Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Beauty In Forgiveness

 

Year 9- Day 89: Today, I am grateful for the beauty in forgiveness.

"The secret to being kind and tenderhearted and forgiving is being amazed that you are a forgiven sinner."-John Piper

How often do we take in the wonder of being forgiven? We can't earn it. We don't deserve it. It is a gift. The Master of the Universe cannot tolerate our sin. He is repelled by it. Still, He longs to have a relationship with us. 

God was willing to take on human skin to completely understand being human...  with a heartbeat, with temptations... clothed with free will. Jesus perfectly wore our humanity. In doing so, became our sin offering. 

Somewhere between Wednesday and Thursday, Judas struck a deal with the church leaders that led to Jesus being arrested. Jesus did not see his betrayal as an unforgivable. Crazy, right? But, Judas did not humble himself and ask for forgiveness. I am sure there are many theological opinions and debate surrounding Judas's sin. Did he harden his heart? The scriptures say, 'Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples." 

Judas did what he did... "the devil made me do it" was his legitimate excuse". I cannot imagine his despair. He betrayed Jesus, but before that time, he was one of the twelve. He was close to Jesus. 

 "Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!" -Psalm 14:1

"For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’" - Matthew 13:15

We can keep our hearts tender and forgiving. We must forgive as we have been forgiven. 

Today, I am grateful for the beauty in forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tulips and Two Lips

 

Year 9- Day 88: Today, I am grateful for tulips and two lips. 

This week, I am thinking about flowers. The weather is turning and spring bulbs are popping up everywhere. Tulips brighten the landscape with their wide variety of colors. I think the yellow ones are like sunshine. 

As I was writing this, I could not help but think about "two lips" being a homophone for tulips. Our two lips offer up praise to the Heavenly Father for the wonder of His love. A love that came to rescue and restore. 

Like the tulips burst forth to announce the spring, so our two lips were made to praise the father and the son who chose a cross over the easy way out. 

"Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you." (Psalm 51:15)

"Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees." (Psalm 119:171)

 Matthew warned that our two lips can get us in to trouble. Our lips can sing praises, but the praise should be from an honest heart. The Lord knows our hearts, so he is not fooled by empty praise

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. " (Matthew 15:8)

He is knocking, waiting and longing for us to seek him with our whole hearts.

Today, I am grateful for tulips and two lips. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Calmness In Gratitude

 

Year 9- Day 87: Today, I am grateful that gratitude creates calmness.

Mama Ina Mae is one of the most grateful people I have ever known. She chooses to be content with what she has. She never has the need to show someone else up. She has a humility about her that makes her quite easy to love. I have so much more to learn from her. 

I love this image of her with Walker and Abi's cat, Theo. Mama's Huntington's Disease causes uncontrollable movements that can be distracting. Theo crawled up in her blanket and snuggled right into her lap. She was tickled pink to be holding a fur-baby. 

Huntington's facial twitches make great smiles on Mama hard to catch. This genuine smile is like a gift from heaven. Holding Theo is good for her soul. As she held him, her movements almost ceased, something that rarely happens unless she is sleeping. In this moment, she is glowing. A grateful heart creates a calm the world struggles to achieve. 

This past year, we've learned the value of getting to see our people and spending time with loved ones. Being together is a reason to celebrate. That kind of gratitude is deep and wide.

"Be still and know..." in the stillness, we find Him.  It never wears out.

Today, I am grateful that gratitude creates calmness.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Palm Sunday

 

Year 9- Day 86: Today, I am grateful for Palm Sunday.  

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Palm Sunday is sometimes called "The Triumphal Entry". The crowds were hyped. They could not get enough of Jesus.  Those who knew him longed to spend more time in His presence. Those who hated him were silently plotting his demise. Knowing the thoughts of those around him must have been a cumbersome burden to bear. Still, He pressed on. 

Palm Sunday felt like a celebration of people coming to see him as the Messiah. At least, that is how it must have felt.  Human emotions can be so fickle. It is hard to fathom that in one week Jesus went from the triumphal entry to the cross. What a difference a week can make. 

I am reminded how quickly our lives can change, too. Not all change is bad, but it is rarely easy and comfortable. It is a reminder to embrace the good while it is here and to not fret about what can change in a heartbeat. 

Today, I am grateful for Palm Sunday.

Friday, March 26, 2021

One Day At A Time

 

Year 9- Day 85:  Today, I am grateful one day at a time.

When we were little, Grandpa Bess drove "The Pill Wagon" delivering for the Jaffe Drug stores. He loved to drive and he loved the people he met along the way. 

Somehow, Grandpa offered his family as entertainment for nursing homes where he delivered medications. It is how we spent many Sunday afternoons after church. We sang, danced, did acrobatics and played our instruments. Grandpa was in his glory. His big talent contribution was playing the harmonica and dancing the polka with one of us while Mama Ina Mae played the Beer Barrel Polka on the accordion

My memories are rich of those days. As a child, I have strong memories of the residents reaching out to touch our youthful hands. Some would smile, some would cry and some would call us by their own children's names. Mama taught us how to respond with gentleness and compassion.  I learned a great deal by engaging the residents. We wanted to make them happy.  I think we did. 

One of the songs we sang every time was "One Day At A Time". Often, Mama, April and I would sing together. That song struck a chord with me as I looked around at the weak, the weary and well worn. We can't always control what comes our way, but we can choose who we respond to the day. 

Jesus wants us to trust his heart. Really, fully and completely. Evidence of trust is letting go of the worry. 

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." -Matthew 6:34

Today has enough trouble. Can I get an "amen"? Let today's troubles be enough. Limit our energy spent to what is before us on this one day. Never forget, we are Children of the Living God and he will not abandon His children. 

Peace. Be still. Know He is God.

Today, I am grateful one day at a time.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Scenic Route

 

Year 9- Day 84:  Today, I am grateful for the scenic route."

"Not all those who wander are lost." -JRR Tolkien 

We don't get to travel very often. When we do, it often seems we are in a hurry and chasing deadlines. My favorite vacations include a little time on "the scenic route". 

I love to ask locals where they like to eat and what experiences they recommend. Watching other cultures, even within the borders of these United States is fascinating. There are beach people, lake people, mountain people, desert people, really rural and urban people, too. 

The North, the South, the East and the West all have unique flavors in their cuisine, entertainment and hospitality. You have to take the scenic route to discover the hidden gems. 

When I think about Jesus and his years of ministry, I am reminded that he walked most places. He was observant of the locals and often engaged them in conversation. He drew people to him. He moved with a purpose, but somehow found the time to pause for important conversations along the way. His disciples did not always understand his ways, but Jesus made it clear that He WAS the way. 

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." -John 14:5-6

Everyone's faith journey is unique, but He makes it clear we must find him. Don't miss the beauty of the journey. There may be flat tires and rainy days, but He is still "The Way". Don't forget to enjoy the journey. 

Today, I am grateful for the scenic route.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Nightlights

 

Year 9- Day 83:  Today, I am grateful for nightlights.

Stumbling around in the dark can be dangerous. 

I typically fall asleep on the sofa and then wake up later to make my way to bed. I am grateful for the nightlights that keep me from stubbing a toe or running into items that are out of place. I don't necessarily fear the dark, but there are often unexpected little dangers. 

God created the original "nightlights". 

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. -Genesis 1:14 

I've always loved the image of His word dispersing the darkness. Isn't that exactly who Jesus was and what he did, too. 

"In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  " -John 1:1

And again, the Word spoke and dispersed the darkness. He found us lost in our sin and our trials. He was, is and will forever be "The Light". 

In the book, "Heaven Is For Real", they ask the little boy about what happens at night. The child explains that there is no night, because He is the light. My earthbound mind cannot completely grasp what heaven will be, so I will cling to the promises found in His Word. 

Until there is no night, I will savor the knowledge that "The Light of the World" has power over the darkness, even when I struggle to see the purpose in the trials. 

 Today, I am grateful for nightlights... and that He is "The Light".


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Piano Tuners

 

Year 9- Day 82:  Today, I am grateful for piano tuners. 

The guy who tunes our piano is the best. Tom loves old pianos and rejoices in seeing instruments treasured with care. My old Stark cabinet grand was sorely in need of a tuning. She needed it before the COVID lockdowns began. She finally had her first half of her tuning today. She is already much improved. It will be a two step process this time. 

When she is out of tune, I don't play as much. I was reminded why I love to play when I sat down tonight. Every care in the world fades away when the music plays. My piano books are old friends. Some are from childhood. The old, red "Great Hymns of Faith" hymnal is full of the songs that helped me develop my understanding of who God is and why Jesus came. 

The piano tuner has to have a good ear and a patient hand. Tuning takes time, talent and the willingness to get to know each piano's unique personality. They are not all the same. It is part of what makes a piano, a guitar and other stringed instruments more partners in music than our possessions. We work with our instruments to achieve a certain sound. Tuning is an important part of the relationship. 

Are there times in our faith journey that we feel out of tune? We all grow weary at times. It is easy to neglect our souls. It isn't long before we are miserable. When we tune our hearts to Jesus everything changes. He is in perfect pitch. We try to match His pitch and His melody. It takes some practice. We grow along the way. 

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

My heart is filled with joy and sometimes I burst out in song. Especially, when sitting at a freshly tuned piano.

Today, I am grateful for piano tuners. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Grace Covers Sin

 

Year 9- Day 81:  Today, I am grateful grace covers sin.

We are prone to assume that if something is gentle, it isn't strong. I beg to differ. There is a quiet strength in gentleness. God's grace gently covers our sins and washes them away. Is there anything more powerful?

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the shame of our sins and our shortcomings. We want to do better and be better, but we fall short of hitting the mark. We don't just miss the bullseye... sometimes we don't even hit the target. Isn't it good to know He doesn't give us on us for our missed shots?

Like the drawers we stuff when tidying the kitchen counter junk... or the clothing item  that "covers a multitude of sins" with a little stretch here and there... God's grace covers us. His grace sets us free. It truly is "Amazing Grace".  

 "Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace." -Romans 6:14

The weight of our sin is always oppressive. Sin makes us feel hopeless and helpless. The enemy of our souls loves it when we feel defeated. Jesus came to pay our debt and set us free from sin's enslavement. We can be free. We are free. We simply need to believe and receive

Grace is an expression of love. Love always wins.

Today, I am grateful grace covers sin.



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Totes

 

Year 9- Day 80:  Today, I am grateful for totes.

I love tote bags. I keep telling the Love-of-my-Life that you can never have too many. I use them for so many things. My cousin, Debbie Cyr, has been a 31 consultant so I have some wonderful totes in my collection. I use them every, single day. 

Some days, a tote keeps me organized. Other days, it helps me to not forget the things I need to take to school or an event. In the summer, it can hold items needed for a shared meal or even pool items when the beach bag isn't big enough. 

In language, "toting" can mean to carry something that is heavy and awkward. I think the phrase is more common in the south or in rural areas. Toting lunches to the fields is one of my favorite childhood memories during the spring and harvest seasons. Today, I would use a utility tote. Back then, we used a blue speckled roasting pan. Both items were suitable to tote a hearty snack to the field.

During lent, I find myself reflecting our Savior who chose to tote our sins to the cross. It was a load He did not have to bear. He chose to say "yes" to the Father's will. Our sins were heavy and awkward for the Sinless One. He toted them up Calvary's Hill, anyway. 

"He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed."- 1 Peter 2:24

His decision left our hands and feet unscarred from the weight of our sins. What was too much for us to bear, he carried on his own shoulders. I can't even begin to fathom the depth of His pain or the burden of our failures and transgressions against God. Still, He said "Yes" so we might be spared.

He toted our sins to the cross. From the cross he endured the grave. He defeated death and won the victory. It is our commission to carry the Good News wherever we go. 

We can't put the gospel in a utility tote, but we can use our totes to share a meal with someone in need or to pack a care package for a family with a new baby. 

Today, I am grateful for totes.

Tissues



Year 9- Day 79:  Today, I am grateful tissues. 

When allergies strike. I am grateful for tissues. They wipe away our tears and smudges from our glasses. Tissues have many uses.

Simple and fast.

Today, I am grateful for tissues. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

With Judas

 

Year 9- Day 78:  Today, I am grateful Jesus sat with Judas at the table. 

The love of Christ is beyond amazing. 

"When you learn how to sit at the table with your Judas, you'll understand the love of Christ. " -sarahannspeaks.com

We all have challenges in our lives. Some people are easier than others. Yet, to love like Jesus, we have to sit at the table with Judas. Honestly, knowing what Judas was about to do must have cut the human side of Jesus to the core. 

Earworm is singing "Reckless Love"  by Cory Asbury. It is a good choice. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God,

His love is beyond our human capacity to understand. The closest we come is our love for our families... especially our children.

We cannot fully understand the agony or the fierce determination of Jesus to fulfill the Father's will and the plan for our salvation. Judas was one of the twelve. Loved but used by Satan. Here are a few scriptures related to the betrayal:

"Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them." -Luke 22:3-4

"Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.” "Matthew 26:25

Truth was spoken, but surely that truth broke the heart of Jesus. His love is fierce, beautiful and deeper than we can imagine. It reaches in and forgives our deepest betrayals and sins. 

Today, I am grateful Jesus sat with Judas at the table. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Read To Me

 Year 9- Day 77:  Today, I am grateful my parents valued reading. 

My parents knew reading well would help with academic achievement. I remember they purchased the "Hooked on Phonics" series from a television ad. They knew that building our reading skills would benefit us in every way. I was reading at four and devouring books faster than I could check them out from our town library. 

I remember Dad & Mom reading to us from a Bible Story series that had about a dozen volumes. The artwork was beautiful and the stories captivating. 

One of my favorite memories of raising our sons was reading to them. With more than five years between them... and six school years... they were never at the same reading levels while in school. I remember the rare books that would appeal to both. I have sweet memories of Chase joining in to listen, even when the book was beneath his reading level or area of interest. There is something special about pausing to take in a good book. It is even better with loved ones.

Reading is a fabulous way to take in information. Reading helps us to write God's work on our hearts. 

"Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” -Luke 10:26

Yes, Jesus would often ask people if they had read or studied the law of Moses. Was it a call to accountability? 

Books are still treasured in many places in the world. We take them for granted, because they are so readily available in our culture. Libraries are still full of magic.

Today, I am grateful my parents valued reading. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Street Lamps

Year 9- Day 76:  Today, I am grateful for street lamps.

There is something about streetlamps that make a neighborhood feel more welcoming. 

I love a well lit street after dark. Even during the day, the street lamp stands like a sentinel. Our oldest son and our first daughter-in-love live in a neighborhood with street lamps. I remember them talking about liking the look. I wholeheartedly agree. Street lamps are desirable. 

Light changes everything about a space. The tiniest of lights can disperse the darkness. Light really is magical and wonderful. 

 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden." -Matthew 15:14

To shine bright and break up the darkest night, the streetlamp knows it's job. 

It is a good way to live. Be a light bringer and a keeper of light.

Today, I am grateful for street lamps.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

God is Near

 

Year 9- Day 75:  Today, I am grateful God is near.

"Don't equate the presence of God with a good mood or a pleasant temperament. God is near whether you are happy or not." -Max Lucado 

The song "Taps" always chokes me up. Is is played at military funerals. The last line is "Safely rest Safely rest. God is nigh." At those somber moments of life, there is comfort in knowing God is near. How quickly we forget that he is always near. 

Jesus spoke these words:

"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20

Comfort and joy are wrapped in the knowledge. "I am with you always." It is who he is because He loves us. He is our comfort and the source of our joy. 

Today, I am grateful God is near.


Monday, March 15, 2021

The Patient Ones


Year 9- Day 74:  Today, I am grateful for the patient ones.

Some people are more patient than others. For some, it comes naturally. For others, it is the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. For a select few, it is embraced and practiced like an art. Patience is beautiful. 

Patience is important in many areas of our lives. We have to be patient waiting for the ground to warm for planting (love you Matthew). We have to be patient waiting for a pot to boil... and we all know watching it does not make it boil any faster. We have to be patient when making caramels to get them just right. (I am a failure at caramel making). 

Patience is a virtue. Patience infused into a volatile situation can calm the waters. 

"A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them." -Proverbs 15:18

I find there is a close relationship between being well rested and the ability to be patient. A good night's sleep helps us stretch when we need to stretch. Adequate sleep lengthens our fuse. 

When I look around, the people who exhibit patience draw us into their circles. They fill us with warmth. They are good for our souls. 

Today, I am grateful for the patient ones.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Lemon Zest

 Year 9- Day 73:  Today, I am grateful for lemon zest.

Several recipes we've enjoyed recently have called for lemon zest... along with the lemon juice. I am a huge fan of lemon juice. It is amazing on broccoli and even rice. In the past, when I've not had a fresh lemon on hand, the zest gets omitted

Recently, lemons and limes have become a staple in the house and I have a tool that zests to perfection. There is no reason to omit the lemon zest when it is available. Apparently, I had no idea what we were missing. There is nothing that compares to the fresh, bright flavor that comes from the lemon zest. 

I am reminded that in cooking, the little extras can make all the difference. Slowing the process down and taking the extra step can transform a meal from good to delicious. 

This verse reminds us of the creative hand that gave us all sorts of fruit trees:

"The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. " -Genesis 2:9

The fruits are full of vitamins and they are delicious. As for the zest that comes from the skin of the lemon, it is a little bit magical. Next time you roast zucchini with olive oil. salt and pepper, try tossing some lemon zest onto the roasted vegetable before plating. Oh. My. Goodness. 

Like omitting the lemon zest, it is easy to ignore little bits from God's Word. When we do, we miss out on the full goodness of His instruction. We have His Word that we might know Him better. He wants us to live abundantly and fully in Him. There might be things that seem like an extra step, when in truth, He wants us to taste and know the fullness of His goodness. 

There is nothing ordinary about our God. 

Today, I am grateful for lemon zest.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Crocus

 

Year 9- Day 72:  Today, I am grateful for the crocus.

We had a delightful surprise today. Around the mailbox at the home of our son and daughter-in-love are crocus flowers. The home is new to them, so every season will have some landscape surprises. 

The house previously belonged to an elderly gentleman who lived on his own. Perhaps his wife planted the crocus years ago.  The blooms were white and looked joyful as they were pressing through the dirt. 

The crocus are always some of the first blooms of spring. I have seen them pop up through the snow. Today, they were bathing in the warm March afternoon, reaching for the sun as they emerged. 

The scripture that came to mind today is about the lilies of the field. Crocus are not lilies. they are even more carefree and less tended. If the lilies trust God for all they need, the crocus is the impatient child that jumps in before checking the temperature of the waters. 

"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?“ And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are." -Matthew 6:27-26

Spring hasn't quite sprung... but the crocus confirms that the worst of winter is behind us. Let the earth reflect his glory... one precious bloom at a time. 

Today, I am grateful for the crocus.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Down Time

Year 9- Day 71:  Today, I am grateful for down time.

I love this image from Pinterest. The minute I saw it I thought, "It feels like down time."

We all need a little down time. A chance to dress comfortably and enjoy some care free unscheduled moments with people we love. 

As life picks us speed, I wonder if we won't miss the days of open schedules... with time to talk, play a board game or simply hang out with family. To be comfortable with simply "being" and not busy "doing". 

The scriptures often remind us of the value and power of embracing the down time to tune into His Word, His will and His way. We can't really get to know someone if we don't spend any time with them. 

The same goes for our walk with Jesus. Relationships take time, thus we are encouraged to rest in Him.

Psalm 46:10 reminds us to "Be still and know I Am..." The wonder of the invitation to know and be known fills my heart with joy. 

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you." -John 15:4

Make the time to remain.  

Today, I am grateful for down time.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Teamwork

 

Year 9- Day 70:  Today, I am grateful for teamwork.

I have had the blessing of working with many amazing teammates in my life. What a difference a team makes. 

God designed us for companionship. He designed us for a relationship. Most humans thrive when they feel a sense of belonging. 

Fun things are better with friends. Hard things are more bearable with companionship. Humans rarely do well with loneliness. In fact, solitary confinement has been used as a serious punishment for prisoners who are in trouble for their behaviors toward others. 

For those on sports teams, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete can help the team perform at the highest level. Teammates lift us up and encourage us when we are tired, injured or weary. 

Here in Central Illinois, the baseball teams followed are the Cubs (Go, Cubs, go!) and the Cardinals. There is a great deal of banter  that occurs when baseball fans gather. I've seen marriages work when each spouse cheers for the other team, but there usually needs to be some ground rules as to how far is too far.  Marriage is a team sport. We can have different opinions, but need to be moving toward the same goal. 

Teamwork means many hands make for light work. It means we get the job done faster and better. It is how we pass on skills to the next generations. 

Think of an Amish barn raising. The teamwork seems flawless. In truth, there are those in the mix who are learning things for the first time. Working side by side with family and friends is satisfying to the soul. 

I am reminded of the Holy Trinity... the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit... the ultimate team. I am awed that we can be in relationship with them. As believers, we are teammates as we chase the heart of Jesus. We are to look, learn, lead, listen and live in Him. 

"His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.  For in him we live and move and exist." -Acts 17:27-28

With Him. In Him. We don't just exist... we learn to really live.

Today, I am grateful for teamwork.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Sunshine Warmed Car

 

Year 9- Day 69:  Today, I am grateful for a sunshine warmed car.

Another point of gratitude that means spring is really on the way is a sunshine warmed car. It feels so good to get into a car that feels cozy. but not hot. It is a delight to the soul. 

I do not believe I have ever thought to record this pleasure before. Gone is the sense of urgency to turn the heater on to warm the vehicle. There is no need for the air conditioning, either. These are perfect days.

"I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done." - Psalm 9:1

In these little pleasures, it is easy to miss God's hand. I love ordinary moments that are full of His wonder. 

Today, I am grateful for a sunshine warmed car.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Forever Friends

 Year 9- Day 68:  Today, I am grateful for forever friends.

I am grateful we live near an Interstate highway... actually, we live near two. We can see I-74 from our house and I-55 is not too far away.  It means we are blessed with friends who come through and stop. Today was one of those days. 

The son of one of our groomsmen... and one of Randy's dearest friends... stopped by as he drove through Morton. It was good to share a meal and conversation. Steve is a good man, and reminds me so much of his dad, Denny.  Steve was just a boy when we were married. Our hearts are full that he would take the time to connect on his way through. 

It is hard to believe his dad, Denny, has been gone 16 years. Reminders of him are all around our home. Denny taught Randy many things about home improvement. Most home projects have echoes of the things Denny taught Randy running through them. 

Steve looks and acts so much like his Dad.  It was pure joy to catch up... and reminisce. I loved hearing Randy and Steve talk about their memories of times together in Florida and Ohio. The time passed too quickly.

Forever friends are special.

I am going to keep it short. My heart is full and I will go to sleep with a smile. 

Today, I am grateful for forever friends.

Monday, March 8, 2021

The Reboot

 

Year 9- Day 67:  Today, I am grateful for the reboot.

There are times we simply need to reboot.

 Many of our tech devices occasionally do not run as they should. They act slow or glitchy. The first direction from any tech support is to shut down and reboot. It is amazing how often it is all we need to get our devices running again. As I write tonight, it seems my computer is in need of one of those restarts to get it running smoothly. 

The reboot is a kind of fresh start. We get all of our tabs closed and we begin again. 

It is kind of like when we come to Jesus with our poorly run lives. We ask him to give us a new start. He is waiting with anticipation for us to return to Him. He offers a reset.

"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." -Ephesians 2:10

We are his masterpiece. He makes us new. We get a restart. 

Today, I am grateful for the reboot.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Limitless God


Year 9- Day 66:  Today, I am grateful for a limitless God.
 

Our God can do anything. Omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent are his defining qualities. Yet, He chooses to love us and longs for a relationship with us. 

In fact, he is looking to go on an adventure with us. He wants to grow us, stretch us and breathe wonder into our lives. Sometimes, he puts things or situations before us that seem impossible, but with God... all things are possible. 

"God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible - what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves." -AW Tozer

I can't help but think of Queen Esther. She didn't plan on saving her people. She certainly didn't believe she would be picked to be queen. She trusted that God had a plan and He would be faithful. He needed her obedience. With God by her side, she could face the King without makeup. (I love make-up, so this looks like raw courage to me)  Esther stretched beyond her human limitations and trusted His plan, even when it looked crazy. 

There are seasons when the path ahead seems impossible or doomed to fail. Our God longs for us to trust him with the impossible. He longs to strengthen, bless and make a way through the desert. He never rests, so we can. 

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him." - Psalm 62:5

He is ready to do a good thing in our lives. 

"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

On our own, we are bound by human strength and skills. In Him, there are no limits. 

Today, I am grateful for a limitless God. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Open Window

 

Year 9- Day 65:  Today, I am grateful for open windows.

Today was unseasonably warm. There is a pure delight that comes with opening up the windows for the first time of the season. The Love of My Life calls getting out and changing things up "blowing the stink off". That is how it feels when you open the windows for the first time in the spring. 

It is not likely our real spring. We could see a bit more snow, but it should only be in scuffs at this point in the season. March is coming in like a lamb, so we will be wary of the lion. There could be some bitter chills ahead, but the worst is over. The sub zero temperatures will be replaced by lows in the 20's and 30's. And, soon winter will be history. 

We are not quite ready to plant a garden, but we can open the windows for a breath of fresh air. The scent of hope is on the breeze and the sun warms my face as I walk to the mailbox. The open window allows for sounds of the village to be heard once again. Dogs and children are common sounds. The laughter of children gathering outside for play is truly refreshing. These sounds are heard through the open window. 

When I think of the fresh smells that come through an open window, I am reminded of poor Noah on the ark. Imagine the scents collected. Or maybe, don't imagine too hard. It had to smell.  

"After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat." -Genesis 8:6

Like the fresh scent of a new season on the cusp, so are our lives when we open our hearts to the One who came to save us. He longs to rescue us and to restore our lives with hope. We need only to open the window... the window of our heart. 

Today, I am grateful for open windows.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Comfy Couch

 

Year 9- Day 64: Today, I am grateful for the comfy couch.

When I mentioned I needed to  make my gratitude post, The Love of my Life offered up the comfy couch. I am pretty sure I've not ever paused to give thanks for my comfy couch.  It is where I often sleep for a few hours before I get in bed. 

I doze off, sitting up... and occasionally with warm tea in hand. (I do not recommend the warm tea in hand when you drop off to sleep.) There is something cozy about your spot on the couch.

"No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety." -Psalm 16:9

So many in this world live with danger daily. Evil is present in this world and violence happens. Some have no safe, cozy place to rest at the end of the day. A clean sofa in a safe house is truly a luxury item I take for granted. 

On the flip side of the coin, there are many who have amazing sofas filling multiple rooms in luxury homes, but they have no peace. They find no rest. They buy bigger and better sofas, but find no satisfaction. Whatever they have is never enough. 

In Jesus, there is rest. 

"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

His love wraps us like our favorite spot on the couch tells us, "We are home.".

Today, I am grateful for the comfy couch.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Signs of Spring

 

Year 9- Day 63: Today, I am grateful for the first signs of spring.

I love the brave little crocus. I've seen it pop its head through the snow. 

In our front yard, we are seeing the first signs of spring flowers coming through the dirt. The fresh color of spring green fills us with hope as we wait for the plants to grow and boom. 

Every year, as the cycle of life continues, my wonder at God's design grows. Nature loves order. Sometimes, it appears to act outside of natural laws. but for the most part, there is order. I never know when the hosta plants will shoot up, but they always do. Some sprout earlier than others. The late comers often last longer into the fall. 

March winds can be warm or cold. I long for the warm. Coats are put away with celebration. Jackets become the outerwear garment of choice. These are signs of spring.

"for behold, the winter is past;" -Song of Solomon 2:11a

I've seen some late snowfall, even in recent years. This year, I get the sense that the snow may be behind us. Nature is showing signs. My heart rejoices! 

Today, I am grateful for the first signs of spring.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Seasons Change

 

Year 9- Day 62: Today, I am grateful seasons change.

One of the great things about living in the Midwest is our changing seasons. Summer, Fall. Winter and Spring. I love moderate temperatures, so spring and fall are my favorites. Sunshine makes every day better. We hit 61 degrees today (that is almost 17 degrees for my Celsius friends). Our mounds of snow are melting away and we had many inches this winter. 

We often joke, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." That is an exaggeration. Five hours is not. Five days can look like a whole new season. A whole new world is what we see today. 

"And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens.... and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so."  -Genesis 1:14-15

My friend, Linda, is in this picture. This is at their home not far from mine. Look at that snow! She is enjoying some iced tea and sunshine. Yes, this is a perfect snapshot of how the seasons quickly change here. In the blink of an eye.

Honestly, the changing seasons is part of the reason I have savored living in the Midwest all of my life. The summers can be too hot and the winters too cold, but the moderate seasons are really quite special. Our evergreens thrive. Our oaks, maples and aspens live side by side. Our grass can be very thick and green. Wildflowers and wild grasses are everywhere. Yes, I love the tapestry of the changing landscape. 

The days are getting obviously longer as we head toward the summer solstice in June. I will savor every extra minute of light. 

Today, I am grateful seasons change.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Olive Oil

 Year 9- Day 61: Today, I am grateful for olive oil. 

A decade ago, olive oil was rarely used in our home. I grew up using Crisco and Wesson oils for general cooking. Now, olive oil is the oil I use most for cooking. Costco has one that is very user friendly for those who aren't sure they love olive oil. It's mild flavor plays well with vegetables and meats.  

We have a darling little shop in Peoria Heights called Olio and Vino where they have an amazing assortment of flavor infused olive oils and vinegars. It is easy to spend an hour looking at the many options and trying out combinations. 

Olive oil has many health benefits and uses. It is a gentle make-up remover, even on stubborn liners and mascaras. It hydrates the skin. It is thought to be good in the prevention of Alzheimer's, high blood pressure, arthritis, blood sugar issues and it is good for strengthening bones. It seems like scientists are always finding another reason for consumers to choose olive oil over other oils. It has healing qualities.

Olive oil has long been used in anointing oils used for religious purposes. To anoint with oil is to seek healing or offer a blessing from God like the anointing of a king. It was occasionally used on inanimate objects, setting the item apart for religious purposes.  

"The Lord said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin[about 4 quarts] of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil." -Exodus 30:22-25

A simple gratitude for an item that has been in use for thousands of years without very little change. 

Today, I am grateful for olive oil.