Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Essentials


Year 9- Day 31: Today, I am grateful for winter essentials.

If we have to endure the cold, we can choose some favorite accessories.  Cute boots and warm fires are two of my favorite things about winter. 

We are experiencing some winter weather at the moment. It helps me to focus on the things I enjoy about winter. There is nothing like the scents that come with wood fires in the hearth and cookies in the oven. 

I can't forget the joy of heading to bed a little early. It helps to be fully rested when a new week begins to unfold. 

Take in the scents and wonders of the winter season. 

"She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes." -Proverbs 31:21

Throw on the cozy, long cardigan and plan for a cocoa break. 

Today, I am grateful for winter essentials.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Think on these Things


Year 9- Day 30: Today, I am grateful  we can choose what thoughts to think on.

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." -Philippians 4:8

It is wisdom for the ages. It never fails. The message is to guide our thoughts. It reminds us to not let our thoughts and feelings guide us. Focus on the honorable the right, the pure, the lovely , the admirable and the things that are worthy of praise. If we think on these things, it will change our days and our ways. 

What are the things around us that truly qualify? These things might take a little more thought. Taking care of another's needs, lifting us the weary, feeding the hungry, playing with the children, listening to the elderly speak with respect, caring for God's creatures and other things might qualify. 

Today, I am grateful for can choose what thoughts to think on.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Deep Breaths


Year 9- Day 29: Today, I am grateful for deep breaths.

When the work week is over, I am grateful for the deep breath. When this pandemic is in the history books, I will never again take unrestricted breaths for granted. 

I don't have asthma. I can do a cardio workout and get my breath back quickly (I do need to get back to that routine.) I rarely have a cold or congestion. I have enjoyed free breathing for most of my life and  I miss it.  That is the honest truth. 

"When in doubt, look up to the sky and take a deep breath. "

Please remember... no political comments on gratitude posts... I am simply saying that a deep breath of fresh air means more than it did a year ago. I am not saying it to complain, because riding the "complain train" never really changes circumstances. We have to change how we frame the situation. 

Sometimes, I find it good to spend a little time in Job. It is full of little gems of wisdom in the midst of the suffering.  When I am reminded of all Job suffered, it helps me gain perspective. Job speaks often of "breath". 

"For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being." -Job 12:10

"If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust." -Job 34:14-15

Breath is life. Life is breath. He is my breath. 

"He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need."  -Act 17:25b

I am so grateful for opportunities to take in fresh air and to take a deep, unrestricted breath. 

Today, I am grateful for deep breaths.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Unfailing Love


Year 9- Day 28: Today, I am grateful for unfailing love.

"I can't brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily, but I can brag about His love for me because it never fails." -unknown

This little quote wraps up nicely the wonder of God's love for us. It never fails. We fail him daily, but His love persists.

"So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 

For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. " -John 1:14,17 

We try to do the right thing, but human nature gets in the way. We don't mean to be self serving or thoughtless, but we are imperfect and that sinful nature rises up at times. Still, His amazing love continues to pursue us. Gently but with a persistence that eventually brings us to that moment of humbling ourselves before the foot of the cross, where we offer him our messes and he trades us for hope, a future and a crown.

We bring him our shame and lack of name and importance. He celebrates our homecoming and makes us sons and daughters. Forever and with a full inheritance.

Today, I am grateful for unfailing love.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ordinary Arts at Home


Year 9- Day 27: Today, I am grateful for ordinary arts at home.

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

Changing the toilet paper. Feeding the fur babies. Filling the ice cube trays (Does anyone still do this?). Doing the laundry and dishes. Running the vacuum. Baking cookies. Matching up the socks. Washing the bedding. Each act is ordinary in every way... until it is done with love.

Do we look at the ordinary arts we practice every day and truly access their value and impact. In 2020, we appreciated toilet paper more than most of us had in a lifetime.

Mama Ina Mae always encouraged us and modeled ordinary arts with extraordinary love. Acting with intention and grace requires practice, until it becomes a habit. We all need time to rest and restore, but there is an exhilaration that only comes when we learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.

'And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31

Allow me to suggest... just for the pondering... that when we learn to "love our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength", loving our neighbors as ourselves is a natural response to being filled with His Holy Spirit. No longer seeing with human eyes, but His eyes of love and compassion. It becomes "second nature". Not our original, natural response, but a second nature born of loving God with our whole hearts. It becomes more innate than intentional.

Think about it. A "second nature" is defined as a mindset, skill, or type of behavior so ingrained through habit or practice that it seems natural, automatic, or without a basis in conscious thought.

Allow me to confess... I still have plenty of work to do. Learning to love our neighbors... all of them... has a direct correlation to how much we love our Lord. One of the best places to practice love and grace is in the ordinary arts at home.

Practice love. Practice forgiveness. Practice changing the roll of toilet paper until it becomes second nature.

Today, I am grateful for ordinary arts at home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021



Year 9- Day 26: Today, I am grateful for shelter from wind and rain.

"A little house - a house of my own- Out of the wind's and the rain's way."-Padriac Colum

In January, the elements can be brutal. The winds, the rains, the snows and the ice seem endless at times. We've been blessed with a fairly mild winter thus far. Now, these past couple of days... the reality of the Midwest winter has hit. Baby it's cold outside.

I cannot forget how many do not have real shelter and appropriate clothing for these bitter days. It makes me appreciate, even more, the simple but precious gift of our home. It isn't the biggest or the fanciest, but it is something we are grateful for every day. It is just right for us.

Under the shelter of our own roof, there is a sense of calm and peace. Home is where our hearts return and our feet find rest.

"Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!" -Psalm 61:4

Are we most at home when we are resting in Him? He is our best shelter from the storms of life. Let the winds blow and the rains fall. We can rest safely under His wings.

Today, I am grateful for shelter from wind and rain.

Monday, January 25, 2021


 Year 9- Day 25: Today, I am grateful for heaters.

Baby, it's cold outside. I am so grateful for the working heaters in my world.

Our home furnace is a faithful servant. The heater in my car heats up quickly. The heater at school keeps me warm while I work. A working heater is not something we thing about often... until it isn't working. It is good to pause and give thanks when it is working as it should.

I guess I need to remember the four legged heater that tends to warm my spot before I crawl in bed each night. Daisy Mae makes a great foot warmer, too.

Our modern heaters mean we no longer require fires for heat... or another human... although I am a fan of snuggling.

Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? -Ecclesiastes 4:11

The temperatures are dipping and the icy winds are blowing, so today is a great day to give thanks for our modern technologies that provide us with heat.

Today, I am grateful for heaters.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Friends Who Are Different


Year 9- Day 24: Today, I am grateful for friends who are different.

I always enjoy the videos of animals of different species who befriend each other. Yes, animals can sometimes choose to act outside of nature, too. Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cows and cats. When raised together, animals can form strong bonds. Species is just a scientific classification with little meaning when you are part of the same family.

One of the true signs of maturity is when a person seeks out and nurtures friendships outside of what is easy and comfortable. Sincere friendships beyond our easy social circles can turn out to be rare gems in our treasure trove of friends.

Jesus learned woodworking and the carpenter's trade, but he found deep and abiding friendships with the fishermen, the doctor, the tax collectors, the physician and so many more. We grow when we choose to love people where they are. We don't have to make our friends "like us". That should never be the goal.

We might ask, 'What can I learn from my friends who are the most different from me?" Each one of us is knit together with unique qualities. All of us have something to contribute... something to share.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body  and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." -Psalm 139:13-14

We can choose to celebrate uniqueness.

Today, I am grateful for friends who are different.

Saturday, January 23, 2021



Year 9- Day 23: Today, I am grateful for nightlights.

When wandering around the house in the middle of the night, nightlights give us clearer sight. They keep us from stubbing our toes on things. They are, truly, useful things.

I don't think I have ever remembered to be grateful for nightlights. It seems there is always something new to be grateful for... always. We have nightlights in different places around the house. I like them in bathrooms and hallways. There is one in the kitchen, too. I've never counted them all, but there are probably half a dozen or more.

I am reminded once again that even the tiniest of lights has the power to defeat the darkness.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." -John 1:5

Darkness cannot overcome the light. It is impossible. Light, like love, always wins.

Today, I am grateful for nightlights.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Lessons from the Birds


Year 9- Day 22: Today, I am grateful for lessons from the birds.

The older I get, the more I am fascinated with the birds. They are so resilient, persistent and in the moment. They just keep going until they achieve whatever it is they need to accomplish. 

They don't worry or give up when things don't turn out as they planned. They can work hard on a nest and have the wind take it. They don't quit. They start again (except the blue jay who is known to steal a nest). Yes, birds are fascinating to watch. There is something calming to the soul, too. 

Perhaps it is why Jesus reminds us to not fret, but to take time to observe God's hand over nature. 

"Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?" -Matthew 6:26

Yes, we are far more valuable to the Father than the birds of the field, yet when they trust Him, their needs are met. How many times do I attempt to control the universe instead of trusting the one who created it? (Rhetorical question... no need to list my failures and shortcomings in the trust department.) Trust and patience go hand in hand. 

My friend, Gypsy, has been photographing birds this past year and her images blow me away. I can't even begin to imagine all she has seen from behind her lens. Beauty, grace, combat, romance, new life, death, feasts, comfy nests, damaged habitats and hunger. The bird world isn't all that different from ours. Again, a good reason for Jesus to point to the birds for some life lessons. 

My sweet Mother-in-Love, Shela, loved to watch the birds. They entertained her for hours, more than any television. She enjoyed watching the mother birds and the relationships between the birds and the nature around them. She would talk about the things she could see from her window, even when her health kept her indoors. 

I am grateful to be able to watch and learn.   

Today, I am grateful for lessons from the birds.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Simple Recipes


Year 9- Day 21: Today, I am grateful for simple recipes.

I love recipes that come together quickly. The ones with three to five ingredients. They turn into something fabulous, effortlessly. 

Magic bars have about five. Pink dip has two. Seriously gross looking but delicious (One jar of spicy salsa mixed with on bar of Neufachel cheese or cream cheese.)Dump Cake is another recipe that is thrown together in five easy steps. 

What about a recipe for contentment? 

"With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?" - Oscar Wilde

Things don't buy contentment or peace. I think Wilde's list is thoughtful. Freedom is a privilege we take for granted in the USA. Books can take us anywhere in the world with the turn of a page. The moon glows for everyone, making a perfect nightlight. And don't forget the flowers. Flowers always add good cheer and sweet scents to any garden or home. These simple items make me happy.

The recipe for true peace and joy is found in Jesus. Jesus always encouraged his followers to travel light. 

"So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content." -1 Timothy 6:8

 Having the most basic of needs met is a recipe for simple living. So often, we complicate our lives. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Contemplate the simple things that add so much delight to our days.

Today, I am grateful for simple recipes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021



Year 9- Day 20: Today, I am grateful for daybreak.

"You can only come to morning through the shadows." - JRR Tolkien

Daybreak is my favorite time of day. The moment when night ends and light begins to slowly break through the darkness is evidence of God's gift of another new day. The miracle of light conquering darkness never gets old. 

"Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning." -Proverbs 11:7

We can make plans. Some succeed; some fail. Some are worth trying again. We rest up and at daybreak we can try again. There is no need to fear the shadows. Take advantage of the opportunity to rest and restore. 

There is a unique peace at daybreak. As the new dawn's light forces shadow disseminate,  we find new hope and new energy. 

Today, I am grateful for daybreak.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Ordinary Folk


Year 9- Day 19: Today, I am grateful for ordinary folk. 

Ordinary people are the salt of the earth. They are the "real" in our reality. They are not afraid of hard work. They show up when they make a volunteer or work commitment. They are there to clean up after gatherings. They deliver meals. They drive carpools. They happily eat a peanut butter sandwich.

"I found it is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love." -Gandolf, The Hobbit

I do love that quote. Ordinary folk add light and life to our world. 

One of the things I love most about Christ's example was passion for the ordinary. From the very beginning, it was clear that He came for all people. He was not too important to stop for a conversation at a well or to let the children surround him. 

He was not too busy to heal a blind man, a leper or a beloved servant. His ministry was full of acts of love and kindness to the ordinary folk. The ordinary folk became his greatest missionaries. The wealthy and the royal had a harder time making him the Lord of their lives. For many, their fears were bigger than their faith. They walked away for all Jesus had to offer. 

The ordinary folk, perhaps, had little to lose and everything to gain by surrendering their lives to Jesus. The ordinary folk were eager to share what they had... food, time and faith. They ate together in community and met each other's needs. They lived out every day acts of love and kindness. Their actions echoed into future generations and into eternity. We know what we know because they shared the gospel generation after generation. 

"Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!" -Romans 12:16

Today, I am grateful for ordinary folk. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Look Away & Look Up

Year 9- Day 18: Today, I am grateful we can choose to look away and look up.

"Reality, looked at steadily, is unbearable."-CS Lewis 

CS Lewis was brilliant. His wit and wisdom never cease to amaze me. What is even more amazing is his words seem to be timeless. 

Sometimes, we have to look away from the present reality to save our sanity. In redirecting our thoughts, we can find a place of quite rest. It is not denial... it is survival. 

The scriptures remind us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." -Proverbs 3:5-6

We can literally drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out God's plan and the big picture. We can't see the whole canvas. We either trust His hand and His heart... or we don't. 

I've mostly lost interest in mainstream reality shows. So many seem out of touch with actual reality. (That is not a judgement, if you love them. They are just not my thing.) I've lived long enough to see real life dramas play out; I am not entertained by the invented dramas on reality television. (Okay... maybe the Kilchers on the Last frontier in Alaska, simply because I can't imagine joyfully living through Alaskan winters). Reality has enough challenges, right? 

Never underestimate the power of choice. Where do we look? Where do we set our eyes? 

One of my favorite examples of looking away from reality and into the heart of God is when David is in a cave hiding. King Saul is hunting him down to kill him out of jealousy and fear. Saul shows up in the same cave where David is hunkered down. He is close enough to King Saul to cut a piece of fabric from Saul's robe. He could have easily killed him. God said, "No." David was obedient. 

David let God lead. What seemed like a missed opportunity was a part of God's perfect plan. David learned to trust and obey. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose to look away and look up.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Love is a Verb


Year 9- Day 17: Today, I am grateful love is a verb.

From now until February 14th, we will see all kinds of advertisements for Valentine's Day. Hearts, flowers and chocolate are everywhere. The day promotes romance. 

I am a fan of romance, but I think we sometimes miss the best of romance because our eyes miss the moment. We need to look with different eyes. Love is shown in actions and in truth.

"Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." -1 John 3:18

Actions like turning on the mattress pad so the bed is warm. Texting to ask if we need anything from the store on the way home. Folded laundry. Shoveling snow. Taking  a walk together.  Enduring countless Hallmark movies. Running the vacuum. Picking up after the dog. A gentle hand. An unexpected kiss. 

We can talk about love all day long, but in truth... real love is displayed in what we choose to do. I am grateful for the little things that are really the big things.

Today, I am grateful love is a verb.

Saturday, January 16, 2021


 Year 9- Day 16: Today, I am grateful for family.

In celebrations and in times of sorrow,  family is special. They help us carry our burdens, double our joys and divide our sorrows. Today, we spent time remembering together.

 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” -Joshua 4:5-7

We can remember with stones, with stories, with music and in so many other ways, but what really matters is being together. Family matters.

Long day. Short post. 

Today, I am grateful for family.

Friday, January 15, 2021



Year 9- Day 15: Today, I am grateful for persimmons.

Mama Ina Mae is a big proponent of trying something new. We grew up with "no thank you helpings".  We were not allowed to be rude at someone else's table or at Mama's. When someone prepared food for you, the appropriate response was thank you. The result, all three of us were pretty adventurous when it comes to food. . 

This week, I tried something new. Persimmons. They have never been on my radar before, but I grabbed a small bag on impulse. They were the dried variety. I have no clue if I like them fresh, but dried, they are amazing. A little sweet. A little chewy. They are a perfect snack. Check out Bella Viva Orchards for online orders, as they are having a sale on the organic version. 

Apparently, there are some health benefits to eating persimmons. They soothe acid reflux.  Some people make a persimmon punch with ginger, cinnamon sticks, honey and persimmons that they drink daily to fight heartburn. Healthy and tasty. A good source of fiber and loaded with vitamins A and C which are important for the immune system. 

They are believed to be heart healthy, full of antioxidants and they may help reduce inflammation. Plus, they are tasty. 

I am reminded of the gift of fruit bearing trees:

"The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." -Genesis 1:12

It was good to try something new. 

Today, I am grateful for persimmons.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Whole Picture


Year 9- Day 14: Today, I am grateful for the whole picture.

How many times do we catch a glimpse of something or someone and make a judgment call without all of the information. 

"I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them, and confuse it for the whole." -Lauren Oliver

Remember the movie "Pretty Woman"? I love the scene where Vivian returns to the very same stores that refused to serve her with her arms loaded with packages. She asks them if they remember her from the day before. She reminds them they would not serve her. She holds up the bags and says, "Big mistake. Big. HUGE!" 

I've always loved that scene. I am reminded to never judge a book by the cover. One glimpse of a human on a particular day... at a particular moment in time... it is not an accurate summation of who they are. People are complicated. Vivian was so much more.

How many times are we wrong about people based on a first impression? First impressions matter, they are often just a glimpse and not an accurate depiction. It takes time, an open mind and persistence to get past  incorrect "first impressions".

Jesus always looked past what was seen on the surface... and into the heart. Zacchaeus was a hated tax collector. The woman at the well had a history of failed relationships. James and John were called the "Sons of Thunder". Peter was impulsive. Thomas was skeptical. The Centurion was a Roman Soldier. Jesus saw the whole picture. He knew their hearts.  

Now... Jesus has the advantage of God eyes. We are human. Still, we can learn from His example. Pause. Ponder. Practice patience. 

"God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith." -Acts 15:8-9

He cleanses our hearts through faith. He changes us. He helps us see with his eyes.

Today, I am grateful for the whole picture.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Reflections of the Heart

Year 9- Day 13: Today, I am grateful for reflections of the heart. 

I was watching the celebration of life service for my friend, Rev. Javier Tamez. Listening to his family and friends share stories of his life, this scripture fell into place:

"As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart." -Proverbs 27:19

 Javier's life reflected his heart... has heart beat for his Lord, for his wife and family, for his friends and for the church. His brother, Dan, referred to him as a servant leader. He demonstrated the greatest love and care for anyone and everyone. 

The service was almost two hours long, but it felt like a blink. Story after story told of Jav's heart that reflected the One who saved his soul and gave him constant peace, laughter and joy. 

One of my favorite posts about Javier was from a friend of his beautiful wife, Milissa. She told how Milissa was always buying Javier clothing. Why? Because he would give you the shirt off of his back. Literally. It made me smile, because I know that was his heart. He loved God and he loved others. He fulfilled the great commission... and his earthly mission. His mission came to an end far too soon for those left behind. 

"You knew he had been her for the light he left behind."

Soon, we will celebrate my aunt's life. She, too, loved the Lord with her whole heart. As friends were offering condolences to my cousins and uncle on Facebook, one spoke about the first time they visited "Aunt (Bonnie)Mama's" church. They told how she saw the new people and welcomed them with her amazing warmth. If you know my Mama Ina Mae, Aunt Bonnie was like her in so many ways. Bess women hug and they offer help. It is how they roll

"Aunt (Bonnie) Mama" was the queen of "trash to treasure" before it was cool. Countless times, I remember her opening bags and pulling out craft projects or finished items she would give us as gifts. Like Jesus, she didn't see trash or broken things... she saw potential. She poured love into her projects and shared all that she had with others. She was quick to say "yes" and lend a hand. 

She adored little ones and little ones loved her back. She worked in early childhood programs and won the hearts of so many wee ones. She lived out the words of Jesus. 

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” -Matthew 19:14

"Aunt (Bonnie)Mama's" loss leaves a hole in our hearts and an empty seat at the family table. On the other side, my sister, April, is doing a happy dance. She's reunited with Javier and Aunt Bonnie all in the same week.  She loved them both. Heaven's gain; our deep sorrow. 

They are in the presence of the King who loved us enough to become one of us. The one who died and rose again to make a way for us. They know the full joy of being in Jesus's presence.  Aunt Bonnie and Javier taught us all to love big and laugh often. They showed us Jesus in the reflections of their hearts. They were God talkers and hope bringers. 

"People of God offer hope." -Javier Tamez, November 2021

We do not grieve as those who have no hope. 

Today, I am grateful for reflections of the heart. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Balanced Life


Year 9- Day 12: Today, I am grateful we can seek a balanced life. 

Robert Folghum wrote the popular piece "Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten." He has quite a way with words. Mary Engelbreit is my favorite artist . Her wit and whimsy always touch my heart. She borrowed one of Folghum's quotes for this piece art. 

"Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday some." -Robert Folghum

This hit all the right notes for me today. I don't always achieve balance, but it is a goal every morning. Learning, thinking, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, playing and working all require us to be present in the moment. Embracing this day and what it has to offer adds fullness and balance to our lives.

After nearly a year of living a more isolated life than we might choose, many feel a little off balance. Others have been pleasantly surprised at the simple pleasure of an empty calendar that leaves space for deep breaths, reading and hanging out with family. Balance may look a little different for each of us, but seeking balance is healthy for the mind, body and soul. 

In the seasons of life when we achieve more balance, it is often because we draw healthy boundaries and keep them. 

"A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls." -Proverbs 25:28

Life is a balancing act that requires practice. We don't always achieve balance, but we can keep trying and learning from our mistakes. 

Today, I am grateful we can seek a balanced life.

Monday, January 11, 2021



Year 9- Day 11: Today, I am grateful for proverbs.

Wise little short sentences that have a way of sticking in our heads... that is a proverb.  Most cultures have them. They make their way to our hearts.

The image provides a definition. "Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long experience. " 

When God offered King Solomon the choice of any gift, Solomon asked for wisdom. He chose a gift that kept on giving. It was good for him and those in his kingdom. Proverbs are made for pondering. Let them sit... and stew... and brew.

"Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." -Proverbs 1:5-7

We all need wisdom. 

Today, I am grateful for proverbs.

Sunday, January 10, 2021



Year 9- Day 10: Today, I am grateful for catchlights.

I am a hobby photographer. A serious amateur is what I often say. I love taking photos. People are my favorite. Capturing relationships and not just posed images are the most fun. Portraits of single individuals is my other favorite capture. 

I learned quickly about catchlights. What is a catchlight?  Miriam Webster defines a catchlight as "a small spot of light reflected from a shiny surface (as from an eye in portraiture or from metal or glass in photography)". The little white reflections in the eye are what bring the eyes to life, even in a flat image. 

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Catchlights are a reflection of the light source. We have to recognize the light source to set up an image for catchlights. Bright sunlight makes for harsh shadows in photographs. "Open shade" is the best for portraits. Light that is filtered through an overcast sky or a window works well. 

The light source does not have to be clearly visible to create the desired reflection in a subject's eyes. Move a subject until you can see the catchlights, then frame the picture. 

Most were not looking for a photography lesson today, but I have decided on "catchlights" as my one little word for the year. I will ponder and pray on it. My 2020 word was "light". It turned out to be a good word for a difficult year. Light has so many spiritual implications. "Catchlights" will require a little more pondering, but it is the word that felt right. 

There are no catchlights without the light source. We have to identify the source. God is our source. 

God addressed Job with these questions: "Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind?" -Job 38:24

Becoming familiar with our light source is a game changer. 

Today, I am grateful for catchlights.

Established Roots.


Year 9- Day 9: Today, I am grateful for established roots.

An ice storm... followed by  a week of snow flocked trees … beautiful, yes, but it has done some damage. When the winter thaws, it is likely there will be some trees that did not survive the combination of ice and snow that lasted for 7 days. 

The sound of tree branches cracking and hitting the roof has become familiar. Some cars have been damaged, as well, under falling limbs. When the snow and ice melts and winter goes away, will the trees come back to life in the spring? 

Often, the answer lies in whether or not the tree is rooted and established in good soil. A soil that has fed the tree with strength and virility, enough to survive the abuse of a winter storm, will help that tree spring forth with new life when winter melts into the season of rebirth.

We, too, will face seasons that feel like winter. Storms will come and go. We learn to bend, or we break. Roots matter. Being rooted in Christ gives us  strength and vitality to weather the storms. We can survive, because He is our life, our breath and our hope. Our roots are established. 

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong." -Ephesians 3:17

Today, I am grateful for established roots.

Friday, January 8, 2021

TV Off

 Year 9- Day 8: Today, I am grateful we can turn the tv off. 

There is something different in the younger generations that I love. They don't center any room around a television. Most of them could care less about cable. They stream what they want to watch through services like Netflix and listen to Podcasts that catch their interest. Unlike many generations... including my own... the television is not a necessity. 

There is a resurgence in board game popularity (maybe quarantine has magnified the need for something other than television for entertainment). It is good. 

Now, I love my Hallmark channels (all of them), but I love my people more. Memories are not made in front of the television. They are made through conversations, sharing a meal and laughing together. Nothing is sweeter than time with loved ones.

The television sucks us in. Commercials are catchy in slogan and tune.  It interrupts opportunity for real connections. People are treasures. TV's are quickly outdated. Love lives on. 

I thought of this verse:

"Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:19-21

When loved ones are gone, rarely will it we think about times in front of the TV. We will remember playing games, playing cards, camping, beach days, meals out and other times when conversations and sharing took center stage.  

Today, I am grateful we can turn the tv off. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Winter Wonderland


Year 9- Day 7: Today, I am grateful  for the Winter Wonderland.

We have had a unique winter landscape this week. First we had a covering of ice. Then came the snow. The result is a Hallmark movie landscape that has lasted for nearly a week. 

Typically, we enjoy this kind of winter wonderland beauty for a day or two... and then it is gone. This week, fairly moderate temperatures and a fresh coat of fluffy snow have delivered a week of the most beautiful winter landscape I can remember in my lifetime. It is absolutely gorgeous out there with moderate winter temperatures. 

I do not want to forget to take it in and celebrate nature's majesty. Only God can paint with so many shades of white. 

"God’s voice is glorious in the thunder.     We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power.  “He directs the snow to fall on the earth  and tells the rain to pour down. Then everyone stops working  so they can watch his power." -Job 37:5-7 (NLT)

A full week of the Winter Wonderland we are witnessing is rare for the Midwest. It feels like a gift. Photograph it. Enjoy it. Wonder at it. Thank God for a glimpse into His glorious majesty.

Today, I am grateful  for the Winter Wonderland.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Holy Ground


Year 9- Day 6: Today, I am grateful  for holy ground. 

Romans 12:15 is a life verse for me. "Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep." It seems to be coming up often, lately. 

None of us is perfect, but if we do these two things, we will please our Lord.  Life's biggest moments can fill us with both emotions. These are the moments I call "holy ground" moments. Holy moments in our lives that we never want to forget. 

The wonder of a baby growing in the womb and the miracle of birth... holy ground. The miracle of forgiveness and new life for a believer, made public through baptism... it's holy ground. The union of two lives in marriage is holy ground. The moment a soul takes its last breath on earth and first breath of heaven... my friend... it is holy ground. 

Many year ago, one of the first "praise songs" I remember hearing was "Holy Ground". The lyrics went like this: "We are standing on holy ground. And I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise, Jesus now. We are standing in His presence on Holy Ground." There are times we are aware through a 6th sense the extraordinary is happening. 

Today marks the "Feast of the Kings", the day we celebrate the arrival of the Wisemen from the East who followed the star to find Baby Jesus. They found Holy Ground. 

Today, a couple of special friends have birthdays... an anniversary of their arrival on the planet... an anniversary of a moment on Holy Ground. 

Today, cherished friends are planning services for loved ones  who died on Saturday. We share their sorrow as they press on and through their moments on Holy Ground. 

Today, our family had an unexpected loss. Mama Ina Mae's middle sister, Bonnie Bess-McHugh, died from an aneurism. She became ill yesterday. Today, she is with Jesus.  24 hours changed everything. 

I called her "Aunt Mama". I have been mistaken for her daughter. I look more like Aunt Bonnie, than Mama Ina Mae. It's how the genes fell. Aunt Bonnie was full of light and laughter. She loved to gift people things she made with her hands. She was a master of "from trash to treasure" before it was cool. She loved to share "lifehacks" before they were a thing on Facebook.  She loved doing crafts with kids at VBS and family reunions. She made everyone feel welcome.  She had a Dolly Parton genuineness that people loved. It is hard to say goodbye to those who lift us up. She loved with an open heart.  And, life was never dull because you never knew what she might say or do. We will miss her until we are reunited on Holy Ground.

Let us not forget to pause and take in Holy Ground.

Today, I am grateful  for holy ground.