Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Leader

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 211: Today, I am grateful for the leader.

Remember playing games like "Follow the Leader" and "Simon Says"? Both required choosing a leader the group was willing to follow. There had to be a sense of agreement in the identity of the leader.  A self proclaimed leader with no followers is not really a leader. Consent is required. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a fascinating man. He had strong convictions and his faith was tested. He kept his eyes on the captain of his faith, even when circumstances grew increasingly difficult. 

"May God in His mercy lead us through these times; but above all, may He lead us to Himself." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew the identity of his leader and let Him lead, even when it was into dark and difficult places. He discover, as we look at his writings and observations, the truth about following Jesus. In Him, there is no darkness because light drives out darkness. The two cannot co-exist. One tiny candle is all it takes to disperse the shadows. 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12

Embrace the well lit places. We cannot walk in darkness and call him Lord. We must choose. Who is your leader? Who is your Lord? The choice is real and it matters. He is waiting.

Today, I am grateful for the leader.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Wordplay

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 211: Today, I am grateful for wordplay.

Wordplay is fun. For some, it flows naturally. For others, a little wordplay takes them by surprise. I never tire of crafting with words.

My college friend, Fredda, posted this image. Fredda is originally from Chillicothe. REO was a local band in the Peoria area. Some of my friends have shared stories of REO Speedwagon playing for their proms. Imagine that?

This image made me giggle, so I had to share it.

Long day so it a short post today.

Today, I am grateful for wordplay.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

No Commericals

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 210: Today, I am grateful books have no commercials.

This made me smile. I was always in trouble for reading past bedtime. It is so hard to put a good book down. I always have the urge to read "just a few more pages". I've finished more books in the middle of the night than I care to admit. Books are wonderful... and they have no commercials.

Another lovely aspect of a book is the joy in rereading a favorite passage, chapter or even the entire book. I don't reread very many novels, but the ones I do make me smile. It is like visiting with an old friend.

The one book I continue to read over and over is the Bible. It never ceases to amaze me with all the wonder between its pages. It is "living and breathing". It speaks to our souls like no other book. I hold deep truths and some mysteries, too. It is science, romance, adventure, self-improvement, crime and futuristic, too. All in one book. The parables are some of my favorite chapters because I love a story that has a message. It has no commercials and the author keeps His promises. There is no hype to sort through. It is the real deal.

"Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.' - Proverbs 30:5-6

His Word is good and true... and there are no commercials. You can read it and read it again, discovering new wonders between the pages every time.

Today, I am grateful books have no commercials.

Naps before Bedtime

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 209: Today, I am grateful for naps before bed. 

Remember when a nap was punishment? I think by college I realized the value of a good nap. By then, I was too busy juggling work and school to take one. It was then I learned about the nap before bedtime. 

Some days are too long and you have to grab a bit of sleep to complete the day's tasks. A quick nap before bed really can be the magical solution. Honestly, if I sit down, it isn't long before I doze off. But after the nap comes a good hour of finishing up the day. Sometimes, the burst of energy lasts a little longer, but the day ends in bed for sweet sleep. 

I saw a funny t-shirt the other day. It said, "Jesus napped." It made me giggle. It is true. I guess we all need reminders that a good nap is good for the body and the soul. He even napped when others thought he should be doing other things, like storm management. 

"Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping." -Matthew 8:24

Jesus, in human skin, needed rest. Even when storms were tossing the boat, he could rest. Our God is never without the power to care for us. Jesus was not concerned about the storm. The Master of the Universe holds us in His hand, so we can nap... and then we can sleep. He's got us covered. Still, he answered the disciple's cry for help and calmed the savage sea.  

A nap is a powerful restoration tool. 

Today, I am grateful for naps before bed. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Letters

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 208: Today, I am grateful for letters

The words of the letters to the early churches really grab my heart. Some are encouraging. Some speak of sorrows and struggles. Some speak of loneliness. Many offer words of hope and encouragement. I love "the letters". The reality is, when we read the letters to the early church, we are reading someone else's mail. 

Now, Mama Ina Mae taught us about privacy and other people's mail. If they offer you a letter to read, that is one thing. But, it is a liberty that should not be taken... only offered. The early Christians were generous in sharing their mail. Letters were treasured.  

In light of that truth, it is a blessing the letters to the early churches were kept, copied, shared again and again. Some of the early disciples were busy with correspondence, even when jailed for the gospel. Out of their imprisonment came some of the most encouraging letters. Rough times made them cling to the gospel and be courageous in their sharing. 

"And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea." -Colossians 4:16

As a teen, I loved writing letters. Imagine that? I would keep in touch with some of my church camp friends through the school year until summer returned. Finding a note from any of my friends in the mailbox was something to savor. Taking the time to write a letter to someone genuinely gives the message, "You are worth my time." A letter is a way for hearts to connect, even when there is physical distance separating us. 

The art of correspondence was practiced in days gone by. Today, we text or email. 

Scriptures like this one are a lovely way to close a letter:

"I thank God whom I serve... as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day." -2 Timothy 1:3

Today, I am grateful for letters.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Right Over Easy

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 207: Today, I am grateful for those who choose right over easy. 

For some, it is easy to be a bully. For others, it is easy to be sharp tongued. For many, it is easy to bulldoze over others to meet our own agendas. Too many times we take the path of least resistance and we neglect to stand up for the one in the fray. Why? Often, it is fear of what others will think. But all of these choices eat at our souls, until it is difficult to face our reflection in the mirror. 

Today's quote comes from Harry Potter's professor, Albus Dumbledore. He is one of my favorites in the series. 

"We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy." -Albus Dumbledore

In each life there will be moments we must make hard choices. Some of the biggest decisions come in unexpected, unplanned moments. 

One of the most amazing things about walking with Jesus is the presence of the Holy Spirit who comforts and guides us along the way. In the moments of decision, there are inaudible whispers. We feel it. We know it. We can't always put it into words, but that does not mean it isn't real. 

Jesus, by example, chose right over easy. His power could raise Lazarus from the dead. His first recorded miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding celebration. His power was without limit, but he could see the big picture. Sometimes, He delivered the miracle. Other times, he fulfilled his calling and did what was right, instead of what was easy. 

The ultimate example was when Jesus chose the Via Dolorosa (meaning the way of suffering), to the cross, where he would purchase our freedom. He chose forgiveness over letting us suffer the consequences of our sins. 

" And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” -Luke 23:34-35

"Father forgive them." We were in the wrong. He was (and is) perfect. He longed for relationship restoration and not revenge. What a wonderful Lord. 

Today, I am grateful for those who choose right over easy. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Shared Spaces



Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 206: Today, I am grateful for shared spaces.

I think shared spaces are key to building family unity and cohesiveness. April and I shared a room until our home addition in 1976. I will never forget the shadows and the sound of the tree branches brushing the bedroom window. It was always worse when the leaves had fallen and the branches were bare. Alone, I would have been terrified, but she was there. It was easier to be brave when I was not alone. As excited as we both were for our own bedrooms, when night fell, I missed my sister.

I remember talking until one of us fell asleep. It was usually her. I remember wanting to use masking tape at times to establish boundaries and personal space. It never happened. The truth is, working through disagreements in our shared bedroom laid a solid foundation for roommates in college and then marriage. I learned about compromise and giving in when the relationship was more important than my individual desires. Shared spaces teach us how to live in harmony.

One of my favorite childhood places to visit was my friend Sally's house. She was one of 13 kids. They shared a bathroom. The oldest ones were married, but there was still a house full when we would sleep over. They were masters at shared spaces. A few more girls in the house did not make that big of a difference. There was always room for one more. I remember thinking every night was a bit of a slumber party at her house. We are still good friends. She has a generous heart I believe sprouted and took root in those shared spaces.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" -Psalm 133:1

Our boys had their own rooms, but they spent many nights in the same room. I think brotherly bonding happens when we spend time in close quarters. After 2020's lockdown, we've all spent a great deal of time with our families. It it true, is is good when we dwell together in unity.

This is a great article on kids sharing bedrooms:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-shared-rooms-family-0524-20160522-story.html

Today, I am grateful for shared spaces.



Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Bees

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 205: Today, I am grateful for the bees.

The bees are quite amazing. Their ability to take pollen and turn it into honey is truly amazing. Bees have been the subject of many research papers and articles, as they are diminishing in numbers. Our world really does have a delicate balance in nature.

We can intentionally plant things that benefit the bees and the bees will benefit so many plants. In fact, bees are an important part of pumpkin farming. It is a concern bigger than the pumpkin crop, much of the world's flora and fauna rely on the bees to do the work of pollination. "Busy as a bee." is not an exaggeration.

Each Bee will only produce a small amount of honey in their lifetime. Many bees contribute to one jar of the magical golden nectar. It is hard work. It is diligent work. They will spend their life in labor, until their work here is done.

We can learn much from the bees.

Honey has always been greatly valued. This passage reflects that truth:

"the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." -Psalm 19:9-11

Sweeter than honey is a life lived in fear of the Lord.

Today, I am grateful for the bees.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Value of a Name


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 204: Today, I am grateful for the value in a name.

Names count. I have a friend of mine in the process of restoring a horse farm. They are working on a name. Once you name a place, it is named.

Choosing children's names has always been something we contemplated carefully. The Love of My Life and I both had requirements when we chose baby names. Coming to options we both could love and live with took some time.

Names are important. They follow us wherever we go. Names can reflect ethnicity and heritage. They tell part of our story.

I am a child of God is a bold statement, but it matters. And, it is true for all who believe.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," -John 1:12

To be called by His name is pretty special. Does it get any better?

Today, I am grateful for the value in a name.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Passionate People

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 203: Today, I am grateful for passionate people.

People who are passionate are world changers. They don't easily quit when the going gets tough. You want them in your health care offices, growing your food, behind the teacher's desk and speaking from the pulpit. Passionate people press on through preposterous places pursuing excellence. Ponder that! They move mountains when necessary. They inspire, too.

Peter was the passionate disciple. He was full of energy and held strong convictions. There were times Jesus redirected him (i.e.: in the garden, the vision regarding circumcision & bacon). Still, it was his passion that made Peter the perfect guy to spread the news of Christ and build the church. The way to salvation was shared with Jews and Gentiles. Peter's passionate personality was part of the recipe for spreading the gospel. He came equipped with it. Jesus was able to use Peter's gifts to His glory.

Peter wasn't perfect, but there were times he was ahead of the rest. I love this passage. He was the first to boldly recognize Jesus as God incarnate. Not just a teacher or prophet, but the true son of God.

"He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” -Matthew 16:15-16

Peter is often criticized for his fearful moment when walking on the water to Jesus. I'd like to point out, he was the only one who had enough faith to get out of the boat. And, when he began to sink, Jesus immediately reached out so Peter could take his hand.

Three out of four gospels record this night on the sea. Only Matthew (Matthew 14) records Peter's little walk on the water. Matthew, the former tax collector, knew what it meant to feel like a failure. Jesus rescued him, too.

Our passions direct our hearts. Choose them wisely and offer them up as that "living sacrifice" mentioned in Romans 12:1. Not in fear, but with excitement and wonder at the adventures ahead.

Today, I am grateful for passionate people.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

New Mercies Each Morning

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 202: Today, I am grateful His mercies are new every morning. 

There are days we feel like a failure before our feet hit the floor to start the day. It is easy to think about yesterday's failures and shortcomings. Isn't it good that we can have hope, even in light of our imperfections? 

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:21-23

What wonderful observations! Oh, the promises are wrapped up in this passage! "His mercies... are new every morning." Perhaps that is why we have a sunup, a sundown and night in between to mark a new day. We need rest and then the clean slate of a new day. 

However you choose to start each new day, don't forget His faithfulness means we are never alone. Great is His faithfulness. (Oh, Earworm is singing the hymn.)

Today, I am grateful His mercies are new every morning. 



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Heart Guards


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 201: Today, I am grateful for heart guards.

Our hearts are so important. From Cheerios commercials to reminders on our exercise trackers... the heart matters more than just about anything else. 

Back in the time Solomon penned the Proverbs, modern science did not exist, yet this proverb made perfect sense. Was it wisdom? Was it obvious? Perhaps, it was a little of both.  

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. -Proverbs 4:23

 So many things attack our minds and our spirits today. There are messages coming at us constantly. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Yet, this simple truth can help eliminate some of the "noise". We must guard our hearts above all else, and the rest falls into place. 

We know that exercise and diet impact heart health. We know that knowing the Word of God and "seeking Him first" are two other factors that are game changers. 

Today, I am grateful for heart guards.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Feel It & Be Free

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 200: Today, I am grateful we can feel it and be free.

Growing up with Mama Ina Mae, I had a constant example of optimism. Dad leaned that way, too, but Mama was never defeated. She had so many little sayings that encouraged us to never give in and never give up. She was always the greatest of encouragers. 

We all get overwhelmed at times. One of the things I think most of us are guilty of is fearing our feelings. Devastating losses. Empty nests. Lost jobs. Broken hearts and broken relationships are some other feelings we would rather not experience. 


There are times we need to let go of what we believe to be control and simply feel the feelings.  

"Feel it. The thing that you don't want to feel, feel it, and be free." -Nayirrah Waheed

Apparently, human nature resists bad feelings. We can't feel good all of the the time. We can feel the feelings and let them go. It is freeing. I think it might be at the heart of what we call prayer and fasting. Pray it through. Let it be uncomfortable. Then, let it go. 

Prayer and fasting is in both the Old and New Testaments. I love this passage from Nehemiah:

"As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven." -Nehemiah 1:4

And in the new Testament, I am love the record of the Prophetess Anna who was widowed after only 7 years of marriage and lived to be 84. 

" She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day." -Luke 2:37

Her faithfulness was rewarded.  Anna understood that she had lived to see prophecy fulfilled. God revealed to her that she had witnessed the presenting of the Messiah. The long awaited answer to their prayers had arrived, but most only saw a baby. Her years of prayer and fasting did not go unnoticed by God. 

Daniel faced trials with prayer and fasting, too. He faced a den of hungry lions and managed to sleep through the night. He faced anxious kings and did not cower. Scripture doesn't say he had no fear. The Word tells us he fasted and prayed. 

There is value in feeling the feelings and being free. Turning them over to the one who is going to be up all night anyway, holding the universe in place. Surely, our trials are not too big or too much for His mighty hand.  

Today, I am grateful we can feel it and be free.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Abigail's Arrival

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 199: Today, I am grateful for the day Abigail was born (and for her parents).

Abigail (Walker's wife) has turned our family of five into a family of six (plus fur-babies). I can't believe they have already celebrated their first anniversary. I think it is interesting that they had friend circles that overlapped. I really think God had multiple ways he would bring them together. He had to have them both ready and in His timing. 

Abigail is a middle child in her family of origin, but she is the youngest in our immediate family. She has grown up sharing with many. It has helped grow her generous and compassionate heart. She is a farm girl at heart (both of our boys married farm girls) and knows how to milk a goat or cow. She can't forsake an injured animal or human. Rescued is her favorite breed. I think she knows every word of the Hamilton Soundtrack.   

She is sassy and sunny. She loves to laugh. Most importantly, she loves our son. She loves puzzles... and they fit together in the same manner. I am grateful they waited for each other and God's timing. God's timing is perfect and Abi arrived right on time. 

The name Abigail is Biblical. Her first husband, Nabal, was not a good man, Abigail was good, discerning and beautiful. Upon Nabal's death, she was left a widow. David took her to be his wife and covered her with his protection. (She bore him his second son, Chileab.)

"and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful," -1 Samuel 25:3

Isn't that a fun snippet of a passage? Doesn't every girl want to be described in that manner? 

It is good to celebrate arrivals on the planet. 

Today, I am grateful for the day Abigail was born (and for her parents).

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Trust Is Not Timid

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 198: Today, I am grateful trust packs a punch. 

This pink bug was so cute. I had to share. Be sure to check out the artist website for more scripture with a picture fun. Seriously, that car is adorable.

This week, I seem to be seeing old passages with new eyes:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust was never met to be timid or tentative. Trust is not a last resort. Trust is a tenacious belief that God's timing is always right. He is always good. 

As we acknowledge Him in our daily, ordinary life decisions, we will find Him directing our paths. Letting His Spirit lead, teach and encourage us along the way. 

When we face the tough stuff, established trust is where we find strength and refuge. We can be strong and still savor the shelter of his wing. 

When unknowns unfold, no need to fear:

"for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” -Luke 12:12

Trusting in the Lord requires confidence. When the hour of need arrives, He's got us covered. True belief. Are we confident He is who he claims to be and does what he says he will do? Can we say, "God's got this." with certainty. Yes, we can. 

Today, I am grateful trust packs a punch. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Unique Assignments

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 197: Today, I am grateful for our unique assignments.

Sometimes, a familiar scripture has a whole new ring. It is one of the wonders of the word that will continue to amaze me for all of my days.

Each one who chooses to say "Yes." to a relationship with Christ faces life decisions every day. We grow and adapt as we learn to His Word, seek His truth and embrace His ways. Each one has a unique path to the foot of the cross. Each one has a moment when we recognize the Lordship of Christ with the understanding that such knowledge requires a response. Each one of us, responsible for our own response to the tug of the Spirit on our heart.

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. --- For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments." -1 Corinthians 7:17 & 19

There is joy in learning together and seeking His face collectively. There is no doubt about it, we were called into lives that include fellowship. We were created for relationships and thrive in community, but each of us has our own assignment.

In 1 Corinthians 7, they were fighting over circumcision. That must have been an interesting public debate. I love that in verse 19 we are reminded, "The important thing is to keep God’s commandments."

As iron sharpens iron, discussion and debate can deepen our exploration and understanding of God's voice in the scriptures. Again, he reminds us that we are to love God and love each other, by His commands and the great commission. The scriptures work together to help us grow in understanding. We will be responsible for our "homework".

We are unique; we are called according to His purpose.

Today, I am grateful for our unique assignments.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Love is Greater Than Knowledge

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 196: Today, I am grateful love is greater than knowledge.

Knowledge is good. Opportunities to learn are everywhere. There is a danger in knowledge, as it leads to pride. Someone once observed that long before Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit, pride made them question God's motives and instructions. 

Pride breaks relationships faster than almost any other threat. Think about it. Many of the pitfalls that injure or wound our relationships with loved ones can be traced back to a prideful thought or act. To put others before ourselves, that is love.


"But knowledge puffs up while love builds up." -1 Corinthians 8:1

That is the good stuff. Building up another person is a form of love. Some make it easy. Others stretch us a little. Any way you slice it, love is greater than knowledge.

Today, I am grateful love is greater than knowledge.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Art of Listening

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 195: Today, I am grateful for the art of listening.

Some are more practiced than others. The art of listening gets easily lost in a season where there are so many platforms for "speaking". Like seeds scattered in the wind, hurtful words cannot be unheard or unsaid. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer always provides challenging quotes:

"Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either." 

I think he is right. There is much to ponder in that statement. Jesus was an amazing example of listening. He often would listen... and then there would be a pause before he would offer his thoughts. He had a way of making a few words count. 

For the woman in the courtyard about to be stoned for adulterous acts, He listened, waited and wrote something unrecorded in the sand. 

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. -Matthew 8:4-8

His listening was long, his written words still a mystery, and his spoken reply one we still repeat 2000 years later. Such wisdom! 

Jesus already knew the true story. He knew what was true and what was twisted. He knew who the man involved was, but he seemed to be missing from the terrifying scene.

James was right. Taming the tongue is hard. It is small but likes to wag. Those who listen well become the learned. It is a skill that can be practiced and honed, but few will truly master the art. Perhaps it is pride more than impatience that makes us long on speaking and less on listening. 

One more time,

 “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

It is a scriptures I should ponder often. Jesus is the master defender and advocate before those who saw only the sin and not the stumbling, sorrowful soul. We are not instructed to embrace the sin, but we are to love the sinner. When we listen for their stories and begin to see their hearts, often love comes easier. 

"Everyone has a story or struggle that will break your heart." -Brene Brown

Today, I am grateful for the art of listening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Garden Whimsy

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 194: Today, I am grateful for garden whimsy.

I adore a whimsical garden. Randy sees a mess and I see pure delight. I don't need the order or symmetry of a traditional English garden. I prefer the less planned look with pops of color. That said, my eye needs artistic balance, but I don't need a perfect plan. I embrace and celebrate the unexpected.

I couldn't help but think of the garden God planted.  

"The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." -Genesis 2:9

He had plans and hopes and dreams. When He added us, we were the unexpected. His beautiful garden was full of goodness with one simple rule. Don't eat the fruit on the tree in the center of the garden. How hard could it be to follow that one simple rule? 

Oh, how we humans have used our free will in ways that bring consequences since the beginning of time. Some choices can't be undone, and pride and disobedience led to dire consequences. Still, God delights in his children. He longs to see us take root in good soil and grown into all he hoped we would be. 

Are we the whimsy in God's garden? Perhaps we are. Beautiful with our wild hearts and free willing ways. 

Today, I am grateful for garden whimsy.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Gratitude/Joy Correlation

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 193: Today, I am grateful for the gratitude and joy correlation. 

We are halfway through year nine of daily gratitude. Some of you have walked with me from the beginning. I try to keep gratitude fresh and new, but there are some things that must be revisited on occasion. 

Why keep a gratitude journal? This image nails it perfectly:

"It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful."

Say it again. Now, ponder the premise before accepting it. It is not a flippant saying. It is a deep and abiding truth spiritual truth. There are times some scriptures become so familiar, it is easy to miss the deep wisdom or practical instruction. 

God inhabits the praise of His people. 

"Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever." -Psalm 136:13

The Red Sea parting was a big event in the lives of the Israelites. After years in slavery and suffering, they had the Red Sea before them and the Pharaoh's army behind them. They courageously pressed into the unknown. Their moments of gratitude and trust moved God to respond in big ways. (They did a fair amount of complaining, too... but that is for another day.)

When are we to be grateful? We are to give thanks all circumstances. 

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yes, be grateful in ALL things. There are days when gratitude flows. Other days, we have to dig a little deeper. We have to intentionally reframe the undesirable situation until we can see with His eyes and hear with His ears. It is so much easier when well rested. 

In science, we sometimes hear "there is no correlation". There are times that means we need to dig a little deep and ask different questions. The Bible gives us many passages on the correlation between gratitude and joy. 

"All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. " -2 Corinthians 4:15-16 

We never give up because He never gives up on us. We celebrate His grace that reaches into our biggest messes and renews our spirits. Gratitude yields joy. 

Today, I am grateful for the gratitude and joy correlation. 

The Blessing of another Year


 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 192: Today, I am grateful for the blessing of another year.

This year, I am deeply aware of the blessing of another year. With a sister-in-love, a dear friend and aunt who have recently lost spouses… loved ones who have had to say “until we meet again on the other side of the door”… the gift of marking another year is not lost on us.
We spent the weekend with family, celebrating Randy’s Uncle Jim with family and the people who loved him. Such reunions are always bittersweet. Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth celebrated 60 years in June. Sixty years of laughing, loving and growing a family. God richly blessed their family. They filled the entire center section of the Free Methodist Church in Bentley, MI… and more. He had a “full quiver” as the Bible describes it.
“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.“ -Psalm 127:3
The thing about love… the years granted never feels like enough when death knocks. We always long for one more good day, even when we know that it is loving and compassionate to let a loved one go.
I will have to do another post on Cousins… as Randy and I have both been blessed with recent cousin visits.
The Love-of-My-Life is patient, loving and kind. He is witty and wise. As I heard the stories of Uncle Jim, I smiled because Randy certainly reflects things he learned watching Uncle Jim (and Aunt Ruth) visiting their home as a child.
Today, I will not take for granted the gift of another year!


Interstate Highway System

 Year 9-Day 191: Today, I am grateful for the interstate highway system.

From our farm we could see the lights of I-57 at night. The moving headlights were almost as mesmerizing as the starry night sky. From our suburban village, we can see 1-74, with the exit just minutes from our home.
Growing up on the roads less traveled, the Interstate could take us to exciting places alive with new adventures. We could be to Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in under an hour with all of it’s traffic and magic. I-57 was the road to museums, zoos, aquariums, art and shopping.
As an adult, the Interstate road system saves us time and nearly guarantees places to eat and stay on our way. They are well marked with sights to see and signs reminding us to exit.
I don’t remember a time without the interstate system, but it has grown in my lifetime. Each time a new road is in place, travel gets easier. I love exploring local spots… after we reach our destination.
Hard to believe Jesus lived his life within a thirty mile walking radius. So different from how we live today. What hasn’t changed is the importance of finding the right road to get where you are going.
We still need to 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 14:6
Today, I am grateful for the interstate highway system.

Friday, July 9, 2021

God Doesn't Give Up

Gratitude Year 9-Day 190: Today, I am grateful God doesn't give up. 

Remember waiting on your parents as a child? Or perhaps, waiting on children to complete music lessons or sports practices. Most humans are not naturally patient. Honestly, one of the most beautiful sights to see is a senior person interacting with a small child while demonstrating an abundance of patience. 

How can we even begin to know the mind of God? I know that his character is reflected in His Word and felt in His Spirit. But, I am fully aware that I really cannot comprehend the Father's love and patience with our imperfections. We are all works in progress. The closest we can come just might be watching grandparents with their grandchildren. 


This scripture passage is one that holds great promise:

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." -Philippians 1:6

Earworm is singing, "His love never fails, never gives up, never gives up on me." from Jesus Culture's song, "One Thing Remains". It will likely be stuck in my head for days. Sometimes we need the reminder through repetition. 

We can be confident. He will, indeed, finish what he started. 

Today, I am grateful God doesn't give up.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Picnics

Gratitude Year 9-Day 189: Today, I am grateful we can always pack a picnic.

Summer is a special time for food and fellowship. I love picnics. Why does food taste better coming out of a picnic basket? 

When our kids got married, we packed a wedding night picnic basket, for each couple. It was fun to fill it with their favorites. Picnic baskets create a sense of warmth that has nothing to do with the temperature outside. 

What is your favorite picnic food? A picnic basket full of food shows good planning. No one likes to go hungry. I am reminded that we are to share what we have with others. It is good stewardship with what we are given. 


"Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon." -Isaiah 58:10

Pooh said "Nobody can be uncheered by a balloon." I think picnics are even cheerier than balloons. 

Today, I am grateful we can always pack a picnic.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

My Friend Became a Mother



Gratitude Year 9-Day 188: Today, I am grateful for the day my dear friend, Donna, became a mother.(Photos by Epic Vision Photography) 

It is the 30th anniversary of the day my dear friend, Donna, became a mother. I met her through my Jill, when Donna started dating Jill's brother. I remember our delight when we realized it was serious and they tied the marriage knot just a few years after we did. 

Jill had the first baby between us, but Donna and I were pregnant with our first babies together. She was due one month ahead of me. We checked out maternity clothes together (remember those white and red knit pants with the tiny stripes?). We discussed baby things with Jill's expert guidance. We endured a very hot summer pregnant and with newborns that lasted well into September. 

I remember the call that Donna had gone into labor. I was so excited. I was encouraged that if she could do it... I could, too. She was my hero that summer... going first with all of the pregnancy adventures and discomforts, too. She made it all look manageable. Jill and I headed up to the hospital to hold her sweet baby girl, Emma, when she was just 24 hours old. The child in my womb did not leap, but perhaps he should have. After all, I was holding his future wife in my arms.

The day Donna became a mother (and Jeff a father) would have even more meaning down the road, but thirty years ago, we were simply trying to figure out how to parent. 

One of my sweetest memories of those first months was sitting under a tree at the Pumpkin Festival Parade. We are attempting to keep the babies comfortable... and ourselves. Again, Donna managed it all with more grace. Of course, Jill was there to help with anything else we needed when she wasn't chasing a one-year-old Ryan. I was hanging with experienced mothers... one by a year and one with a month more of mothering. Jill's mother, Grandma Darlene, sat with us, thrilled for the new little ones. Yes, the memories are sweet. 

Friends told us the days would be long and the years would be short, and they were right. Not knowing the future, we had no idea that the day Donna became a mother was the same day my first daughter-in-love would be born. I'm not going to lie. Emma was a prayer and a dream in my heart (on my "short list of approved girls"). 

Emma and Chase were the same in some ways and complimentary in others. Two peas in a pod when he wasn't driving her crazy and vice-versa, the way kids and teens do. Their love story didn't happen overnight. It grew and it grew. 

Yes... it is time to celebrate our first daughter's birth! Our first girl, chosen by our oldest son. He made the best choice in wives and his choice gained him amazing in-laws. They love him like their own and he is officially a part of their family, as it should be. 

We celebrate Emma's birthday! She is perfect for Chase. We are grateful for all Donna and Jeff poured into her. They modeled love at home, at church and in the community. 

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.  -Psalm 18:30a

Today, I am grateful for the day my dear friend, Donna, became a mother (and Jeff a father) And I am grateful for their first born daughter.