Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Simple Elegance

 Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 181: Today, I am grateful for simple elegance.

"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." - Coco Chanel

Where Coco might lean into a simple black dress, Joanna Gaines will choose white on white. Both are simple. Both are elegant. Yes, you can be country chic. In fact, some have made careers out of it. 

You can, also, be simply elegant creating a warmth not often associated with the rich and famous. I do love hearing stories of those with wealth who have generous hearts and unassuming ways. They do exist. They quietly work behind the scenes supporting those in need... not for the recognition... but because they feel the call to do something good. 

In art, white space allows a picture or scrapbook page to breathe, while drawing the eye to what is important. White space creates the feeling of simple elegance. It is a powerful tool in design. It is why I am a white wall girl when I get my choice. It is uncomplicated and an easily updated space. 

Jesus spoke about keeping things simple with regards to taking vows and making commitments. We humans have become professionals at making things complicated. "It's complicated" is a non-answer and leads to confusion. God is not a fan of confusion. His Word says so:

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." - 1 Corinthians 14:33

"Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one." -Matthew 5:37

Simplicity isn't only elegant, it creates a sense of peace. It is important to say "Yes." when we mean "Yes."  An honest "No" can be equally well received. Life can get messy. Efforts to simplify are good. 

For the Love of My Life... clean countertops are simply elegant. It is another way to say, "I love you." 

Today, I am grateful for simple elegance.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A Plan

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 180: Today, I am grateful for a plan.

When the kids were little, my Jill and I would try to make plans. We quickly learned that with four boys, two husbands, extended families, jobs and dogs... the best laid plans were often made only to be undone because something came up that took priority. We intentionally kept most of our plans tentative because "life always happens when you are making plans". 

One of the things I know to be true is that "His ways are not our ways". We can make the plans but our God will determine our path. We must learn to be patient and pay attention to detail. 

The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. -Psalm 138:8

We are loved and not abandoned. 

Today, I am grateful for a plan.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Gingham & Buffalo Check


Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 179: Today, I am grateful for Gingham & Buffalo Check plaids. 

I discovered different fashion authors have different opinions on the differences between gingham and buffalo check plaids, so I will not pretend to be completely sure. To keep it simple, the buffalo check is a bigger, bolder print. Gingham is a smaller and more delicate looking relative of the same pattern. 

Gingham has long been associated with the freshness of summer. I never tire of seeing sprinkles of gingham in our summer linens and things. Buffalo check is more often associated with fall and Christmas, but I am delighted that it has started to surface in the other seasons. 

Gingham and buffalo check are timeless and classic. If you go back 40 years in fashion, you will find them. Perhaps not the most popular in certain decades, but never missing. It reminds me of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert, waiting on God's direction to enter the Promised Land. The time had its ups and downs for sure. One of the things that has fascinated me is the fact their clothes and shoes did not wear out. 

For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell! -Nehemiah 9:21

As one who hates to give up favorite shoes and clothing pieces, imagine forty years with a favorite item! In truth, they were probably really tired of the same old things. The creative side of our human nature enjoys a little color and variety in our clothing. 

It is a good day to celebrate classic plaids and favorite prints.

Today, I am grateful for Gingham & Buffalo Check plaids.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Be Attitudes

 Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 177: Today, I am grateful for the "be" attitudes. 

If you are looking for a post on the actual "Beatitudes", they can be found in Matthew chapter 5. We will save that for another day. On this day, I was nudged by a verse from Romans:

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." -Romans 12:12 

Be joyful in the hope we have in Jesus. Our hope is not only for this day, but for all of our tomorrows. 

Be patient when trials and tribulation come. He never, ever leaves us alone. 

Be in prayer constantly. Be praying at stoplights. Be praying when you load the washing machine and unload the dishwasher. 

I am grateful God is not impressed by long and fancy prayers. Keep it simple and know he hears and understands your heart.  The scriptures makes this very clear:

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get." -Matthew 6:5 

I believe the Bible provides evidence our God is moved by our persistent attempts to seek His will, His face and His ways. It is not a level of prayer excellence to be achieved by practice and fancy words. Instead, it is praying with a heart that seeks to be in tune with the Father's heart. It is like finding and tuning in a radio station. You adjust the dial until the music or the message is clear and the static is gone. 

Simple, constant prayers keep the lines of communication open. Be joyful. Be patient. Be constant. 

Remember our God is the great "I AM". Remember the "be" verbs we conjugated in English? God says he is "Great I Am".  We only need to BE in Him to find peace and rest. 

Today, I am grateful for the "be" attitudes.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Ice Cubes

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 177: Today, I am grateful for ice cubes.

I'm not European. I love my beverages cold. Preferably, ice cold. Especially water. Things taste better to me when they are really cold.  

I remember when Chase was little, we were at Uncle Matt and Aunt Jennifer's house. They did not have an ice maker at the time. The old fashioned ice cube trays from grandpa's house were still functional and we used them. Chase, who has always had an engineer's mind, was fascinated by them. The twisty plastic ones were fascinating, too. Both made ice successfully.

Ice is kind of magical. It keeps our beverages cold and lunch meat cold in coolers. When it melts, it is ordinary water. You can freeze fruit and herbs into ice cubes for fresh summer drinks. 

I've looked at Job with new eyes after doing a Bible Study with some online friends. Job is so much more than a book of sadness an tragedy. Yes, there are giant struggles for Job. Yes, he faced trials that are hard to imagine until you are walking a difficult path. He needed comfort and support from his friends. Sometimes, they were helpful. Sometimes his friends said some awful things without really knowing the heart of God. Can we know the heart of God?

He instructs us to know His word. And Jesus said, "If you know me, you know The Father." (John 8:19) Job once prayed for "an advocate to defend him before the Father. Jesus answered that prayer and we all have the advantage of intercession before Him. 

When Job could not fathom the things God allowed, he held on to his faith. Faith doesn't melt away when things warm up. Faith may look a little different as we have to readjust our vision in times of brokenness or trials. God doesn't change. We, on the other hand, need his refuge, encouragement and shelter in the storms of life. He is enough and so much more.

"Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes. Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion?" -Job 38:29-31

I can't direct the stars, but I know the one who can. I can't create ice at the brush of my hand or with an exhaled breath. I know The One who can. 

I am grateful for the many ways to make ice cubes. 

Today, I am grateful for ice cubes.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Sump Pumps

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 176: Today, I am grateful for sump pumps.

It's raining again. We've had a wet week and the rain continues to fall. The waters keep coming. Our sump pump is working hard. It isn't a beautiful tool, but I am grateful for our sump pump every time it rains. 

The sump pump always brings back memories of our grumpy old dog, Sandy. Sandy wasn't particularly affectionate with anyone except me... and maybe Chase. She didn't like feet. She didn't like much... but she loved the sump pump. 

Sandy was part of the family. We loved her, even with all of her idiosyncrasies. Her weirdest quirk was, indeed, her infatuation with the sump pump. If it was running, we would find her laying beside it. It was the oddest of romances. One-sided, but in Sandy's little doggie brain... it was sincere and real. She is the only dog I've ever known to show such devotion to a household tool. Odd... but that was our Sandy.

I must admit, there are times I go to the basement just to be sure it is working and running. I thank God for it, often. It is a humble tool, but it makes such a difference when the rains come fast and hard. I am grateful our home has a firm foundation. I am reminded that foundations matter and planning for the rainy season happens when the sun is shining. 

"It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” -Luke 6:48-49

The humble little sump pump (and the Ace in the Hole back up pump) helps us keep our basement dry. Although I am not as devoted to it as Sandy was, I do not take it for granted. A working sump pump should never be overlooked when counting your blessings.

Today, I am grateful for sump pumps.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Summer Rain

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 175: Today, I am grateful for summer rain.

There is nothing like a night rain to act as a lullaby. I don't mind the thunder, either. It rarely wakes me up. The smell of rain... the scent is called petrichor... is like nothing else on the planet. 

Even during the day, the rhythm of the rain on the window or pavement is calming. Summer rains are so important. A dry and thirsty land struggles to produce crops and gardens. I try to not feel inconvenienced if I have to go out in a summer rain. Rain is lifegiving. Rain is a gift.

"I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit." -Leviticus 26:4

Drops of precipitation are like glitter on the summer landscape. God designed several ways to water the earth, but it seems the rain is a favorite. When was the last time you danced in the rain? 

Today, I am grateful for summer rain.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


 Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 174: Today, I am grateful for the Daisy.

This summer, I am working my way through the garden with gratitude. Today, it is the daisy. Gerbera Daisies are my favorites, but the traditional white flower with the yellow button center always evokes a sense of cheer. 

Pooh said it was 'hard to be uncheered by a balloon". I feel the same about the daisy.

"The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air." -Song of Solomon 2:12

Keeping it simple. Savor the sunshine of the season. Don't forget to savor the daisies.

Today, I am grateful for the Daisy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Creative Spaces

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 173: Today, I am grateful for those who create, encourage (and support) creative spaces.

One of the ways the Love-of-my-Life melts my heart is his patience and ultimate support of my need for creative spaces. We both like a tidy house. He needs neat spaces more than I do. He is a whiz at taking a mess and tidying it up. There is nothing like a clean space to make deep breaths come easier. 

That said, I can't be neat and creative. My cleaning of my artistic spaces easily turns into "micro-cleaning" and organizing. When it is done, it is fabulous, but it always seems to be a work in progress. 

I can only imagine what it must have been like for our God to literally speak the heavens into order out of nothingness. Because He is not bound by time and space as we know it, I truly cannot imagine what it looked like. I do get to enjoy the beauty of the heavens, the waters, the flatland fields and the mountains. Each landscape has its own magic and sense of wonder. Heaven and nature do sing together the glory of His majesty found in creation. 

I love the Thomas Edison quote: "There ain't no rules around here, we're trying to accomplish something."

Nature has some rules, but it also is full of mystery and creativity. Even those who do not believe in God are often in awe of nature. Seriously, the Midwestern landscape when the leaves are so many shades of red, green, yellow, gold and brown... it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and we get to witness it annually. 

"I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles."-Psalm 145:5

Don't forget to nurture the creative spirit within you. Build a deck, sing a song, dance, write a poem, build a deck, bake a cake, paint a picture, play an instrument, sew a quilt, knit a hat, design a garden, make a card or take a picture...let your spirit run free. 

Today, I am grateful for those who create, encourage (and support) creative spaces.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Extended Warranty

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 172: Today, I am grateful for our extended warranty.

Somedays, you just need to laugh. There is something about the absurd that makes us giggle. There are different kinds of laughter. A giggle... to me... is that unexpected, effervescent laugh that lightens the heart. It can burst into a full blown belly laugh when the situation warrants a fuller response, but I love a good giggle.

Memes are an endless source of giggles. They are funny. They usually make us think of specific people in our lives. This one is for anyone who has ever had a car. The robocalls are endless. 

I was going for the verse about a merry heart, but this turned out to be my verse of the day. Again, the Spirit provides a better verse than the one I was going to get:

"The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. -Psalm 121:7-8

Instead of focusing on the laughter in this meme, I am reminded our God is the provider of our "extended warranty". He keeps watch over our comings and goings... now and forever. We don't have to obsess about this old human body all that much. We should take care of it, but it is temporary housing... a starter vehicle. Our souls are forever in His care and He's got us covered by his blood. Better than any extended car warranty. 

It gives me great peace knowing that we don't have to worry about expiration dates when He is our Lord and Savior. We receive  a new model... fully restored... when our souls return to the one who gave us His breath and His life. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Today, I am grateful for our extended warranty.

Good Fathers

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 171: Today, I am grateful for good Fathers. 

Earworm is singing Chris Tomlin's Good Good Father. 

"Oh, I've heard a thousand stories, of what they think you're like But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night. And You tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone. You're a good, good Father. That's who you are... and I'm loved by you." 

It is a song that makes us smile. Randy always told Walker they could use it for the Father-Son dance when he got married. Walker might be slightly relieved that a "Covid Wedding" changed dancing plans.  Whenever we hear the song, we can't help but smile. 

The Love-of-my-Life is the best of Fathers. Chase and Walker have always known their Dad would show up in good times and in the hard ones, too. He doesn't like to be the center of attention, but every once in a while, I have to sing his praises, because he is a blessing every day. He has taught them so much about being good men. He showed them Christian values by example... caught more than taught. His patience in teaching new skills always makes me smile. 

Today, my heart hurts for those who have not known a father for one reason or another. I know some good and Godly men have stepped into the gap. 

"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy."-Psalm 68:5-6

When our Fathers are no longer with us, we feel the emptiness of that loss on this day. Still, for those who have been loved, sheltered and protected... the memories live on in our hearts. Someday, we will sit together in the sweetest reunions. 

The Bible gives clear instructions about being Fathers to the Fatherless, so don't forget the widows and orphans on this day. I have several close to us feeling that loss today for the first time.  

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."  -James 1:27

Today, I am grateful for good Fathers. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Integrity Tests

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 170: Today, I am grateful for integrity tests.

They say a true test of a man's character is how he   behaves when no one is looking. Truth, right?  Integrity matters.

"There is no better test of a man's integrity than his behavior when he is wrong."- Marvin Williams

Human nature is naturally prideful. God does not tolerate pride and arrogance, well. Most of us really feel our character tested at times... especially... When we are wrong. And, we are all wrongs sometimes. 

These words of instruction are clear. 

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling." -Proverbs 16:18

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” -James 4:6

There are several other passages that relate to pride. It is more important to be kind than to be right. In quietness and gentleness, God can use us. It goes back to submitting our whole selves... body, mind and soul... to His service. (Romans 12:1)

He always clears things up with His truth. 

Today, I am grateful for integrity tests... and His infallible truth.

Friday, June 18, 2021

84,400 Seconds


Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 169: Today, I am grateful for 84,400 seconds a day. 

It sounds like an abundance of seconds, but we have usually spent quite a few before we ever roll out of bed.

Focusing on the tick of the second hand can create anxiety for some and a sense of peaceful rhythm for others. We are all unique in our ways and how we put together our days. Each one of us, chooses daily, how we spend our 84,400 seconds.

"God gave you a gift of 84,400 seconds. Have you used one of them to say thank you? - William Arthur Wand

Offering gratitude lifts our spirits and delights our God. It really is a win-win. Gratitude helps us manage all of our other emotions. If you are having a rough day, write down five things you are grateful for today. The gratitude attitude can set the tone for any day or help get a rough one back on track. 

"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom." -Psalm 90:12

Today, I am grateful for 84,400 seconds a day. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Place to Sing

 Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 168: Today, I am grateful for a place to sing.

There is something about singing that is soul deep. It resonates with something God wove into each one of us. Something powerfully different from most other human experiences. 

I am reminded the night Jesus was born, the angels sang to the human shepherds. There is something about music that is deeply rooted in the heavens. I can't explain it. I don't have to, thank goodness.

 David knew it and wrote song after song. The New Testament speaks of spiritual songs that bring hope and encouragement. Spiritual songs that lift our hearts and help us pour out our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.

"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." -Colossians 3:16 

Do we let our spirits respond to Him in song? Songs help us learn scriptures and truths from the Bible. The first one we learn as a child is "Jesus loves me, this I know." I've loved singing that old song with people in nursing homes in the last chapter of their earthly tour. I've seen it bring tears to their eyes for the deep seeded truth of a God that has never abandoned them, even in troubles and trials. 

With God as our helper, Jesus as our champion and the Holy Spirit as our comforter, how can we not sing for joy. Talk about a dream team! 

"for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy." - Psalm 63:7

When He is our help and our salvation, we can hum a merry tune in the shadow of his wings. It does create quite an image, doesn't it? 

Today, I am grateful for a place to sing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

No Fear of the Dark


Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 167: Today, I am grateful we need not fear the dark. 

This season in my life, I find myself torn. I nature... a morning person. I love to be awake before the break of day to see the first glimpses of dawn. Each new day is a reminder that God deems this world... with all of its woes... worth investing in for another day. He longs for every soul to return to fellowship and faith. The birds break into song, and I find myself singing with them. 

The other part of me loves the night... the wee hours of the night when most of the world is silent. Prayer feels different in the stillness and silence of the night. 

I am reminded of Jesus... after his cousin and childhood playmate John the Baptist was beheaded... went into the wilderness. He needed to breathe, to pray and to feel the grief of what John had suffered because of Him. It ached.

The night Jesus knew he would be betrayed by Judas and arrested, again he chose to go into a garden to pray. What did He find in the dark? This Ann Voskamp quote speaks to the question: 

"Darkness isn't the presence of God leaving us - but the shelter of God coming near to us." - Ann Voskamp  

Jesus sought out the desolate, dark places to pray.

" rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." - Mark 1:35

It was His way. He would seek out the Father and find him. God does not leave us in the dark. He draws nearer and nearer. We only need to pause, pray and practice patience. 

He is our hiding place.

Today, I am grateful we need not fear the dark. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Prayer: Innate Response


Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 166: Today, I am grateful for when prayer becomes more of an innate response than an action plan.

There is a Christian Contemporary group called "Need to Breathe". I've always loved that name. Breathing is something we take for granted until we are struggling to take a breath. 

They sing a song called "Who am I" that wrestles with the unfathomable love of God that reached out to us when "we were yet sinners". Yes, in the middle of the train wreck of our lives, our God stepped out of heavens to be with us, for us and not against us. Their song asks, "Who am I? Who am I, to be loved by you?"

"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." -Romans 5:8

How can we reject such love? His love is not dependent on our goodness and what we get right. He loves us in the desperate messes we make, when we don't know which way to turn. When our need for him becomes equivalent to our need to breathe. That is when... and where... we will find him waiting for our surrender. 

Yes, real faith requires us to surrender. To pray as Jesus prayed, "Not my will but Thine be done." The universe is His. He longs to walk with us, to work beside us and to be in fellowship with us daily. Like that first call or text of the day to a loved one... that is the glory of prayer. Prayer opens us up to receiving Him. Kind of like turning the radio on. CS Lewis said it like this:

"I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me." - CS Lewis

It is the same lesson I learned in the first year of "Daily Gratitude" back in 2013. Spending time with Him didn't change God, it changed me. It is the same when we learn to pray like we breathe. Without thinking, but in full sync with The One who grants us breath for all of our days. 

Some days I get it sort of right. Other days, I blow it big time. He doesn't run from our messes. Shame grows out of our failures and shortcomings, but his God goggles always see what is redeemable and worthy of His Son's blood. 

I don't really get it, but I am forever changed because His love never gives up on us. My human mind doesn't really stretch that far, but that is okay. He's got us covered. 

"Never stop praying." - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer without ceasing... just like breathing. Not a task to be checked off our obligatory "to do list", but our soul's response to His love. 

Today, I am grateful for when prayer becomes more of an innate response than an action plan. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Shoes That Fit

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 165: Today, I am grateful for shoes that fit.

They say, "If the shoe fits, wear it." It is a phrase that usually accompanies some reality check. Sometimes, the reality check is less than comfortable. 

Are there times we have old pairs of shoes that are so comfortable, we hate to give them up? Those who know me best know I don't give up favorite shoes or coats easily. They are old friends that provide comfort. I love fashion, but shoes and coats are sometimes more about what fits, feels good and does the job. 

For Cinderella, the shoe that fit was life changing. 

Have you ever had to wear uncomfortable shoes? Oh, I can feel the blisters forming as I type this. I am confident I broke a toe in a raucous game of "Happy Salmon" awhile back. Some of my favorite sandals are no longer comfortable. I no longer choose them first from the closet. I miss them, but it is no fun to be comfortable when walking for any length of time. 

I think about our Jesus, and the human skin he wore that really did not fit him. He did it because he loved us. He would rather be with us in discomfort than lose out on the relationship. Doe we seek Him in the same way?

"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."- Isaiah 53:5

His human shoes made a way for all of us to come back into a relationship with God. He bore our punishment in discomfort... out of the purest love for the Father and for us. He honored the Father, even when it meant a sacrifice. 

Today, I am grateful for shoes that fit... and for the ones that didn't, changing everything.

Sunday, June 13, 2021



Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 164: Today, I am grateful for lemonade.

There is something uniquely refreshing about lemonade. It shouts summer. It quenches the the thirst and lifts the spirits. Lemon shakes ups are the best, but plain, old fashioned lemonade is a perfect pitcher of goodness. 

Lemonade is sunshine in a glass. 

Here in the Midwest, summer heat has arrived. Temperatures are high and thirst is real. We know the importance of good hydration. Lemonade is hydration with a kick of vitamin C. 

I am reminded we have a God who quenches our thirst. 

"I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land." -Hosea 13:5

In a dry and thristy land, our thist is quenched. 

Today, I am grateful for lemonade.

Local Food


Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 163: Today, I am grateful for local food businesses.

We live in the time of big chain restaurants. They are easy, plentiful and you know what you will get every time.

Growing up in a small town, you rarely had a chain restaurant come to town. A local diner or restaurant was a blessing. Today, my little hometown has a DQ but the Main Street Diner is my favorite place in town.

The place I call home now has several local options. Each one has something unique that keeps us coming back.

When traveling, it is always fun to seek out the local favorites. The picture is of a local pizza place in Winter Haven, Florida. Really excellent pizza! The Twisted Prop is another pub on the water... worth seeking out.

Perhaps, it is the company of family and friends that make the local restaurants taste so good. I can't say for sure. Maybe it is the way a local restaurant make you feel like you are an invited guest at their table, and not just a customer. The welcome is sincere.

“Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” -1 Peter 4:9

Hospitality makes all the difference.

Today, I am grateful for local food businesses

A Place To Rest

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 162: Today, I am grateful for a place to rest.

Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” says, “There is no place like home.” The phrase caught on for a reason. Home is the place we can truly be at rest. We don’t need to explain ourselves. We are known and we can be still.

Today, I am grateful for a place to rest.

The Well Was There

Gratitude Year 9-Day 160: Today, I am grateful “the well was already dug.”

I saw this quote on Pinterest:
“Long before the Samaritan woman needed water, the well was already dug.”
Not sure of the author.
The recollection of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is the longest recorded conversation with Jesus in the Bible. She was a woman of questionable morals and not Jewish. For Him too pause for her was shocking to those around him.
I love that He sent the disciples off on little assignments. I imagine he was rarely alone. For her, he made an opportunity for her to get to know Him. he already knew about her.
He didn’t condemn her, he merely let her know he was aware of her situation and choices. I have often wondered about the rest of her story. Women had such limited choices in that day. Culture dictated so much. Jesus saw her pain and loneliness. He invited her to drink from the well that will not run dry.
The truth is that the well was in place long before the encounter that would change her life forever.
Today, I am grateful the well was already dug.



Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 159: Today, I am grateful for cacao.

Most know I love coffee. It is essential for life in my opinion. Well, I have brewed up something new that is glorious. Chase and Emma gifted me with Cacao for Mother’s Day. As Mama Ina Mae would say…”Oh my goodness!”
Cacao is best brewed in a French press. It steeps longer than coffee. 10 minutes or longer for more intense flavor. Roasted Cocoa beans coarsely ground make the magic. No caffeine. Antioxidants included. It is full of good stuff for the body and the soul.
Imagine drinking a mellow dark chocolate. I savor it with cream and it is amazing with hazelnut or vanilla creamers, too.
All of our adult children challenge us to try new things. They are all naturally curious and willing to try new things. The Love of my Life and I still learn from them nearly every day. I am reminded that we are encouraged to not be afraid of new things. Some are very good like Cacao… and some are hard… like new widowhood (for two of my sisters of the heart… in love and in Christ).
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19
New things come in different packages. Some are yummy or exciting. Some are terrifying. I love there reminder of a God who makes a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. He is as constant and consistent as He is creative. He is the God of new chapters.
Today, I am thankful” for cacao… and the God of new things


 Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 158: Today, I am grateful for my Brother-in-love, Monte Smith.

Jan gave me permission to share yesterday’s tribute to Monte as today’s daily gratitude. His life... well lived... leaves us with so many memories, laughter and some tears of shared grief.
A Tribute To Monte:
Monte worked in the oil industry and was gone for several years. He made his way to Florida, where he met Jan and married the love of his life. (Just to be clear… Jan and the Love of His Life are the same person.) To quote a beautiful country song, “God bless the broken road that led me straight to you.” God knew their situations, their hurts and their hesitations. Some of us think Mom picked Jan out for Monte at church. God knew they needed each other.
Monte fell for Jan and a darling little girl named Nikki. (Maybe not in that order.) Monte would have had all three of his children with him all of the time if he could. Nikki had her Dad’s undivided attention in the beginning… maybe more than she wanted. Eventually, Christopher, Jenny and Robin arrived and they were officially a family of six. No steps...just sisters and brothers. Together, they learned to be a family while living in Michigan, Indiana and back to Florida during different chapters. In Indiana, Chris became best friends with a teenage boy named Rob Steadman. There was always room for one more in Monte and Jan’s heart and home. Nikki and Rob fell in love and the rest is history.
I’m the youngest of the Smith pack, Randy’s wife. Not an original. A Smith by choice and in love. Jan and I came into the Smith clan about the same time. In fact, I don’t remember Monte without Jan or Jan without Monte.
The first memory I have of Monte Carl Willis Smith was a morning memory. I am normally a morning person, but Randy and I had driven 17 ½ hours from Olivet in a Ford Escort with 2 other people. I would be meeting his parents and Florida family for the first time. Monte had worked 3rd shift at Disney and decided that before he went to bed, we should all go to Disney. He arrived “ready to go” in a Disney t-shirt looking intentionally goofy. He had on Dad shorts, black dress socks and black dress shoes. He knew how to make a first impression! Oh Monte!
After fixing his fashion disaster, we made our way to Epcot where he had no trouble convincing me that the beautiful breeze keeping us cool that day was created magic… Disney wind. In my defense… I hadn’t slept and Monte could spin a good story. He loved to tell and retell that story. He treated me like a little sister from the first day... and for all of our days together. I’m not gonna lie… I can’t imagine this family without his smile, his light and his presence… but he leaves so many rich memories to keep him close.
If you have met any of the Smith kids… Jake and Shela didn’t raise a lazy one in the bunch. Monte, Leonard, Sheryl, Lola, Bruce and Randy have all been known to have multiple jobs. They like to work and are happiest when they have a purpose. They love making a difference. Monte led by example. That example sometimes included “what not to do”.
Hard work is not always recognized, but Monte (and Jan) have both received the rare “Partners in Excellence” awards from Disney during their years of service. It is a recognition of those who go above and beyond the expectations not just once in a while… but doing the daily mundane tasks with joy and to the best of their abilities every…
Monte started his career at Disney sweeping the streets. You know… the people that sweep up the popcorn before it hits the ground? In a blink, they moved him to management in housekeeping and maintenance. He worked on night crews to refresh the parks before sunrise. He washed floors long before he became a maintenance supervisor.
His work ethic, intelligence and charm earned him a chance to go to Italy for Disney. He spent three months involved with the completion of the ship. He made the maiden voyage of the Disney Wonder across the sea. His hospitality skills represented Disney well and the new ship would be well cared for with him on board. Monte had the time of his life preparing a place for guests of the Disney Wonder.
The offer came to stay at sea when he returned with the ship. But, at that time, Mom Smith was dying. She was living with them, so he passed on his big adventure to do what was loving and kind. He made his choices… honoring his mother, keeping his vows to his beloved wife and reflecting his Heavenly Father in his life. God blessed him for that decision.
Everything was more fun with Monte. He had a childlike wonder that kept him young for all of his days. He was a terrible tease, too. I will never forget the time I arrived in Florida… without my make-up. I didn’t realize it until we were getting ready to leave for the day. For some this would be no big deal… for me and his little brother, it was crisis mode.
We dressed and prepared to leave for the nearest Sephora. Monte, showing the greatest love and compassion for our distress… had a brown paper sack ready for me.The eyes were cut out and a beautiful face was painted on the paper sack. I had a lovely bag to wear on my head until I could repurchase my real face. He was so proud of himself and everyone thought he was very funny.
He had a way of engaging co-workers. Part of Disney’s excellence is its attention to details… especially cleaning details. Monte and his crews made that magic. He worked closely with security on 3rd shift. He talked to security one night when we were together at Coronado Springs resort. Some of us were being a little loud in the hot tub… it could have been Lola, Bruce, Billie… Monte sent his security pal to ticket us... for having too much fun. Loving out loud and laughing were his favorite moments.
Monte served Jan, his family, his church, his friends and Disney to the best of his abilities. To borrow from scripture, “He washed our feet.” He didn’t need to be first in line or “keep up with the Jones”. Any earthly treasure he collected was happily shared. He loved making a good life for his family. He shared all he had. You were always welcome in their home and at the coffee pot. I never once saw him behave selfishly. He never hesitated to inconvenience himself for others.
Monte tended to souls like some tend to gardens. He was always an encourager… just ask Jan, his kids and grandchildren. Chris & Kathy… Rob & Nikki… Robin and Jenna… and to all the grandchildren… he longed to be fully in relationship with you. You were his most precious treasures. Thanks for sharing him with all of us.
Monte has been SIL Melanie's biggest cheerleader, as she has battled to recover from a stroke this past year. It didn’t matter how bad he felt, he would focus on her journey to recovery.
In this past year, as cancer and Parkinson’s took its toll on his body and mind, he started going to work with Jan at the Naz Thrift Shop as a volunteer. (Monte was so proud of Jan’s work at the shop.) He wanted to feel productive and useful, even as his earthy body was wearing out. He preferred to tend to people’s souls… yet with humble enthusiasm… Monte took on the daily task of sorting, cleaning and matching donated shoes at the shop. A different kind of soul/sole. If you have ever been shoeless… you know his work in his last days was still making a difference.
As I prayed for the right passage to sum up Monte’s life, the Spirit whispered this reminder. Monte spent his life preparing a place for people to celebrate life together. People plan for years for a Disney trip. For many, it was a once in a lifetime vacation. He prepared a place for them … he did the same for us every time we came to their home. Casa Smith was always a welcoming place for his children, grandchildren, family and friends. His lifelong work was preparing a place for others to enjoy.
Jesus said:“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” -John 14:1-4
The joy and excitement in those words of promise! Wow, right? Did Monte ever consider that passage as a reflection of his work and his life? If he didn’t then, I know he does now. He has heard, “Well done, my good and faithful one.”
“You know the way to the place where I am going.” And, Jesus took care of the entry fees and tickets. Just like Monte covered so many who entered the gates of Disney over the years.
Big brother, you leave a tough act to follow. We are trying not to cry… except tears of joy per your instructions. We know your celebration is in full swing with Jesus, Jenny and those who arrived before you.
We love you forever. Thank you for a life well lived so that we might “know the way”.
Today... I am grateful for Monte.

In-laws & In-loves

Daily Gratitude Year 9-Day 156: Today, I am grateful for the in-laws (in-loves) or maybe the outlaws is a better description.

We do have fun.
The picture is from a trip Monte and Jan made to Morton. It was fall and the time together was sweet. Some of the other siblings had left already and we were savoring the last bit of time with family.
We always get a little silly and “kissing pictures” are required. This time we traded spouses for the cheek kisses. I love my husband’s siblings and their spouses. We rarely get time together. Each gathering is a gift.
I am reminded of Naomi and Ruth. Family... grieving together... family by love if not by blood. Bound together by choice, though thick and thin. They stuck together through the tough stuff and God blessed them.
Their faithfulness to each other led Ruth to Boaz... and their lineage would lead to King David... and David to Jesus. Love changes everything.
Love always wins. Love changes everything.
Today, I am grateful for the in-laws (in-loves)