Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Safety In Numbers

Year 8-Day 182: Today, I am grateful for the safety in numbers.

Sometimes, it feels like we are outnumbered. If you live in a house where the children outnumber the parents, that might be every day. If you live in a neighborhood where people watch out for each other, there is safety in the numbers. 

No one likes the feeling of being outnumbered.  

We recently watched the old movie "Robin Hood" with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman. They were constantly lacking in men and resources against the forces of evil, but they did not quit. They did not give up. They trusted that good would overcome evil... and if it came with a price, it was worth the cost. 


"He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” -2 Kings 6:16

There is safety in numbers. There is, also, safety in knowing those in your number are trusting in the Lord of the Universe and his angels are near to watch, warn and defend. Not all in "our number" can be seen with the human eye. Elisha knew this well. 

I am reminded of the times angels interfere. "Misplacing" an item delays our departure with just enough time to keep us from being involved in an accident. The stories from 9/11 are full of "late trains", daycare mishaps, dentist appointments and missed planes. So many more would have died that day, but the forces of evil were outnumbered. 

There is safety in numbers when we step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. New things are much scarier when we are solo. 

When seeking to do what is right and just in God's eyes, it is good to have others sharing the journey.  

"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

God never promised us days without trials. He promised we would not walk alone... even if His Spirit is our only companion. He encouraged us to cheer each other on as we run the race He puts before us. 

Today, I am grateful for the safety in numbers.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Those Who Do Not Falsely Accuse

Year 8-Day 181: Today, I am grateful for those who do not falsely accuse.

As I've said so many times before, this daily gratitude post is not a place for political comment. It is a place to reflect upon our blessings and reasons to be grateful. 

On this day, I do not intend to skirt the edge of political talk. It is simply a reminder that we were told to not falsely accuse anyone. 

Half truths are everywhere these days. Sound bites and altered images are easy to manipulate. What we think we know, may or may not be accurate. It is why it is so important to listen with patience and respect. It is okay to not have the last word. 

That last part is hard. The last word can feel like a victory, but it can be hurtful, too. When we disagree with neighbors... any of them... we can fall into the temptation of drawing them as we see them. God wants us to try and see "our neighbors"... even the irritating ones... with his eyes. Then we must remember what he said when he gave Moses the instructions we know as The Ten Commandments. 

“You must not testify falsely against your neighbor."-Exodus 20:16

The media is in pursuit of ratings. That is a simple truth that gets in the way of news being told without a certain spin. When I was a young and taking media/communication classes, the emphasis was on delivering news without additional narrative. The facts and just the fact, so the listener or viewer could decide for themselves. 

One semester, the morning news was my baby. I choose what would be pulled off the Associated Press ticker tape that gave us word as to what was happening in the world for our ONU radio station. I controlled what news was reported that morning based on what I deemed important from the many choices. Still, we were to report the news without bias or opinion. Just the facts. 

We were not to bear a false witness, simply to inform on world and community happenings. I remember realizing that the media had a great deal of control and influence.I tried to make the best choices I knew how to make. I am sure I could have chosen better some days. 

As the world becomes inundated with voices... on every television and radio channel and on every  social media platform... it is easy to be overwhelmed. Many are stepping off the social media platform all together. Truth seems elusive at times. Checking sources is not always easy, but truth is worth a little effort.  

We may not have the power to fix the world and the media situation, but we do have the power to not falsely accuse. God did not give us the 10 suggestions for living. He gave us commandments. 

Today, I am grateful for those who do not falsely accuse.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weakness Reveals Strength

Year 8-Day 180: Today, I am grateful weakness reveals strength.

We all have weaknesses and times we feel weak because of a current situation or current events. Our God has never abandoned his children because they were weak. His strength is always enough, but we have to learn to lay our struggles at His feet. 

"I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is." - Max Lucado

Max says it well. In our weaknesses, his shines through. We are able to do the thing we did not think we could do. He never abandons his children. 

This passage is perfect:

"Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." -2 Corinthians 12:9

Our human nature wants to hide our faults and shortcomings. Christ longs for us to invite him into the middle of our messes so that he can make something new out of our failures, struggles and trials. 

When we get to the end of our rope, we can let go and let Him take the wheel... as Carrie Underwood sings. His power is made perfect in our weakness. 

Today, I am grateful weakness reveals strength.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Coasters

 Year 8-Day 178: Today, I am grateful for coasters.

Coasters are a handy little items to have around the house. We love wood, but wood needs protection from hot mugs and sweating glasses. Coasters serve us well. 

I have one have a couple of coasters that were gifts. Every use reminds me of the person who gave the coaster to me. I use them as "prayer triggers" for that person, simple reminders to keep that loved one in my prayers. 


Coasters are one of the more humble items in our homes, but they do an important job. They prevent damage every day, but receive few accolades. The are taken for granted until we need one. 

I am always grateful for coasters when sitting at a friend's table, too. No one wants to damage a friend's property. The simple protection from a coaster under a glass or mug can prevent us from an embarrassing situations. 

"O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right." -Psalm 71:1-2

Keeping it simple. 

 Today, I am grateful for coasters.




Friday, June 26, 2020

Ice

Year 8-Day 178: Today, I am grateful for ice. 

The modern wonder of ice.  Once again... I am wondering if ice has ever made the list in 7.5 years of daily gratitude? 

Ice can keep food cold in a cooler for camping. Ice is wonderful in a summer beverage. Ice can help remove gum from hair (Don't ask how I know this.) It can even be carved into art. 

Ice cools hard boiled eggs making them easy to peel. The uses are endless. An ice cube can serve as a dog treat in  a pinch. 

As the weather heats up, I am reminded of the many ways ice proves to be a good thing in our daily lives. Ice is often a key ingredient in the smoothies we enjoy so much when the weather heats up. There are all kinds of frozen drinks from the a DQ Mr. Misty to a grown up version known as a frozen margarita. Ice is a key ingredient. 

It is hard to imagine a summer day when ice is not available at our fingertips or the push of a button. In fact, Freezer Pops are synonymous with summer for kids of all ages. They are little more than ice with some color and flavoring, but they are always a hit. 

There is a scripture from Job that I love:

"By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.-Job 37:10-11

Such is power. Undisputed majesty in a breath. He is awesome. Ice is a reflection of His creativity and imagination. 

Today, I am grateful for ice. 


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Restoration Projects

Year 8-Day 177: Today, I am grateful for restoration projects.

The Love of My Life and I love to see restoration projects.  Old homes brought back to life are something to celebrate. 

Our country is quick to brush aside or tear down old buildings. In Europe, they celebrate historic buildings and make every effort to preserve them and their stories. Now, I adore modern amenities, updated electrical and plumbing that works... but I love them even more when they bring new life to old walls. 

There are probably half a dozen television shows that renovate old homes. They allow us a glimpse into the the communities where these homes have stood watching decade after decade go by. A finished restoration project is usually followed by an open house of some kind to show off the finished work. A restoration is a reason to celebrate.

Some seasons, we might start to feel as if we a tired and broken down like a neglected home in need of repair. Our souls grow weary and we need some restoration. This scripture fits so perfectly.   

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness his name's sake."-Psalm 23:3 (ESV)

The 23rd Psalm is very popular. So popular, it is easy to miss some of its goodness. "He restores my soul." Does it get any better?  

Today, I am grateful for restoration projects.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Faithful Guardians

Year 8-Day 176: Today, I am grateful for faithful guardians. 

I'm technically not afraid of heights, but the fear of falling makes heights uncomfortable. Mountain roads that wind with only a guardrail to prevent falling over the edge make my stomach flip and flop. I don't like to be close to the edge. I am not made that way. 

The zipline experience was a rush, but it took everything in me to make the first big leap. I am a safety girl. Learning  about the safety apparatus built into the adventure helped. The safety protocol was exercised every single jump. No exceptions. The harness, helmet, wire, ropes and carabiner were checked and rechecked without exception. You wouldn't want it any other way. They work together to guard the safety of each participant.  

Caregivers are guardians of childhood and the elderly. Police, firefighters and soldiers help guard our lands and laws. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers help guard the health of an individual and a nation. Seatbelts guard against accident injury. Life preservers guard against drowning. 

The list is probably endless. Guardians are present and real in our daily lives. When they are absent or delayed, we miss them immensely. In fact, we don't often think about them until they appear to be missing. 

Do we think about God's promise of protection?

"But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one." -2 Thessalonians 3:3 

We will be established and guarded. The evil one doesn't stand a chance. We can rest in the security of His wings. 

Today, I am grateful for faithful guardians. .

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Slippery Fingers

Year 8-Day 175: Today, I am grateful for reminders to seek His will with slippery fingers. 

"Lord, if it's not your will, let it slip through my grasp and give me peace no to worry about it." -unknown

How often do I let my will fight His will? If I give into fear, it always ends up stealing my peace?

In "Frozen", Elsa sang, "Let it go!" capturing well the moment of surrender to a God who is still on the throne. Good stuff, right?


The pray like this: "Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name. Tour kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" -Matthew 6:9-10  

We can live, laugh and love in the moment. We don't have to solve tomorrows equations today. 

Today, I am grateful for reminders to seek His will with slippery fingers not holding too tight o to our own wants and agenas. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Mess For Good

Year 8-Day 174: Today, I am grateful He can use the mess for good.

There is so much hope in this quote:

"It won't be painless. It won't be quick. But God will use this mess for good." -Max Lucado

My office wall at St. Jude used to have the quote: "When you can't see God's hand, trust His heart." They were words of comfort woven into the mystery of how we have a God who sees a big picture when we only see today's page. 

When we are in the middle of any mess, we get frustrated and tired. We want to be through the valley filled with shadows and living in the light of understanding that comes with time and reflection. When we are in the moment of the trial, it is still a trial. 

Most of us can think back on times we could not understand the pain in the journey. Then, we get through it and realize that we are stronger, wiser and more in tune with who He is in our lives. He is a real and living God. He does not abandon us when we are in turmoil. He is beside it as we walk through it. 

Out of messes come new creations. Out of the mess, strength rises. Out of the mess, trust becomes deeply rooted. Out of the mess, we more clearly see who He is. He is not a fair-weathered, wish granting God. Oh, no! He is a stick with us, strengthen us, fight for us, stay beside us God who does not abandon His children when things are falling apart. We have to be still and wait on Him. 

One of my favorite voices of all times is BJ Thomas's. There is something so soothing in his voice, no matter what he sings. On his "You Gave Me Love" album, there is a song, "I Need to Be Still" that took root in my heart more than 30 years ago. Earworm is singing today. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGaQ9V3X4oE

"Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” -Psalm 46:10

He can use the mess for good, and He will. We need only trust and be still. 

Today, I am grateful He can use the mess for good.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Provision

Year 8-Day 173: Today, I am grateful for provision. 

Father's Day always reminds me of God's provision. 

Dads are important people in our lives. They show up when everyone else walks out. They are consistent and trustworthy. They believe in their sons and daughters more than their children believe in themselves, and that faith breeds hope. Hope takes root and grows. 

When you look at the men and women who make the world better, so many times, it is a good father they credit with helping them figure out their sense of purpose. When life's compass seems to spin, father's can help us find "True North", again. 

My kids are blessed with the best (Disclaimer: I am a bit biased in my opinion, but he does his best daily to earn the title.) They never, ever have to wonder if their Dad will show up when needed. He is honest and sincere in his efforts to support them as young adults and husbands. Nothing he does for them (or me) does he make seem like an inconvenience. He loves them both differently and equally. (That different but equal is a mystery until child number two is born.) 

A father's provision includes the way they make a living, but even more... it is the way they make a life. Trust matters. Integrity changes everything. Lessons are caught more than they are taught. Little eyes are always watching and they are sharp little eyes. We can be grateful for the fathers who know the importance of their active presence in the lives of their children.  

The hardest thing for a father to endure is when they can't "fix" something for their child or eliminate a trial. At those times, a good father walks with them. There is comfort in the companionship.  Some trials have a greater purpose.

Today, this scripture passage reminded me of God's provision: 

"For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” -1 Kings 17:14

Elijah experienced God's provision. First he was fed by ravens, and then a widow and her son experienced the miracle of the flour and oil that did not run out while they put their trust in God. Later, the son would die and would have life restored proving to the woman that God spoke through Elijah. Our God is father to the fatherless. 

"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy." -Psalm 68:5

Fathering the fatherless... defending the widows and those who are weak... this is God, in His holy place. Earworm is singing Meredith Andrews song, "Strong God", beautifully echoes the truth in this passage: 

"Father to the fatherless Defender of the weak
Freedom for the prisoner we sing
This is God in His holy place
This is God clothed in love and strength"

Like a good father, our God is always near. "Abba" is the name for God that is most like "Daddy". It is he Aramaic word for Father. The name that melts a father's heart, right?" I believe it is only used three times and all are New Testament passages. Jesus uses it in the most intimate and desperate moments in Mark 14:36:

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 

What a place to introduce the intimacy of the name Abba Father. The other two passages, Roman 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, reference that we are the adopted children of God. We can call him "Abba". Because the son took the cross... the Spirit of his Son can live in us. He is our provision and propitiation.The sin debt cancelled. 

Today, I am grateful for provision. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Skies Display His Crafsmanship

Year 8-Day 172: Today, I am grateful the skies display his craftsmanship.

Several times today, I was reminded of the power and glory of God's hand. The fact that life is sustained on this little planet means that God put everything perfectly in place. 

From Earth's distance from the Sun and including Jupiter that provides protection from asteroids with its magnetic fields. The stars continue to shine. The thunder rolls. Rainbows delight. Rain falls on the thirsty lands. Everyday, ordinary proclamations of the greatness of God.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. -Psalms 19:1-2 NLT
Sometimes, the simple reminders are the best. Pause. Ponder. Pray. 
 Today, I am grateful the skies display his craftsmanship.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Song Bursts

Year 8-Day 171: Today, I am grateful for song bursts.

I love to sing. In the kitchen, in the shower, at the piano, in the car... whenever the a song strike. I think in song lyrics at times. Even when I can't remember where I parked my car at Walmart, I can remember songs from Kindergarten. Music is more than art. It goes soul deep. It is spiritual... and we know from the scriptures that angels sing. 

I love new eyes on an old scripture.

"The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving." -Psalms 28:7 NLT

Isn't that the perfect verse? He is our strength and shield. Trust maters. His help fills my heart with joy and then... "I burst out in song of thanksgiving."  

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul) is one of my favorites. It is the perfect song every season. 

Today, I am grateful for song bursts.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Basic Training

Year 8-Day 170: Today, I am grateful for basic training. 

I've never taken basic military training, but I've heard about it. Dad, Uncle Mel, April, my cousins and so many of the soldiers and sailors in our family. It is always an honor to be asked to pray for those in active service, especially during basic training. 

Basic training is a time of isolation from family as a soldier establishes a new family. The family back home is not forgotten, but to serve with safety and with excellence, they must embrace what it means to be apart of a new team. 

The stories from basic training are can be summed up by saying, "It's hard!"  It's hot. It's exhausting. It pushes every emotional button and physical limit. At the end of basic training, families who watch the graduation ceremony are always a bit in awe. They sent a kid... and now they have a soldier. Honestly, it chokes me up every time. 

This scripture is a favorite of mine. On different days, it inspires me in different ways. On this particular day, I read it and see a synopsis of our basic training:

"He has told you, O man, what is good;and what does the Lord require of you: but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?" -Micah 6:8

We know what is good.  He told us. We know what is required, He showed us. Justice requires action. Love requires kindness. Exercise humility when walking with our Lord. 

Like basic training, we have to learn to look with a new set of eyes. Putting on our God goggles to try and what he sees. This world is in desperate need of mercy, justice, compassion and humility. Our training comes by His Word and His Spirit. We may get tired and discouraged, but we are never alone. His purpose will not be thwarted. 

Encouraging each other. It makes a difference. It grows the family. Be strong and courageous. 

Today, I am grateful for basic training. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Choose to Encourage

Year 8-Day 169: Today, I am grateful we can choose to encourage. 

My dear friend, Marie Ulrich Ford, shared this today. It hit the spot. It was exactly what I needed today and I hope it makes you smile, too. You can substitute "guy"  for girl and compliment something that feels more manly, but you get the idea. Encouragement fuel our souls. 

"Be that girl who roots for the other girl, tells a stranger her hair looks amazing and encourages other women to believe in themselves and their dreams." -unknown

There is unique power that develops when we intentionally encourage another human. It helps us develop real and sincere connections. Thinking beyond ourselves lightens our hearts and our load. It is good for our own mental health, as well as the recipients. 

"Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone." -1 Thessalonians 5:13

These are not shallow, empty suggestions. Discipline means "training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." When we lift another up with encouragement, we help them find their voice and their place at the table. There is room for every one at the table. 

When we care for the weak, warn the lazy or intentionally choose patience, these are other ways we can encourage another person. For years I have used the phrase "good human" to describe someone who stands out for their character and integrity. Now, it is on t-shirts. "Be a good human." A simple reminder, but it can be a game changer. 

Now, the truth is, our human nature is prone to sin because of echoes of the fall you can read about in Genesis 2. We are not perfect. Self preservation is in our human nature, but God gave us the gift of free will that allows us to act intentionally outside of our human nature that says, "Me, first. Or I have to have it my way."  He delights in our choices to look beyond our own desires to be his hands and feet in this crazy world. 

Praise God for his gift of a clean slate each new morning. Every day is a "do over". We can choose each day to encourage another human being sharing the ride on this pretty blue planet. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose to encourage. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

God Can't Be Thwarted

Year 8-Day 168: Today, I am grateful darkness cannot stop what God has ordained.


I am not sure my human mind can fully grasp the awesome power of God. His hand over time and space is omnipotent. We can imagine how it works... but not fully. 

We do know darkness will not win the war. Dark forces cannot stop what God has planned. We can always have hope. 

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?” -Isaiah 14:27

The book of Isaiah is proof of this truth. We see each prophecy fulfilled, one by one, in Jesus. I am fascinated by the way each and every element comes together. It is not by chance, but by His hand. 

We can find comfort in His truth and His way. 

Today, I am grateful darkness cannot stop what God has ordained.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Marble and Sand

Year 8-Day 167: Today, I am grateful for marble and sand.

Record keeping is an important part of being human. We learn so much from keeping records. Storytelling is a way of record keeping. Most cultures place a high value upon their storytellers. 

Historians, museum curators, journal keepers, scrapbook keepers and family historians are all record keepers. 

There are times that getting an honest history is challenging.  Winston Churchill once noted that history is usually written by the victor. 

Some kings in history would not allow anything to be written down that showed themselves in a poor light. Scribes did not have much opportunity for free speech if they wanted to keep their heads. 

This West African proverb rings true: "“Until the Lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.”

Yes, who is telling the story can make a difference in how truth is perceived. 

What about our own stories of daily trials and blessings? I've grown accustomed to tracking daily gratitude, but real life has both the struggles and the sweet spots. I love this suggestion from Charles Spurgeon:

"We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand." -Charles Spurgeon

There is deep truth in his words. We can so easily wear our struggles like tattoos or merit badges, but trials are temporary. Our trials help us grow in strength and wisdom, but they are not who we are. Our identity does not need to be defined by our broken places. There is an enemy who wants us to feel defeated, but we were born for so much more. 

We are called "Joint-heirs with Jesus".  He took the cross so we could be "debt free". We live every day in light of his victory over sin and death. That is big stuff. Write down the daily celebrations in marble and let the trials be recorded in the sand. 

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

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." -1 John 5:13

I am grateful for record keeping. 

Today, I am grateful for marble and sand.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Crazy Friends

Year 8-Day 166: Today, I am grateful for crazy friends.

"If you have crazy friends, you have everything." -unknown

When life gets stressful and the world seems to be spinning out of control, crazy friends are a blessing. The past few months, humor and friendship have been key elements in coping with isolation and quarantine. Laughing lifts the spirit and causes endorphins to be released. 

When overwhelmed, sometimes we need to look for the absurd and the silly... because laughter is healing. Even when a situation is far from funny, finding humor in life's absurdities helps us grow our coping skills. Crazy friends help us see the absurd more clearly. 

This passage is one that always causes me to pause and reflect on the crazy twists life can take. 

"Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah was not young, either. "And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”-Genesis 21:5-7

Imagine their situation. Imagine their joy. Imagine their awe. Imagine them trying to explain as Sarah grew larger and larger in pregnancy. I imagine some days... they just had to laugh. I imagine they surrounded themselves with friends who were supportive. I bet their "crazy friends" were the fearless ones who showed up to help them prepare for the extraordinary event.

Let fear be replaced with hope, joy and laughter.

Today, I am grateful for crazy friends.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Red Beans & Rice

Year 8-Day 165: Today, I am grateful for Red Beans & Rice.

One of the things about being home all day is having time to cook real food... from scratch. Red Beans and Rice is a family recipe learned from my sister-in-law, Billie Jane Smith back in 1992. 

I will be forever grateful for the memory of Billie standing with me... in our small galley kitchen... chopping ingredients together. It was so much fun to watch her and learn. Not real measuring. Throwing it in the stock pot and watching the magic happen. 

Billie shared a part of her family history. She brought with her when she joined the family, just like I brought in some recipes from my family of origin. Our recipes are a part of our story. 

That is how I learned to cook. Women together, in the kitchen, sharing tips and tricks. Cooking together is always more fun than cooking alone. Sharing it with loved ones makes it even better. A good meal does not have to be expensive or fancy. In fact, a big pot of red beans and rice will run about $10. I love that our sons know the smell when they walk in the house for a visit.

What meal is the equivalent of Red Beans and Rice in your family. I bet there is one. It might be chili, a certain soup or chicken and noodles. 

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."-1 Peter 4:9 

Showing hospitality is important. We are be hospitable with happy hearts... without complaining. Honestly, I love feeding people. I don't think "hospitality" is my "gift". Some people do it fabulously and effortlessly. For me, it takes a little planning, but there is joy in the process. 

Write down a family recipe you are grateful for today... or spend some time with someone in the kitchen. Life can be sweet and it can be savory. Make time for making memories that matter. 

Today, I am grateful for Red Beans & Rice.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Zip Code

Year 8-Day 164: Today, I am grateful for Zip Codes.

In this instant age, there is something about a handwritten letter that becomes more special. I have several I hope to write this summer in response to some letters received.  

Yes, there is texting and email, but a handwritten note is a treasure. I think it is even more fun if the card is handmade. 

Back in 1963, the USPS introduced the zip code to help mail reach the intended recipient more efficiently. ZIP was an acronym for "Zone Improvement Plan". Now you know! 

By 1983, an additional four digits was add. Keeping the mail moving swiftly,efficiently and accurately was the goal. Zip Codes worked. They are still working today. 

Is there a country song about Heaven's zip code? It seems as if there should be. What if we had to attach a zip code to our prayers? I am so grateful we don't. This scripture came to mind:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Matthew 7:7

We were told to ask, to seek and to knock. Those are all action words. In Him, we find our purpose and begin to understand our destination.We are told to go and make disciples. 

Do we go? Do we find what we are looking for? 

Today, I am grateful for Zip Codes.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

"I Am"

Year 8-Day 163: Today, I am grateful for the name "I Am".

One of my favorite names for God has always been "I Am". 

This image is from young artist, Akiane Kramarik. It took her six months to complete. She keeps working until she knows it is done. When it is right... she knows. She has an interesting backstory. 

She grew up in an atheist family. She started feeling inspired to paint and did her first masterpiece at age four. Look her up. Her story is inspiring and full of hope. We all need a little extra hope right now.

"I Am" is the name God gave to Moses when he wanted God to tell him exactly how he was going to free the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Poor Moses. 


Imagine going back to Egypt to call the people of Israel out. That would be a tough conversation to anticipate. He was one of them, but not. His time in the palace, adopted son of the princess, meant he was an outsider with his own people. He had not suffered as they had suffered. 

This was what God told Moses to tell them:

"God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. -Exodus 3:14-15

I am who I am. I am has sent you. Words spoken with authority and confidence. 

Moses went on to do hard things knowing that "I Am" was with him... always. He did not have to live in fear. Because of "I Am", Moses could confidently "Be still" and wait on the Lord's hand. Moses knew when it was time, he would not go alone. 

Today, I am grateful for the name "I Am".

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wedding Traditions

Year 8-Day 162: Today, I am grateful for wedding traditions.

It is June. June is one of the most popular months for new marriages to begin. Every wedding has it's special and unique moments. It is a day for making new beginnings and new promises. Every generation and subculture has popular traditions and music. A marriage ceremony reflects a couple and the promises made before God, family and friends. It is the most special of days. 


One of my favorite newer traditions is foot-washing. I always think of foot-washing as a Holy Week tradition, as it has been for our family. But, recently I've seen it in the marriage ceremony. What a perfect place to share the humble and loving act of washing another's feet. 

There are other wedding traditions like "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue." The throwing of the garter and bouquet are traditions, too. Some will carry a family bible, a grandmother's handkerchief or a grandfather's watch. Why? Because our traditions connect us to previous generations. It is more than sentiment, it deepens the meaning of the day.

In Jesus's day, they shared wine at weddings. The groom and his family hosted the wedding feast. They would serve the best wines first, and then they would serve lesser wines later in the celebration, because at that point, no one really noticed. 

"When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.  -John 2:9-11

It was Jesus's first very public miracle, although he tried to do it privately. He was responding to his mother's concern. He was honoring her and wedding traditions. 

Washing feet, shared wine, wedding feasts, exchanging rings and other traditions are important because they unite us in celebration. We can learn from each other and we pass traditions from one generation to the next. They help us connect and reconnect with each celebration.

Today, I am grateful for wedding traditions.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Sanctuary

Year 8-Day 161: Today, I am grateful for sanctuary.

We hear the word often in the news, as sanctuary cities are becoming more of a buzz word. When I hear sanctuary, I think about the place in a house of worship where we come into close contact with God in worship. 

God is with us always, but when we enter the sanctuary of His house... it is kind of like that feeling we might have had as a child when Dad and Mom's bedroom was off limits unless you were invited into their room. The sanctuary in a house of worship is a sacred place. It is a place where souls gather to worship together in prayer, in learning and in song. I look forward to a time we can gather again in a sanctuary, although "couch church" can be holy, too. Worship is about the heart, not the place.

For some, nature is God's sanctuary. These people feel very close to Him when they can feel the sunshine on their face and the scent of water nearby. 


This scripture is from David, as he cried out for God to be his sanctuary, because there were enemies hunting him down.

O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth,I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! -Psalm 61:1-4

Safe in the shelter of His wings. I love the image it creates in my mind. 

Today, I am grateful for sanctuary.