Sunday, February 28, 2021

Passion

 

Year 9- Day 59: Today, I am grateful for passion.

"Whatever you do, do well." -Ecclesiastes 9:10a

The wisdom of Solomon always causes me to pause. If you are going to waste minutes of your life doing something, you might as well make the most of those minutes.

My Dad always said, "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." Dad loved working the land. He loved building on the farm. He loved giving away Bibles. He loved his work. He wanted clean fields and for us to learn work ethic. 

Mama Ina Mae was an example of the same kind of work ethic. She never shorted students on time when giving music lessons. She showed up for her commitments at church, in community and with family. When she showed up, her hands went to work. She was always welcome, because with her hands came her encouraging heart.  

Passion is doing what you love and loving what you do. I have been blessed with different opportunities in my life to do work I love. Is everyday perfect? No, but every day is a chance to try again to work hard and make a difference.  

Not sure where your passion lies? Hobbies are a great place to explore our passions. Take the time to explore. If your work path cannot change, use time outside of work to explore what makes your soul sing. 

Today, I am grateful for passion.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

He Collects Our Tears

 

Year 9- Day 58: Today, I am grateful He counts our tears.

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"  -Psalm 56:8

What a beautiful passage from the Psalms. We all have seasons when tears are plentiful. Crying when our heart aches is often because we have known great love. 

We cry when our children hurt. We cry when they leave for college. We cry when our pets die. We cry when we can't help a parent. We cry when we are overwhelmed. We cry when we feel alone. We cry when a loved one dies.

Not all tears are because we hurt. 

I love to watch videos of soldiers surprising loved ones with homecomings. The overwhelming joy of a new baby brings us to tears... or a marriage proposal. Some tears come because we can't stop our laughter. Yes, overwhelming joy makes our eyes leak, too. 

The image of our tears collected, counted and noted warms my heart.  The sorrows and those moments that move our souls. Each one matters to our God. 

Today, I am grateful He counts our tears.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Discernment

 


Year 9- Day 57: Today, I am grateful for discernment.

"Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right." -C.H. Spurgeon

A perfect definition for something hard to explain. With wisdom comes discernment. There are times when the path is not initially clear. Sometimes, it requires prayer, patience and stillness to hear God's whispers. 

When God gave us the Ten Commandments, He was not sheepish. He was clear in His guidelines between right and wrong. There are times that it is not that simple. Some choices really are good, better and best decisions. How do we choose? 

Prayer allows us to calm our hearts. Waiting allows us to build trust. Stillness tune us into His voice. 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” -Psalms 46:10

We must learn to be still to sharpen discernment. He will be exalted among the nations and on the earth. He will lead us with His wisdom. 

Today, I am grateful for discernment.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

What I Cannot See

 

Year 9- Day 56: Today, I am grateful we can trust when we cannot see.

The book of Job has a heavy dose tough stuff, yet woven in the pages are some wonderful gems. Job suffered. In his suffering, he remained faithful to the God he knew to be true. 

At one point, Job was offered these words from his friend', Elihu. Some of his friends words were helpful; others were hurtful. I do like this thought about humans trying to grasp God's justice. There are times it is beyond our reach and understanding.

Teach me what I do not see; -Job 34:32

The trouble was Elihu did not understand the whole picture. Job's suffering was not God's justice. Still, I love the thought of asking God to "teach us what we do not see". Many times, the circumstances before us make no sense. Some things we will not understand "this side of heaven" as a friend of mine used to say. 

Learning to trust is often the point of the lesson. Peter once responded to Jesus with frustration:

"Simon (Peter) answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” -Luke 5:5 NIV

There are things we cannot see. There are many times not being able to see is more of a gift than a handicap. We can trust His hand and His heart. Even in the craziest times. In learning to trust, there is peace.

Today, I am grateful we can trust when we cannot see.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Other Languages

 Year 9- Day 55: Today, I am grateful for other languages. 

"In French, you don't say "I miss you." You say, "tu me manques" which means, "you are missing from me". I love that. "

I took  a little French in High School and Spanish in college. I adore the way other languages help us see with another's eyes. Somehow, "I miss you. " pierces the heart a little more when reframed into "You are missing from me." The French version is felt a little deeper.

Languages do more than help us communicate ideas from one person to another. Language actually helps us shape our world view. I've often heard the phrase,  "It is just semantics." indicating a word choice is not that big a deal. As one who loves words, I think that semantics need to be carefully considered. It goes back to the power of a good edit. 

John Wycliffe did the first original English  translation of the Bible in the 14th century. There were limited copies and some who had problems with the translation. The Bible was translated to English for the masses, from Hebrew and Greek to English, by the order of King James in 1604. It took until 1611 to complete. At the time, "King James English" was the common language. It was considered a far more modern language translation than the 14th century Wycliffe Bible.

Most English Bibles are translations from the Hebrew and Greek. I have a fondness for the King James Version of the Bible for the poetry of the language, in the same way I enjoy Shakespeare or an old hymn. I love the art and the heart. It is hard to read for understanding.

Today's modern language translations leave us with many choices. It is good to know the history and intention of any translation of the Bible on your shelf. At Biblegateway.com, you can choose a Bible verse and push one button to cross-reference all English translations. It is a great tool when looking to clarify the meaning of any passage. Not all are the best translations, but each serves a purpose. Know the history of  a translation when choosing your favorites to use for study. 

Blueletterbible.org is wonderful for going back to the original Hebrew and Greek text. You just might find yourself "lost in translations". Lost not meaning confused, but the feeling you get when lost in the pleasure of an art gallery or an English garden. Lost in the way that delights the soul.

Tolkien said: "Not all who wander are lost." On the other side of the coin, some who seem lost, are merely enjoying  a little wandering. Translations into other languages can provide challenges... but, also, it can add a little mystery and wonder. 

Jesus once said, "There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?" -John 14:2

That thought, spoken aloud, whispers the deepest kind of love. The kind of love that says, "I am coming back because you are missing from me." 

Today, I am grateful for other languages. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Mundane


Year 9- Day 54: Today, I am grateful for the mundane. 

In the quiet, humble tasks of daily life, there is beauty. 

How often do I dread the mundane chores? They can seem lonely. Isn’t that the general feeling associated with chores? I love this quote:

 “Yes, even in the most mundane tasks we can see God’s glory. Not every glimpse of Him is fireworks or the emotional mountain top. Sometimes, God desires us to see him at work in the quiet, reminding us He is humble and gentle.” -unknown 

Remember Paul was a tentmaker by trade. He knew how to work with his hands. So, did Peter, James and John who fished the sea. Lydia wove purple cloth as a profession. They could do the work, most likely with little effort because their minds, bodies and spirits knew the work inside and out. 

Ruth participated in the mundane task of looking for leftover grain in Boaz's field after the harvest. Did she use the time to pray and praise God for never leaving her and Naomi? 

When we load or unload the dishwasher, we don't have to think much. Laundry requires the same actions to be repeated over and over. So does mowing the lawn or making a familiar meal. In these ordinary tasks, do we pause to look for the glory of the Lord? 

What if the quiet humble tasks were never meant to be dreaded. Perhaps, they were designed to be repetitive and easy. It allows us to pray, ponder and praise the wonders of our Mighty God without distraction in the midst of our daily doings. 

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. -John 15:4 

I once did a word study on this verse. Abide is a great word. It is like learning to steep ourselves in Jesus, like a tea bag in hot water. In time, the tea bag infuses the water with flavor. Do we let ourselves steep in Jesus until we are infused with His eyes and His heart. 

As we learn to listen for His ways, we can find gratitude in the mundane. 

Today, I am grateful for the mundane. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Scatter Not Gather

 

Year 9- Day 53: Today, I am grateful we can choose to scatter not gather. 

"It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you've lived." -Helen Walton

It is true. An accumulation of stuff can weigh us down. There is a freedom in living simply, but learning to live simply is an art. It takes practice. It takes turning off the television and taking in our surroundings, looking for the uncomplicated.

 I don't profess to have mastered the art of simple living. I still gather when I should scatter at times. But, every day is a chance to try again. 

"Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 14:16

Scatter hope and joy. Whatever we do... do it with love.  

Today, I am grateful we can choose to scatter not gather. 


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Made For Another World

 

Year 9- Day 52: Today, I am grateful we were made for another world. 

C.S. Lewis had such a way with words: 

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the  only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. -C.S. Lewis

Ponder his point for a moment. He is not talking about material goods and things we can buy. He is talking about our souls longing to be with God... in the same way He longs to be in relationship with us. Inside of us, there is something that longs for "home", because apart from Him... we are always a little homesick.

On the other side of the coin, when we walk with Him, talk with Him and seek His face in our daily walk, we are not as far from "home" as we might feel... even on our most challenging days. In this world, really seeking His face, it changes our deepest desires. There is freedom in chasing new desires. 

Before Christ, the law was the law. In Christ, we set apart. Keeping His commandments pleases Him, but living our lives, seeking to align thoughts with His thoughts... and trying to sync our heartbeats with His heartbeat ... changes everything else. 

My verse of the day came at the perfect time, for this post. Pastor Tom spoke from Romans today, too. No coincidences. Just God-winks.

"For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law." -Romans 13:9-10

I've always liked this verse, too:

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God," -Ephesians 2:1

It is a new week. A new day. A new opportunity to train our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our hands to chase the heart of our Savior.

Today, I am grateful we were made for another world. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Evergreens In Winter

 


Year 9- Day 51: Today, I am grateful for evergreens in winter. 

When the landscape is barren, the evergreens really pop. They add color and a sense of life. There are many shades of green and even blue. 

Evergreens can provide windblock. They are a humble tree and are typically only decorated at the holidays. They stand like sentinels guarding the house in summer, fall, winter and spring. 

The creation of evergreens was certainly one of God's masterpieces. They are in a class by themselves. Most are quite hardy, too. 

"I will plant trees in the barren desert—cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means -  that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it." -Isaiah 41:19-20  

Where there is barren land... our God brings new life. The evergreens reflect his creativity and his glory. 

Full day... short post. 

Today, I am grateful for evergreens in winter. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Glass Drinking Glasses

 

Year 9- Day 50: Today, I am grateful for glass drinking glasses. 

I don't like drinking out of plastic. It isn't a "nails on a chalkboard" reaction. I can drink from plastic, but I much prefer the old fashioned glass made of glass. I am not much of a milk drinker, but when I have milk, it must be very cold and served in glass. 

Glass drinking glasses don't easily stain making them easy to clean. They survive hot soapy water well. They are a healthy option for drinking water, too. In fact, glass water bottles are very popular at the moment. They are earth friendly options. 

So many fear the fragility of glass, but what good is an item if it is never used or enjoyed? Broken glass sweeps up and when followed by a mop, the floor is made safe once again. 

Glass is one of my favorite things. It can break, but most glass is tougher than it looks. The correct glass can even impact the taste of some beverages. 

Revelations 21 has a couple of references to glass and crystal. In fact, we often hear people mention "the pearly gates and streets of gold":  

"The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass." -Revelation 21:21

 So the roads of gold are as clear as glass? What a magnificent sight. 

I love glass because it can withstand the heat. Many of our coffee makers have glass carafes. For many years we had coffee mugs made from cut glass that were always popular with guests. They were hearty and kid friendly. They were wonderful for hot cocoa because glass cleans up well. 

A simple item, but my gratitude is big. 

Today, I am grateful for glass drinking glasses. 


Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Time We've Got

 

Year 9- Day 49: Today, I am grateful for the time we've got.

Oh... it is hard for me not to improve  that sentence by using another word, instead of "got"... but I am going to leave it. It is right for this post. 

Today's quote is not referenced. It might be straight from the heart of the artist, Mary Engelbreit. She has quite a collection of quotes she uses in her art work. It is probably why I love her so much and have been buying her art for more than 30 years. She touches my heart with her words, her art and her whimsy. 

"Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time you've got." 

The word play on the Charles Dickens classic quote tickles my love for literature. The common sense in her words, appeals to the practical side of my brain. These past twelve months have been less than ideal, but we don't get a do-over. This is the time we've got.

So many people have found creative ways to spend time together. Love is a powerful force. Love finds a way. Love always wins. 

It is a simple truth. We are only given one day at a time. We can only spend one day at a time. The trouble is that we don't really know the number of our days, so it is easy to waste them frivolously away. Every day is precious. Every birthday, every holiday and every celebration in a lifetime is a moment made more special when shared with family, friends and other loved ones. 

One of the trials of this COVID pandemic has been the brutal separations from our loved ones. Trying to balance "doing the right thing" with the unknowns, but knowing that some of our loved ones have very limited days left on the planet... and those lost days cannot be recovered. The only time we have is this time. 

Some days are the best of times. Cleared schedules have gifted us with time at home. Board games are the answer to the bored who shall not be named. How many of us actually used the stacked games in the cabinet like they've never been used before? Some dug out old family recipes and rolling pins. 

Sidewalk chalk, baking and walks outside filled the days. We learned to manage our time a little differently. Not all of it has been bad. In the "worst of times", we have made some of the "best of times". (Oh dear... Earworm is singing "The Best of Times" by Styx.) We have drawn closer to our immediate family and treasured our extended family, too.

This scripture often comforts my soul:

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.-Romans 8:38-39

This season will come to an end. The number of our days doesn't change... they are still unknown... and honestly, I am grateful. I don't want to know the end date on my earthly dash. On the other hand, I do want to not waste the time I am gifted. I want to make the most of the moments granted with a grateful heart.

Today, I am grateful for the time we've got.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Bright Spots

 

Year 9- Day 48: Today, I am grateful for bright spots in my day.

I work at a Jr High School. We have some delightful students were rarely see in the office. When they come through the office, they are often a bright spot in my day. 

Some students, for one reason or another,  are regulars. No... that does not mean they are in trouble. Some stop by the office regularly to sign out for appointments, to pick up forgotten items or to visit the health office. They brighten the days each in their own unique way.  

Who are the bright spots in your day? One of mine is when the Love Of My Life walks in the door at the end of the work day. I am , also, filled with joy when we get to see any of our children and their fur babies. They are my people. 

What other bright spots? 

A connection with a friend by email or social media. A creative moment always delights my soul. Dinner with loved ones. Many pairs of shoes at the door, meaning the house is full.  Bright spots can be the littlest things that fill our heart. 

What about a star spangled night sky? It is literally a bright spot. It reminds me of the wise men who came from the East, following a star.  

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!-Matthew 2:10

Choose joy. Look for the bright spots. 

Today, I am grateful for bright spots in my day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Edits

 

Year 9- Day 47: Today, I am grateful for edits. 

I love to write. These daily posts are written very quickly. I know there are typos and grammatical errors. I am grateful for my friends  who have offered to be my editor, if I ever get  "Daily Gratitude" into a devotional book. 

I prefer to self edit. Don't we all? I know, in truth,  it is very difficult to edit our own writings. We know what we meant to say, so that is what we read.  We don't see our own imperfections. 

I know I need a good editor, when perfecting a piece of writing for sharing. The best thing about a good editor is their ability to polish a piece of writing, without changing the meaning or losing the author's voice. 

I started thinking about authors. Writing is very personal for anyone who truly loves words. Sometimes, I don't care about being grammatically perfect. That is the joy of creative writing. We don't have to follow all the rules, but the rules make our writing easier for others to read. 

One of my favorite compliments is when someone says my writing is conversational.  I like to write as if speaking. Conversation rules differ from writing. On the other hand, we can write down conversations. Creative liberty is freeing.  I use and abuse the ellipsis. There are times I need a pause. A semicolon is not always the best choice. Now, I love a good semicolon, the ellipsis is easy and trails off like my thoughts at times.  

The author and editor relationship is precious. The editor helps clarify what the author meant to say on the occasion the words don't come out right... or did I mean to say  "come out write"? 

In our Christian walk, I am reminded that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. When he walked with us on earth, those who saw Him knew he was special:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law. -Matthew 7:28-29

He spoke with authority. Like he was the writer. The synagogue leaders hated him for it. I've never thought about the words "author" and "authority" being related, but they are. Look at this passage:

"with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who having been offered joy, endured the cross,{Gr. stauros-stake} despising the shame and was seated at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2 (JUB)

So many times in our daily walk with Christ, we find ourselves in the middle of a plot twist. Something like a job loss, the untimely loss of a loved one or the loss of health. When we are writing our own stories, they have Hallmark endings, right? (I love my Hallmark movies!) Yet, when God wants to move big in our lives, His editing allows some of those uncomfortable plot twists. 

There is a difference between what God sends and what he allows. There are times the uncomfortable plot twist stems from my own poor decisions or someone else's choices. He never abandons us.  He is steady and reliable. The question is, "Do I trust His edits ?" 

An inconvenient flat tire may have saved your life because someone else ran a stop sign... and most of the time, you never know it. We don't know the reason for every edit. We can't see the big picture. Do you trust the editor? 

Today, I am grateful for edits. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

God Still Speaks


Year 9- Day 46: Today, I am grateful God still speaks.

I know God still speaks. There are God winks and serendipitous moments that are clearly God reminding us that He still lives, loves, walks and talks with us. This image is from Ginger Hughes.  I love the quote:

"God still speaks. But, He may not yell about the noise in your life to make himself heard. -Ginger Hughes, nomamasperfect.com

Ouch! How many times have I missed guidance from God because of all the other noise in my life. God should not have to yell to get my attention. If he has to yell, does he really have first place in our lives? 

When I think of some of my Biblical favorites, many of them were placed in places where they had nothing but time and quiet to contemplate God's voice. Remember Jonah in the belly of a big fish? How about three teenage boys waiting in a fiery furnace walking around un-singed? There was Joseph waiting in the well, Joseph on the caravan wagon waiting to be sold and Joseph waiting in prison. Joseph waited. He learned to be still and ponder God's voice. 

"Be still in the presence of the Lordand wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes." -Psalm 37:7

While on the earth, Jesus would find wilderness and garden places to pray, wait and listen. Who am I to think I can hear God's direction when life around me is nothing but noise? 

Take time for intentional calm and quiet. For some, it is in a closet. For others, in the shower with the steam all around. Some prefer the tranquil moments pre-dawn to take in The Word and really, truly listen. I assure you. He still speaks. 

Above my kitchen sink is Psalm 46:10- “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 

Only the first sentence is on the wall. The rest of the verse has some important details to remember, too. He will be honored among the nations... and the world.

Today, I am grateful God still speaks.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Old Love

 


Year 9- Day 45: Today, I am grateful for old love. 

I love Valentines Day, not for the gifts, but for the reminder to be grateful for the loves in our lives. The Love-of-My-Life has been my Valentine for 36 years. He shows love to me and our family in many ways, every single day. My gratitude is deep and full. 

I love to write... and I love to use many adjectives, adverbs and metaphors.  It is why I love the writings of Ann Voskamp. Here is what she writes about "old love". 

"Old love is the most suggestive love of all because it suggests that the whole of us is actually known and we are still whole heartedly loved." -Ann Voskamp

Yes... those who know us naked. Physically... yes... but even scarier is being know to the deepest part of our naked souls. Nothing hidden. Our flaws are exposed and even magnified at times. Old love is a real love that can be as raw as it is sweet. It is why the loss of a spouse is completely devastating. 

Today is a beautiful day to celebrate all that can be said with just a look... or a touch... or finishing a sentence started by someone deeply loved. 

I am determined to not get old in spirit.  Old love doesn't mean a double rocking chair... although I do love a good rocking chair. Old love marries comfort with conscientiously caring for another's heart with tender hands. Old loves means we know their buttons... and can choose not to push them. Old love can be just as flirty as new love, but with fewer unknowns. For those who do the work to get to the season of "old love", it is one of life's richest blessings. It, definitely, takes two doing the work. 

I am always taken aback by Christ's desire to know us to the core. The scriptures say were were known when we were knit together in our mother's womb. Even before our first breath, we were loved and cherished. For those who have found disappointment in earthly loves, there is a God who took on human skin so that each of us could experience that "old love" kind of love. He loved us at our worst and celebrates us at our best. 

"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8

His devotion never falters. His love never fails. For those who believe, receive and choose a relationship with him, we can be completely known and completely covered in His blood and His love.  It is the oldest of love stories. 

Today, I am grateful for old love. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

No Comparison

 

Year 9- Day 44: Today, I am grateful we need no comparison.  

Someone once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Wise words. 

The puppy in this image is looking quite forlorn. The little guy is right.  The cat gets to poop in the house .  Life isn’t always fair.  The truth is... it is rarely fair. Comparison is, indeed, the thief of joy.

To live without making comparisons is freeing... but not easy.  It is an intentional act. 

 "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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 4:16-18

When we focus on the things that are important... and lasting... we find no need to compare. When we look to the Son, things unseen and eternal are far more important than temporary trials. In Him, we gain perspective. There is no need to compare.

Today, I am grateful we need no comparison.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

Abraham Lincoln Wisdom

 Year 9- Day 43: Today, I am grateful for Abraham Lincoln's wisdom.

Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. His quotes are so collectable. He was an avid reader... reading the Bible many times and many other books. His parents were illiterate, so Abe knew what it was like to be surrounded by those who did not have the advantage of being able to read a sales slip or a deed.  He valued a good book. 

This quote is one I have always loved:

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."-Abraham Lincoln

His words are true. He knew hard times and sadness in his life. He persisted. He didn't cry "unfair" or that something was too hard. 

Abe loved creative solutions to ordinary problems. He led with open ears and humility. He hated slavery, but he wept for the hurt  caused by civil war. Brother against brother was excruciating. Women lost all of their men and sons to war. Somehow, the country was able to rebuild.  He was known for his honesty, humility... and sometimes a tongue quick with sharp wit. He knew how to make his point, even when it was unpopular. 

"Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies." -Proverbs 20:15

Like all humans, Abe was imperfect. Still, there are many stories of his acts of kindness. He stood up for those who could not help themselves. Lincoln may... or may not... have allowed a battered wife, Melissa Goings,  to escape during a court recess when he was defending her for the murder of her husband. Women had no voice to raise in those days if they were abused by a spouse.  

The judge apparently asked Abe if he had any involvement in her disappearance. His reply was “Your honor, I did not chase her off. She simply asked me where she could get a good drink of water, and I said…Tennessee has mighty fine drinkin’ water.” Legend has it the courtroom erupted in laughter. 

Wisdom really is more valuable than rubies and gold... and even more rare.  

Today, I am grateful for Abraham Lincoln's wisdom.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Feelings Come & Go

 

Year 9- Day 42: Today, I am grateful feelings come and go.

"Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go."

Such a great quote. So often, we hyper focus on feelings. Feelings are unpredictable. So many things can impact what we "feel", but feelings are fleeting. 

I am reminded of the power of choice. Allowing feelings to rule rarely results in the most positive outcomes. Heightened emotions can lead to poor choices. Emotions can be exhausting... even when they are good feelings. Don't hold on to the things that weigh you down. Let them go. 

"... God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything." 1 John 3:20

I find comfort in knowing our God is greater than our feelings.  He is Light,  Life and Hope.  We can depend on him. 

Today, I am grateful feelings come and go... but our God is constant and true.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Common Everyday Blessings

 

Year 9- Day 41: Today, I am grateful for common, everyday blessings.

Pure air to breathe is something we take for granted, but many live with thick pollution. Plenty of food to eat doesn't mean it is fancy... but it is enough to fill the belly at meal time. Mittens and gloves on a cold day provide serious comfort and safety. Socks that return from the laundry with their mates.  These are common everyday blessings. 

I grew up on "Little House on the Prairie". It was a well loved book series and a weekly show on the television. It reminded us how far we have come with modern luxuries, but somehow... when an episode would end, we would long for a bit of the simple life Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about from her childhood days. 

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder ~

Pure air and the strength to breathe it hits home in this Covid season. The days have been bitter, but we have seen the sun shine through the snow. We have had many months with our families at home. We can look for everyday blessings in relationships that have grown closer because of time spent not going... but being. 

"Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." -Colossians 3:14-15

Simple reminders to choose the things that bring real peace... and to always be thankful.

Today, I am grateful for common, everyday blessings.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

No Wind

 

Year 9- Day 40: Today, I am grateful for no wind.

Living in the Midwest, we have plenty of flat land. The rich soil is perfect for growing crops. From the sky, the fields look like a checkers board. It is beautiful in it's simplicity. We can sometimes see for miles. One thing our farmland does not provide is windbreak. 

This week we are seeing bitter winter temperatures. I am grateful there has been very little wind. Without the wind, the bitter is tolerable for the few minutes between vehicles and destination. If it turns windy... bitter becomes brutal. I don't love the cold, but I know it could be worse. It is the perfect day to celebrate no wind. 

I found this "no wind" quote from the philosopher, Seneca:

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable." - Seneca 

There are times we don't know which way to go. Without direction, the wind can push us places we do not want to go. It is good to choose our destination, instead of letting ourselves be pushed one direction or another. 

When you have free will, choice is our super power... if we choose wisely. Wise decisions do not come naturally to most humans. We need to seek guidance. The Almighty longs for us to seek his face in the wind, in the storm, in the earthquakes, in the pandemics, in the fires and every other moment we find fear rising. 

I am reminded of Elijah retreating to the mountains because  an angry Jezebel and Ahab wanted him dead.  God had just displayed his power in front of the prophets of Baal with Elijah as his spokesperson.  Baal worship was rooted in sensuality. It flaunted ritualistic prostitution in the temples. Appeasing Baal, at times,  required human sacrifice. Typically, the firstborn child of the one making the sacrifice.  Everyone did what felt good to them. Their evil ways had angered the Lord. It led to their destruction. Ahab and Jezebel's furry caused Elijah to flee to the mountain. These verses speak to my heart: 

"and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. " -1 Kings 19:11-12

I have always loved that God was in the whisper. He is a master of fanfare, but he was in the still soft voice. Not the wind. It reminds me to quiet my heart and keep listening. 

Today, I am grateful for no wind.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Pieces of Heaven

 

Year 9- Day 39: Today, I am grateful for pieces of heaven.

"On earth there is not heaven, but there are pieces of it." -Jules Renard

We all can think of places and moments that are pieces of heaven. For us, it is any time we have our kids in one place sharing a meal, a game or an experience. We know our children are grown up, married adults, but there is nothing we love more than having everyone together. Perhaps, the year of quarantining has made us appreciate it even more. 

"How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!" -Psalm 133:1

There are other pieces of heaven. Some find their heaven in a garden or on a beach. I am sure St. Thomas was a taste of heaven with Caribbean waters, soft sandy beaches and time with loved ones. Most of us have our own special places we consider heavenly. 

The smell of dry earth as it is  kissed by the rain is called petrichor. I adore that smell. I love to take deep breaths and fill my lungs. It always makes me wonder what heaven smells like. 

For some, heaven on earth is a good book, a comfy chair and a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. For others, it is hiking in nature. We all have unique experiences, but we all understand the joy of those heavenly moments and places. 

Today, I am grateful for pieces of heaven.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Core Values

  


Year 9- Day 38: Today, I am grateful for core values.

CS Lewis said that "Evil is a result of the abuse of free will." He was correct. Evil is real and present in this world. One of the things that we can do to fight off the darkness is to model and instill core values in our children. 

"Do unto others as you would like them to do to you." Luke 6:31

Being respectful teaches respect. Being truthful teaches honesty. Promoting peaceful solutions teaches peace. Waiting gracefully models patience. Choosing kindness and gentleness breathes those qualities into the next generation. 

Choosing love and joy changes ordinary days into something special. Offering help with compassion and sincerity can change someone's day... or week. Prayerful moments that offer gratitude, ask for help and seek guidance keep us in touch with the Master of the Universe who calls us His children. 

Our intentions and actions towards others reveal a great deal about us. Character is who you are when no one is looking. Core values help us build character... until the right choice is the natural choice. It doesn't mean it is always the easy choice, but we know it is absolutely the right choice. 

Today, I am grateful for core values.


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Sweet friendships

 Year 9- Day 37: Today, I am grateful for sweet friendships. 

Someone once said, "Some people take the heart right out of you... and others put it back again." Relationships can be complicated. I am thankful for the ones that are simple, easy and true. 

I am blessed with the gift of some long and seasoned friendships. Yes... friends who have stayed friends in all seasons. 

On the days I want to turn off social media and never return, I pause because it has been a place to reconnect with life long friends. Childhood, teen, college years and even the friends I met early on in our life her in the Peoria area. Changes in jobs and housing mean it gets harder to connect with old friends. 

For all the bad stuff on social media, I am grateful for the sweet friendships that refresh the soul. 

There are, also, new friendships that do that refresh the soul, too. People who are different from us remind us that God made all of us unique. It is a beautiful thing. 

People need people. That has been one of the great miseries in this pandemic. We miss human contact. 

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. -Proverbs 27:9 (MSG)

Today, I am grateful for sweet friendships.