Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Christmas Lights

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 334: Today, I am grateful for Christmas Lights.

I love the lights of Christmas. When we were little, Dad and Mama would take us for drives around different neighborhoods to "look at the pretties". That was what they said when the Christmas lights and decorations would start to pop up all over town and in Kankakee near my grandparents home. We loved it!

Being country people, there were decorations on many farms, but in town we found magical clusters of lights and decorations in neighborhoods.  As kids, the more the merrier. Big lights, little lights, colored lights and lawn decorations delighted us as children. 

My idea of what was beautiful changed as I matured. I can appreciate the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation home for the huge effort put forth, but I lean into a more classic look for my own home. 

We are white light people, but to each his own. If colored lights make you smile, go for it! That is part of the magic. Everyone uses similar lights, yet each one makes it their own. The light catches the eye of anyone passing by. Light attracts people.  

"Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” -John 8:12

He Is light of the world! His light attracts people to him. His light leads to life. It is good news, isn't it? As you light up your home, inside and out, pause to take in the welcome in the lights.  

As we light our Christmas lights, let our purpose be to point the way to Jesus. 

Today, I am grateful for Christmas Lights.


Monday, November 29, 2021

The Perfect Tree

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 333: Today, I am grateful for "The Perfect Tree".

I'm a ballad girl. I love a story told in song. There is a new one out called "Stretchy Pants" by Carrie Underwood. It will make you smile. Every genre has ballads.  Mama and I used to sing Johnny Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass" and "Puff the Magic Dragon", when we would have "concerts" at the piano in her last months. "Down in the Boondocks" is another she always loved to sing with me. 

A favorite Christmas ballad tells the story of a family finding the perfect Christmas tree. Ray Boltz wrote it and recorded it quite a few years ago. It is still one of my favorites. My dear friend Julie once found a snow globe that captured the sentiment of the song. That snow globe is on our mantle this year. It reminds me of Julie... and the song. 

Here is a snippet of the lyrics:

"Mother wants a straight one

The children want it tall

Dad just hopes that somehow

He can get it down the hall

Soon they'll gather round it

As proud as they can be

But when they're looking at it

I wonder if they see

The perfect tree

Grew very long ago

And it was not decked with silver

Or with ornaments of gold

But hanging from its branches

Was a gift for you and me

Jesus laid His life down

On the perfect tree."

It creates a powerful image. We used it for a Christmas program theme one year and the children begged to repeat the song a second year. It resonated with their souls. Of course, we let them sing it again. 

This scripture reminds us of God's heart for rescue and restoration. 

"And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree." -Romans 11:23

Every child finds a little magic in their Christmas tree, but what God did with a tree was not magic. It was a miracle.

Today, I am grateful for "The Perfect Tree".


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Deck the Halls

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 332: Today, I am grateful we can deck the halls. 

Decking the halls today. It is such a happy time of year. We want the spirit of the season to come alive. Decorating the house helps that happen. The mantel on the fireplace is always one of my favorite spots to cover in Christmas decorations. Oh... it is good for the soul. 

We always hope those who enter our home feel welcome. I want to be like my Mama Ina Mae. We hope those who enter as strangers, leave as friends. Those who come often, we hope feel like family. This weekend, we realized Kinga Kovacs, our Hungarian niece (Kenzie's roommate we have adopted in our hearts and home), has her own spot at the table for meals. That means you are home. It was good to have her company as I unpacked the stuff. 

The Love of my Life did the trees. Usually, it is more of a team effort, but I started another project I wanted to complete before our Lindgren family gathering. Walker helped him get items down from storage in the garage. His help meant nothing was dropped or broken. Randy gets the Rockstar Husband Award this weekend. In truth, the trees I decorate, he tends to "fix" when I am done. I decorate from the heart. He likes to finesse the finished trees. 

What do you do to deck the halls in your home? Do you decorate like your parents or do you have your own style? Do you tear up over macaroni and crayon picture frame ornaments (Donna Davis Roth)? I do. There are so many memories on our Christmas trees. 

How do we prepare our hearts for the best gift of all? The Christ child is still waiting in the manager, hoping to not be overlooked because of the gifts, sparkle and lights. He is still the reason for the season. In our hearts, we know this is true, but our heads get tied up with the seasonal chaos. 

John 14:2 is a passage that was read at both Monte and Mom's services (Lola, I can't remember if it was read at Ken's last week).

"There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?" -John 14:2

Brother Monte Carl worked on the service side of Disney and Mama was always preparing for her next guests. Both spent a lifetime preparing a place for others. 

Now, they have arrived at the place our Lord has prepared for them. A place so glorious we can only imagine it, because Christ prepared it for them with love. There were no disappointments upon their arrival. There was no lowly humble manger in a barn. Their reward was great. 

This Christmas, as you prepare your home, choose joy. It is work, but it is work to honor the birthday of the King of Kings. He doesn't care if the decorations are handmade or Hallmark. He cares about our hearts. Are we prepared to receive Him? 

Today, I am grateful we can deck the halls. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Message


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 331: Today, I am grateful for The Message.

Christmas season is here. The leftover turkey is creamed and made into casseroles. Christmas time is really here. In our midst, we are seeing traditions and trees. Many traditions are rooted in the message of why we celebrate. 

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

Let the message of Christ ring clear. In Him, Christmas has its meaning. We sing hymns and spiritual songs giving thanks to God for the perfect gift of His son. "God incarnate come." God with us, for us and not against us. 

As insane as it seems, the God of the Universe wants a relationship with us! It is the promise he kept in the sending of His son. We could not or would not get it right on our own. Sin seeps in. Not a one of us has lived a flawless life. Not one of us is without sin. We needed a Savior, desperately. We need him like we need air. 

The message this season is one of hope. The world feels more and more hopeless with each trip around the sun. We do not live without hope! In Him, we can find a contentment and a peace the world cannot steal. We are just passing through, so keep on your travelers shoes. 

The Message is as clear as the star that once shone brightly over Bethlehem. In Him, we can find truth. I have no truth of my own. None. I have life experiences, but He is the Way, the Truth, the Light, the Life and our Living Water. Breathe Him in, like the scent of pine, cinnamon and clove. Exhale love, justice and mercy. Let forgiveness free you from any burdens you were never meant to carry. 

Burst out in song: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King." It is the message the world has been waiting for. Don't miss Him because of the distractions of lesser things. 

Today, I am grateful for The Message.

 

Friday, November 26, 2021

The One Who Goes First

 


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 330: Today, I am grateful for the one who goes ahead of us.

When things are fun and good, everyone wants to get to the front of the line. Many want to be first. First to see a movie, try a new restaurant or read a new book. That feeling of being cutting edge on a trend can be satisfying... for about a minute. These kinds of pleasures never satisfy. They are selfish pleasures.

When things are uncertain or scary, few rush to go first. Waiting and watching with caution seems like a good idea. If someone else goes first and all goes well with them, we feel our odds are better.

This scripture speaks to fear:

"Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

Such promise is held in this verse. What piece of it do you cling to first? He will personally go ahead of us. He will be with us. He will never fail or abandon His children.

We can do hard things. We can persevere. We can pause and be still in the shelter of His wings. We do not need to be discouraged or dismayed.

2021 has been full of challenges. Still, he goes with us and before us. He makes a way for us... every time.

Today, I am grateful for the one who goes ahead of us.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Gratitude's Gifts

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 329: Today, I am grateful for gratitude's gifts.

When you can't figure out what to do today, try gratitude. Reframing the situation can help us grasp it better. We may not understand it all, but the Lord is our strength and our shield. He provides when we need, when we need it. His help is priceless.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. - Psalms 28:7 NLT

There is no place too dark and no sadness too deep that He cannot meet us in our need. He always finds a way. If we reach out to him, he will reach into our trial and give us strength.

"He reaches into our trials and gives us strength." I love that line.

Today, I am grateful for gratitude's gifts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Heaven's Table

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 328: Today, I am grateful for Heaven's table.

This Thanksgiving is a little different... again in 2021. For different reasons this year. This year, Mama, Brother Monte, Uncle Jim, Brother-in-Love Ken and several special friends we hold dear are in heaven this Thanksgiving. Seven in seven months.

So many are feeling the empty seat at the table, too. The holidays are especially hard for those whose family table has changed over the past year.

We will still choose gratitude, even in grief. We choose gratitude because we are instructed to give thanks in all things.

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

In all things! In grief and in joy. In loss and in new additions. In times of plenty and in times of need. Why? Because, in gratitude we find peace and joy.

Perhaps this is a season of grieving for you and your family. Thanksgiving is November 25th this year. If you have never kept a short gratitude log, try from Thanksgiving to New Year's. It is a little over a month. Yes, it is a busy season, but perhaps it makes the moment of daily reflection even more important.

If you are at a loss as to where to start, try listing a few things learned from loved ones missing at the table this year. I believe I will join you. It doesn't have to be fancy.

Bacon. Meat candy according to our friend, Kent. He is with Jesus this year and we miss him fiercely. Every time we make bacon, I hear Kent's voice saying, "Meat candy".

This makes me smile. And, it is a reminder to say a prayer for others missing loved ones this year for the first time. On the other side of the coin, we have loved ones in the presence of Jesus this holiday season. For them, it is but a blink and we will be with them. For us, the clock moves more slowly in sadness.

Their joy in heaven is complete. They have a seat at Heaven's table. Every day is full of the presence of the King. Don't worry, there are plenty of seats for those who believe and receive the invitation.

Today, I am grateful for Heaven's table.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Puzzle pieces



Daily Gratitude Year 9 -Day 326: Today, I am grateful for it all fits together.

We spent an afternoon putting a puzzle together. 

Life can be puzzling. Things happen. Some go as planned and others don’t. They say “life is what happens when you are making plans.” When life falls to pieces, I am still confident in the One who puts it all together.  

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

Today, I am grateful it all fits together.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Siblings

 



Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 325: Today, I am grateful for siblings.

I keep coming back to where we were a week ago. My brother and I were making some tough decisions. It was good to walk with Matthew in harmony. Losing a sibling so young, my brother and I know how quickly life can change. We'd rather choose love. 

When life throws curve balls, sibling support is really special. I remember when we would have a child care hole, Jennifer would figure out way to come and help. The boys were never disappointed in her company. 

When our children lost most of their Smith grandparents very young, Uncle Monte and Aunt Jan filled that hole (and some special church couples). Randy's siblings all live far away. Time with them is treasured, and always fun. It seems too many of our gatherings happen because of a loss. 

When we have celebrations and sorrows, it is good to be with our brothers and sisters by birth, in love, in law and in Christ. This week, we will spend time remembering Lola's husband, Ken. We are grateful to be with family. Grief shared is divided sorrow. Shared joy is multiplied. Amazing how God made that work.

Today, I am grateful for siblings.

Brother in Love Ken

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 324: Today, I am grateful for Ken Toedebusch.  

My brother-in-love, Ken, left the earth a couple weeks ago. It was unexpected and a shock to us all. We will celebrate his life soon. The planet has lost one of the most gentle and patient men I’ve ever known. 

Ken was quiet in crowds, but in small groups one would discover he was a good conversationalist. He was smart, good with his hands and savvy on current events. 

Ken loved old cars. You have to respect a man who values things that have survived the tests of time. He didn’t discard things that were a little banged up or broken… he would try to fix them. I think Lola loved his desire to fix things… even if it meant the garage was rarely filled with the cars they were actually driving… and his projects were never finished fast. 

He loved Lola and their family. He found ways to connect with the grandchildren. He had the best smile when you were offered a glimpse of it under his nearly legendary mustache. 

Ken always welcomed us into his home and wanted to be sure we felt welcome. We, Smiths, often arrived in packs at times and the house gets noisy. When they chose a Florida home, it wasn’t one with a huge garage. He knew Lola would love the pool and lanai. 

The Love of my Life always spoken of Ken’s patience. (Lola Marie Toedebusch, I have no idea what he was trying to say 😉, but it always made me smile.) Randy would say, “Ken, is a very patient man.” Words spoken 100% in love for both Lola and Ken. 

Together, they found something special. It didn’t matter where they lived, as long as they were together… they were home. Some of my favorite memories happened at the kitchen table it sitting on the lanai. 

Love in youth is sweet. Love seasoned with years, trials and shared joys is even sweeter. To us, it feels like his time here was too short. I’m sad we didn’t have more shared meals and chats at dawn or dusk. 

I am so grateful for the family time we shared at Monte’s memorial last spring. We made a few new memories. 

“… it is good when brothers (and sisters) sit together in harmony. “

I know God’s timing is perfect… but we will miss him. We already do. 

Today, I am grateful for Ken Toedebusch.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Shared Grief


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 323: Today, I am grateful for those who live out Romans 12:15.

Our hearts are full and our heads want to remember the stories and the gift of shared grief. The outpouring of love, even during these crazy Covid times has warmed our hearts and eased our sorrow. A life well lived is something worth celebrating. 

No need to play a dirge. A joyful soul in a worn out, diseased body has been freed. Let the people rejoice! There is blessed assurance and amazing grace all over the place. We are not people without hope. We are chosen and loved. When the Heavenly Father calls us home, we are not late for dinner. 

Mama did have one tiny flaw. She was always late. Mama was late and April was later. Matt and I smiled knowing that although none of us knew the exact hour she would join Jesus... we knew that she would be exactly on time. 

We are grateful for the stories collected in grief that will be remembered with smiles and warmth. 

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.-Romans 12:15.

Yes, we weep, but only for a season. We rejoice in a soul set free. 

Today, I am grateful for those who live out Romans 12:15.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Polka

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 322: Today, I am grateful for the polka. 

Weird choice for today? Perhaps, but my friend Trisha offered up an image of Mama Ina Mae healed and whole... dancing in heaven. She loved to dance. 

When Chase and Emma were married, they made sure there was a polka. 

For those who have always wondered what convinced the Love Of My Life I was the right one for him, now I will tell you the truth. I was the first girl he dated who could dance the polka. It is tradition on both sides of our families. We both love the dance. It is high energy. It's fun. 

I learned the Polka from my Grandpa Bess. Aunt Kathy used to be his dance partner, but when she wasn't able to join the "3 J's" for Sunday afternoon nursing home shows, I stepped in as Grandpa's dance partner.  He was as light on his feet as Dick Van Dyke. I loved flying around the nursing home hall in his arms. All the while, Mama played her heart out on the accordion. Mama loved the dance, too. 

My Sister-In-Love, Lola, knew my Mama's health condition, but Mama wanted to dance the polka at Chase and Emma's wedding. Dear Lola stepped in and was Mama's dance partner. It was a very special moment in the celebration for me. Two people I loved, doing the dance that brought our families together. Mama felt so special because Lola took the time to overlook Mama's limitations and embrace her joy in joining the dance. 

One of the giggles we used to get from Mama was when I would kiss her goodbye and tell her "No dancing on the tables, and keep your shirt down." Sometimes, she wouldn't exactly agree to the deal. A girl has to leave her options open, right? 

Mama loved to dance, but I am confident it was never on tables and she was quite modest by nature. I know she is dancing in heaven. She is healed and whole. How can we not celebrate her deliverance from a sick and worn human form. 

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy," -Psalm 30:11

Today, I am grateful for the polka. 



His Love Endures Forever

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 321: Today, I am grateful  His love endures forever.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." Earworm is singing this praise song tonight. This scripture triggered the singing. 

If you are new to Daily Gratitude, Earworm is that little voice in your head that gets stuck on a song. My Earworm sings all the time. Sometimes, I think in lyrics. I truly value praise songs that reflect scripture with clarity and accuracy. 

Back in the late 80's, I discovered worship and praise music at Open Bible Center, in a humble little church in Bradley, IL. I grew up on hymns, loved Christian contemporary music and found a middle ground in praise and worship songs. Many were taken straight from the sculptures. Did you know that many of the Psalms we know, love and treasure were sung in Hebrew? Some of the Psalms have musicians notes. King David wrote a number of them.

This from Ezra passage creates an image in my head: 

"With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord“He is so good!     His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid." -Ezra 3:11

When things are going well, we need to remember to praise him. When things are falling apart, we need to praise him, too. God inhabits the praise of his people. He comes near to those who call out His name. He never abandons His children. 

On day of celebration and in times of trials, too... give thanks. 

Today, I am grateful  His love endures forever.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Life and Love of Mama Ina Mae

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 320: Today, I am grateful for the life and love of my Mama, Ina Mae. 

She was a one of a kind. Her testimony was not what she said, but how she lived. She encouraged others and always looked to "accentuate the positive" as the old song said. She was a humble servant to all, always content with what was left. She joyfully waited at the end of a line and made two or three friends along the way. She "washed the feet" of all who new her. She has seen the face of Jesus... for real. I can honestly say she was the best human I've ever known, and God let her be my mother. Feel free to share memories. 

I am grateful Huntingtons Disease never stole her joy, her peace or her sweetness. The earthly body failed, but her soul is safe. 

Today, I am grateful for the life and love of my Mama, Ina Mae.



Ina Mae (Bess) Lindgren,76, of rural Clifton,IL took her first breath of heaven on November 15, 2021 after a brief illness and long battle with Huntington’s Disease.

A devoted farm wife to the late Kenneth E Lindgren for nearly 50 years. Ken and daughter, April L. Lindgren, preceded her in death. Survived by Valerie(Randy) Smith of Morton, IL and Matthew(Jennifer) Lindgren of Clifton and her grandchildren, Chase(Emma) Smith of Morton, IL, Ciara(Cody Kinstner)Lindgren of Ashkum, IL, Walker(Abigail) Smith of Morton, IL and Kenzie Lindgren of Savoy, IL. Ina Mae relished being the oldest of ten siblings: Judy (Larry) Hanson, the late Leroy (Dee) Bess, the late Bonnie (Dick) McHugh, Helen Bess, Robert (Denise) Bess, Kathy Maisonneuve, Kathleen Lyons, Sissi Lehning and Chuck (Tara) Bess. After Jesus, family was her most precious treasure. Countless nieces and nephews filled her heart.

Born April 21,1945, Ina Mae, to Vernon and Opal Maxine (St. John) Bess in Kankakee, IL, the oldest of ten. Masterful on the accordion, she taught music at Veronda’s Music Studio and then on the farm. Piano, organ, accordion and guitar rang from her music room. She enjoyed teaching Sunday School, singing and playing the church organ. An excellent seamstress, she could make and alter bridal gowns and replaced many zippers. Her creative nature had her upcycling and recycling before it was trendy.

She married the love of her life, Ken Lindgren, on February 1, 1964, leaving the city for green acres of corn and beans. Neighbor and best friend, Marilyn Rosenboom for over 50 years taught her how to be a farm wife. Introducing a farm neighbor to her sister, Judy, meant another sister was moving to Clifton. Faith, farming, family, music, joy, positivity and love poured from her soul. A hugger like no other! Strangers who entered her home left as family. Her farm kitchen was her mission field. All were welcome at her table. Ina Mae exhaled “loving like Jesus”.

She served the church, the Clifton food bank and the Gideon’s Auxiliary. A founding member of the local Youth for Christ board, she embraced the mission. The Iroquois County 4-H Fair was her favorite week of the year, serving caramel apples, cotton candy and hugs. A humble servant to all, content with whatever God placed in her hands. Her heartbeat and testimony will echo into eternity.

Visitation Thursday, 11/18, at Knapp Funeral home in Clifton from 4-7pm. Life Celebration at Open Bible Center, 410 S Small Ave, Kankakee, IL on Friday, November 11/19 at 10am. Brief visitation at 9am. Burial immediately following in the Clifton Cemetery in Clifton. Memorials can be made to Illinois Chapter- HDSA (Huntington’s Disease Society of America), PO Box 1454, Lake Villa, IL 60046 or family choice.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Ina Mae Lindgren please visit our Sympathy Store.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Good Overpowers Evil

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 318: Today, I am grateful we can overpower evil with good. 

Most of us do not enjoy the feeling of being out of control. It is frightening. So many times I've heard people reject a life in Christ because they want to do things their own way. We reject the "You are not the boss of me!" mentality. We want to be the captains of our own ships. 

Truthfully, on our own, we get into trouble. We get arrogant and self absorbed. Jesus instructs us to look to him and live. If we look to ourselves. we will be disappointed, for sure. 

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. -Romans 12:21  

I am grateful for parents who taught us the way. No one is perfect, but Dad and Mama tried to look to His Word to find the way through difficult spots in life. They believed that in the end, God wins. I believe this, too. 

We must learn the value of self-control which works out better when we are Spirit controlled. Patience makes a difference. The strength to stand in the face of adversity says a great deal about the character of a man or woman. Don't let evil win. Do not feel defeated. 

Stand up. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Take the win. 

Today, I am grateful we can overpower evil with good. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Walker’s Day


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 318: Today, I am grateful for Walker. 

He is our youngest child. He has the most generous heart. He marks a quarter of a century on the planet today. We are beyond grateful God placed him in our arms. He was our missing piece. He made Chase a brother and us a family of four. We needed Walker.

I never cease to be amazed at how our babes became men in a blink. 

I am grateful for Walker’s wit, love of learning and his compassion. He is always thinking. He has empathy for all creatures great and small. We find him quite lovable, but we might be biased  

Birthday’s are commonly gift giving occasions. As kids become adults, the hunt for a perfect gift gets harder. It seems gift cards are always a hit  

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

This is my favorite picture of him with Mama Ina Mae.  It captures his heart and his compassion. 

Today, I am grateful for Walker  



Saturday, November 13, 2021

Her Wall of Fire

 

Gratitude Year 9 - Day 316: Today, I am grateful for the wall of fire.

With technology, we often hear the phrase "fire walls". They are associate with protection and safety. You know the phrase, "Fighting fire with fire."? There are times a fire wall is created to stop a fire. 

Zechariah is a tiny little book in the Old Testament. It is one of the "Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’” -Zechariah 2:5

We never know what the day may bring, but we continue to trust the one who brings the day.

Today, I am gray for the wall of fire.


Friday, November 12, 2021

Brie

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 316: Today, I am grateful for Brie. 

It is not something we grew up with on the farm. My first encounter with Brie was at a friend’s house. It was served warm, topped with brown sugar and pecans. Yummy. A mix of the earthy cheese combined with the sweet and nutty topping. It is a perfect fall and winter combination. 

When Jesse sent David to check in on his brother's serving in the army, he sent ten cuts of cheese to their captain. Was it bribery for the captain to recognize Jesse's sons and show them favor? At the least, it was a way to show hospitality to the men in service and their leaders. 

"And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.”-1 Samuel 17:18

Can't you almost see young David heading out with full arms and full of excitement. He was heading to where the troubles were happening and his big brothers were in the midst of it all. A boy's mind is full of big ideas and imagination. 

David, I am sure did not carry brie cheese, but whatever he took along was well received. There is nothing like food from home when you are away in military service.  Familiar recipes are like a  hug from home. I bet the cheese David carried in his pack was full of familiar flavors, as well as nourishment. 

I smile when I think of the Brie recipe my friend, Cindy, shared so many years ago. Food is a part of fellowship. It is more than nourishment. It isn't just how it tastes, but how it makes us feel. 

Today, I am grateful for Brie. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Soldiers

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 315: Today, I am grateful for our soldiers.

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force are the branches of service in the US Military. Each one has its specialty. 

"Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”   -Isaiah 6:8 

Freedom isn't free. Those who wear the boots and dog tags know the cost is great. Their time,  their health, their youth and sometimes, their life.

Today, I am grateful for our soldiers.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

God is Greater

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 314: Today, I am grateful He is greater than our imagination.

For many years, I avoided the book of Job. Then I did a Bible Study of the Old Testament with my two sisters in Christ who are kindred spirits. I've had some special friends join the journey, too. We have gone back and forth between the New and Old Testaments. The schedule is a short reading every day and then time to ponder and reflect. The group shares thoughts and inspirations from the text. 

His Word is worth repeating. It is alive and new each time through. How? Because He is greater than we can imagine and His book is full of wonder, love, truth, mercy, justice, hope and promise. He keeps His word. 

The voice of truth can be alarming at times, when we need to "recalculate"  in our journey. Life has plot twists we don't understand. Do we hear God's thundering voice and tremble with fear or awe? He is worthy of our praise and our respect. He can move a mountain with a breath and hold back the raging waters of the sea. He directs the snow and the rains. Nature is a window into His imagination.

"God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power. “He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down." -Job 37:5-6

Turning water into beautiful snowflakes is an art. Sending the rain to evoke glorious shades of green is evidence of His whimsy. Waving his hand to call forth the many shades of autumn in the leaves brings Him delight. The wonder of a newborn baby as they fill their lungs with  breath for the very first time is always a miracle and a point of hope. The possibilities of His imagination are endless. 

 "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11

The big picture is His alone. Our God is greater than anything we can imagine, and he has planted the longing for eternity in our hearts. 

 Today, I am grateful He is greater than our imagination. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Stain Removers

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 313: Today, I am grateful for things that get the spots out.

Spots on my clothing plague me almost daily. It is always an accident. Sometimes spots are from cooking, drinking and eating. Some seem to appear out of nowhere.

I am not alone in this dilemma. A couple of my boys (one by birth and one born in my heart) have the same trouble. Stain removers are a part of the laundry routine. I hesitate to dry things, knowing a hot dryer can really set stains.

Hobby Lobby carries "Grandma's Secret Spot Remover". It has become a favorite in our house. Stain sticks can work well, too. Carbona Stain Devils are another good option. Because Dawn dish soap is a little bit magical, it gets used at times to pretreat cooking stains. There is always a sense of victory when I manage to get the spot out.

Some spots seem impossible to remove. Some items cannot be saved, and they end up in the garbage or rag bag. It is always a little sad when favorite items from the closet cannot be saved.

One of my favorite images from the scriptures is this one:

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." -Isaiah 1:18

Our Lord chose to pay the price for our sins. His blood washed away our sins, leaving us "as white as snow". Such a beautiful image.

His mercies are new every morning.

Today, I am grateful for things that get the spots out.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Perfect Combinations

 Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 312: Today, I am grateful for perfect combinations.

"Autumn's sweet whisper requires a good book and warm drink."

There are, indeed, some perfect combinations. Whatever you favorite book genre and warm beverage combination are, they are worth celebrating.

For those who feel they do not enjoy reading, I believe they have not yet found the right book. A good book opens up adventures for those who cannot travel. It allows flight for those who have no wings. It creates excitement when the weather is cold and dull. A warm drink, a good book and a cozy chair are really the perfect answer to a rainy day or chilly evening.

What makes a book good? It must catch the interest, be well written and it must resonate with something inside of you. One person's favorite may bring another dread. I like a mystery, but I do not read horror. I prefer fiction over non-fiction, although historical fiction is definitely a genre I enjoy.

A book written so the story flows or the language is familiar adds to reading pleasure. I can enjoy Shakespeare, but it is not the easiest to read. You have to get in the groove and be willing to look things up for relevance. In the same way, the King James version of the Bible was written in the modern English language of the day it was written. Language has evolved. It is beautiful and poetic, but more modern versions are easier to read and understand.

When Jesus was crucified, their were three common languages that most recognized one or all of them, if they were literate. Training in communications tells us that the average human needs to hear something three times to truly grasp it. Thus, the sign identifying Jesus as "The King of the Jews" was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, so many could read it.

"The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it." -John 19:20

Some would have been able to read all three languages. For those who could not read, they would ask what the sign said. There was nothing cozy about that day when Jesus died for our sins, but it was a perfect combination of love, mercy, forgiveness, hope and justice.

On that day, love won.

Today, I am grateful for perfect combinations.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Mums

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 311: Today, I am grateful for Mums.

Mums are a popular fall flower here in the USA. (Claire, Gypsy and Patsy do you have mums in Australia and The Philippines?) They are bush-like and bloom in fall colors. I fail at them miserably.

Today, I noticed the many around me who seem to have success. On the drive home from visiting Mama(my Mum ), it seems many are able to keep gorgeous mums alive. They spruce up the downtown and the neighborhood.

Mum colors range from yellows and oranges to deep reds. There are some that are kind of a lilac pink. They compliment the changing leaves. They keep the landscape from looking too sad after summer blooms are finished.

For the brave souls who put out mums, they exhibit a certain courage and a lack of worry. They don't fret about the threat of frost or they would not buy them at all. Worry really is wasted. How many times do we not do something out of fear over what might happen, and we miss the beauty of the moment.

"Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear." -Cori Ten Boom

Cori Ten Boom survived the horrors of a concentration camp under Hitler's rule. Yet, every single time I see an old interview or read from her writings, there is a peace and a joy that radiates from her soul. She had survived the worst of man's inhumanity to man and she chose love over hate... forgiveness over bitterness.

Cori was like those who plant the mums in joy, without obsessing over the brevity of their season. The Bible guides us to take one day at a time, too. No need to lose the joy in this day because we fret over tomorrow.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? -Matthew 6:25-26

I needed this today, and the lesson from those who plant mums.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

An Extra Hour Back

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 310: Today, I am grateful for that extra hour back.

What to do with an extra hour? At this season of my life, sleep. An extra hour of rest seems to be what is needed most. Remember when we thought we were too old for naps? Now, I relish any opportunity to rest. 

I think my body would be happier if we skipped the spring forward. I don't really love the early nightfall that comes with ending the daylight savings time, but we can't have it both ways. Today, I will choose to celebrate getting an hour back. 

Time is a funny thing. Our parents and grandparents said the years would go by faster as we grew older.  They were right, again.

The hours keep ticking and the days pass swiftly by. The holidays are really upon us. Thanksgiving is a favorite of mine. A whole day dedicated to being thankful is always a good idea. It will be here soon enough. I don't want to forget the value of this one day. The one in front of me is 25 hours long. 

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. -Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

There is something extra special about a little extra time. 

Today, I am grateful for that extra hour back.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Cinnamon

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 309: Today, I am grateful for cinnamon.

It is one of the scents associated with fall. It can be found in some of our favorite foods from breakfast rolls to pumpkin pie. I have been craving wassail, and it is an important ingredient. 

The spice cabinet is something we take for granted. We forget that spices were traded like precious metals and gems. In fact, when the Queen of Sheba wanted to impress the legendary King Solomon, she brought him gold, precious jewels and spices. 

"Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon." -- 1 Kings 10:10

We can easily grab the most popular spices at Wal-Mart or any grocery story. Even the Dollar Tree has some spices, although the quality can vary. Cinnamon has long been treasured. It is found in the inner bark of several trees and comes from several parts of the world. 

Cinnamon has long been believed to have some value as a digestive aide. It is used in some traditional medicines. It is a rich source of calcium, iron and has some vitamin K, too. 

One of my favorite Indian spices, garam masala, typically contains a bit of cinnamon that adds a unique burst of flavor to the other more common Indian spices. 

Cinnamon was in the mix of spices the women brought to treat Jesus's body on Easter morning. Instead, they discovered the miracle of resurrection, with the scent of cinnamon surrounding them. Imagine the word association each time they scented cinnamon.

Today, I am grateful for cinnamon.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

A Voice without Words

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 308: Today, I am grateful the Spirit speaks without words.

When the Holy Spirit speaks, we need to listen. We feel the "urgings" when He speaks... and we know that feeling of discomfort He allows, it helps direct our paths. 

When we spend time in The Word, we increase our sensitivity to the Spirit. Spiritual sharpness comes from digging into His Word and learning it. Study it with others. Iron sharpens iron. 

"There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen." -Hebrews 5:11

Are there days I am too dull to listen? This passage in Hebrews continues to talk about believers who want to keep their faith easy, like milk in a baby's bottle. Do we learn to chew on His Word until we get it? Do we repeat verses over and over until they become a part of us. There is great value in memorizing scripture and it is good brain exercise. 

The Spirit speaks without words. When we are moving the the beat of His heart, we find peace and calm. Listen to the voice we cannot hear with our ears. Press on, brothers and sisters. 

Today, I am grateful the Spirit speaks without words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Soul, Wings, Flight & Life

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 307: Today, I am grateful for the power of music.

"Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - Plato

This quote is new to me. It is, obviously, not new. Plato is credited with the quote. He lived 80 years, from 428-348 B.C., 350 years before Jesus. His observations and influence are still felt today. He kept profound observations about the world around him. 

Music is soulful, isn't it? It makes you feel in a place that is deeper than your thoughts and feelings. Our response to music is a soul response. 

Music gives wings to the mind. I was fascinated by those like Beethoven who was able to compose some of his greatest compositions when almost completely deaf. He could hear the music in his imagination. When physical ailments should have crippled him as a composer,  music gave flight to his imagination. 

Music gives life to everything. It is true. When we sing hymns, praise and worship songs they give life to our faith walk. Music moves the soul, the mind and the imagination at the same time. Music brings our celebrations to life and helps us grieve when we hurt. I have a list of soul songs for when I need to be lifted out of the tough stuff of life. Music makes us laugh at the absurd and helps us pause to remember the "Glory of Love".

When we think we are at the end of our proverbial rope, "The right song at the right time." can be a lifesaver. Our local Christian radio station (91.5 FM), WCIC, has used that slogan.  Secular songs and commercial jingles are a part of my daily vocabulary (I might be a bit broken, but that is how my brain works.) 

Mama and I love to share concerts together. It is good for the soul. It tickles me to see her hands raised in praise or her joy when she gets all the words of simple songs from childhood. As an adult, I've come to better understand  some of the songs that were a part of the soundtrack of her life. 

The Bible speaks of the power of music. 

"Some of Saul’s servants said to him, “A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again.” -1 Samuel 16:15-16

Music can be a sacrifice of praise. It is a gift from our hearts to our Creator and Lord of the Universe. 

"Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."-Ephesians 5:18-20

Our songs reach God's ears and touch His heart. How profound, right? 

Today, I am grateful for the power of music. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Solitude and Silence

Daily Gratitude Year 9 - Day 306: Today, I am grateful for solitude and silence. 

In solitude and silence, we find a special connection to the Father. He told us to be still and he would meet us there. 

"There are times when solitude is better than society and silence is wiser than speech.  -Charles Spurgeon

Oh the times I speak when I should listen. It happens to most of us. 

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.” -Psalm 46:10

We can find great joy in solitude. We can find contentment in silence. When we seek, we find. In these simple reminders, there is wisdom. 

Today, I am grateful for solitude and silence.