Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Reminders: God Ran


Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 243: Today, I am grateful for reminders that touch our souls.
There are times life doesn't makes sense. We can't always see God's hand... even when we have learned to trust His heart. There are times we feel broken, weary and worn out. Our God is still present. In each and every season, His presence is real.
It has been a long week. Even longer for those experiencing loss.
The song is an old "Benny Hester" tune. I don't know this artist but he does a nice job. This version captures the message in the song so well. "When God Ran" still touches my heart when I hear it. Perhaps, even deeper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdlyGHF2Gyg

Today, I am grateful for reminders that touch our souls. 


Monday, August 30, 2021

Cicada's Song

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 242: Today, I am grateful for the Cicada's song. 

The cicada's song is a sign fall is around the corner. Grandpa Lindgren used to say "Six weeks until frost." when the cicada choir gave its first concert. If you do not live where cicada's sing, you can find them on YouTube. The sound is mesmerizing. 

We lost a tree in the front yard a few years ago. When we had two large trees, it could get a little too loud. Now, it seems the volume is just right. 

I can't help but think of the scripture that tells us if we don't sing the praises of our Lord, the rocks will cry out. Nature cannot help itself. It magnifies the glory of the Lord with beauty, wonder and song. 

"He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” -Luke 19:40

The cicada burst into song as if to say, the leaves will take on all the shades of autumn. The reds, rusts, golds, oranges and greens mix into the display. Summer is in full bloom and the blossoms will soon become seeds for the next season. 

Savor the moments. They pass too quickly. We never know when a moment... a memory... will become priceless. We must enjoy them in the here and now. 

Let the cicada's sing!

Today, I am grateful for the Cicada's song. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Hunger and Thirst

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 241: Today, I am grateful we can hunger and thirst.

I love food. I love trying new foods and the tried and true "comfort" foods that show up on cold winter's nights and at church and family potlucks. Food is necessary for life. Food satisfies our need for cultural norms and comforts, too. 

My energetic friend, Jim Sedgwick, used to say:  "Live like every day's a holiday and every meal's a feast." Jim was a White Sox fan in Central Illinois. He loved his family, his church, the White Sox and the students he served. One of Jim's last acts on this earth was attending church choir practice. After all these years, I can still hear his words, 'Live like every day's a holiday and every meal's a feast." He did. He was passionate about everything. He inspired me. 

This scripture might be a mystery to some. Can it be unwrapped to make more sense? 

"Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." -John 6:35

In our passions, it is easy to forget that food is not only to give us joy and as a part of celebrations. Honestly, in the scriptures, food is mostly mentioned as nourishment. We are to be grateful each time there is food to eat and never ungrateful if we have safe food that will nourish our needy human form. 

Think about it. There are times when food is a part of celebration (the prodigal son returns, the harvest, Passover, weddings, etc.). I don't know that every meal requires meat and a dessert. God provided manna, water and quail to the Israelites in the desert years. I don't recall desserts in the desert. Don't hate me... and share the scripture if I've missed it... but I don't find it there. He was their "enough". A relationship with Him and relationships built in Him are our best desserts.

Food is sustenance. We need food and water to survive. Hunger and thirst trigger the need to eat and drink. It isn't just for pleasure. In fact, food for nourishment is not likely to contribute to health issues. I know gluttony doesn't please God, but it is such an easy sin for me. I need to rethink food as nourishment and this scripture comes more clearly into focus. 

"We will never be hungry and thirsty again."  What a promise. Does it hold water? For those who survive being beaten and starved for the Gospel of Christ, what would their perspective be? I've seen stories and what they remember was God sustaining them more than the misery. I've not lived it, so I can't testify from a personal perspective. 

Corrie Ten Boom, in "The Hiding Place" talks more of how they shared everything they had. She mentions the hunger pains but it did not become her focus. She poured her life into helping others survive from day to day.  Three different prisons, the last being the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp located near Berlin, Germany, and there she found God ever present... meeting their needs by his spirit... even when their stomachs rumbled. 

When we love The Word of God, can it distract us from eating... absolutely. Do those imprisoned for sharing the Good News find hope in spite of growing hunger and empty bellies. I believe many testify, "Yes". In the physical hunger and suffering, His Word becomes a kind of food. Praise songs help them manage the suffering. Jesus, when tempted by Satan quoted scripture pointing us to God's Word. "
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

What is it in your life that you crave? For me, it is a creative time...especially if it involves a camera or paper arts . Bible Journaling has helped me develop a new craving. I love making notes in my Bibles. The notes tell my faith story. It is an intimate snapshot of how living and breathing the Word of God can be... if we read it. 

He satisfies my hunger, my thirst for answers and captures the hope found in Jesus. The wonder of wonders is how easy it is to neglect our "daily bread".  

I am grateful for Bibles in a the language I speak. I cut my teeth on NIV. I love the ESV and NLT. The Message and The Names of God  versions are a great way to see old and familiar passages with new eyes. 

Once we fall in love with His Word, it satisfies a hunger nothing else can. We were created with a "hole in our souls" only He can make whole. Think of a puzzle with a missing piece. Only He can fill that God shaped spot in our souls. The world seeks peace through wealth, power and stuff. It never works. Nothing satisfies our souls like getting to know the Holy One... the three in one... Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

"God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied." - Matthew 5:6

Today, I am grateful we can hunger and thirst. 




Saturday, August 28, 2021

Joy Comes in the Morning

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 240: Today, I am grateful joy comes in the morning. 

Into every life there are seasons of sorrow and seasons of joy. Sometimes, the two intertwine in the oddest ways. 

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." -Psalm 30:5

This passage reminds us that God's displeasure with our behaviors at times is very real. We can't wish away his rules or set them aside when it is convenient. His ways are his ways. Period. Still, he loves his children and longs to be in a relationship with us. He waits for our return. He is only a whispered prayer away. 

Life can be complicated and messy. There is a rich blessing in getting to start fresh with each sunrise. He is there, at daybreak. He is there at noon, too. He is God of evening and the night. He is God of the full moon.  At every hour of the day and in every season, we can find a reset with the first light of dawn. 

Today, I am grateful that joy comes in the morning. 


Friday, August 27, 2021

Engraved Blessings

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 239: Today, I am grateful for marble engraved blessings.

There is an honesty in this quote that is humbling. 

"We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand." -Charles Spurgeon

The blessings come down as the prayers go up. There are very real moments when nothing makes sense. The struggles and the hard things are meant to work together for His glory and our good... but in the moments of hurt and pain, our eyes see imperfectly. 

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. " -1 Corinthians 13:2

Record the blessings as passionately as the trials. He will walk with us and carry us through the tough spots. 

Today, I am grateful for marble engraved blessings.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

National Dog Day


 Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 238: Today, I am grateful for National Dog Day.

We love dogs. I don't think Randy would have married me if I didn't love dogs. Dogs teach us about unconditional love and patience. They are warm companions on a cold night and happy to lay in the sun or shade on a warm day. Their greatest desire is to be with us, whether we deserve their devotion or not. 

The Love of my Life and I have differing views on "the perfect dog" but we both agree a dog does much to make a house a home. Harley, who has been gone a few years will always be remembered as "the best dog ever". Sandy was our like the "grumpy old aunt who complained about everything" but was loveable in her own way. She taught us about patience and she did have some great qualities along with her persnickety attitude. 

Daisy Mae... the princess...  has captured our hearts. She is a loyal companion to all she considers family. She loves people, is great with cats and has a few dog friends. Her world centers around Randy but she loves us all. Daisy Mae has a special fondness for Emma, Abigail and Kinga(our adopted niece from Hungary). I guess she views them as her sisters. One makes her behave. One makes her feel safe. One lets her do anything she wants. She adores them all. 

Grandpups are the best! Penny is the beautiful senior of the bunch. Her playful spirit and happy wiggles never wane. Roxanne (Roxi) is a week older than Daisy Mae and they are BFF's. Roxi is the queen of the pack.  Hinata is the newest member of the family. Her shy, gentle spirit have made her a hit with everyone... even Grandma Ina Mae.  

Dog pictures are always worth sharing. God blessed us all with these creatures great and small. We get to name them, love them and care for them. 

"So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one." -Genesis 2:19 

Today, I am grateful for National Dog Day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Nature's Delicate Balance

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 237: Today, I am grateful for God's delicate balance in nature. 

God's design in nature never ceases to take my breath away. Roxanne Stelle... I had to borrow Jeff's picture from your post today... this is a perfect capture. Planting flowers that feed the butterflies, the birds and the bees are a way we can honor God's instruction to care for His creation.

"The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it." -Genesis 2:15

Many times, man is hard on nature. Reminders of the delicate balance are good... and for many living things... necessary. Nature isn't particularly fragile. It can weather storms and abuse. I remember when Mount St. Helen blew, they said we'd never see life on that mountain in my lifetime. They were wrong. Life is resilient. It shocked the scientists. 

Nature is resilient. There are places where balance must be recognized as necessary. Not just needed, but vital. There was an old commercial about margarine that warned "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature". It was for comedic effect. Chiffon margarine was new on the market and competing with real butter. Today, we know that the less processed and natural foods are better for our health.

There is, also, a delicate balance in the Body of Christ, with each member having different gifts and fruits to bear:

"Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other." -Romans 12:4-5

Finding the balance requires us to wrap each other in love. I am convinced it is why we are told: "The greatest of these is love." There are lessons in nature and in the gospel that help us live fuller and better lives. 

Today, I am grateful for God's delicate balance in nature. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Value of a Letter

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 236: Today, I am grateful for the value of a letter. 

I know the cost of postage continues to rise. Still, there is something about a handwritten letter that can't be replaced by any of the modern conveniences. Phone messages are great until a device becomes outdated or a message is lost. A letter is a keepsake. Precious and priceless. 

This is my cousin, Molly's youngest. Alyssa is quite the personality. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. Her cousin, Chase, is one of her favorite people on the planet. Chase is her cousin on her Daddy's side of the family (not our Chase). He just graduated from Central High School and is doing Navy Boot Camp as we speak. 

Chase, apparently, made a video before he left for Alyssa to watch over and over again while he was gone. She has never gone this long without seeing him. She adores him and his absence creates a hole in her life. Today, she received a letter in the mail. Her name was on the envelope. Look at her face!!! Pure joy. He took the time to send special mail that was just for her. I had to share this image today. 

It reminded me of the value of a handwritten letter. Keeping in touch is priceless, but to be able to hold something in your hand that the sender held is special. I loved sending letters as a teen. The sending and the receiving... both were a delight to the soul. There was something magical about knowing someone you cared about would open it, read it, read it again and tuck it away for safekeeping. 

I know that Molly's nephew is treasuring any mail he receives while away at training. I pray his heart is encouraged. When he sees this picture of his little cousin, he will know it was worth the time to put pen to paper. I know it will be forever treasured.  

I am reminded of the letters shared between the early church. They offered guidance, hope, encouragement and news of fellow believers. 

"Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11

Don't forget to share the good news of the Gospel. Share it in letters and in songs. Share it because it changes lives.  The letters in the New Testament are a wonderful place to learn and grow. The message is timeless. The hope is sure. We can count on our Lord to come through. We can trust the letters in The Word.  

Today, I am grateful for the value of a letter. 


Monday, August 23, 2021

Kindness

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 235: Today, I am grateful kindness is worth the price.

"Imagine a world where everyone was kind." Sounds like heaven, right? 

We live in a world that is obsessed with rights. There is a difference between rights and freedom. Our country was dreamed up by men and women who believed in inalienable rights. Rights bestowed by God, not man. In those rights, there were dreams of a place where we would live freely and worship freely. From the beginning, there have been intellectual battles and physical battles. Man attempts to make things complicated. 

The scriptures remind us of simple truths... love and a gentle spirit are powerful weapons in the fight against the evil one.   

"For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?" - 1 Corinthians 4:20-21

Love and kindness flow from the heart of God when His Spirit is in us. I've often heard people say it doesn't cost anything to be kind. Unfortunately, there is a deeper truth. The times our kindness is most needed are the times we have to bite our tongues and swallow our pride. There are times being kind is far more important than being right. 

If you have parented a child... or even a fur baby... it is hard to watch them struggle and fail as they learn new skills. There are times we want to swoop in to save the day, instead of letting our beloved ones endure consequences and the trials in new learning. Life and love are a balancing act. 

A wise soul once taught me to never discipline in anger. Emotion driven consequences can lead to breaks in relationships. Consequences help us grow, but they must be dispensed with love and kindness to be most effective. 

Being kind does not mean always indulging and giving in to another's demands. Being kind means intentionally choosing to respond with gentleness instead of feeding the need to be right. It is a constant struggle, but worth the effort. 

Today, I am grateful kindness is worth the price.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Rubber Boots

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 234: Today, I am grateful my God is better than rubber boots.

Thanks to Sandy Gary Horton for sharing today's image. 

"On the farm, Rubber Boots go with anything, especially pajamas." 

I knew it would make it into a "Daily Gratitude Post", but when my verse of the day came up, I knew today would be the day. 

Here it is today's scripture:

"I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."-Psalm 94:18-19

If David can compare God to a rock or a winged creature... surely, He isn't offended by a comparison to a good pair of rubber boots. He keeps us from slipping and renews our hope and good cheer. 

Growing up on the farm, a good pair of rubber boots was a necessity. The gravel lane would become sloppy and could ruin a good pair of shoes. As children, we loved the ease of slipping on the rubber boots. Convenient, practical and reliable. They did the job they were meant to do.  

Actually, I have a pair, as an adult, that I pull out when the weather gets ugly. My current pair are red with black and white polka dots on the inner liner. Fashion forward and practical, too. What more could a girl want? 

Actually, our Lord is better than rubber boots. He promises unfailing love. Boots can be cute and practical, but they can't love you back. His unfailing love is poured out on His children. 

If that doesn't make you want to dance in the rain, I don't know what does. If you choose to do a rain dance... remember the rubber boots. You won't regret your choice. 

Today, I am grateful my God is better than rubber boots.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Supply Chain Unbroken

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 232: Today, I am grateful God has promised to supply all our needs.

Elizabeth Elliot was fierce, resilient and somehow, gentle, too. When you lose your husband in death at the hands of the people he was trying to save, what woman in her right mind goes back to the jungle to continue the work? One who is willing to submit to the will of a loving God, even when she doesn't understand how He will be able to redeem the broken mess of her life. 

It is what she did. Relationships were built and those who had never heard the gospel were presented with the light, the truth and the choice. 

"God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don't have now, we don't need now." -Elizabeth Elliot 

I find her life inspirational and challenging. I'm a safety girl. Her courage and confidence moves something in my spirit. She challenges me to consider where I can be more courageous. She reminds me of one of the best promises in the scriptures:

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his "glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:19

All our needs. If we don't have it now, we don't need it now. It is as simple as that. This world is full of flashing messages that tell us what the world thinks we need. Wants and needs are not the same thing. 

"For in him we live and move and exist." -Acts 17:28a 

When we live and move and exist "in Him", we can count on help and provision. His supply chain is unbroken.

Today, I am grateful God has promised to supply all our needs.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Follow the Leader

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 231: Today, I am grateful to follow the leader. 

Not everyone is worthy of the title leader. Leadership requires responsibility and tenacity. When left holding the bag in failure, a true leader needs to be able to accept accountability. 

This was my verse of the day. It sparked a thought. This verse is a good one to evaluate in multiple translations. The one I used today is the ESV. It is considered an excellent translation. Today, this verse seemed to unfold before my eyes. 

Have you ever followed in a line through a tight crowd or in a narrow tunnel or hallway? If the answer is "Yes.", consider how you follow the leader if you are holding hands. Typically, your right hand reaches forward and the left reaches behind. 

Look at this passage in light of that illumination:

"I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." -Psalm 16:8

"He is at my right hand." 

It is the hand that reaches forward to grasp the one who will lead. It is as easy as can be. A tiny hand slips gently into the person walking ahead. It is usually the leader who reaches back and the follower takes the offered hand. With Him in the lead, we can feel weary and battered, but we are not without a leader.

 Today, I am grateful to follow the leader. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

One Pot Recipes

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 230: Today, I am grateful for one pot recipes.

I don't mind cooking. In fact, there is a simple joy in serving a well received meal. I grew up on conversations around the farm table. The memories are rich and sweet. what I do not savor are mounds of dishes to clean up and put away. Even with a dishwasher, I prefer to minimize the number of pots, pans and plates. A one pot recipe is always a favorite.

Chili, stew, soups, boils and goulash are one pot wonder meals. A pot roast slowly cooked with the veggies around it, too. These foods make the house smell so good as they cook and simmer.  

One pot recipes are perfect for beginning chefs and camping trips. The concentration is on the preparation steps and the timing, while keeping the ingredients simple. They are often recipes passed down from mother to daughter...  and then to granddaughters and grandsons. Yes, the younger generations are full of men in the kitchen. 

One post recipes help eliminate some of the fears about cooking. The fact is humans need to eat. Whether it is for nourishment, pleasure or both... one pot meals are fan favorites. 

Hunger can lead to bad decisions. The fragrance of a lentil stew drove a hungry Esau to sell his birthright to his brother, Jacob. There are several "wrongs" in this interaction between brothers that led to heartbreak, hurts and despair. 

"Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright." Genesis 25:34

Sharing food is hospitality. God delights in acts of hospitality. He does not demand we dirty every dish, spoon and pot in the house. 

Today, I am grateful for one pot recipes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Nightlight

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 229: Today, I am grateful for nightlights.

This pumpkin nightlight is a favorite of mine. I am reminded that one tiny light can disperse the darkness. 

A nightlight helps us prevent from other nighttime miss haps like injured toes. They are truly a blessing. 

The original nightlight was the moon. Moon reflecting on the water was even more illuminating. The tiniest light can dispel darkness. I love a good nightlight.

Today, I am grateful for nightlights.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Check Off List

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 228: Today, I am grateful for things checked off the list. 

Some days I need a list to help me remember all that needs to be done first. It is so easy to get distracted by things. Shiny things. Squirrels. Whatever comes up that takes my attention when it should be somewhere else. A list and a check make me feel successful. I really should use this tool more. 

Today is one of those days I have much to do and need some efficiency to kick in before the day gets away. I need a check off list. 

Lately, I've been thinking about all that must pass, according to scripture for Christ to return. It appears that things keep getting "Checked off" the list in prophecy. It is a time where the world seems more than a little crazy and it is easy to lose sight of what is good, what is true and what is real. 

As a child, this verse felt scary. I didn't relish the idea of dying for what I believe. This scripture looks different in this season of life. Its meaning unfolds. 

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. "Philippians 1:2

Real life... full life... a life lived with wild abandon is in Christ. To die is to be "with Him" but while we are still here we can live a full, wild and crazy existence "in Him" and "Him in us". 

I am a safety girl. I don't look for danger. But as I look at the signs of the times, I get a little excited about "check off lists". He does not abandon His own. We can check the box that says, "Child of God" and know we are never alone.

Today, I am grateful for things checked off the list.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Masterful Instructions

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 227: Today, I am grateful for masterful instructions.

I love a good set of instructions. I think we can learn so many new things through instructional videos and with paper directions. It is a benefit to let others do the work of figuring something out, so we don't waste time with trial and error. Although, the things I learn through failure sometimes stick with me better than the things that come easy. Oh, yes. Learning through failure has its own merits, even if it is less comfortable to my human ego. 

The first born, over achiever in me wants to do things well and be pleasing to those I serve. I do not relish humbling, but I grow from it. I delight in new learning. I can so easily get lost in new information and discoveries. To learn something new and figure out how to do it well creates a sense of pleasure and fulfillment. 

One of the ways our human nature battles with the divine nature of God is around the idea of who gets the credit. The scripture are clear, our God inhabits the praise of His people. He delights in our gratitude and acknowledgement of his awesome might and power. The fact of the matter remains... He is God and we are not. 

Adam and Eve questioning His authority may have been whispered by Satan, but they let the seeds of pride take root in their hearts. Temptation happens. How we respond to temptation often reflects our understanding of God. As a song I love once asked, "What do I know of holy?"

Our Creator designed our brains to learn. They are so complex that science still sits back and wonders at the unknown power of the mind. 

I love this passage that reminds me that if we get anything right, it is a reflection of His hand in our lives.  

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -2 Corinthians 10:17

He is the source of our successes. Ignoring His instruction is where most trials and failures begin. Because of His grace, there is forgiveness. Because of his mercy, there are new beginnings. Because of His love, there is hope. We can be molded into something better as we submit to the Master Potter's hand and His instruction. 

Today, I am grateful for masterful instructions.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Comfortable Shoes

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 226: Today, I am grateful for comfortable shoes.

If your feet hurt, everything hurts. Comfortable shoes are a necessity. I love sandals best, but boots are a close second. Shoes for walking or dancing are necessary, and they must fit well and be comfortable.

An old saying, "If the shoe fits, wear it." reminds us to take responsibility for something. The context is usually negative.

The thought took me back to Max Lucado's book, "He Chose The Nails". In the book, he tells of a night out to a fancy restaurant with his wife. They had a gift certificate, but did not know a suit jacket was required to dine in the restaurant. It was a humbling and horrible moment.

The maƮtre d' offered Max a jacket. Perhaps it was left by a previous guest or was there for moments such as his dilemma. The jacket was not fashionable and it didn't fit. It was completely wrong, but he wore it out of love for his wife, so they could enter the dining room for their special meal.

Max compares that night to Jesus choosing the nails and the cross. He wore our sins. Our sins didn't fit him. He bore our shame in love so we might be reconciled with the Holy One. God in human skin. Uncomfortable, for sure. He did it out of love for the Father and for us. There is no greater love. Our Savior and our brother wore our sins to reconcile us. What a price to pay... but he deemed us worth it.

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. " -Hebrews 5:14-16

I may not ever truly comprehend it all. Still, I am grateful he chose to wear our skin and our shoes. It reminds me to be extra grateful for comfortable shoes.

Today, I am grateful for comfortable shoes.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Video Chats

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 225: Today, I am grateful for video chats.

Remember when it was science fiction to do a video phone call? Honestly, it wasn't that long ago. It was the stuff we saw on the original Star Trek. Here we are, in 2021, and many cell phones or tablets are equipped with video call abilities. It has been a true blessing in these odd, pandemic times.

Dad watched our phone bills closely. Very few calls were local. Long distance bills could be brutal. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be able to connect with my church camp friends throughout the school year with the tap of a button and chat for hours. We wrote letters.

in rural Illinois, we had a Clifton number. We could call Ashkum and Chebanse toll free, but Ashkum and Chebanse people could not call each other with out paying long distance fees. We had many numbers memorized. We knew phone etiquette. How times have changed!

Today, Mama Ina Mae was able to talk to family who were gathered back home. It was good for her soul and mine. She talked with Aunt Judy twice before we ended the call. They make me smile when they chat together. They talked every single day when raising the seven of us. They kept each other sane. Mama was able to talk to many of her siblings, their spouses, nieces, nephews and a few more we consider extended family. Seeing faces and hearing voices is priceless.

I am reminded of the prayers of the prophets and the Psalms of David. People have longed for God to make himself known in tangible ways since man's first breath. We were born for a relationship with God. He longs for intimacy with us, too. Do we trust our prayers make it to His throne? We are promised they do. And, when we are at a loss for words, the Holy Spirit is in tune with our thoughts and feelings.

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead"- Psalm 143:1-3

Prayer is low tech and needs no WiFi. The scriptures say He knows the number of hairs on our heads. We are told we cannot see His face, because the glory of it would be too much. "I Can Only Imagine" is Earworm's song choice tonight.

How great is our God? The answer to that question remains to be seen. But until that day, I will enjoy the human experience of video chats with loved ones near and far.

Today, I am grateful for video chats.


Friday, August 13, 2021

A Cute Birdhouse

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 224: Today, I am grateful for a cute birdhouse.

Don't you just love a cute birdhouse?

I clearly remember the day I realized I could spend an afternoon looking at birds and flowers blooming and not be bored. It made me think of my Mother-in-Love, Shela. She loved watching the birds. They really are entertaining.

A bird house provides a place for cavity nesters to nest. Shelter and safety are important to most living creatures. We all need a quiet place to call home. We all need a place of respite and restoration.

This is a scripture I have loved since childhood. It has always calmed my spirit with the simple truths stated.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" -Matthew 6:25-26

Birds appear so free to be. They take the delights as they come and work through the challenges with persistence. We can learn by watching them. We can often find them fluttering around a cute birdhouse.

Today, I am grateful for a cute birdhouse.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Laundry Stain Tips

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 223: Today, I am grateful for laundry stain tips.

Laundry stains can be frustrating. Some stains are harder to get out than others. This tip sheet looked share worthy. Hydrogen Peroxide really does work on blood. Most of these products are readily available in most homes. There is a sweet victory that comes with success at stain removal. 

Stain removal can be a great deal of work and often attempts are unsuccessful. A couple of them are new to me. Most stains removing tips work best before laundering. A stain that has set in the dryer is much more difficult to remove. 

The verse: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." -Psalm 51:7

This 51st Psalm came from David's repentant heart after being confronted with his sin with Bathsheba by the prophet Nathan. David is overwhelmed. This song poured from his heart. 

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." -Psalm 51:10-12

I rarely wear white. I know myself too well. I stain it often before the first washing. It is as if the white out to any nearby stain maker. I know the remorse of staining a favorite clothing item or a new one. Stain removal tips are always welcome. 

David failed the Lord. His passion to be pleasing to God motivated many turns in his life. But when he messed up, one bad choice led to another. But David didn't let the stain on his life be the "rest of his story". 

As passionate as we might be to save pieces of laundry with bad stains, it is nothing compared to God's passion to save us in our messes and brokenness. He never gives up. He washes us clean and rejoices in the work. 

Today, I am grateful for laundry stain tips and a God who doesn't give up.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Chase

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 222: Today, I am grateful for Chase.

So many things change when you hold your first born child. I remember trying to hide my fear as we left the hospital with Chase. I remember thinking, "They'll let anyone have a baby and take it home." I don't think either of us felt qualified to parent. We simply hoped to keep him alive and not scar him emotionally.

We had no idea what we were doing. We had good friends, good neighbors and a good church and somehow we all survived. In a blink, thirty years have gone by.   

I am so grateful God gifted us with a child who was full of questions and always thinking. He kept us learning. He still does.  

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." -Psalm 127:3

A gift is not expected or earned. It is a blessing...an extra. Each on is truly precious. The old I get... the older they get... I am more cognizant of the preciousness of the gift.

Today, I am grateful for Chase.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Cherry on Top

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 221: Today, I am grateful for "the cherry on top".

I love sweet cherries. The Love of my Life calls Traverse City home and actually worked in one of the factories where they canned cherries in his youth. He is not as big of a fan as I am. 

Mama has always loved sweet cherries and would make "Bing Cherry Salad" for special occasions like holidays and church potlucks. It was purple, magical and fluffy. It is one of those "70's" recipes we remember with smiles. It was probably a way to sell "Cool Whip" and it worked. Adding a few cherries as garnish gave a hint to what the bowl contained. 

When cherries are in season, they always wind up in my grocery cart. The pits are a pain, but they are worth it. I have discovered the magic of a metal straw to push the pits out without destroying the cherry. 

What does the expression "cherry on top" mean? It comes from traditional ice cream treats topped with a maraschino cherry. Something already good is even better with "the cherry on top". And the cute factor has increased by at least 50%.  

I wonder what gifts God considers "the cherry on top". We are told The Father loves to bestow good things on His children. 

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" -Matthew 7:11

 The easy answer is "Jesus". I know that is the correct answer. But there are so many other ways he blesses us with the "cherry on top". Nature is full of them. There is always one particular tree that is a show stealer when the leaves begin to change color, right? Starry skies are more magnificent during a meteor shower. Sunsets are even more amazing on a beach. 

What is your "Cherry on Top"? 

Today, I am grateful for "the cherry on top". 

Monday, August 9, 2021

National Book Lovers Day

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 220: Today, I am grateful for National Book Lovers Day!

I love a good book. I love a good Librarian. So many of the ladies in our family are readers. In fact, we have two librarians. 

There is something about discussing a good book or an excellent series that brings us together. Reading books is often thought of as a solo leisure experience, but there is value in hearing how others respond to the book. 

From clay tablets  to today’s eBooks, literature has played a crucial role in preserving cultures, educating the masses, and storytelling. Thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th-century printing press, anyone, not just royalty, monks or landed gentry, could read and own books. Without the printing press, where would we be today?

My favorite books have characters that develop in a series. We watch them grow relationships as we turn the pages. For anyone who has read Evanovich's "One for the Money" series, you know what I mean. How many cars can one woman total? How many grandmas bring a gun to the dinner table? Dee Henderson's O'Malley series is an all-time favorite. I never wanted the series to end. 

My Bible is my favorite book. I love the scripture where John remarks about all the things he didn't record about Jesus. 

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." -John 21:25

A day to celebrate those who love books is a great idea.

Today, I am grateful for National Book Lovers Day!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 219: Today, I am grateful we can learn to rest and not quit.

"If you get tired, learn to rest...not quit."

Tenacity is a beautiful quality. We can learn about tenacity watching a toddler learning to walk or snack on Cheerios. At our house, our fur-baby, Daisy Mae, is persistent when she is attempting to catch a fly. Both keep at it until they find success. Occasionally, they take brief breaks to rest. 

When we feel like we are spinning our wheels and progress is hard to see, quitting feels like a reasonable alternative. Sometimes, success is just around the corner, but we need to pause and rest before we complete the job. Humans need rest and restoration. Taking a break is not abandoning the cause. Taking a break is more than self-care, it is a chance to listen and pray before pressing on. 

Rest is good for more than the body. The mind and spirit need it, too. There is a t-shirt that says, "Jesus napped." It makes me smile. It is true. He did take time to rest and reset. He reminds us that real rest is in Him. 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Today, I am grateful we can learn to rest and not quit.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Misunderstood Milkweed

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 218: Today, I am grateful for the misunderstood milkweed. 

I spent countless hours of my summers hoeing, chopping and using a knife to cut weeds out of our bean fields. We called it "walking beans". It was hard, hot and tiring. Still, we learned a great deal about work ethic and it was the ONLY time we were paid for our help around the farm. And oh... did we get tan! 

We were a farm family and everyone who ate at the table was expected to do their part. Chemicals have replaced bean-walking, but the pendulum may be swinging back the other way with organic farms growing. We had several types of weeds and we fought hard. One of them was the milkweed. 

The mighty milkweed grew taller than many of the other weeds. The milk in the stem was sticky. In my memories, I can still smell the unique scent. If the pods went to seed, they would re-seed the field for next year. Our goal was to remove them so they would not return. Pulling up by the roots was the best practice, but some we cut out. 

This year, I smile and remember my friends who grew up closer to Chicago not understanding the whole bean walking thing. Javier, Kim, Joyce, Donnie, Brad and Brian were closer to the city.  It was not what their friends at home did over the summer to earn money. Our Kankakee/Bourbonnais friends sort of understood. Those who lived closer to the church campgrounds knew of the practice, even if they had never experienced it. April and I didn't just experience it... we lived it. 

As teens, bean-walking interrupted our summers. We didn't realize the many life lessons we were learning. And, we enjoyed the conversation with the town kids that came out to help us. Some didn't last more than a few days. Others became like family around the lunch table. We battled the weeds, the heat and the push to cover as many acres a day as we could conquer. Many a milkweed, button weed and "smart weed" fell to our hoes and our pulls. 

Now, I look at some of the "weeds" with a little different perspective. We are learning more everyday about the need for the weeds in our road ditches to nourish different parts of nature's delicate balance. I still love the look of a field without weeds, but I know the Monarch Butterflies have a symbiotic relationship with the milkweed.  

The monarchs drink nectar from and lay their eggs on the milkweed. The hatched larvae eat the milkweed leaves, and acquire their poisonous chemicals. Predators are less likely to eat monarch larvae and adults. Milkweed gets pollinated by the adult monarch. As certain weeds and wildflowers disappear, so do other living creatures that rely on them for survival. Imagine a world without Monarch butterflies? 

I still prefer a clean field, but I've softened my heart toward the milkweed. 

"On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." -Psalm 145:5

Today, I am grateful for the misunderstood milkweed. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Correction Leads to Understanding

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 217: Today, I am grateful correction can lead to understanding. 

Most of us do not enjoy or relish correction. True? Although, correction delivered with encouragement, kindness and love can be very encouraging. It is how we gain understanding. 

"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever needs correction gains understanding." -Proverbs 15:32

To love learning means being willing to accept correction. It is how we learn and grow. 

When I started playing the piano, Mama Ina Mae had her hands full with me. She admits she was probably harder on me than her other music students. She had high expectations. I was probably overly sensitive to her corrections. We made it work. Her one good ear was tack sharp. She could easily correct my mistakes from another room. 

In the beginning, I was very young and struggled to see the encouragement in her corrections. She had a desire to grow my skills. Correction is one of the ways we show love. I am grateful she didn't give up on me.

Today, I am grateful correction can lead to understanding.