Monday, August 31, 2020

The Shadow of the Cross

 Year 8-Day 243: Today, I am grateful for the shadow of the cross.

"In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another."-Andy Stanley

What a perfect quote! There are so many levels of truth wrapped in two simple sentences.In truth, the decision to forgive is one humans struggle with more times than not. Finding peace in the trial by letting go of the hurt and anger to recognize each of us is undeserving of the grace Christ poured out in blood on the cross. In the shadow of the cross, our sins are covered, forgiven and blotted out. 

Quotes like these take me back to Jesus words when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray:

"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." Luke 11:4

The shadow of the cross covers us, allowing us to be healed, to be freed and to be unburdened by thieves of joy like anger and unforgiveness. Who wants to carry that dead weight around, anyway? 

Today, I am grateful for the shadow of the cross.



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Face to the Sun

Year 8-Day 242: Today, I am grateful  we can keep our face to the sun. 

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow." -Helen Keller

This is a powerful quote, especially in light of the fact Helen Keller was blind. I am confident she could discern the sunshine from the shadows on her face, with heightened senses. She could not trust her eyes. She sharpened her senses of touch, smell and taste. I imagine, she could sense someone pass by, even though she could not see them. Perhaps from scent or from heavy steps on the floor.   

As humans, we are so tempted to believe what we see and hear, even when other senses might tell a different story.  Trompe-l'œil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture. What you see is an illusion. Sometimes we have to look a little deeper. 

It wasn't that long ago, books were rare and newspapers could take weeks to arrive in rural areas. Today, we have instant media... and social media. Add in Photoshop skills and we cannot believe all that we see. Video clips can be edited to tell a completely different story with the push of a button or a few sliders. Chasing truth can be a full time job. Most people don't bother. God gave us two ears and two eyes, but only one mouth. To listen more than we speak is likely by design.

(Reminder: Facebook page is for gratitude not political debate... and I in this country we are free to agree to disagree... and that is a beautiful freedom.) 

I am grateful we have other senses to employ when life gets complicated. We have the power of prayer...and prayer is a superpower. We have the scriptures to consult, and the Word of God is still living and breathing. We have the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide. 

When nothing makes sense and the world feels like it has gone completely mad... remember Helen Keller. "Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow." 

The shadow is there... lurking... but we can keep our eyes to the sun. We may feel the shadow on our neck, but we do not have to fear the darkness or the evil, because the light always disperses the darkness. 

I love that in English "the sun" and "the Son" are homophones. The words sound the same but are spelled differently. 

" I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways." -Psalm 119:15

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." -Hebrews 12:1-3 

Earworm is singing the Beatles song "I'll Follow the Sun" and Fanny J. Crosby's "To God Be The Glory".Yes, my Earworm has diverse musical tastes. Crosby, like Helen Keller, was blind. She wrote many hymns including "To God Be The Glory". When you know of her blindness, this verse grows sweeter:

"Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see. 

The world may be crazy, but for me there is peace. I've made my choice. I will follow the Son. 

Today, I am grateful  we can keep our face to the sun... and the Son. 


Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Walk

 Year 8-Day 241: Today, I am grateful for the walk. 

This image made me smile today. I am sure that Daisy Mae is the master of our walks. She takes far more steps than necessary, always veering off course to sniff. She feels the need to smell everything making a straight path nearly impossible. She is improving, but it takes time. As she grows more weary on the walk, she walks straighter and closer to her master. 

Learning to walk the right way takes time, attention and practice. It relates so well to our faith walk. We need practice, too. We want to please our God, but we are distracted by shiny things, hard things, human desires, earthly things that grab our attention and the things we see in others. God wants us to walk our walk in step with him. He wants us to let him lead. 

This passage always resonates with my soul:  

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

That is sound instruction. Our God is faithful and longs for us to do justice, act with kindness and to walk humbly with Him each day. Some days the walk is easy. Others, it is a struggle. 

Honestly, it is often when I am worn out that I finally surrender and let Him lead. I fight for control, until I realize I am over my head and drowning in trouble. He much prefers to walk with us, beside us and will go before us when times are tough. 

Daisy Mae is always up for a walk. She even suggests it at times. I can learn lessons from her eagerness, even if she doesn't model restraint. She is always zealous for a walk. 

Our Father in heaven longs to see our eagerness grow. The more time we spend with Him the more our heart desires to be fully in Him. He fills our days with hope, light, song... and a good walk. 

Today, I am grateful for the walk. 



Friday, August 28, 2020

Fireflies

 Year 8-Day 240: Today, I am grateful for fireflies.

One of the sweetest sights of summer is fireflies. They are mesmerizing to watch. They seem to dance across the evening sky. I think they are one of God's most fascinating insects. 

It was fun to catch and release as kids. I never had the heart for keeping them in a jar, separating them from their firefly families.

Fireflies are magical. They capture the imagination. They seem to magically appear... and just like that... they disappear, too. 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.-Psalm 9:1 

As summer slips into fall, the fireflies disappear. I miss them when they are gone. (Long day... short post)

Today, I am grateful for fireflies.




Thursday, August 27, 2020

Things Unseen

  Year 8-Day 239: Today, I am grateful for things unseen.

Our eyes are drawn to things that sparkle and shine. Colors capture our attention, too. Those who make their careers studying design are well aware of the power of color, texture and shape in a design. These are all things that catch the eye. 

There are unseen that are important, too. In fact, it is the things unseen that matter most:

"as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."  -2 Corinthians 4:18

Truth, love, faith and hope are things we cannot see, but are very real. They are eternal. These things unseen strengthen us, comfort us and help us endure when times are tough. These thing unseen make our good times sweeter. 

When things before our eyes seem insurmountable, remember... there are forces unseen at work.  

Today, I am grateful for things unseen.






Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Puppies

 Year 8-Day 238: Today, I am grateful for puppies. 

Apparently, today is the day to be grateful for the puppies in our lives. We do love puppies in the Smith house. We love them best after they gain their house manners, but they are worth the work and the wait to grow them up a little. 

Puppy breath. Happy tails and wiggly butts are their trademark. They are so cute when they are still a little pudgy and wobble a little when they walk. Seeing every new discovery from their perspective. I can watch them play for hours.    

Daisy Mae is now two years old. It is hard to remember the puppy stage, and then I find puppy pictures. Hard to believe two years ago she was so little. 

Puppies are reminder that new life is a precious gift. Puppies, like all babies, grow up too fast. You have to enjoy the moment while you are in it.  


Today, I am grateful for puppies. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Hyacinth Bean Vine

 

 
Year 8-Day 237: Today, I am grateful for the hyacinth bean vine. 

I adore this plant. I grow it from seed. It usually goes in the ground around Mother's Day, but do not expect it to shoot out of the ground for several weeks. In fact, I always worry the seeds didn't work... and then the first shoot comes through. After the initial pop, it seems to quickly cover the trellis at the mailbox. These lovely purple blooms do not arrive until August.

The purple blooms are showy and always capture the attention of passersby. Strangers have stopped to ask what it was and I MUST give full credit to my friend, Carla J Voros, for researching the plant name. My first seeds came from a co-worker (thanks Jill Parod). I let the plant "go to seed" and collect dried bean-pods in the fall. 

Sometimes, I plant too many seeds. I can't help myself. I love it full. One year, the mailbox broke under the weight of the vine. The Love of My Life patiently replaced the mailbox and post with something stronger. He knows that growing it every year brings me great joy. 

Honestly, it is successful because it requires very little care. We humans are not so easy. We require God's breath, His attention, His patience and persistence. I am grateful for His attention to detail in our lives, just like the gardener knows the vines in his care, our Heavenly Father knows our needs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This verse fits for today: 

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you." -John 15:1-3

The vine and the vine-dresser have a purpose. The vine that doesn't bear fruit is pruned. 

Today, I am grateful for the hyacinth bean vine.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Favorite Fragrance

 Year 8-Day 236: Today, I am grateful for favorite fragrances.

Certain smells take us back in time or impact our mood. Perfumes have a powerful connection to our memories.  

I have a super sensitive nose. Before the fragrance market exploded, I could recognize most fragrances on men and women. The market today is vast, so my scent recognition is limited to the ones I know, love ... or don't like. I like fresh, clean scents that make people say, "You smell good." 

I've long been a fan of Philosophy's Amazing Grace line. They have managed to bottle fresh and clean life few other companies. I never tire of Amazing Grace, but their newer Ballet Rose version is my current go to scent. The hints of rose whisper more than shout. It is definitely a favorite. 

Fragrances take us back to a memory or a place. Love's Musky Jasmine was a favorite in high school. Anais Anais, Halston and Lauren were college scents. Palmoa Picasso was my 90's signature scent. Clinque Happy was the alternate for years when I needed a change. 

With the plethora of fragrances available today, I am still picky. Narciso Rodriguez is a newer scent on my list of faves. It has a blend of scents hitting all the right notes in my opinion. The true test of a new perfume is if The Love of My Life can tolerate it. Some scents make him sneeze or give him a headache. He really likes the spicy notes in a fragrance like Burberry or Opium. Love Spell makes him sneeze. 

Most of us want to smell good, right? We don't want to stink. We want our scent to be a pleasant memory when we leave a room. I've always liked the passage that talks about us being "the aroma of Christ". Take a closer look. What it really says is we are the "aroma of Christ to God" among those who are being saved.

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life." -2 Corinthians 2:15-16 

During the season that Randy was in Peoria and I was finishing college, I loved keeping one of his sweatshirts. Why? Because, it smelled like him. That scent on a shirt made me feel closer to him when he was far away. 

We are the aroma of Christ to God. We leave our scent wherever we go. Are we the sent of Christ wherever we go? Are we leaving a fragrance that leads to life? Can our Heavenly Father smell Jesus on the people we encounter when we walk away. 

That, dear friend, is a challenge for a Monday... and all through the week. Is the scent of Christ the smell we leave behind?  I am fairly sure it is God's favorite fragrance. 
Can others smell His amazing grace?

Today, I am grateful for favorite fragrances.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tacos



 Year 8-Day 235: Today, I am grateful for tacos.

We have the best Mexican restaurant in Morton. La Fiesta is a family business. It has a hometown feel. You see the same faces. You watch the children and grandchildren of the owners grow up. The food is excellent.  Their tacos are always popular, because you can't go wrong with a taco, right?  

I loved this quote because it is true:

"It's okay if you fall apart sometimes. Tacos fall apart and we still love them." 

It is okay to fall apart for a moment. We all need to "let go" sometimes. We need to cry our tears and expel our frustrations. Sometimes we need to fall apart so we can begin the process of gluing ourselves back together. Letting down our emotional masks to feel our feelings can be very healing and very productive. 

When life isn't perfect, we can roll with the punches. We can keep our chins up and press on. We might fall apart for the moment, but that does not make us permanent failures or unlovable. Take a lesson from a taco.

When we fall apart, we can rest assured that our God is with us when we slip and when we fall apart. He cheers our souls.

"When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."-Psalm 94:18-19

In Him, I find peace and restoration. 

Tacos feed the body like His faithfulness nourishes our souls. 

Today, I am grateful for tacos.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Tough Assignments



 Year 8-Day 234: Today, I am grateful for tough assignments.

When life hands us tough assignments, it is hard to be grateful. I am a firm believer that we need them. It doesn't mean I like them, but I know they stretch and grow us. 

There are times a tough assignment is as joy evoking as it is challenging. Perhaps Fred Roger nailed it on this one:

"Try your best to make goodness attractive. That's one of the toughest assignments you'll ever be given." -Fred Rogers

Tough assignments groom us. We learn to manage hard things. Some of the hard things help shape us into resilient, dependable, capable people. Life lessons learned in the struggles of life are lessons remembered. In choosing goodness with a joyful heart, we increase the appeal. 

Doing what is kind... what is good... and what is right in the eyes of God seems counter-intuitive to human nature. We want what we want. My friend, Robin, reminded me today, there is a soul hole that only God can fill. Nothing outside of a relationship with Him fills that emptiness inside. It is why so many have riches and fame, but find themselves lonely, depressed, anxious and lost. His peace satisfies like nothing else. It fills us in a way that allows us to love others better, because He is the source. 

Jesus always chose kindness and goodness. Always. 

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:32

Christ's tenderness toward those around him was recorded again and again. His compassion toward the woman about to be stoned for adultery is one of may favorite captures in the scriptures. Was He writing words that told those with stones in their hands that he knew each of their darkest, secret sins? All we know is that they all put their stones down and walked away when Jesus said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." 

"Make goodness attractive." It is a tough assignment, but worth the effort. 

Today, I am grateful for tough assignments.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fresh Paint





 Year 8-Day 233: Today, I am grateful for fresh paint. 

No one in my house enjoys painting very much, but we both love a freshly painted room. We have been in our house long enough that we need to do some updating. Fresh paint is one of the biggest "bangs for the buck" as they say. 

The colors in this image are beautiful. I love rooms with a modern cool color palette but I rarely find the courage to buy the paint and load the paint brush (or sprayer). I want our home to feel cozy, and that usually leads me to colors with more warmth. 

Can warmth and white co-exist? I believe they can. In fact, I believe there can be 27 shades of white and every one of them has some unique qualities. 

When in doubt, a shade of white will do. Which shade is perfect for the job? 

I've always loved this verse:

"Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." -Psalm 51:8b

It creates an image of renewal and restoration. 

Today, I am grateful for fresh paint. 


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Art Smart Heart

Year 8-Day 232: Today, I am grateful for the art smart heart. 

"Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else." -unknown

I don't know who said it, but I completely agree. Art pours color, joy and wonder into what might otherwise be ordinary lives. Not all art is created with a paint brush or a drawing pencil, but all of us need the exercise of creative moments. Creativity lightens our souls and brightens our days. 

In ancient times, there were craftsmen and crafty women who created woven, died fabrics, sewed garment by hand and wrote music. Art is not new. It has lasted through the centuries. Art treasures increase in value. They are often hidden at times of war. Most societies recognize their worth and try to hide and protect them in turbulent times.

This scripture spoke to me today:

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:10

We are His workmanship. Pretty amazing, right? He has prepared us for doing good work in Him as we journey through life. In that knowledge, we can find the freedom to create... and more importantly... to boldly let Him create in us a new creation. 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2 Corinthians 5:17

That is true creative freedom. 

Today, I am grateful for the art smart heart. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Walk Don't Run



 Year 8-Day 231: Today, I am grateful for reminders to walk with... and not run ahead... of Jesus.

There are days I need to pause and re-evaluate the goal. What is the plan and the desired destination?

This is a great quote:

"It's hard to walk with Jesus and run ahead of him at the same time." -Bob Goff

Some days we need the reminder to slow down. It is so easy to lose perspective. There are so many loud voices, ideas and opinions in the world. Chaos seems to be everywhere. We were designed with the ability to ask questions and act outside of "human nature". 

Why? Because we were created in the "image of God". He longs for us to walk with Him. We often want to run ahead seeking our own desires and wanting our own way. He wants us to want Him. (Oh, no! Earworm is singing Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me".)

It's that simple... and that hard.  

“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?" -Amos 3:3

He wants us to want to walk with Him... in Spirit and in truth. Obedience born out of love not fear.

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:24

Walking with Him, not running ahead is a game changer. Offering up our days to Him as a gift sounds like a sacrifice, but it is where peace and joy are found.

Today, I am grateful for reminders to walk with... and not run ahead... of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Sight of the Stars

 

Year 8-Day 230: Today, I am grateful for the sight of the stars.

The sight of the stars is one of the things I love most about growing up rural. The scents of a summer night include the smell of the corn maturing and flowers in bloom. Everything about it sings the praises of the Almighty, but nothing like the twinkling stars. 

"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh

Glen Campbell had a popular song back in the late 70's called "Southern Nights". You can find it on YouTube. It was a crossover hit on Pop and Country charts. It was a feel good song that played on many car radios as people made their way to festivals, picnics, wedding dances and county fairs. 

I found found this clip with Wolfman Jack. I can't resist sharing.  The Wolfman's jacket sparkles like stars in the video clip. 


Southern nights and starlit skies go together. You can't help but feel a little dreamy. 

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,and the son of man that you care for him? -Psalm 8:3-4

Yes, the stars create a dreamy sense of awe and wonder. Don't forget to pause and take in their wonder. 

Today, I am grateful for the sight of the stars.

Monday, August 17, 2020

He Makes the Crooked Places Straight

  


Year 8-Day 229: Today, I am grateful He makes the crooked places straight. 

Sometimes it seems like the whole world has gone mad. We are told to guard our hearts. Heart guarding is an intentional act. This verse spoke today:

"I will go before you and make the crooked places straight;" Isaiah 45:2 (MEV)

I needed this reminder. The shortest distance between two places is a straight path. When we zigzag, crisscross or wander, we take unnecessary steps.A straight line is faster and usually safer. 

How many times do we make it harder than it has to be? 

Today, I am grateful He makes the crooked places straight. 


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Recharging in the Wait

 



  Year 8-Day 228: Today, I am grateful for the recharge in the waiting places.

I don't love the "waiting" places. The times when you want to move or desire action, but know in your heart that you need to wait on the Lord. Sometimes, I want to move the mountain, my way. Frankly, I am not very good at mountain moving. 

Sometimes, I am so bent on a resolution that I fail to wait for His best in the moment and in the circumstance. His best is always better. I know it, but I don't always trust it. 

Being human... being imperfect... being stubborn... it gets in the way of successfully walking with the God who truly wants to pour His best into our lives. Trust and obedience are his requirements. Is it too much to ask? Not really. He is God. But the desire to do it my way is a hard dragon to slay. 

This verse is popular for a reason. It is full of powerful truths and infinite hope. 

"they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31

Look at that verse! THREE semicolons. The semicolon is grammar's direction to "pause". Slow down and take in every bit of the instruction, the promise and the prophecy. Those who wait and take strength from Him can go the extra mile. 

In His strength we can hold our tongues when we want to lash out. We can be kind when we feel impatient or frustrated. We can recharge as we rest in His strength when ours fails or runs out. It is the difference between treading water and floating. 

Today, I am grateful for the recharge in the waiting places.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Twins

  Year 8-Day 227: Today, I am grateful for twins!

Who has two sets of identical twins in one family? We do! When my Aunt married my Uncle David, he came with Paul, Eddie and Andy. Paul was the oldest and Eddie and Andy were identical twin boys. For us, more cousins was a reason to celebrate. Molly soon arrived adding some estrogen to the household. Molly wasn't very old when the second set of identical twin boys, David and James, completed the family. It was chaos and it was fun. 

Ed and Andy have been men for quite a few years, but it always makes me smile to think of our childhood days. We had it all and we didn't even know it. Life was sweet. Family gatherings were loud. The more the merrier, right? Especially when James and David arrived not long after Molly. 

My twin cousins, Dawn and Donna Hanson, are another fun pair. My Dad introduced the neighbor boy to his new sister-in-law and love blossomed. Neighbor boys married sisters. Aunt Judy and Uncle Larry gave birth to twins first...  so we had cousins nearby who were some of our best friends. Most of my childhood memories of family include my cousins. Twin cousins always increased the fun factor. 

Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy divorced several years ago, but we are grateful for the family they made together. In this picture, Aunt Kathy was pregnant with Molly... and James and David were only a wish in their hearts. Paul is behind my Mama Ina Mae and Eddie & Andy are in the front row. 

Thanks Molly for sharing this picture. I love it!!! I wish Uncle Lee and Uncle Dave were not half hidden. And that front row... all kinds of trouble and so much to love.

By the way, Mama Ina Mae is in the middle of the picture... between Grandpa Vernon and Great Grandma Hulda. I think my Mama looks beautiful. 

"Children are a gift from God." Twins are double the gift. 

Today, I am grateful for twins!



Friday, August 14, 2020

The Sunrise of God's Faithfulness

 Year 8-Day 226: Today, I am grateful for the sunrise of God's faithfulness. 

The sun will come up tomorrow. It is something we count on. The day might be bright and cheery or it might rain. Whatever the weather, the sunrise is sure. There are times I think God placed the sun in the sky not just to warm and light the earth, but to give us new hope with each daybreak. 

"Just as the sun is faithful to rise, so too is God's faithfulness." -Michelle Bengston 

Nature can't help but reflect His glory. He loves order and whimsy, too. The earth spins and makes it's way around the sun in a way we can predict and observe. That is the order. But our God is so much more. While keeping the earth perfectly positioned to support life on this planet, he paints a new sunrise every morning. That is the whimsy.

Frankly, I find the orderly ways of nature as intriguing as the watercolor skies. 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. -Psalm 9:1

All of his wonderful ways. They delight the senses and hope is renewed at each sunrise. 

Today, I am grateful for the sunrise of God's faithfulness. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Roasted Veggies

 

Year 8-Day 225: Today, I am grateful for roasted vegetables.

We all know we should eat our veggies. Nutritionists, doctors and mothers constantly remind us to that vegetables are our friends. Honestly, I love veggies, but have discovered that roasting them makes most of them better. 

If we pay close attention to our bodies, most will find that when we increase the vegetables on our plates, the health results are very real. They show up in our skin, digestion improves and often on the scale. 

I remember the documented story of the Hebrew boys taken into captivity in Babylon. 

"“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

The boys shined at the end of the testing period. God blessed their faithful heart and gave them wisdom and understanding, including what to eat. They did not want to eat food that had been offered to idols for blessing. They did not want to eat things that made them feel pleasure for a moment, but miserable later. I need to read this story often and take notes. 

The good news is that veggies do not have to be awful. Roasting them enhances the flavor. A little olive oil and seasoning brings them up from tolerable to crave-able. 

Try something new... or mix them together in new ways. Summer is at its best. 

Today, I am grateful for roasted vegetables.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Grit

  Year 8-Day 224: Today, I am grateful for grit.

Grit is word seldom used these days. The truth is, we need more grit. 

True grit is a combination of courage, bravery, spirit, strength of will, still, fortitude, hardiness, determination, tenacity, endurance and perseverance. Someone with grit is not afraid of hard work and difficult tasks.Grit doesn't give.

Joseph and Noah are two of my favorite people from the Old Testament. They both showed grit when people were laughing at them or putting them down. Most would have given up, but Joseph and Noah pressed on. Their faithfulness was rewarded. 

Grit is the thing that makes us keep going when it doesn't make sense. 

We were never told the road would be easy. Only that it would be worth it. 

"Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us."-Colossians 1:9-12

Today, I am grateful for grit.




Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Firstborn

 Year 8-Day 223: Today, I am grateful for Chase.

My first born is twenty-nine today. How can that be possible? I remember the night he was born. I remember the long hours that led up to the miracle. I remember the way he would study the world around him with a curious mind and an intensity that should have given us clues about his future and the man he would grow up to be. 

He always asked big questions... hard questions... beyond his years about God, the stars and dinosaurs. He would line up his cars and tie them together with strings long before his high school physics Rube Goldberg assignment. 

He is programmed for critical thinking and enjoys problem solving. He is equally capable of putting pen to paper with ease. Okay, he uses a computer, but you know what I mean. He never tires of learning new things, and remembers most of what he learns.

He has always loved animals... big and small. A fluffy, senior Rottweiler named Penny has him wrapped around her paw. I love that he (and Emma) rescued an older dog from the local shelter. Of course, I am a firm believer that our pets rescue us right back. Penny looks at him with adoration and I can't help but smile. He is so much like his Dad. 

He loves his wife with his whole heart and treasures their days together. Being a husband has added a new dimension to his personality and we can't help but smile. 

I am grateful God placed him in our arms and protected him from our inexperience as parents. I am grateful for the many who loved him with us and helped him grow. Birthday are a wonderful opportunity to express gratitude for the many blessings on our lives. 





Today, I am grateful for Chase.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Courage

 Year 8-Day 222: Today, I am grateful for courage.

Most of us don't think of ourselves as courageous. Courage rises when love conquers fear. The courageous are not fearless. They taste the fear, but do not let it rule in their hearts and lives. 

We see courage in our soldiers, police, firefighters and healthcare workers, but many would not describe themselves as brave. They want the world to be better, safer and healthier. They offer their lives as living sacrifices every day as they stand in the gaps, advocating and seeking justice for those who have no heroes to defend them. 

This year, as schools across the nation are making decisions to open or remain closed, our educators are on the front lines, too. The world as our children have known it has changed in what seems like a heartbeat. Some parents will become their children's educators as each family decides what is best for their family. CS Lewis has a simple quote that struck the right chord with today:

"Courage, dear heart." -CS Lewis

Simple words. Encouraging words. We all need encouragement these days. 

Everyone these days is making hard choices. Be kind. Everyone is faced with new challenges. Offer grace. Everyone is testing new waters. Be forgiving. Everyone needs a little courage. Let love conquer fear.  

This scripture hits the mark perfectly:

"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

Today, I am grateful for courage.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

No Water In The Boat

 

Year 8-Day 221: Today, I am grateful there is no water in the boat. 

"Ships don't sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down."

That is certainly a good message for these times. 

Each morning, we wake up to a new day... a fresh start... and a clean slate. Yesterday's mess ups and struggles may impact today, but much of that is a reflection of the power we give yesterdays failures. Do we let yesterday define us or refine us? 

I promise you, our God is looking for us to make revisions and refinements. He doesn't define us by who we were before we accepted His love and grace into our lives. He longs for us to grow wiser and do better. Some of our best refinements come from the times we really blow it. His mercy and forgiveness is deep and wide.

How many days do I look at the troubled waters around me... and in my own anxious moments... invite water into my own boat? Nervously rocking back and forth, the water slips into the boat. The water isn't that noticeable at first, but my feet get wet. I keep rocking. Fear escalates and so does discomfort. The back and forth motion gets bigger and more dangerous. I am prone to motion sickness, too. Ugh! Pure misery.

How do we keep the water out? The answer is one of my favorite passages:

“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

I have the first part of this scripture over my kitchen sink. The reminder to "Be still and know." is exactly what we need to do. When fear would have us frantic in the boat, because of a storm or rough seas, we are instructed to "be still". Practice the pause. Pray. Practice patience. Peek into the scriptures to perceive God's heart. 

Many question how God can love us and allow these turbulent times. The rest of his creation is driven by instinct and natural desires. He made us in "His image" so that we have the unique power to choose Him or reject him. He longs for us to love Him back.                          

My verse of the day is a lovely compliment. 

"“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." -Luke 12:6-7

We matter to our Lord and King. He longs for us to trust him with our whole hearts. When it feels like there is "water in the boat", we can ask, "How did it get there"? Too many times, the discomfort and sinking feeling is a direct result of my own lack of trust or disobedience. 

Yes, bad things can and do happen to all of us. God didn't promise us exemption, but he promised we never need to feel alone or isolated. When the wind is whipping and the boat is rocking... we can stay safe and dry. Fear can interrupt us, keeping us from living out our best lives. 

We can trust His goodness and His care. As CS Lewis wrote so poetically: "He isn't always "safe" but he is always good." 

Our God is fierce. Remember the rest of Psalm 46:10? "I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” He is clear about his expectations. 

Dad always said, "The grist mill wheels of God's judgment grinds slowly but infinitely fine." We can't outsmart God or his commandments. We can be still and know that he has the hairs on our heads counted and knows when even one sparrow falls. His attention to detail is rooted in omniscience. He is omnipotent. And, perhaps my favorite trait... He is omnipresent. 

Omnipresent means he is in the boat with us. No need for water in the boat. And, if it seems the boat is sinking... our Savior walks on water. 

Today, I am grateful there is no water in the boat. 


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Experience

 Year 8-Day 221: Today, I am grateful for experience.

Experience doesn't always come easy or without bumps and bruises. Mark Twain says it well:

"Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions." -Mark Twain

What a true statement. Can we grow old and wise with flawless grace? For most, there are struggles along the way. Those trials help mold us in way a smooth path never would. 

"Indeed, we all make many mistakes." James 3:2a

The passage goes on to speak about learning self control, including the tongue. The tongue does get us into trouble. Learning to harness its power take practice. Peace comes to those who manage to do that very thing. 

"Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent." -Psalm 4:4 

They say practice makes perfect, but practice, also, takes time.

Today, I am grateful for experience. 



Friday, August 7, 2020

S'More

Year 8-Day 220: Today, I am grateful for S'mores.

Friday night traditions often include a fire and s'mores. We love our traditions. Tonight, the temperature was just right for both. 

S'mores require a graham cracker, a toasted marshmallow and Hershey's chocolate. 


It is a perfect little desert sandwich. It makes me wonder who came up with the idea? Some Mom on a family camping trip? I tried to research it. It has been around a long time, but it's history is a mystery. 

Our Ryan and Anna insist that Reese's Peanut Butter cup is a great substitute for the chocolate bar. I would certainly give that variation a try. A s'more is more than a dessert, it is fun. It is as much about the fire and the fellowship as it is about the food. 

Graham crackers are good on their own. So are toasted marshmallows. Chocolate, I believe, was inspired by angels. On their own, they are delicious. Put them together... suddenly they are MORE. The sum is more than the parts. 

Is our God is like a s'more? The Holy Trinity... Father, Son & Holy Spirit... HE is so much more that we can imagine or truly understand.  I see a children's lesson in the making. The Graham Cracker holds it all together like the Father. The Holy Spirit... warm and sweet... and then before you know it, it is everywhere. The chocolate is obviously a food directly from heaven. Jesus experienced life in human skin, the bitter and the sweet. And when we were at our worst, His heart melted for us with unconditional love and sacrifice. 

The scriptures tell us that our "God is more". 

"God is more glorious than the moon; he shines brighter than the stars." -Job 25:5

He is more.

Today, I am grateful for S'mores.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Safer In His Hands

Year 8-Day 219: Today, I am grateful to be safer in His hand. 

"If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in his hand but would be safer in mine?" -Elizabeth Elliot

Read that quote again; read it until it sinks into your soul.

Surrender requires a decision. Surrender requires us to give up control to the one who holds all of our tomorrows. Why is that so hard at times? He actually holds the whole world in His hands, as the children's song taught us. Yet... I fight to keep control over my little corner. Do I think I can do it better? 

"In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also." -Psalm 95:4

The ocean deep and the mountain heights are not unknown to him. Neither are my troubles, trials and concerns. He knows us from head to toe. Learning to listen and learning to let Him lead requires us leaning into His goodness and grace. It is more than lip service. It is giving up our own agendas to explore the adventures He has in store for our lives. 

We still fight him at times... at least, I do. There is a freedom in letting go that changes us from the inside out. We can trust His hand and His heart. 

Elizabeth Elliot returned to the Amazon after her husband and his friends were murdered by the people very people with whom they were determined to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. I've often wondered how she did it. Not only did she return as a widow with small children, she never lost sight of the mission her husband help write on her heart. 

People thought her nuts, but she knew she would be safer in His hand than choosing her own path. Her decision and her witness will echo into eternity.  

Today, I am grateful to be safer in His hand.