manager". The coffee is great and the company even better.    

Kingsley is where my mother-in-law's family called home. We love summers there. There are many Morgans and Ackermans in the area. Any visit to Traverse City is a chance to see extended family. When our visits are over, we return to this adorable home to relax and recharge. That swing is amazing...and the deck chairs are perfect for conversations at the beginning or end of the day. 

Now, Craig and Monica's place is only a B&B for family and friends, but Randy and I have opted to stay at registered B&B's in recent years. It is a different feel from a hotel and a bit of an adventure. Since we love looking at old homes that have been cared for or restored, B&B's are an adventure in themselves, before we take in local points of interest. B&B's come with the kind of hospitality I was taught growing up on the farm.  

It takes courage to open up your heart an home to strangers, even if it is your business. It takes hospitality to be successful in that business and excellent housekeeping skills. This scripture keeps coming to mind. 

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." -Hebrews 13:2

Some guests are more desirable than others. Some are easy to enjoy. Others, if honest... you are ready to see leave (Oh Monica and Craig... I hope we aren't in that category). In the scriptures, we are clearly instructed to show hospitality to strangers. Not just in business, but in our own homes, too. Have we entertained angels unawares?

As the world slowly gets back to living, travel will pick up in time. If a getaway is in your future, you might consider a B&B to support small business and explore new places at the same time. The unique flavors of each B&B means there is always a story to uncover. 

Monica and Craig... your yard looks wonderful. We're feeling a little "homesick". 

Today, I am grateful my favorite B&B's. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Life Is Art

Year 8-Day 147: Today, I am grateful life is art. 

Do we think of each day as art? Every morning is a clean slate... a new blank canvas. 

"I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how much you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make, How your writing looks, and the way you feel. Life is art." -Helen Bonham Carter

I love this thought. I adore art. It moves my soul. So many elements of our ordinary days fill our lives with splashes of color. Look for God in the littlest details, he is there. 

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."-James 4:8a

On the days you feel overwhelmed or discouraged... pause... pray... and ponder the Master's hand. He is never far away. 

Today, I am grateful life is art. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Year 8-Day 146: Today, I am grateful for the number three.

Today... Chase and Emma have been married 3 years. We love how they love each other. 

Today... Walker & Abi have been married 3 days. Their marriage is sweet and new. 

This summer, Randy and I celebrate 33 years. Time does fly!  

"A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." -Ecclesiastes 4:12

I did a quick search of the 3:3 scriptures. I liked this one because it reminds me of marriage. 

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? -Amos 3:3 

When we have common goals, it is easier to agree on the path. 

The Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the perfect three. 

The Bible is clear that marriage teaches us a great deal about God's love for us. Jesus was willing to sacrifice for "His Bride"... even when it cost him everything. He felt the "Bride Price" was worth it. Why? I may never understand, but I know it changed everything.

When we invite the third cord, the marriage is strengthened. I love the old billboards that used to say: 
"Loved the wedding! Invite me to the marriage. -God"  

Inviting Him to the marriage doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing every day, but it strengthens us for the storms.   

Today, I am grateful for the number three.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Quieted By His Love

Year 8-Day 145: Today, I am grateful for quieting love.

What calms your fears these days? There are so many who have faced some physical and financial trials during the days of this Covid 19 pandemic. The suffering has been real. Isolation is not something humans tolerate well. 

People were created for work and for relationships. We need both to remain healthy. In Genesis 2:8, God created man and place him in the garden. In Genesis 2:18, God deemed it not good for the man to be alone, so he created woman as a partner. Then, he gave the work. They named the animals and tended the garden. Work is good for the soul. 

Humans everywhere are struggling. Men, women and children need something productive to do. We need to be in partnerships with other humans. 

If you have followed Daily Gratitude for any length of time, you know that this is not a place for politics of any kind. The family I was born into can be a bit opinionated and like them...  I have opinions. Honestly, I know good people on both sides of the political aisle and they all want the same things... a good life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren. How they hope to achieve that goal looks very different at times. Thus... no political discussion here. I was simply making observations base on what is reflected in the scriptures. 

The anxiety in the air feels tangible at times. Breathe. The losses fellow humans have suffered in this season cannot be measured. We can't fix it, but we can look for ways to love people through this trial. We can pray for the mighty God we serve to "quiet us with this love". With His love calming our fears, we can share hope. Be the hope. Be the light. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Sometimes, I need to be still. Sometimes, I need to listen for His voice. I need to tune into the Holy Spirit until I hear him singing. 

"He will quiet you by his love." That resonates with my soul today. 

Today, I am grateful for quieting love.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Dudley... Do Right!

Year 8-Day 144: Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to do what is right.

So my name isn't Dudley Do-Right. Yours, probably, isn't either. The phrase popped into my head from a long ago memory of a fictional character. He was a Mountie character from the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" from many years ago. I remember dramatic music and much drama in the snippets. 

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." - Peter Marshall

On Memorial Day, who do we figure out what is right as we remember those who gave their lives for freedoms. Their sacrifice purchased and protected our right to make good choices... and bad ones, too. 

Memorial Day is for remembering those who stepped out in faith to fight for the hope of a better tomorrow. They are the ones who stood in the gaps between freedom and living in fear. They were heroes. It is good to honor their sacrifice We must remember them. They are part of our story. They are why our story continues to be one of freedom. 

It isn't always easy to know right from wrong. Really good and kind people can and do stand on opposite sides. In this season of political turmoil, I am reminded of the famous quote: "I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it!”

It is more important than ever to attempt kindness. It feels as if the media is eager to divide us. I suspect that history is repeating itself, as it often does. We can look to the scriptures for wisdom:

"Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding." -Proverbs 10:23

"Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted."   -Proverbs 12:15-16

There are so many more, but these were a good start. On this day when we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, it is easy to become discouraged by the world circumstances. We can find hope in the words of the prophet Isaiah. 

"He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law."-Isaiah 42:4 9 NLT

I think is is interesting that the term "the coastlands" is used in most translations, don't you? Have the coastal regions always been at risk for outside influences? Some things change and somethings stay the same.  How we respond to those influences can impact our days here and echo into eternity. 

Be calm. Be confident. Don't lose hope. 

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to do what is right.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

It's In God's Hands

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Year 8-Day 143: Today, I am grateful "It's in God's hands."

Today, in a very private ceremony, we gained a new daughter.

Outside... practicing some social distancing... they proved that love always wins. It was simple and sweet.

We missed family, friends and loved ones, but we felt their prayers over the day. Walker & Abigail were happy to not have to wait another whole year to be Mr. & Mrs. They will celebrate with family and friends at a later date... when things go back to normal.

They have already learned in their years as a couple, the value of going with the flow.

It was a true summer day and the skies were gorgeous. The theme of the day was "It's in God's hands."
It started as a reference to the weather, but it became a recurring theme in the pastor's message.

Some days we "weep with those who weep", but today was a day to "rejoice with those who rejoice". We are full of gratitude for the love they share and the resilience they show when things don't go exactly their way.

Simple, but sincere. Sealed by God and with a kiss. We didn't have people but there were plenty of critters, which is a perfect reflection of this animal loving couple.

There is a holiness in nature that cannot be ignored. The rocks didn't exactly cry out but heaven and nature did sing. There were birds and wildlife in the trees. There were flowers in the field. There was a puppy who really wanted to be a part of the ceremony and a baby raccoon, too. Not the day we imagined, but perfect for a pair of hearts joined in love and sealed in Christ.

It's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage. Congratulations Walker & Abi. You are deeply loved.

Today, I am grateful "It's in God's hands."

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Big, Beautiful Fascinating World

Year 8-Day 143: Today, I am grateful for a big, beautiful, fascinating world.

"Here is is. A big, beautiful, fascinating world." God says. "Do something with it." -Rob Bell, Love Wins

Lately, this world has seemed more crazy than fascinating. At every turn, we need to bend and adjust. My friend, Krys, says, "Be flexible, like Gumby." That always makes me smile. Look up Gumby if you are unfamiliar with the character. He definitely bends.

This season has been one of "recalculating" with the twists and turns. We aren't bored. Every so many days we can throw our hands in the air and yell, "Plot twist!"... because it does seem to twist and turn. Perhaps the best decisions are the days I turn off the media sources and tune out the voices and take in the beauty of this day.

This image reminded me of the flowers of the field. So many of them hold healing qualities beyond what they offer in landscape pizzazz. Yes, beautiful and purposeful, too. They, also, provide the bees with the pollen they need to make honey. Fascinating, for sure. Is it any wonder Jesus pointed us to the flowers:

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. -Jesus, Luke 12:26

Take it in. Relish the wonder of it all. Someone once said, "The earth laughs in flowers." I think it dances with the dew drops... and sings through rustling leaves. Let heaven and nature sing!

Today, I am grateful for a big, beautiful, fascinating world.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Quiet Hearts

Year 8-Day 142: Today, I am grateful for quiet hearts.

"A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace." -Elisabeth Elliot

A quiet heart exudes calm. It is not easily shaken. It knows that when the going gets tough... there is a Solid Rock.

"You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." -1 Peter 3:4

There is a freedom that comes from the knowledge that all is grace. Whatever the day may bring, He is bigger that any trial or circumstance. Contentment takes root in a heart that trusts Him in all things. Big and small... He is Lord of all!

Anything beyond "enough" is a extra. His generosity abounds. We can believe and be satisfied.

Today, I am grateful for quiet hearts.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Summer Salads

Year 8-Day 141: Today, I am grateful for summer salads.

One of the things I look most forward to about summer is the variety of fresh produce. I love summer salads. The one pictured is on my list of recipes to try this summer. It is so pretty and you cannot go wrong with avocado, tomato, basil, cucumber, red onion and red wine vinegar.

Fresh vegetable salads are as good for the body as they are the soul. I am reminded of the diet Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose over the the king's decadent offerings. At the end of the test, Daniel and his friends were healthier, stronger and more alert. 

 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” -Daniel 1:12-13

"At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food." -Daniel 1:15 

There are so many take-a-ways from this passage about God's faithfulness to those who choose Him and His ways. Daniel and friends were protect, blessed and they thrived. Their paths were not always easy, but they knew they were never alone. Thousands of years later, the diet that God directed back then is still good for us. 

Most of us are thinking about eating a little healthier as summer approaches. We have the modern convenience of salad recipes at our fingertips. What's not to love about that? 

Enjoy those fruits and veggies. 

Today, I am grateful for summer salads.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Dishwasher

Year 8-Day 140: Today, I am grateful for my dishwasher.

"I am grateful for the new day, and since we now eat every meal at home... my dishwasher." 

Once upon a time a dishwasher didn't really matter to me. I don't really mind doing dishes. Now that we have lived through babies, growing boy and quarantines... my dishwasher feel more like a necessity than a luxury. 

I particularly like that it is very hot while cleaning the dishes and silverware. That seems like a good thing for health reasons. When an item has been through the dishwasher, I know it is very clean. 

I know that washing dishes the way we do in modern days might seem like overkill from the eyes of one who lived 100 years ago or more. We have learned that some germs and viruses can we washed way in the hot, soapy dishwasher. That is a good thing on any given day, but especially now. Items are cleaned on the inside and the outside.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.-Matthew 13:25-26

God's light is revealing. We want to be clean on the inside and the outside. We are all works in progress. Kind of like my kitchen is a constant work in progress. Like the laundry... it seems dishes is a task that rarely gets to completion. The dishwasher allows us to get the dirty dishes out of the way while we wait for them to be cleaned.  

A dishwasher is a good thing. 

Today, I am grateful for my dishwasher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Just Do It!

Year 8-Day 139: Today, I am grateful we can meet any task and just do it!

Did you think Nike came up with the phrase? 

Here are two different Bible translations. One way of digging deeper into The Word is to pull up "All English Translations" of a passage. Here are two for this verse:

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

“Now get up, Ezra. Take charge—we’re behind you. Don’t back down.” -Ezra 10:4 (MSG)

Doesn't this sound like an advertising campaign of some kind? It says your task is hard, but it is yours. We are with you... not behind you but "with you". Just do it.  That thing you think you cannot do... do it!

We all have faced some fears and concerns in recent months. We are not to be consumed by worry or fear. 

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, or God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." -2 Timothy 1:6-7

Fan into flame your gifts! That is great direction. You are strong enough or the task would not be yours. Seek His face and His wisdom and tap into the power you were given when you surrendered to His love and accepted His sacrifice and gift of new life. We are never alone. Never. 

Today, I am grateful we can meet any task and... do it!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Peace Offerings... Offerings of Peace

Year 8-Day 138: Today, I am grateful for peace offerings... offerings of peace.  

There are practices from the Bible that seem outdated because of cultural changes. We still offer blessings on our food and fellowship around the family table. House blessings I do not believe are all that common anymore. This passage makes me wonder if it is a practice we need to revive. 

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’-Luke 10:5

God's peace! What a gift, right?

When we use the word "peace offering" in the USA, we typically mean a gift that given to smooth over a rough spot in a relationship. A peace blessing asks God to fill the house and those in it with His peace.

Our world does not know much about peace. To know peace, we must know the source. 

"“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." -John 14:27

Peace of mind and heart. This is what the world hungers for today, tomorrow and beyond. To be an agent of change, we can choose to offer blessings of peace. At home, in the neighborhood, at school, at church and beyond our village borders we can "Be the change you hope to see". It is a popular saying these days. It is good advice. 

How can we offer peace today? In offerings of peace, we are sharing hope. It can be a plate of cookies, a note of encouragement, a lawn mowed, groceries picked up and delivered and meal shared. 

Peace be with you. The Prince of Peace is with us. He promised His Spirit to comfort and encourage us. He keeps his promises. 

Today, I am grateful for peace offerings... offerings of peace.  

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Deciphering Joy

Year 8-Day 137: Today, I am grateful for deciphering joy. 

"Fun is temporary at best; it's risky, even dangerous, at worst. Joy, on the other hand, was a mystery I couldn't seem to decipher" -Liz Curtis Higgs

I always enjoy Liz Curtis Higgs. I've seen her speak a couple of times. Any interview I read or hear is a delight. She is full of wit and wisdom and the way she reads the scriptures brings them to life. 

The first time I heard her speak, she talked about the mess her life was before she met Jesus. She was working in a Detroit radio station. He lifestyle was wild and reckless. He co-worker told her one day, "Lizzy, if you don't get your act together you are going to die young." That co-worker was Howard Stern. Yes, the original shock jock. 

Not long after that conversation, she found her way to the foot of the cross. The "fun" in her life was fleeting. Temporary highs were followed by big lows. It was a roller coaster ride, but not a good one. 

Fun and happy feelings are fleeting. Joy comes from a deeper well... a supernatural source. Perhaps it is still a bit of a mystery, but when we are plugged in to the power source, we don't have to be able to explain how it works. It is His Spirit working in us. 

Offering our lives up as a living sacrifice doesn't mean our fun and happy days are over. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is a satisfaction in our souls that only He can provide. We can't fake it until we make it. We don't have to. We fight with our human nature...but when we finally surrender to His love...He fills us with joy. 

"No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’" -Acts 2:26-28

Today, I am grateful for deciphering joy. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Love Lessons From A Dog

Year 8-Day 136: Today, I am grateful for love lessons from a dog. 

My friend Jenny Miller posted the best video this week. It was the push I needed to write this post about a dog's love that has been brewing in the back of my mind. 

In English, "Dog" is "God" spelled backwards. Yes, the same letters, simply reversed. Now, I know God is far greater than our dogs, but there is still some comparisons I can't help but make. 

What if we loved God like we do our dogs? What if we inconvenienced ourselves for God... like we do for our pets? What if we loved God... and others... the way our dogs love us? We can't wait to get home to our fur-babies. Do we feel that way about spending time with the Master of the Universe? 

I know what you are thinking. Frankly, some dogs are better than some people. (You were thinking it, I just said it.) It's true. There is a selfless love that our pets demonstrate that humbles us. As humans, we struggle to humble ourselves. We struggle to put another's needs first. That is why Jesus reminded us that we had to love God with our whole hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. 

The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Luke 10:27

Our God already loves us with the wild abandonment our dogs show for us. Like our dogs... He would... and did die for us. His nature is to protect us. Our 2-year-old, Daisy Mae, has been learning "the rules" since we brought her home. She isn't perfect yet, but she has already come so far from her early puppy days. She doesn't know the house rules are for her protection and ours. She only knows that she has to obey the rules and we are displeased if she doesn't. Because she loves us, she wants to please us. She makes mistakes and shows remorse. 

In the same light, God doesn't necessarily spell out the reasons for all of His "rules". He doesn't have to.  HE IS GOD! Still, over the course of time, science usually catches up to reveal that His rules are for our good... for our physical health, relationship health and mental health. 

God didn't come up with the Ten Commandments to make us miserable. They are in place so that we can live more fully and more freely. He wants us to live without regret, without crippling guilt and without fear. Following His Word and His Ways will increase the goodness in our days. 

Daisy Mae doesn't love a leash when we walk but it helps her stay safe. She doesn't like to have her muddy feet wiped, but she is learning it keeps the house clean. She loves when we provider her with meals and treats. She loves when we invite her to be wherever we are. She loves when she can rest on us or near us. She knows she has to be invited outside when the garage door opens. She knows the yard boundaries she is allowed between our house and her favorite neighbor, Zeus. 

As you watch this video, note that Millie's body language changes the closer her person, Clare, comes. At the end, she rolls on her back with love, affection and vulnerability. Do we love Him back with the courage to be vulnerable? Do we get excited when He whispers our name?

I think is perfect that dog is God spelled backwards. 

Today, I am grateful for love lessons from a dog. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

My Heart Responds

Year 8-Day 135: Today, I am grateful my heart responds. 

I love this scripture verse: 
"My heart has heard You say, "Come and talk with Me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." Psalm 27:8 (NLT)

There is an intimacy in this passage that makes me smile. There is something about knowing someone and being known in return. Attentiveness in a relationship is key. It makes a world of difference. 

Many, perhaps, wonder where God is in this world situation. Rest assured. He is present in every trial and trouble. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. 

Imagine in those moments of the deepest, darkest trials... God whispers. "Come and talk with Me." Why imagine this? Because that is exactly what he does. He calls for us to return to him. We can run to Him or we can ignore the call. He can be very persistant. 

I've always loved the story of young Samuel hearing God's voice and thinking it was Eli:

Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?”  He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!”

Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
 Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.” - 1 Samuel 3:4-10

Isn't that the best response? "Speak for your servant is listening." Or as in the Psalmist's response, "Lord, I am coming." 

I am easily distracted by shiny things... bright things... and even unimportant things. Quiet time makes a difference. Making time and choosing a space to say, "I'm listening." In stillness, it is easier to hear His heartbeat. 

Learning to listen is like everything else. It takes time and practice, but it is worth the effort. 

Today, I am grateful my heart responds. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Seeds Planted

Year 8-Day 134: Today, I am grateful for seeds planted.

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds planted." Robert Louis Stevenson

I planted a few seeds after work today. I have a favorite vine that grows on my mailbox each summer. It is a bean pod hyacinth plant. It is a show-off plant, adding my favorite pops of green and purple to the yard. 

I plant it around Mother's Day and the flowers bloom late summer. The vine is wild and wonderful. It takes forever to come up. I usually have myself convinced the seeds were bad, but then it sprouts and grows quickly. My impatience isn't pretty. I always feel silly when it covers the mailbox to the point of breaking it, if we aren't careful. I need reminders that good things are worth the wait. 

Last year, we didn't plant any corn back home. The stress was terrible. This year, a fair amount is in the ground and we have high hopes that this week's rains will not wash out the seeds planted. Plant, pray, patience... and then the seedlings pop from the soil. It is a beautiful sight across the flat lands of the Midwest plains. 

Then we wait. The harvest seems so far away, and it is. We must grab the joy from this day. Tomorrow isn't promised. The harvest will come, but it takes time. There is joy in planting the seeds, if we pause to ponder it. Practice the pause. 

As my friends on Sesame Street would say... "Today has been brought to you be the letter "P"." Not sure how all the "P" words landed into days post... but there it is... ready to post and print.

Planting and patience are a powerful pair. God planted the garden, and then he placed man there with perfect provisions. 

"Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made." -Genesis 2:8

Today, I am grateful for seeds planted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Halfway Points

Year 8-Day 133: Today, I am grateful halfway points. 

There is something about a halfway point that causes hope to bloom. On a trip, when halfway is behind you... the end of the road is in sight. For the ordinary work week, Wednesday is hump day and Friday is in sight. 

One of the great philosophers of my generation wrote these lyrics: 

"Whoa, we're half-way there
Whoa, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it. I swear
Whoa, livin' on a prayer" -Jon Bon Jovi 

Okay, some might argue about the greatness of the philospher, but what's not to love about Jon Bon Jovi. You can thank Earworm for that song insert! It will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. 

What other half-way points come to mind? There are many. Halfway through a work out is another marker that helps us find the energy to finish the job. We are in the middle of a big task at work and today, we are more than half-way done. It always feels good. 

"We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work." -Nehemiah 4:6 (The Message)

Nehemiah notes the positive energy flowing between the people. As the excitement builds,  the work becomes more joyful. "The people had a heart for the work." I love that phrase. It changes everything when we have "a heart for the work". We are instructed to do all things to the glory of God. Truthfully, some days it is easier than others. 

What halfway points are you approaching. Pause to celebrate them. 

Today, I am grateful halfway points. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Goodbyes Are Not Forever

Year 8-Day 132: Today, I am grateful goodbyes are not forever. 

"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you, until we meet again. -Gandalf. "The  Hobbit"

What a comforting thought. One of the most challenging things about this quarantine season is not being able to grieve with those who are grieving. Goodbyes are not easy. A grief shared is a grief divided. 

"Until we meet again." It is a sweet phrase that is loaded with hope. 

None of us likes to be in the position of missing a loved one. When our hearts are broken, it is hard to get through the day at times. Every day of grief can feel like an eternity. Then, it happens. The days start to get a little brighter. The pain softens. It all takes time. Missing someone is evidence of great love and great love is worth the cost of grief. 

There is a sweet country song that talks about the stars being holes in the floor of heaven. I know that is not accurate but it is poetic and beautiful. It made me think of this verse that is a favorite of mine: 

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. -Isaiah 40:26

When our time on this earth ends, we are still souls. We are not lost or missing. We belong to the one who placed the stars in the heavens and calls them by name. 

Today, I am grateful goodbyes are not forever.