Friday, April 30, 2021

First Fire of the Season

 

Year 9- Day 120: Today, I am grateful for the first fire of the season.

Tonight was the first Friday night fire of the season.

We have gathered with the Leander's on Friday nights since before Ryan and Chase (and Emma) were born. So, at this point, the tradition is over 30 years old. After long work weeks, we find calm and comfort hanging out with people who would love us even when we are a little bit tired and crabby. The faces around the table are older. The boys are now men. And, perhaps the gathering is even more precious. We've weathered storms and shared our joys.

Our memories are rich... and our dinners are simple. We mostly carry in so everyone is happy with their choice.

A s'more dessert was a hit with everyone (thanks Anna). Mama Ina Mae enjoyed the fire and reminded me that Uncle Larry and Aunt Judy do campfires, too. There is something about a fire that brings people together with a sense of family. The snap, crackle and pop draws us into its magic. The many colors provide a simple entertainment. We slow down when we gather around a fire.

Ann Voskamp says: "Hurry empties a soul." She is right. There is no sense of urgency when gathered around a fire in friendship. There is no reason to hurry.

I am grateful for the ordinary moments that grow into extraordinary traditions. I am reminded of this scripture:

"For our God is a consuming fire." -Hebrews 12:9

Today, I am grateful for the first fire of the season.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

One Voice

 

Year 9- Day 119: Today, I am grateful the sound of One Voice calms every storm.

"All storms still to the sound of One Voice." -Ann Voskamp

I have always loved this passage from scripture:

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. -Matthew 14:27-29

This is a precious record of faith. Seriously, Peter is the only one who got out of the boat.

We remember Peter took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink. What about the fact he was the only one who was willing to attempt walking on water? At the realization Jesus was near, he was desperate to be with Him in the storm. Desperate.

If we live long enough, most of us will experience storms in life. The unexpected happens. Whose face do we seek? What voice do we long to hear say, "Peace, be still." ?

Peter actively looked for a rescue. The storm blew out of control. He knew where he could place his hope. He knew the power in the hand that reached out for his. He recognized the One Voice able to calm the storm.

Today, I am grateful the sound of One Voice calms every storm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

There is always light

 

Year 9- Day 118: Today, I am grateful there is always light.

I chose an odd word for 2021... catchlights. I won't find it in scripture. A catchlight, by definition, is that spot of white that reflects in the human eye in the best pictures.

 Catchlights seem to bring the eye to life in a photograph. There must be a light source for there to be a catchlight. Without catchlights, the eye seems lifeless. 

I learned, early on, getting great photographs requires chasing light. Actually, open shade allows the light to softly illuminate the face. The little flicker of light reflected in the human eye is magical. 

"For there is always light. If only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it." Amanda Gorman

The light is real. Just because we don't look for it, doesn't mean it is absent. Too many times, we are simply not paying attention. Sometimes, it requires a little courage to see the light. It almost always requires some courage to BE the light. We have to step out of our comfort zones and into the light of His love. 

"Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”  -John 12:36a 

It isn't about the circumstance. It is about the life we find in Him. Chin up. Best foot forward. Lean into the light... let the LIGHT delight. 

Today, I am grateful there is always light.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Stars & Planets Placed By Hand

 

Year 9- Day 117: Today, I am grateful for the hand that placed the stars and planets. 

"We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don't believe in miracles?" - Unknown

There is something about the wonder of the skies that leaves me breathless. We look to the stars and the moon knowing they hang precisely in place. There is an order that only a mighty God could design and put in place.  

"And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the forces of heaven—don’t be seduced into worshiping them. The Lord your God gave them to all the peoples of the earth.-Deuteronomy 4:19

God gave the sun, moon and stars to us to enjoy. Men and women have lost hours looking into the skies. They've used the stars to help them find their way across the oceans and back again. We can easily become so distracted by the creation that we forget to honor The Creator.   

In the beauty of the creation, we see The Creator reflected.

Today, I am grateful for the hand that placed the stars and planets. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Enough

 

Year 9- Day 116: Today, I am grateful for enough.

Enough was my one little word for the year back a few years ago. It has stuck with me, along with many lessons learned. In a world that screams, "More, more and more!" I am reminded of the simple power of being content with the "enough". 

"Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God... and that was enough." -Tim Keller

Jesus taught us to pray by asking for "enough" , not for abundance. Yes, I think God loves to pour our rich blessings on His children, but there is a closeness found in Him when we are satisfied with the "enough". How did Jesus teach us to pray? 

"Give us this day our daily bread." -Matthew 6:11

Jesus taught us to pray for our daily needs to be met, and then to watch the lilies of the field and the birds of the air to see examples of God's provision.

Even in the miracle of the loaves and the fish, he fed the multitude in a way that satisfied their hunger, but it was not a fancy meal. Yes, there were left overs, but the meal itself was simple and satisfying. He turned what they had available, into enough to feed the crowd until all were satisfied. 

Do I remember to give thanks for the blessing of satisfaction, or do I always long for over the top abundance? 

"Lord, teach my heart to delight in the wonder of your love. Fill my heart with gratitude in the moments when you provide enough. Help me to recognize the many times you fill my days with abundance, so I might praise you bigger and better. You are Lord of the big blessings and the daily provisions of enough food to eat, clean water to drink and a safe home to keep us sheltered. You provide it all. Open my eyes to see your hand in it all." -Amen

Today, I am grateful for enough.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Unexpected Treats

Year 9- Day 115: Today, I am grateful for unexpected treats.

The weekend held several unexpected treats, including an Uncle Bud's Apple Cider Slushy. It is my favorite Pumpkin Festival food and most unexpected in the month of April. Thanks to all who made sure I knew it was coming to town on Saturday. 

Mama Ina Mae had her first one and to say it was a hit is an understatement. She was smitten with the tart, sweet slush drink, just like the rest of us. Her eyes were wide as she enjoyed every sip. 

So often, we focus on the unexpected things that are negative. The water heater dies. The sump pump fails. The freezer doesn't get closed well and everything thaws. We are all aware of the unexpected trials, hurdles and potholes as we navigate our days, weeks and months. It is easy to overlook the unexpected delights. 

I am reminded of the unexpected walk with a resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples who encountered him were not expecting their risen Lord to be walking with them and talking with them. I can't imagine their joy when they realized Jesus had been with them, walking and talking. 

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them.  Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! -Luke 24:28-31

Apple cider slushies are high on my list of treats, but walking with Jesus daily is even better. We must remember to slow down. Our awareness of Him is heightened the more time we spend together, walking and talking. 

Take joy in the moments. 

Today, I am grateful for unexpected treats.


 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Clean Water from the Faucet

 

Year 9- Day 114: Today, I am grateful for clean water from a faucet.

Several times today, I have been struck by the luxury of clean water that runs from a faucet. Really, it is with the brush of a hand and in some cases... a mere swipe by a sensor. What a gift.

Clean water is life giving,  yet many around the world struggle to find it. We take it for granted every day. Clean water is essential for life. 

Jesus spoke these words:


"“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” -John 7:37-38

Rivers of living water... what an image it creates. If you are thirsty, come and drink. At the time of Jesus, the modern conveniences we use every day had not yet been invented. Water was life. Jesus was telling them that He, too, was life. Pure, refreshing and life giving. 

Looking at clean water running from the tap should always be a sweet reminder of life in Christ.

Today, I am grateful for clean water from a faucet.


Friday, April 23, 2021

"It Is Finished"

 Year 9- Day 113: Today, I am grateful for the times "It is finished." 

In some seasons, we find ourselves counting the days until a trial is over. In others, we want to slow down the hours and the minutes. One of the most beautiful truths I've ever seen penned are these:

"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity." -Henry Van Dyke

We are not too far past Resurrection Sunday. Easter, as we commonly call it was the bold reminder that our God has the power over life and death. There is a pivotal moment when Jesus releases his spirit to our Heavenly Father. It was a decision. He could have held on longer. He could have ended it sooner. At some point, Jesus knew the time was right. 

"When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." -John 19:30

Death did not take him. He surrendered. He endured what only a few humans could survive, and persevered. He did not grow bitter, only sad when only one of the two thieves hanging beside him chose to believe. It was His hope that all would see and believe. 

There must have been a sense of relief when he simply stated, "It is finished." He had sealed the deal and gained our individual pardons through his selfless act of sacrifice. More than 2000 years later, some do not see the victory in the "pieced together" portions of our lives. 

He makes all things beautiful in his time. And when he is finished, there is majesty and wonder.

"And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Inhale... exhale... repeat.

Today, I am grateful for the times  we hear "It is finished." 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

More Examples

  

Year 9- Day 112: Today, I am grateful for more examples.

Sometimes I need a good Goff quote:

"Love one another. We don't nee more instructions; we need more examples." - Bob Goff

When we grow more weary, our patience is shorter. When we think something is obvious, it is harder to offer grace to others. We all see through our own experiences and knowledge. Aren't we really called to see with Jesus' eyes? 

"What would Jesus do?" was a popular catch phrase several  years ago. The longer I read the word and study by Jesus' example, I wonder if we might be better off asking, "What would Jesus see?". 

We can't act if we don't see the need. We can't "save the world" if we don't see the perishing. We can't feed the world, if we don't recognize hunger. Jesus led by example, but what He did was a response to what he saw. 

"So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on him." -Hosea 12:6

Act with love and justice. Depend on Him. His example is trustworthy. Look with His eyes and see more clearly.  

"Lord, help me to see what you want me to see and do what you want me to do." -Amen

Today, I am grateful for more examples.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mama Ina Mae

 Year 9- Day 111: Today, I am grateful for Mama Ina Mae. 

Her accomplishments are many. Her generous heart always put her younger siblings first... and she was the oldest of 10. She taught many to play accordion, piano, organ and even some guitar. She could play almost anything by ear if she had a minute to figure it out. She loved teaching music, cooking skills and Sunday School lessons. She loves being a mother, as sister and an aunt.  

Mama was a city girl who chose the life of a farm wife when she married my Dad... and she embraced it whole heartedly. Today, she still wants to be up at 5am. "I'm a farm wife. Up at 5 o'clock.", she proudly states. Today, we celebrated her birthday. Last year, we could not see her on her birthday. This year... she celebrates in her new home.  (Thank you Walker and Abigail.)

Her gentle heart is tender. She loves with her whole heart. She delights in having gray hair. 

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life." -Proverbs 16:31

Watching "Little House On the Prairie" and "John Wayne" movies fills a part of every day. On good days, she is quite witty. Her daily Bible devotions are a highlight of her day, along with chocolate breaks at regular intervals. She loves the fur babies and they provide her with constant companionship. 

She teaches us how to live with joy by example. Huntington's disease may wreck her earthly body, but her spirit and soul are strong. We are so grateful we could celebrate this birthday with her. 

 Today, I am grateful for Mama Ina Mae. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Resting Spots

Year 9- Day 110: Today, I am grateful for resting spots.

When the day requires many miles of walking, I am always grateful for resting spots. When the task requires more energy than anticipated, I am grateful for resting spots. When I need to pause and pray... I am grateful for resting spots.

Elizabeth Elisabeth Elliot always has a way with words:

"My faith is to rest not in the outcome I think God should work out for me, MY FAITH RESTS IN WHO GOD IS... the quietness of my heart is the fruit of absolute confidence in God." -Elisabeth Elliot 

Confidence in God is reflected in a quiet heart. 

 "I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him." -Psalm 62:1

When the days or weeks seem long, we can rest in Him.

Today, I am grateful for resting spots.


Monday, April 19, 2021

New Life

Year 9- Day 109: Today, I am grateful for new life.

One of the best parts of spring is new life. I noticed the trees budding in that perfect shade of spring green. There will be kittens, puppies and baby birds. Of course, new babies are always a reason to celebrate, too. 

One of my favorite farm life moments is when the freshly planted crops begin to pop. Again, that perfect spring green pops through the black soil creating perfect rows of new life. I can almost smell the fields as I imagine it. 

Some are looking at retirement or job changes this spring. New life comes in many forms. Navigating life changes is not always easy, but shaking things up reminds us to keep our eye on The One who authors our days and our nights. 

This was the perfect scripture to remind us of the joy found in the gift of new life:

"Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life." -1 Corinthians 15:22

In Him, we have the promise of new life. Old things are washed away. We are renewed and restored. 

Today, I am grateful for new life.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Secured


 Year 9- Day 108: Today, I am grateful we can live securely because of His victory.

I find myself wanting to hold onto the miracle of Easter with a stronger than typical persistence. I'm typically ready to head into the next "season". In the church, Pentecost follows. An exciting time for the church, then and now. 

Still... this year... I cling to the wonder of the empty tomb. Death could not hold our Lord. 

"We can live secure through anything now, because nothing could secure that tomb." -Ann Voskamp

Our security lies not in Social Security, but in Jesus's victory. "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus", sings my Earworm. (He has been singing hymns again.)There is no peace like His peace. There is no promise made He does not keep. 

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." -Psalm 91:4

Whatever the day brings... the week... the month... or the year... we can live securely under His protection. His foundation is firm and his promises are true. 

Deep breath. Chin up. Eyes on Him. 

Today, I am grateful we can live securely because of His victory.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Nature's Invitation


Year 9- Day 107: Today, I am grateful for nature's invitations.

It is always nice to be invited. As humans, our feelings get hurt when we feel left out. Invitations can be limited because of space, for fire safety... or in current times, for public health reasons. Invitations can be handmade, printed, verbal or digital. Most of us savor an invitation to celebrate. 

This quote hit a sweet note today: "God is always seeking you. Every sunset, every blue sky, every ocean wave, the starry host of night. He blankets each day with the invitation, 'I am here." - Louie Giglio 

Nature cannot help but reflect the majesty of God. His hand sprinkles the stars and paints the sunsets. Do we see the invitation? Do we hear His call to come closer? "Come." 

This scripture reflects a God who calls us to a deeper intimacy. We were designed for relationships and close connections.

"Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers."-Song of Solomon

Is it any wonder we feel close to God when surrounded by nature's invitation to see Him and know Him better. 

Today, I am grateful for nature's invitations.

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Message of the Cross

Year 9- Day 106: Today, I am grateful for the message of the cross.

Easter is barely in the rearview mirror. I find it is easy to get distracted as we focus on May things ahead. I don't want to forget what it must have felt like those first couple of weeks after Jesus conquered the grave, and paid off our sin debt. I want to keep the awesome wonder of His earthly mission completed. 

The people didn't take his life. He gave it. Hate spewed from the political scene and from the church leadership. He took the way of the cross. He chose love every time. Love over being right. His death was horribly painful after beatings and being mistreated in the court system of the day. He could have called ten thousand angels, but He remained on the cross and completed His mission... Heaven's Special Forces made a way for us. Victory is still in Jesus, just as it was over 2000 years ago. 

He poured out His life and strength into the broken, the common, the undeserving and the "least of these" in society's eyes. He upheld the Laws of Moses and reinforced God's expectation of caring for widows and orphans. 

The children flocked to him, which tells us something of the whimsy in our Lord. He grew up with siblings and children around. Did the children remind Him of days around the family table after a day in the workshop with Joseph? He certainly wasn't boring. Life with Jesus can be unpredictable... but it is never boring. 

 "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God." -1 Corinthians 1:18

The message of the Cross is hope... freedom... love... and adventure. It is a reminder of the omnipotent nature of God. The only thing God cannot do is make us choose Him. Free will has always been our greatest gift and His greatest risk. He knows we can reject him. 

The cross... as a friend of mine once taught me... is no longer a symbol of torture and death. It is our price tag.  We can wear it around our neck to remind us of the cost of our freedom. He purchased our pardon, not only to set us free, but to claim us as brothers and sisters. We are joint heirs to the Kingdom. 

The message of the cross is not only forgiveness, it is a reminder He handed us the keys to the kingdom. As one of the songs on the radio asks, "How can I be silent?" 

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

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Pathways in the Wilderness

 

Year 9- Day 105: Today, I am grateful for pathways in the wilderness.

Do not doubt for a minute that our God hears our prayers. He is mighty to save. He is bigger than disease or life situation. He makes a way in the desert. We might not understand his plan, but we can trust His heart. 

There are times that life gets pretty overwhelming. The plate gets full and the need for a deep breath is very real. I love this scripture in troubled times, because I need the reminder that the Master of the Universe is still making a way in the desert places:

"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." -Isaiah 43:19

We do not need to fear. Anxiety so easily sets in, but the truth is... he never abandons His children. In the desert places, we are reminded that He is the living water that quenches our thirst. His breath in our lungs... as those who came from Adam... is a thought that makes me smile. We are souls who inhabit this frail human skin, but we need not fear the future when we live in Him. 

"For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’" -Acts 17:28

This week, alone... we have seen evidence of God moving a few mountains and making a way in the desert places. Look for the evidence in your lives, too. I know it is there. Write it down. Claim it. Say, "Thank you, Lord." Yes, we live and move and exist in Him. One day at a time. 

Thank him for each and every new morning for new mercies and fresh grace. It will change every day. 

Today, I am grateful for pathways in the wilderness.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Winning Combinations

 Year 9- Day 104: Today, I am grateful for winning combinations.

Chocolate and peanut butter... Sriracha and mayo... lemon and broccoli  salty and sweet... these are some great combinations. In cuisine, great chefs have found success in taking new risks when combining flavors and textures. 

One of our newer favorites is a peanut butter burger. Who knew it could be so good? Slap a little bacon on there and you raise it up to another level. Some things don't seem to go together, but then you realize they work. 

When you realize the crazy, boundless love of God makes no sense, the seeds of faith can begin to grow. 

Look at this scripture:

"Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed." -Psalm 85:10

These things seem to be somewhat incompatible. Righteousness demands justice be served. God's holy nature cannot tolerate sin. Then, Jesus willingly went to the cross to wipe out our sin debt. He died so we could live. He conquered death so we could live fearlessly; reducing death to a door, not a destination. He provided the winning combination.

We didn't earn it. He gave it. We couldn't do any of it on our own. Our creative ways of reconciliation fell short every time. He became the perfect mix of mercy and truth. Just like the Chicago Mix of popcorn (cheddar cheese and caramel corn)... Jesus became the winning combination. Righteousness and peace have kissed.

Today, I am grateful for winning combinations.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Direct Access

 

Year 9- Day 103: Today, I am grateful for direct access. 

Isn't it nice to have direct access? When you can call someone on a private line, it is easier to contact them. No human or machine is blocking your call.  Direct access is convenient. When you have their "direct line", you know you are important to them. 

Important or famous people often have barriers designed to keep them from the general public. There are many ways to screen calls and contacts. Sometimes through a secretary or a personal assistant. Other times, there are physical barriers like fences or walls. This observation by Tim Keller made me smile:

"The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access." -Tim Keller

It is true, isn't it? A king is considered important, but when his child cries out for a drink, he responds as a father... not as a king. 

How often do I take for granted direct access to the throne of God? We can petition him with our prayers morning, noon and night. Even in the middle of the night, He hears our cries for help and longs to instill hope in our souls. 

"For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household," -Ephesians 2:18-19

We don't need to fret. We don't need to feel alone or alienated. We belong to Him and he calls us sons and daughters. We are his beloved. Prayer is a privilege. There is no secret code to unlock heaven's ears. The magnitude of being... well... God... does not keep him from wrapping us in His love. His love is tender and fierce, all at the same time. 

Today, I am grateful for direct access. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Holy Calm


 Year 9- Day 102: Today, I am grateful for holy calm. 

There is an old hymn called, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms". The chorus talks about the holy calm found when we learn to lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus. Earworm has been singing it as I have contemplated today's quote. 

"Earth has no words that can convey the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus." -Charles Spurgeon

There is a deep rooted truth in those words. There is a "holy calm" that takes over when we surrender our worries to Jesus. 

There are nights I wake up and pray. I figure if I can't sleep, time in prayer is never wasted. Right? In that time, there is peace... even when the trials are large and we feel outnumbered. There is rest in Him... always.  

When I was a teen, BJ Thomas sang a song, "You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me A Prayer". The song always evoked a sense of "holy calm". You can listen to it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5E6oG6_Ql4

Lovely, right? It suggests an intimacy between us and God that changes everything. Imagine, the God of the Universe singing over us to calm our fears. It creates a powerful image. 

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” -Zephaniah 3:17

There is no burden He cannot carry. There is no trial where He cannot bring a victory. He is the calm in every storm. 

Today, I am grateful for holy calm. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

At Every Place A Lesson

Year 9- Day 101: Today, I am grateful there is something to be learned at every place.  

Life brings us to different spaces and places. Some are predictable like an empty nest or retirement , others are not... like a workplace closing or an unexpected diagnosis. The path always has some twists and turns. There are lessons learned in every place . There are times that we are more in tune with the impact we have on our fellow humans and the world around us. 

“There is something to be learned at every place.” -Morgan Harper Nichols

The lessons learned vary. Some are practical lessons. Others, stretch us and grow our patience and faith. Some lessons remind us that God is sovereign and moves  according to His timeline.   

One of my favorite learning places is the book of Proverbs. If you spent a year in Proverbs, there would still be more to learn. Dissecting and practicing the instruction found in that book can grow us in many ways. Nearly every verse holds a lesson. 

"Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance" -Proverbs 1:3-5

Receiving instruction is an opportunity we should embrace and treasure. Jesus, as a boy, longed to learn at the temple. In fact, he missed the caravan home and was left behind at the temple. Mary risked her sister, Martha's, displeasure when she chose to be a learner at the feet of Jesus. Jesus said Mary chose best. 

"But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:41-42

It will not be taken away. 

Today, I am grateful there is something to be learned at every place.  


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Re-Centering

Year 9- Day 100: Today, I am grateful for re-centering.

This quote struck a chord today. 

"We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God himself." -Oswald Chambers

What a hard and incriminating observation about humans in general. How often, does that same attitude about prayer and worship show up in my own prayer time and worship?

I am reminded when He was asked, "How should we pray?", the sample Jesus gave included praise for God and his Holiness. It included recognition of God's sovereignty and power over all things in heaven and on earth. 

"Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one." -Matthew 6: 9-13

Yes, we are to ask for what we need, like our daily food. We are to ask for our sins to be forgiven, too. Not when we are fearful of punishment, but in daily communication... submitting our frustrations and imperfections to Him... to be covered by His love and grace. 

Our portion of forgiveness is granted in proportion to or choice to forgive those who have transgressed against us. How can we expect forgiveness when we cannot offer it? He took the nails for all. Not just for me. Not just for you. Not just for the people we like and deem worthy. 

When the curtain ripped in the temple on Holy Friday, at the moment of His crucifixion... everything changed. Our debt was paid in full. His grace would be extended to all who confessed, accepted and followed Him. Easter Sunday, the victory was won and the new covenant in place. 

One week past Easter... let us re-center on The One who made the way for us. As the GPS would say, "Recalculating." Or perhaps... re-centering is another good word choice. 


Today, I am grateful for re-centering.


Friday, April 9, 2021

Simple


Year 9- Day 99: Today, I am grateful for the simple.

Nine years of posting daily gratitude has taught me to treasure the simple pleasures. Life gets messy, complicated, exhausting and  unpredictable. When we look to "the simple" we are inspired. 

"How difficult it is to be simple." -Vincent Van Gogh

I love white paint. It is my preference to have white walls, with d├ęcor adding the pops of color. It is a clean and simple look, I can never get enough. 

Simple bedding always looks inviting, too. White sheets and accents are beautiful (but not black dog friendly). Making things simple often requires planning. I am always impressed by the hostess who makes it all look simple. 

"Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow." -Psalm 5:8

In art, the simple captures our eye and attention. In prayer, we can say "make your way plain for me." In other words, "Keep it simple." 

Today, I am grateful for the simple.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Gracious Word

 

Year 9- Day 98: Today, I am grateful for gracious words.

We are called to be a people who speak with compassion and grace. 

"Let your conversation be gracious and seasoned with salt so that you will have the right response for everyone." -Colossians 4:6 NLT

If we want to be the game changers in the world, we have to learn to shape our words with thoughtful precision. The tongue is the hardest part of the body to control. Some days the struggle is very real.

As the week comes to an end, we grow more weary. The importance of being intentional grows. Sometimes, we simply do not know what to say. Words fail. Or, we are overwhelmed. Pause and ponder... then carefully  respond.

Today, I am grateful for gracious words.




Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Kiss The Wave

Year 9- Day 97: Today, I am grateful we can learn to "kiss the wave." 

What does that mean? It is a response to the following quote:

"I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages." -Charles Spurgeon

What imagery that statement creates! If you have ever been slapped by big waves on the shore, you know they are a powerful force. Waves can force a small vessel into the rocks or onto the shore. Many strong men and women have been humbled by the force of nature we know as waves. 

What is it that humbles me, brings me to my knees and slaps me into the Rock of Ages? 

We all have our own unique response to that question. Not one of us stands in line to sign up for trials and suffering. Not of one of us relishes the struggle when we are going through it. Still, we find some of our most intimate moments with our Lord are the ones when we have been slammed with tough stuff. In retrospect, we see that in those devastating moments or difficult chapters... he never leaves us alone. We can feel His strength. 

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." -Romans 8:26

We have His Spirit advocating for us. 

"By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight." -Hebrews 11:33-34

Whatever the struggle, we can trust His heart. 

Today, I am grateful we can learn to "kiss the wave." 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Fear Busters

 

Year 9- Day 95: Today, I am grateful for fear busters.

I am human. I forget to trust like the lilies of the field and the birds. I have moments... and maybe even months... when I wonder if I have what it takes to fulfill the work He has put before me. 

I forget that the enemy delights in our fears. Who wants to delight the evil one? 

I absolutely adore this passage. It speaks life in a season when so much around us is speaking fear. Fear and anxiety are crippling. There is so much help in hope in Christ. We can find peace when we pause, pray and ponder the truth of His power in our lives. 

"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20

How do I take on this day? I can choose to live in this earthly, temporary vessel by trusting in the one who experienced our skin. He chose to be the sacrifice for our sins. The old self is a thing of the past. The new self is Savior sanctioned. His blood signature left our death note "paid in full". We are meant to live fully, fearless and freely... and in the light of his love. 

The light of His Love lightens our load and lifts us up; His beloved live free of fear.

"Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love." -1 John 4:18

Perfect love casts out fear! 

Today, I am grateful for fear busters.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Clean Sheets

Year 9- Day 94: Today, I am grateful for clean sheets. 

The only thing better than clean sheets... is clean sheets dried on the line outside. The fresh scent and crisp feel are a true luxury. If I could, I would have clean sheets every night, but it is impractical. It takes too much time to wash, dry and reassemble. So, on clean sheet night, I savor the joy until I drift off to sleep.

Tonight is clean sheet night! It is a reason to smile and anticipate the end of the day. 

I can't help thinking about Jesus wrapped in clean sheets of linen, covered with perfumed ointment, myrrh & aloe. The custom was not neglected. Nicodemus & Joseph of Arimathea took care of the body of Jesus. The scriptures tell us they prepared him for the tomb. 

"With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before." -John 19:39-41

Both men sought out Jesus in life. Both lacked courage to boldly follow Him.  Yet, after watching his trial, conviction, crucifixion and death...they came out of the shadows to care for Him in death. I've always found that interesting. Did they go home that night exhausted? Did they expect the resurrection? We don't know. Certainly, they went to bed that night knowing they had not abandoned Jesus in death.

Resurrection morning came after the endless silence of Saturday. What did Simon Peter and the others find inside? The linens were inside, but Jesus was not there. 

" Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings." -John 20:6-7 

The sheets associated with burial were there, but Jesus was not. What did they find inside? The linen sheets were inside, but there was no sign of Jesus. The cloth that covered his face was neatly folded. 

What a surprise! What a mystery! What a reason to celebrate! I am not sure I can humanly fathom the broad spectrum of their emotions. I know it was delight mixed with wonder. Their energy renewed. Fresh hope is breathed into their hearts and their days. 

Perhaps, their joy felt a little like clean sheet night at the Smith house.

Today, I am grateful for clean sheets. 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

He Is Risen

 

Year 9- Day 93: Today, I am grateful "He Is Risen."

Many do not believe. It sounds crazy to those who have not grown up in the Christian tradition. Wouldn't it be even crazier to believe that a lie would survive more than 2000 years? 

I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like for the eye witnesses to the miracle. Mary in the Garden. The disciples in the upper room, hiding in fear. The boys in the boats or those walking on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24 gives a beautiful account of a resurrected Jesus making himself known to his followers. It always intrigues me that many do not recognize him at first. How can that be? But when the blinders come off, they are filled with truth, excitement and a new mission. To tell the world that "He is risen. He is risen, indeed." So much to celebrate. Good news cannot be contained. It spreads. 

He is not finished, yet! Jesus is about to reveal his next big miracle. 

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”-Luke 24:49

Sending the Holy Spirit to be with us, in us, for us and not against us... such a marvelous promise to follow conquering sin and death. 

Let there be no confusion. God loves us. He loved us enough to take on human form and to live with human temptations. He chose our skin. It must have been a terrible fit for the Holy One. God's relentless, seeking love for each one of us has never lost it's wonder. I will never understand it because it doesn't make sense. It was His love reaching out to save us that changed the end of this love story. Reconciliation and really living.  

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! 

Today, I am grateful "He Is Risen."