Sunday, October 31, 2021

Another Trip around the Sun

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 304: Today, I am grateful for another trip around the sun. 

Student Council trip to Merkle Knipprath Nursing home in 1982. I remember that afternoon and the fun we had with the residents. J.B. Adams shared this photo. I do not recall ever seeing it before. So many friends are in this picture. 

We had read "The Scarlet Letter" with Miss Mills and it was fresh on my mind. I chose to be "Hester Prynne" 

I have enjoyed so many birthday wishes today. I've tried to respond to them all, but the day has slipped away. I am grateful for each one who took the time to make the day special. My heart is full. 

Life delivers joys and sorrows. My Sister-in-Love, Lola, is unexpectedly a widow this weekend. Our hearts ache with hers. Her husband, Ken, was a good man. He loved her well. We will miss his quiet smile and the way he would shake his head and say, "Lola" when she was being silly. He was slow to speak, but when he spoke, he was smart and well spoken. A brother-in-love, not just by law. We are grateful for the time we had together this summer. We had no idea it would be our last time together. We never know if we will be granted another trip around the sun. 

"For everything there is a seasona time for every activity under heaven." -Ecclesiastes 3:1

A time for everything... as we also gathered to celebrate a bride and groom and the new marriage on the horizon. A bridal shower is a beautiful reason to gather. It was a joy to celebrate the promise of a new marriage. 

Each day is a gift. Some days the sorrows are heavy on our hearts. Some days, joy overflows. There are seasons when "every activity under heaven" seems to come together. I am grateful for the reminder to make the most of this day. 

Today, I am grateful for another trip around the sun. 


Saturday, October 30, 2021

He Is Stronger

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 303: Today, I am grateful He is stronger. 

Some days are not just hard... they are brutal. Many we love are struggling with one grief or another. Sometimes, we are handed grief on top of grief. 

We share grief just as we share the joys. Some seasons, it seems to pile so high,  we have trouble seeing over the top of the mess. 

Still... I know this to be true... if we lift our eyes to the heavens, His strength never fails. We fight and try to carry the burden on our own, when we really need to give it to him before we are broken down by the weight. He is stronger.

There are times when we know without a doubt that we could not and would not make it on our own. "Stronger" by Hillsong is running through my head. Thank you Earworm:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfnrYav-QTc

"You are stronger, you are stronger 

Sin is broken, you have saved me

It is written, Christ is risen!

Jesus you are Lord of all!"

Hold on to Him. Salvation is here... not over there. 

Today, I am grateful He is stronger. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Tea Kettles

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 302: Today, I am grateful for tea kettles.

Whether stovetop or electric, a house needs a tea kettle to be a home. I use mine almost daily. Our son taught me I can shorten the time for making pasta if I boil the water in the tea kettle first. It is good for so many mixes that require boiling water. I use it to heat the water for Cacao and coffee in the French Press. And of course, for cocoa and tea. 

The tea kettle on the stove always looks welcoming when visitors arrive. My Grandma Marge used to make a "Friendship" tea that was orange and spiced. I know "Tang" was an ingredient in the mix, but there were several other ingredients. Do you remember that cousins??? The tea kettle would whistle and hot beverage heaven was minutes away. 

Tea kettles have been around a long time. They have been made of many materials over the years. I appreciate the speed of an electric kettle when time matters.

Hospitality is made easier with a tea kettle. It is important to show hospitality to loved ones and to strangers. The scriptures say we might be entertaining angels when showing hospitality to strangers. Generosity is good for the soul. It increases our joy.

"They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity." -Acts 2:46

 Tea kettles have been around for thousands of years. I am glad they are still popular. 

Today, I am grateful for tea kettles.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Ice Cubes

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 301: Today, I am grateful for ice cubes. 

I know the temperatures are dropping. Most are thinking about hot beverages. I will save that gratitude for another day. Today, I was reminded how much I appreciate ice cubes. 

Ice cubes in a Ziploc bag to ease aches and pains. Ice in my water glass means my water is very, very cold. I like hot things to be hot and cold things to be cold. 

We have been fighting with our ice maker in our fairly new refrigerator. I am grateful it failed while under warranty. When we don't have ice, I miss it. We can make ice cubes in a tray, but an ice maker is one of my favorite luxuries. A broken ice maker is a true "first world problem". It is currently working, and I am sipping ice water as I write. 

This scripture makes me pause to ponder the power of the Lord. His breath 

"God’s breath sends the ice, freezing wide expanses of water." -Job 37:10

The verse creates quite a word picture. Lord over all creation, He exhales power... turning water into ice. Nothing is outside of his control, yet he allows us free will to choose Him or reject him. He allows us to step into the warmth of His wings... or we can freeze him out. 

Ice is a reminder of His infinite power over the waters. 

Ice cubes are a simple pleasure. 

Today, I am grateful for ice cubes. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sharp Knives

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 300: Today, I am grateful for sharp knives. 

Do you ever feel like you never have a sharp knife in the drawer when you need one? Our best knives get used often. Our sharpest knives are considered the "good knives". 

Sharp knives help us clean and prepare our foods." The fall tradition of carving pumpkins typically involves a sharp knife or two. There are some other fun tools, but a good sharp knife is very helpful.

A sharp knife is a handy tool in farming and hunters need them, too. The sharper the knife, the easier it is to get the job done. 

When describing someone as being "sharp as a knife", it is a compliment. It means they are smart and savvy. 

I thought about this scripture. It describes the living Word of God as being "sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword." A sword is like a giant knife, right? 

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." - Hebrews 4:12

I love this analogy about the power of God's Word. It cuts between soul and spirit... between joint and marrow... with swift delivery and preciseness. Perfectly spoken!

Today, I am grateful for sharp knives.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Discomfort

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 299: Today, I will choose to be grateful for discomfort. 

Am I losing my mind? Perhaps, I already have. This quote caught my attention today. 

"He had to make you uncomfortable otherwise you never would have moved." -Toby Mac

When I reflect on my life, I see the times God allowed discomfort in my life to move me. 

I'm fairly content by nature. But, like most, I resist being uncomfortable when I can. Growth requires stretching, learning new things and walking through new doors. We are not called to comfortable things. We are called to step out in faith into unknown places with the Gospel of Christ.  

"“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” -Matthew 1:20

We are told the faith of a mustard seed... the tiniest of seeds... can move mountains. "With great power comes great responsibility." is a quote from Spiderman. It has stuck with me. A little discomfort can help us gain a new perspective when it forces us to move outside of what is comfortable and safe. 

Jesus never promised this world would be safe. He did promise He would never leave us or forsake us. I don't always know where discomfort might lead, but I know to trust his will, even when I can't quite make out the shape of His hand. 

Today, I will choose to be grateful for discomfort. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

No Surrender

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 298: Today, I am grateful our God has a no surrender policy.

"While it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who has not surrendered His authority.? -AW Tozer

In all of my years on the planet, I don't recall a time when humans have been so collectively weary. The AW Tozer quote struck a chord. What a calming reminder that no matter the situation or the circumstance, our God has not surrendered His authority. 

When we belong to him, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will not give us up to the enemy. Those who long to destroy our souls will be thwarted. They cannot win against His plan. 

When sitting in the middle of a mess, it is hard to see how the pieces will fit together, but they always do. We need only to wait on the Lord. Wait. Easier said than done, right? 

I found these to scriptures encouraging today:

"Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.' -"Psalm 27:14

"For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are." -Romans 8:19

In the ESV translation of the Bible, "wait" can be found 133 times. In the NLT, there are 160 "waits". In the NIV, 129 times, "wait" appears. Any way you slice it, waiting is a part of this faith walk we choose when we say "Yes." and make him Lord of our lives. 

While waiting, we build endurance. Patience is a beautiful quality. It is a fruit of the Spirit. We have a God with a no surrender policy, but we try to direct His path, instead of the other way around. His authority is solid, sound and true. His compassion and mercy are profound. His heart is tender to those who bow their heads in surrender and offer up their lives as a living sacrifice. He is our "best yes". Nothing can pull us from His grasp when we hold on to His hand.

Today, I am grateful our God has a no surrender policy.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sweater Weather

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 297: Today, I am grateful for sweater weather.

Welcome, sweater weather! It is rainy and feels like fall in every way. Sweatshirts and sweaters are perfect for the day. 

I get hot fairly often, so I love the layering power of light knit sweaters. My favorite sweatshirts are French Terry. The knit is durable and not too heavy.  Some love thick wooly sweaters. Cashmere has always been appreciated. I like a good cotton sweater. I'm allergic to some fibers so it is easy to stick with cotton.  

There is something about knits that makes us feel cozy. They are so soft, we forget they are strong, too. I am grateful knitting is not a lost art. I can't do it, but I have loved ones who can. Knitting something together implies strength. 

"I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself." -Colossians 2:2

In the fall, we never really know what kind of weather the day may bring. It can change over the course of an hour. Donning our sweaters... with layers... keeps us prepared for anything. 

Today, I am grateful for sweater weather.




Saturday, October 23, 2021

Lives Joined Together

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 296: Today, I am grateful for lives joined together. 

Today seems to be a celebration of lives joined together. 

This morning, I harvested zinnia seeds from my landscape. For those who follow daily, you may remember my seeds came not from a packet, but from my childhood friend, Roxanne Stelle, who is always in my heart. We did some seed swapping last spring and both added to our summer gardens. 

Every time I looked at the blooms, I thought of Roxanne, our friendship and the joy of the shared seeds joined together. No matter how many years between seeing each other, we can catch up in a minute. (sound familiar Kim Williams-Meyering) When we join hearts, lives are joined as well. 

This afternoon, we will watch a wedding. We are so happy for Samantha and her Nick. She is a treasure of a girl and we rejoice in the love they have found together. They, with her son, Brady, will begin a new adventure today. Marriage joins more than two lives together. Families become joined as well. We celebrate their joining and the joy that will spring from the sacred union before God and Man. We love the Geiger clan!

This week, our joined lives meant sharing with our dear Anna (and Ryan Leander) in the loss of the best of earthly fathers. Her father, Randy (great name) and mother Patty, joined in many of our celebrations here because Ryan and Anna are family to us.  Joined lives means shared sorrows. It is as God intended. Our hearts break for them and with them. Lives joined together mean we share sorrows and joy. 

Two scriptures come to mind. Favorites of mine:

"A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. "-Ecclesiastes 4:12

We are better together. 

The next verse has become a life verse. Simple, but it reminds me to try and act more like Jesus. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. -Romans 12:15

This week has been full. 

Today, I am grateful for lives joined together. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Those Who Walk in the Light

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 295: Today, I am grateful for those who walk in the light.

This world is full of darkness. We see it in the news, on our computer screens and even on the street corners of our own hometowns. People who are hungry, thirsty, sick, tired and lonely are often only a stone's throw away. 

We are all so "busy". How important are the things that keep our schedules full? I am just as guilty as the next person. It is a challenge for me, too.  How do we build space in the margins of our lives. Spaces that help us make time for the things that bring salt and light to the world? How do we carry the Gospel of Hope if we are overscheduled and exhausted? 

"Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going." -John 12:35

When we walk in the Light, we carry the message in our actions. Actions speak louder than words. There is a reason our thoughts do not scroll across our foreheads. (I am very grateful it was not in our human design.) We don't have to act on all of our thoughts. We can check our thoughts and choose our actions with wisdom instead of emotion. It takes practice. We are all works in progress.

"Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going." These words are as true today as they were 2000 years ago. To make a real difference in the world, we need to turn on the light. In the Light, what is dangerous, wrong, evil or hurtful becomes clearer.

"Telling someone they're wrong is not the same as leading and inspiring them to do what's right." -Andy Stanley

This is a great way of summing up the opportunities each one of us faces with each new day. I am grateful for those who lead and inspire. 

Today, I am grateful for those who walk in the light.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

What the Heart Reveals

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 294: Today, I am grateful and humbled by what the heart reveals.

Most of us have thoughts we are grateful others cannot hear. Even if we are fairly good at holding back the words, the frustrated or angry spirit still eat at us. We are not yet perfect. This world can thwart our best efforts to seek His face and to act with His purpose. Truth be told, we are all works in progress.

"Somehow, what's in our hearts, good or bad is eventually translated into words and deeds." -Andy Stanley

King David learned early on that humans look at the outward appearance, but God sees into our naked hearts. Our souls are not hidden from His perfect vision. Our imperfections and our secret dreams are all known to Him. There are no secrets before the Lord. Omniscience is intimidating and humbling. 

"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

Our God delights in choosing those who seem unsuited. He grows kings out of shepherd boys. He leads his people out of Egypt with the Pharaoh's adopted grandson. He makes a way for the hopeless, used and abused like Rahab and restores them into a home with love and children.  He sees Paul for his passion instead of judging him by his mistakes and makes him a missionary for the gospel. 

Our God sees the potential in all of us.  God uses whom He chooses... not who the world thinks fits the job. It always makes me smile when I see a "wow" that could only be by His hand. It grows my courage a little, too. 

"I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” -Psalm 40:8

We are works in progress, but our choices reflect our heart. 

Today, I am grateful (and humbled) by what the heart reveals.



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Giving Back

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 293: Today, I am grateful for those who give back.

Remember the concept of paying it forward. It is a good one. I often need the reminder that actions today may echo into eternity, with no obvious impact today. We try to do what is good and kind... and "right" because it pleases The Father. 

Giving back shows that we recognize someone took the time to invest in us. Wouldn't it be interesting to ask those we consider mentors, who mentored them? 

"Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up." - Colin Powell

Who taught King David to use a slingshot? Who taught Lydia how to make fine purple cloth? Who taught Paul to sew a tent? Who taught Martha to cook for a crowd? 

I am so grateful for the many who have mentored me over the years. We all need encouragement and help recalculating when life gets bumpy and we want to give up. We can't always say "Thank you" to that person, because they may no longer be in this world. We can honor them by giving back. 

"I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’” -Acts 20:35 (The Message)

Don't worry. Giving up a little won't wound a soul. In fact, it is likely to lighten it. 

Today, I am grateful for those who give back.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Purpose in Pain

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 292: Today, I am grateful there is often purpose in pain.

I love Ann Voskamp quotes. "God only allows pain if He's allowing something new to be born."

I have nerve damage that keeps me from feeling in some places on my body. I am at times reminded that pain has a purpose. In my case, where I don't have feeling, injury can occur in the absence of pain. It would be easy to burn my skin, and I do at times regret attempts to lift things I shouldn't. Pain serves a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to make us stop doing whatever is hurtful or self destructive. 

Remember when you were little? You would have a bruise or some other small injury you would bring before the counsel of Dr. Mom? Pressing the tender area and you would say, "It hurts when I do this." How does every mother respond to that declaration? She says, "Then, don't do that." The memory makes me smile. Yes, I say it, too. 

Some days we feel pain and it is overwhelming. Other days, we are reminded that pain has purpose and our vision clears.

"In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord. “If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,” says your God." -Isaiah 66:9 (NCV)

 We can only take one day at a time. That is a gift from God. Some days, we have to take things one minute at a time. Pain reminds us that we need a God who can reach into our distress and our messes. He never fails to answer the call. Never. Not ever!

Discomfort is typically something we try to avoid. I am reminded that through discomfort comes growth, strength, refinement and even new life. 

Today, I am grateful there is often purpose in pain.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Trials to Heavenly Hope

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 291: Today, I am grateful trials lead us to heavenly hope.

None of us relish the broken moments. They hurt. We ache. They are exhausting. Still, there is something that happens in our darkest moments when we lift our eyes to Jesus.

"Trials tend to show us the bankruptcy of human resources, wean us off the world, and sort of settle us on the heavenly hope." -John MacArthur

When bankrupt of human resources and earthly distractions, heaven's hope comes more clearly into focus. We are just passing through this world. It is no longer our home. 

"Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family." -Ephesians 2:18-19

One translation uses the word "aliens" instead of strangers. We are not of this world. It is a great reminder to keep first things first and priorities straight. We are to use stuff and value souls not the other way around. 

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." -1 Thessalonians 4:13

When hard times come... and they will... press on. We are never without hope.

Today, I am grateful trials lead us to heavenly hope. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kindness

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 290: Today, I am grateful for kindness. 

"Kindness: Loaning someone your strength instead of reminding them of their weakness." -Andy Stanley

It is a great definition of kindness. Any opportunity to show kindness and grace toward another human is really an opportunity to loan them your strength. People need kindness most when they are lost, lonely, hungry, tired or weary. At our ugliest moments, we need kindness even more. 

"If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." -Romans 12:8 

Friday, one of the kindest souls we've ever known was called home. Our sweet Anna (Ryan dnd Anna Ullrich Leander), her Mama and her family watched  a dear Dad, devoted husband, a tireless grandfather, a beloved brother, treasured son and a fun uncle take his last breath on earth. We have to wonder at his first breath of heaven? How many rushed to meet him because of the light he shined while he was here on earth? His testimony was bold, sincere and sprinkled with joy. 

We are really going to miss the many times we were together at Ryan and Anna's, sharing in family celebrations. We will always be grateful for Randy's kindness and the way he impacted the world around him. 

We neve know the value of a moment until it is gone. We may never know the impact of kindness spent on this side of heaven, until we are home with the Father. Thank you Randy Ullrich for your example of kindness bearing testimony to your Lord. 

Today, I am grateful for kindness. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Discernment

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 289: Today, I am grateful for discernment. 

Discernment is an underused word in the English language. I am not sure our youth are very familiar with the meaning. How can they learn to act with discernment, without being exposed to the concept?

I know they say, "Wisdom comes with age." but I am a big fan of young people. I believe discernment can be developed at all ages. Part of discernment comes from practice and some it comes from our gut. The best discernment is whispered by the Holy Spirit.

"Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right" -Charles Spurgeon

The Word is a great place to find guidance when trying to decide between good, better and best. Right and almost right may take a little longer to work through and figure out. How many times do we pray for guidance, when we need to know the right thing to do?  These are prayers for discernment. How many times do we rush the answer because we fail to "wait upon the Lord".

We are promised this: "Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength." We are not given a clock for the wait time. It is about trust and patience. When we lean into Him, we can find peace in the process. Sometimes, He clears the path... sometimes, He makes the path clear. 

Today, I am grateful for discernment. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Aim

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 288: Today, I am grateful for good aim.

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." -C.S. Lewis

To hit any target, you have to aim well. Patience, practice and precision build the skill. When the time is right, it looks flawless and effortless... a little like breathing. 

There are times there are no words of explanation. There are times nothing seems to be good and right. There is a deep truth, in the most broken moments, we become very aware our God is a refuge and our strength. 

It is balm to the soul to be reminded that this world is not our home. It is where we make our way to the cross and find His hope and healing. Our aim is not an earthly address.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while." -1 Peter 1:6

There are trials that are short lived. Some seem to go on forever. Some we can anticipate and others are unexpected. It is good to remember our aim is heaven. Aim sharp. Breathe deep. Love well. Death is a door, not a destination. 

Today, I am grateful for good aim.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Special Coverings

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 287: Today, I am grateful for special coverings and iron clad promises and protection.

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

Feather covered and sheltered in His wings... it is a beautiful image, isn't it. But does it ring of strength and courage? What is the value of being covered by feathered wings?

Have you ever watched birds dancing in a bird bath or the rain? They aren't really afraid of getting wet, but they sometimes hunker down in a safe space and spread their wings as a covering for shelter and wait out a storm. Birds don't show off their strength but they are resilient creatures. 

My Mother-In-Love, Shela, taught me the delight in watching the birds. She knew her Bible well and I am not surprised she found delight in the creatures of the air. She loved to talk about the things she could see from her window when she was not able to go out much. The birds kept her entertained. 

What about the covering of a promise? Our most sacred vows are a kind of covering; believer baptism, marriage and baby dedication are promises before God and other humans. Psalm 91:4 says his promises are armor strong protection against a world that is full of danger and evil. We can trust his wings and his heart. 

Be encouraged. Be hopeful. Be patient, the storm will pass and His promises will hold true. 

Today, I am grateful for special coverings and iron clad promises and protection.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Name

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 286: Today, I am grateful for a name. 

This image references a classic Steve Miller Band song, "The Joker". It has a great beat. It gets stuck in your head with Earworm singing. It is part of the soundtrack of my youth.

 "I'm just going to put Steve on the cup." That's funny. 

The names we answer to are determined by many seasons in our lives. Some of us had nicknames younger siblings gave us because they could not say our full name. Some of them stick for a lifetime. My cousin, Angie, renamed my Aunt Denise "Niecy" when she and my Uncle Bob were dating. We all latched on to it with great affection. We still call her by that moniker. 

What do you like to be called? I must confess, "Space Cowgirl" does have a ring to it, although my natural inclination to motion sickness means I won't be taking off in a rocket any time soon. I know I prefer Valerie to any shortened version of my name. "Erie" would have been far more interesting... I actually kind of like it... but no one thought of it. "Val" always felt like an ill-fitting pair of shoes.  Names really do help us define ourselves. 

One of my all time favorite scriptures is: 

“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” -Matthew 16:14-16

Peter is the first to boldly declare that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. He was "The One" that had been prophesied. He was who they were waiting for. He was a part of the great I AM. God incarnate was walking with them through ordinary days. Things would never be ordinary again. 

It was important that they figured out who He was. 

Jesus would be called by many different names. My personal favorite is "Yeshua". Just saying it feels personal and intimate. Yeshua speaks to the relationship. It means deliver or savior. 

What name is your favorite? When you kneel before God at the end of your life, to be called a faithful son, daughter or servant is something a believer thinks about when anticipating heaven. But when He calls you by name... what will that name be? 

Today, I am grateful for a name. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Plato's Observations

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 285: Today, I am grateful for Plato's observations.

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” -Plato

Interesting quote. Plato's words and philosophical writings are still read today. They have lasted through the centuries. Actually, through two millennia. He lived 428-328 B.C. 

Plato was an observer and a thinker. He watched human behavior and made observations, conclusions and predictions based on what he witnessed. He lived around 80 years, enough time to gather some wisdom. He saw people who behaved in mostly good ways fall to temptation. He saw others who behaved in mostly bad ways have few good and kind moments. He could make some general assumptions about human behavior. 

Being well read, he would have been familiar with the Hebrew scriptures. 

"And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!" -Ecclesiastes 8:14

Bad things happen to good people and the wicked sometimes have their way, but "It ain't over until it's over." as the old saying goes. This Proverb offers an encouraging word. Eventually, evil self destructs:

"Evil people will bow before good people; the wicked will bow at the gates of the godly." -Proverbs 14:18

What may not make sense today, will when the big picture is clear. Not today. It won't likely be tomorrow, but faithfulness is worth the effort. Press on. Finish the race. Choose the good path. 

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful." -2 Timothy 4:7 

Good people will keep choosing to do the right thing. Others will skirt the law to gain wealth and power. We are instructed to choose what is good and right in the eyes of God. The Bible is clear that evil exists. It is, also, clear at the end of the book... God wins! 

History tends to repeat itself. People tend to behave in certain ways. Free will and choice are still our God breathed super powers. We can't always control the world around us, but we can do our part to exhale hope, light and life. 

Yes, easier said than done. Press on. Pray on. Hold hands. Seek His face. 

Today, I am grateful for Plato's observations, but I lean on God's promises.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Waiting For A Turn

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 284: Today, I am grateful for learning to wait for my turn. 

Mama Ina Mae was all about taking turns. The oldest of seven... and then it grew to ten... you rarely got to be "first" and "saving the best for last" often felt more like ending up with the leftovers. Mama modeled grace and patience. 

Even with our small sibling set of three, we were taught to wait and take turns. We were taught to make sure guests had plenty before taking for ourselves. We were taught to share our toys, our home, our time and our resources. It was ingrained into us every day and reinforced in Sunday School lessons on Sunday. 

Mama had a strong sense of fairness and justice that she tried to teach us. Bottom line, life wasn't always fair and our perceptions of justice might not always be the perception of those in power... or God's sense of justice. She taught us that waiting was part of living and disappointments were not the end of the world. Yes, we survived disappointments. 

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

When we learn to wait quietly before the Lord, there are victories. It isn't about being first, getting the most or being the center of attention. "My victory comes from Him." These are powerful, truthful words. 

It is the paradox of life with and without Jesus. With Him, we can have relatively nothing and it is enough. Without Him, no earthly treasure collection is ever enough. Contentment comes in learning to wait quietly before our God. Being satisfied where we are. Trusting Him to be enough.  

My earthly blessings are far more than I deserve. I relish the exercise of daily gratitude because it keeps me focused on the bigger picture. It means lifting our eyes and opening our hearts to see the wonder and blessing in the little things. It means learning to exercise patience. It means learning to wait quietly for His timing. 

Today, I am grateful for learning to wait for my turn. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Keep The Blame Where It Belongs.

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 283: Today, I am grateful for a reminder to keep the blame where it belongs.

There are times we need straight up front and honest reminders. This Proverb frames the truth:

"People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord." -Proverbs 19:3

The blame game is so easy. We jump on the complain train and forget to own our mistakes and missteps. They may even be times when we point the finger and blame God. We forget that choice is the super power God gave humans. We can act by choice and over-ride what seems to be a natural response. 

We can choose to be calm, when we want to scream. We can choose kindness, when we want to be condemning. We can choose to act and not react. 

We can choose Jesus, when the world points us in a different, self seeking direction. 

There will be times we mess up. By His grace, our failures and falls are covered. We only need to seek, ask and receive the forgiveness He offers. 

Today, I am grateful for a reminder to keep the blame where it belongs.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

April's Art

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 282: Today, I am grateful for April's art. 

When a loved one exits the earth, we savor the special things they leave behind. A handwritten letter or notes in the margin of a Bible become priceless.

 A dear friend Julie... a sister in my heart... gifted me with a treasure box made by her father. It is a gift in three ways... the actual box, the love in the heart that was willing to share it, and the legacy of love the craftsman poured into the item. I love my special box. 

The image is a picture of a painting by my sister, April, before her death. It was actually a part of a class assignment. She found a black and white photo of my Dad and me, and she painted it from the photograph. It is priceless and precious. It currently hangs in Mama Ina Mae's room at Walker & Abi's for her to enjoy. 

I love the emotion this painting captures. You can feel the fierceness of a father's love and a little girl's whimsy. Who knows what I had in my hand? There is every chance it was a fuzzy caterpillar or some other item that caught a little girl's attention. I love that I am wearing a dress. Some things don't change. I still prefer a dress. 

I am grateful for art. It speaks to a special place in our soul. It is a gift over and over again. The artist pours their heart into the art. Then the art may be shared or purchased again and again over the years. There is a reason that paintings by great artists are collected by those who have money to spend on them. Honestly, there are some I wouldn't buy because they have no aesthetic appeal to me. Art is personal. Art is intimate. Art is a reflection of the hand and heart that create it. 

April will celebrate her 26th birthday in heaven on Sunday. I am so grateful we have her art... and a letter or two. She was a creative soul who lost track of time when creating something new. Sometimes, it went quickly. Other times, it was a battle to get it right. She learned perseverance and patience in her 28 years here. Much of that learning came through her art.

In this day of high tech wonders, I hope we don't lose the value of a pen, paper, a canvas and a paintbrush. Broken crayons still color. Mixed paints bring new hues. Life is messy, like the artist's palette. The most beautiful works of heart in art take time. We were made in His image to be creative. The challenge is to find the medium that fits us best. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, "Colossians 3:23

Search your heart and find your art. Share it with love. God delights in the creativity of His children. 

Today, I am grateful for April's art. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Unique Personalities

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 281: Today, I am grateful for the unique personality of each individual. 

Isn't it amazing how even identical twins have different tastes and personalities? God knit us together in our mother's wombs, with unique qualities. Do we maximize all He created us to be? 

Look at this quote from CS Lewis:

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” -CS Lewis

Now, read it again. Pause. Ponder. Let it sink into your soul. 

We maximize who we were intended to be when we begin a real relationship with Christ. When we turn to Him and allow him to reveal our potential, we plug into His power and His purpose. Missed joys and discontentment are often a result of attempting to self fulfill, instead of leaning into Jesus for direction and purpose.  What He has in store is always better. Always. 

"for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’" -Act 17:28

This is one of those lessons I am still working out. I am a work in progress. Some days I do okay. Other days, I wonder why he offers such grace and patience. There are shameful days, if I am honest, I question His will and His ways. That kind of pride is dangerous.

When nothing makes sense, I hear the Spirit whisper, "Trust in me." When energies dwindle, He offers, 'Lean on me." When all seems uncertain, Hebrews 11 comes to mind, 'Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." 

Each of us must find our way to the cross and the empty tomb.  Each one must reconcile His gift, the resurrection and the promise. When we "get real" in Him, we begin to discover who we really are. 

Today, I am grateful for the unique personality of each individual. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Grateful for THIS Day

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 280: Today, I am grateful for this day.

"It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." -Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Some days are amazing. Other days are heartbreaking and brutal. Life is be a roller coaster ride, and honestly, I am prone to motion sickness. I am a "safety girl" by nature. Still, I love the simple truth in this "Alice in Wonderland" quote. I am not the same person I was yesterday, and neither are you. Each day brings new experiences, new knowledge, new trials and new joys. Life is a mixed bag, for sure.

How do we step out fearlessly? I am taken to Hebrews 11 for inspiration. There are many warriors of faith listed. 

"Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." -Hebrews 11:1

What a list of characters are including: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. I love that Rahab is included. God chooses imperfect people and calls them his sons and daughters. He rescues the broken and worn out. He brings restoration. We are not the same when His love makes us over. We see our brokenness in the mirror. He sees how far we've come. He knows our story. He knows our future is good. Today might be hard. 

My niece, Kenzie, purchased her first Jack Pine Pumpkin a couple years ago at the Pumpkin Festival. She was in college nearby at the time with limited space. She chose a little glass pumpkin in traditional colors. The stem had a tiny piece that was broken off. She said she loved it more because it was "a little bit broken" and that is what made it special. I agree with Kenzie. 

If you are feeling a little broken today, do not despair. 

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalm 118:24

We can be sure that a hope placed in Christ is where we will find redemption, salvation, peace and a future. The choice is ours to make.

Today, I am grateful for this day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Autumn Scents

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 279: Today, I am grateful we can smell the autumn.

The scents of autumn are beginning to fill the air. The cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cranberry, apple, warm vanilla, maple, warmed citrus, falling leaves and so many more. 

I am helpless in front of the wax melts, plug-ins and candles that fill our home with fall scents. The Love of My Life has teased me that our Bath and Body works calls me when they run out of soap. 

"I can smell Autumn dancing in the breeze, the sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves." -unknown

Autumn scents are cozy scents. They prepare our hearts for the winter ahead. They are something to savor. The season between summer and winter is a time of preparation and celebration. We learn the simple joy of a warm afternoon followed by a cool evening.  In Illinois, the weather can change in 15 minutes. Our souls need a little more time to prepare for winter in places with big temperature changes with the seasons... perhaps it is the reason God created autumn. 

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;  -Daniel 2:21

He controls the seasons. He designed the forces that keep earth spinning and revolving around the sun. Yet, He cares about us. We see His love reflected in the scents of autumn. 

I have never lived in a place without a fall season. I imagine I would miss it. It is a great day to contemplate fall scents. (Full disclosure: I am ready for the smell of "pumpkin guts" to disappear. It is a bonus scent we live with for a few weeks each year... not my favorite.) 

Today, I am grateful we can smell the autumn.