Thursday, December 30, 2021

Old Friends Gather

 



Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 365: Today, I am grateful to gather with old friends. 

Longer post to follow… but I need to get this in before midnight. 

Happy New Year! Love your people.

Today, I am grateful to gather with old friends. 

Lessons Learned In Uncertainty

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 364: Today, I am grateful for lessons learned in uncertainty.

Morgan Nicole Harper writes some beautiful poetry. Check out her writings. I gave one of her books as a Christmas gift. It was well received. Morgan Harper writes with a youthful spirit, but her soul is wise.

"Gratitude: The quality of being thankful in mindful , intentional ways. Even when it seems that nothing has changed. It is the readiness to perceive how beautiful this life can be, even in uncertainty. " -MNH

Negativity and hopelessness is an evil stalking the earth. Finding gratitude in the ordinary moments comes from being ready to perceive the beauty in this life. We must continue to be mindful and intentional. 

I rarely repeat a verse two days in a row, but this scripture is perfect for today, too.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

Take heart. Have hope. Look up and think positive. We can be mindful in ordinary moments. Savor the scent of coffee, cacao or tea brewing. Be intentional in feeling a soft blanket or snuggling into a good pillow. Let chocolate melt in your mouth. Take in the scent of a freshly mopped floor. Savor the moments that matter on this day. 

When nothing seems to change... and perhaps things seem worse... often good change is just around the corner. Sometimes, things take a little longer. Sometimes, only God really sees the perfection of His ways. 

I am grateful; not because things are always perfect, but because His ways are perfect. Even when little makes sense. We can have peace in Him.

Today, I am grateful for lessons learned in uncertainty.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Overcomer

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 363: Today, I am grateful for the hope in the Overcomer.

We were told there would be trials, troubles and oppression. Yet, Jesus instructed us to look up and cheer up. He overcame the grave so we could have victory, too. Even in times of trouble, there is peace available. The world would have us stressed, anxious and hopeless. Jesus reminds us He is our hope and salvation.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

There is no reason to give up or give in. Peace comes from believing. In these crazy times, we've never needed this reminder more. 

Today, I am grateful for the hope in the Overcomer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Place Prepared

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 362: Today, I am grateful for a place prepared.

One of the the sweet delights of the holiday season is seeing all of the decorations in the homes of family and friends. When someone takes the time to make a space festive, those who enter feel the welcome. It doesn't have to be over the top or extravagant or expensive. The most humble d├ęcor can express a special kind of love when a space is welcoming and inviting. 

I think about the night Jesus was born. A stable does not seem a proper place for the birth of the King, but it was God's design. We don't know all the details, but I am sure if the innkeeper had a wife or mother in residence, she might have sent out some creature comforts for the expectant mother, even if it was only rags to clean and wrap the child. The scriptures do not say, but I cannot help but wonder. Women are nuts about babies. I know God prepared the space and the place, but not all the details. 

Jesus promised that He would prepare a place for us, too. 

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 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? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." -John 14:1-3

None of us knows when our place and space will be ready. Some will be called earlier than others. Some will see the day of His glorious appearing to take his people home. Until then, we can ponder the place prepared for us and wait expectantly. 

Today, I am grateful for a place prepared.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Gift of Rest

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 361: Today, I am grateful for the gift of rest.

Never underestimate the gift of rest. A chance to breathe, nap and seek restoration. Hopefully, many are taking advantage of a few extra days of rest in the midst of this very busy season. This scripture is perfect:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Give up the heavy burden. Surrender to the one who can carry it with ease. Oh, how our human nature fights this at times. When things are out of control, it seems as if we try even harder to be in control. He gently whispers... "Let me take it. You can rest. Trust in me." 

The gift of rest is bigger than a nap or a chance to sleep in. It is about truly choosing to pause. Pray and practice the pause. Good things come from this practice. He never fails. 

Be intentional. Savor the sweetness. 

Today, I am grateful for the gift of rest.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Simeon Saw The Light

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 360: Today, I am grateful Simeon saw the light.

Luke 2 tells us a little about the prophet Simeon. Simeon was righteous and devout. He was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. God had promised him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. 

It was Jesus's first time at the temple. Joseph and Mary were following the Jewish customs. There, they encountered Simeon who without being told makes a declaration about the baby.  It is a fascinating read.

"Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” -Luke 2:28-32

It is Simeon's story. "I have seen your salvation." It is Mary and Joseph's story, too. But most importantly, it is our story because of Jesus. "He is a light to reveal God to the nations..." He would, indeed, be the Light. 

As a child, I would sneak reading. I loved books and would stay up way too late under the covers with a flashlight. The trouble is, you get caught. Why? Because you can't hide the flashlight. The tiniest light breaks into the darkness. Darkness can't win against light. Isn't that a great truth? 

Simeon had seen dark times. The century of Jesus's birth was not an easy one. There were trials and tribulations for most. There were an elite few who used their power to their own desires with little care for the people they were supposed to serve. Not much different from today. 

Simeon saw "the light" in Jesus. Probably not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual. He was lifted up in hope because of the child. He knew God had kept his promise.  He saw that this child was not just for the Jews... but for all nations. Yes, the Gentiles, too. A shocking and bold declaration. 

As we live out these days, we can trust that light will still break through the darkness. Even the tiniest of flames wins over the deep, dark night. Evil may have its triumphs, but only for a minute. In the end... God wins. And when we choose Him, we win, too. 

Seek the light.

Today, I am grateful Simeon saw the light.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Nativity

 


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 359: Today, I am grateful for the humility at the nativity.

It took us years to agree on our nativity. We wanted something simple. When the Willow Tree Nativity was introduced, we knew it was what we both wanted. We added to the pieces each year and sister-in-love, Lola, gifted us with the creche. It is a treasure in our family. (Ours has a T-Rex, but that is another story for another day.)

They nativity was not fancy. It was humble servants who said "Yes" to the angels requests or instructions. My heart has a special place for Joseph. Joseph chose to love and raise a child who was not his by biology. He knew it. Mary knew it. God ordained it. It did not matter what the rest of Nazareth said at the well. They knew the truth. 

Had Joseph been a different man, Mary could have been stoned. Had Mary been a different girl... the Messiah would have had to wait for another who met all the requirements. These two were the first to welcome our Lord. 

Soon to join them were the farmers coming in from the fields. Farmers! I love it. 

"They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often." -Luke 2: 16-19 

How did their human hearts take it all in? It must have been overwhelming. The saw the miracle and were filled with wonder. Farmers talk. I'm sure the word spread in the fields, at the market and around the campfires. The were a great way to get the news out so the story of that special night would be shared for generations.

Seek and you will find. He is still waiting. 

Today, I am grateful for the humility at the nativity.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 358: Today, I am grateful for Christmas.

The gift of the Christ child, the best gift of all. He is the reason for the season. Heaven’s gift to a fallen, messy and broken world. 

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 

The child of a promise fulfilled in His time. We are so inclined to hurry through the days, the seasons and the years slip away. God's best gift took time. Prophecies were not swiftly fulfilled but each own unfolded in His perfect timing. 

This year, Christmas is different for us, as it is for many. There have been losses, sorrows and tears. Still, there is joy in knowing that because of His birth, life, death and resurrection... our stories do not end. We are souls in human bodies, but this land is not our home. 

Joseph took Mary in faith. Mary said "Let it be as you have said" to the angel. Her choice was made. Her decision meant nothing would be easy. The older we get, the more we start to understand that the things that are not easy can turn out to be the ones that help God shape us according to His plan. 

Let this day be one of celebration. Choose joy when you can. Cry a tear when you need the release of the sorrow. Look to the Savior who still waits for each of us to find our way to the manger. 

Never lose hope. In Him, we know love never dies or is replaced, it just lives in a different space, for those who believe. 

Merry Christmas.

Today, I am grateful for Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Scent of Pine

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 357: Today, I am grateful for the scent of pine.

Pine-Sol is a favorite household cleaner. I love the original pine scent. Walker was our child that always commented on "the smell of mopped" and seemed to appreciate coming home to a clean house. Honestly, dusting is not my favorite household chore, but I love a clean floor and enjoy mopping. 

The scent of pine is associated with Christmas and Christmas trees. I am, sadly, allergic. Randy's choice to marry me anyway was the first of many sacrifices he has made over the years in the name of love. The Love of my Life is a treasure. I try to add some pine scents into the household so he can smell the Christmas. 

Pine trees are green all year long. They are beautiful pops of color when the snows come. I love to see a pine tree in the wild frosted with snow. It is quite a sight to see. 

As the evergreen is always green and fresh, it is perfect to represent Christmas. We are so easily distracted by the gifts under the tree, we forget to celebrate the reason for the season. "God incarnate come" as the old hymn goes. His heart was to understand us by taking on our skin and walking with us. Our human minds wander and are easily distracted. The book of Hosea 14 has this passage:

“O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.”
Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.
But in those paths sinners stumble and fall." -Hosea 14:8-9

Idols are everywhere. Things we worship and adore, instead of setting our minds on Him. He is the true meaning of Christmas. Let us return to the manger and let the fresh scent of Christmas bring us joy once again. His love is always fresh and ever green. 

Breathe.

Today, I am grateful for the scent of pine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Days Getting Longer

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 356: Today, I am grateful the days are getting longer.

We made it! The shortest day of the year and the longest night is behind us. We can lift our eyes and look toward the summer solstice... it is only 6 months away. 

The nights are long right now. In the long nights, we have an opportunity to look for the stars. Some have even heard angels sing in the long winter nights:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. -Luke 2:8-11

That night must have slipped by in a blink, with so much to behold and take in. The wonder of it all, we can only imagine. 

When the night seems long, I am reminded to pause, listen and look for the unexpected wonders in the night. Still, I relish the move toward longer days.

Today, I am grateful the days are getting longer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Nearer

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 355: Today, I am grateful we can move nearer.

Our kids... Chase and Emma... just moved back to Morton. I can hardly believe we have our kids living close. It feels like such a gift. To have our kids living in the same town is rare this day in age. So, I will not take it for granted. 

Nearer is better than farther when you love someone. 

C.S. Lewis has a ridiculous command of the language and deep insights. You might say he was a reluctant convert to Christianity. He studied the scriptures looking intently for flaws and untruths. He found himself face to face with the Savior and a choice to make. Lewis chose to draw nearer to the heart of God and God revealed himself to C.S. Lewis in some very special ways. Lewis wrote them down. . 

Nearer

"If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them." -C.S. Lewis 

Read it again and let the words settle. In Him we find joy, power, peace and eternal life. This life is a series of limited breaths. We don't know the last day of our dash. God expects us to make the most of each day we are given. He wants us to draw near to his heart. 

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." -John 15:9

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." -James 4:8 

We are not to be double minded, but deeply focused on Him. 

I am easily distracted. I spend my days multitasking, but there are times I drop the ball... or perhaps I should say balls, as life can be like a juggling act with many balls spinning at once. When one ball gets dropped, it often feels like the others quickly follow. 

When life feels out of control, we are called to "Abide in my love." I once did a word study on abide. Imagine a tea bag steeping in hot water. When we steep ourselves in Him, we find peace and joy. The kind of contentment the world cannot steal. It comes from moving nearer to the heart of the Savior. 

Today, I am grateful we can move nearer.

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Leftovers

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 354: Today, I am grateful for leftovers.

Some people are opposed to eating leftovers. In our house, we are grateful for them. They can save time in food prep. They are, sometimes, even tastier the second day. Leftovers are a sign of abundance. 

Have you ever pondered why Jesus would insist on the disciples gathering leftovers? After all, he was a miracle worker. He fed the multitudes more than once.  This scripture gives clear direction and even a reason:

"After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” -John 6:12"

Many times Jesus gave odd directions with no explanation. In this instance, he did not withhold his thoughts. "Gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted." He would direct the disciples to travel light, but food was not something to be wasted. Bread, in particular. 

How often am I wasteful? Does it displease my Lord? Is gathering leftovers a celebration of abundance? Moses was instructed not to attempt to gather the daily manna (bread from heaven). I believe it was a matter of showing God they trusted him for their daily provision. 

Bethlehem means "house of bread" and from it, the "Bread of Life" was born. There is no coincidence. It is part of His plan. 

"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 

Many of the early disciples were part of society's leftovers. In Jesus, they found their purpose and meaning. Jesus looked with eyes of love on those so often ignored, ridiculed, neglected and left out. He embraced the leftovers.

Today, I am grateful for leftovers.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas Gatherings

 Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 353: Today, I am grateful for Christmas gatherings.

The weekend was packed full. A graduation and Christmas with the Lindgren clan. It was good to gather for happy reasons. It was a blessing to share good food and fellowship. Traditions and fun new things, too. 

We rarely get to just hang out. It is when new memories are made. I am grateful for every moment shared. It is good to hang out in harmony. 

Our table always overflows with abundance. Not just with food, but with stories and laughter. This year, we miss Mama especially. Some traditions pay tribute to the things we learned from her. 

Although we may see some things in short supply this year, it is nothing compared to the challenges faced by generations who came before us. Everything was harder 100 years ago. Honestly, I'm old enough to remember when there was very little radar to help with storm predictions. We were taken off guard at times, making Christmas travel difficult. 

This verse reminds me not to take any blessings for granted: 

"they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter." -Proverbs 6:8

To have plenty is a blessing. To have some to share is pure joy. To share it with loved ones is, in itself, a gift. 

Today, I am grateful for Christmas gatherings.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Celebrations

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 352: Today, I am grateful for celebrations.

This day has been full and sweet. It was a day of celebration.

Our niece, Kenzie, brought her Bradley roommate home with her. We adopted her right into our family and hearts. We've shared Covid lockdowns, canceled flights, cooking adventures, fun games and some Hungarian foods we had not tried.. 

Kinga was with us for the big Bess Family Thanksgivings in previous years. She enjoyed them as much as we did. We keep telling her that graduation doesn't mean she can't come back for Thanksgiving.  

Today, we watched Kinga graduate. It was a special day. She will leave with Matt and Jennifer at the end of our weekend and they will take her to O'Hare for her flight home. This time, it is one way. No return flight is scheduled. I am so happy for her parents and family. I know they must miss her fiercely. We will miss her, too. 

We must remember to grab life's sweet moments with both hands. Every day is a gift. Unwrap each one with care. Today, there was celebration in the air. 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice." -Romans 12:15

Today, I am grateful for celebrations.

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Unexpected

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 351: Today, I am grateful for the unexpected.

Tradition. My sisters of the heart, Jennifer and Jill used to have a little thing we said. If we do it more than once and the kids like it... it is a tradition. I still smile when I hear our now adult children refer to traditions of their youth. Traditions keep us woven tightly together. Traditions deepen our roots and strengthen our family ties.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: 

"All that is gold does not glitter. Not all who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither. Deep roots are not reached by the frost." -J.R.R. Tolkien

Some things still surprise us. Hidden treasure... the joy in wandering... the strength of our elders... and the resilience of the human spirit. When tragedy strikes, our true character shows. The source of our strength is revealed. Expect the unexpected. 

When Jesus arrived, so many missed him. Scholars disagree on the exact number of prophecies Jesus fulfilled, but it is at least 200. That one man could fulfill so many is statistically impossible, but with God all things are possible.   

"Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” -Matthew 15:26

"For the word of God will never fail." -Luke 1:37

The Messiah's coming had been promised. Time passed. Time and earthly distractions meant many did not see the forest through the trees. Jesus fulfilled what the prophets had spoken time and time again. They forgot to make room in their hearts for the unexpected. 

Today, I am grateful for the unexpected.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Everything You Were Looking For

 


Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 350: Today, I am grateful in Him we find everything else. 

C.S. Lewis always makes me think. He has a way of lassoing deep theological thoughts and making them easier to grasp. At the very least, he makes me ponder old scriptures with new eyes. 

This quote is great. It addresses the great pursuit of "finding oneself", a message the world pushes over and over again. But self love is not fulfilling. It is a cup that never gets full. 

 “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

In ourselves, we cannot find satisfaction. Our souls were designed with a God shaped puzzle piece. Only He can fill that hole. He is our missing piece. He is our missing peace.

On the farm, are years with bumper crops. There are seasons of floods and drought, too. Faith does not exempt us from this life's troubles. Knowledge... not of who I am, but who I am in Christ.. is where we find our cups overflowing... even when the path is hard. 

"You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." -Psalm 65:11

Isn't that a great passage? It has one of my beloved semicolons to remind us to pause and ponder "even the hard pathways overflow with abundance". 

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."  -Romans 15:13

Everything we are looking for is found in Him. 

Today, I am grateful in Him we find everything else. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Light Pours Out

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 349: Today, I am grateful for the light that pours out of the darkness. 

Something deep within us often fears the darkness. Children cry out into the night and loving parents go to the bedside to calm the fear. Darkness and terror seem to be frequent companions. 

This quote, unsourced, was lovely:

"Out of the silence, MUSIC... out of the darkness, LIGHT... out of uncertainty, PROMISE... HOPE was born that night." -source unknown

Such rich wording to go with deep truths. Can you hear the heavens echo with the music of the stars? Can you hear the angels sing? The "Gloria in excelsis Deo's" are glorious. 

The time between the Old and New Testaments it appeared God was silent. For four centuries they continued watching and waiting for the promised Messiah. At times, they felt hopeless and helpless. God keeps his promises in His way and in His timing. Because humans are so easily distracted, many missed Him. 

They say it is always darkest before the dawn. We are swiftly approaching the shortest day of the year. I can't wait until the days grow longer again. I need the light. Perhaps, winter is His way of reminding us every year of how desperately we need the light... His light. 

"For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and  you will fill me with the joy of your presence."- Acts 2:27-28 

He was born in the night, this child with Holy Light.                                                                          He came to fix what was broken. 
He came to make us right. 
We were destined for the grave... 
But His Light came to save.
We need not fear the night.
Our battles He will fight. 
Step out of the grave,
And into His Light. 
- 12/15/2021

Today, I am grateful for the light that pours out of the darkness. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Grief Shared & Grief Spared

 

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 348: Today, I am grateful for shared grief and spared grief. 

I grew up rural. Not remote, just rural. Our classmate friendships go back to Kindergarten and Jr. High days. One of the reasons I have not left Facebook is because I love feeling more connected with friends, family and loved ones back home. The past week has brought shared grief and spared grief, too. 

A close friend lost her Mom and celebrated her life last Friday and Saturday. Friends and family gathered to remember a life well lived and to share in the grief. It was good to gather together and remember.

Another dear friend's Dad and Step-Mom were spared in the tornadoes in Kentucky. They were a little worse for the wear, but they were spared. (Thank you, Jesus, for that mercy.)

Yesterday, a childhood friend and classmate lost his wife to cancer. We all grew up together. She was a sweetheart. I know his heart breaks along with their sons. We pray for their comfort and peace as they walk through these first days of mourning. Grief is exhausting.

I remember the poem by Henry Van Dyke:

Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not.

Time doesn't run out on love. Love lives on. We keep the memories protected deep inside our hearts. 

Again... Romans 12:15 is perfect:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

The moments between life and death... we are standing on holy ground. Pause and ponder. Some griefs we are spared and others we share. Both help shape us. 

Today, I am grateful for shared grief and spared grief


Monday, December 13, 2021

Clean Spaces

 Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 347: Today, I am grateful for clean spaces. (This picture is not our home.)

One of the things I've discovered working full time is that keeping a clean house is hard. It is amazing what one day a week did for my soul around the area of organizing my life and my home. I stuff things in places I hope to remember when I go looking for them later. I forget gifts I've purchased ahead of birthdays or Christmas. In my effort to keep things tidy, I lose the clean empty spaces. Eventually, they have to be managed. 

The holidays create mass amounts of stuff. I love the Christmas decorations. They add cheer to the season. But, there are tubs and tubs of stuff! Some stuff is sentimental and kept, even if it isn't on the tree or mantle. The wrapping papers and other supplies can become a part of the mess, too. I am grateful the Love of my Life does most of the wrapping. He is good at it and enjoys it. Somehow, wrapped gifts create a sense of clean and contained clutter... and they look festive under the trees. 

When spaces flow from one into the other, it is easy to gather. We have spent many Thanksgivings at my brother, Matthew's, and my Sister-in-Love, Jennifer's, home. Adding more tables and chairs requires  moving some items to create clean open spaces for large groups of relatives. It is a ton of work before the holiday ever happens. We always try to help and so do a couple of cousins. Somehow, it always works, but I wonder how many items are misplaced in the process never to be found again. 

I've been on a mission of moving and repurposing some spaces and items. We have plenty of home for the two of us. Randy is generous with my need for creative spaces. I have a space for writing, photography and Bible Journaling and another space for paper arts. I do not purge easily. When I am in the mood, he is quick to help. His goal is clean, empty spaces. My goal is organizing. We try to come together in the middle.

Prepping for family gatherings is a happy reason to attack neglected spaces. We want our home to feel cozy, warm and welcoming. A house full of people you love is always a good time. For those who have stayed with us over the years, you know our tagline is "...if you are ever near Morton, there is always room in the inn." We still enjoy visitors. 

I've been thinking about the night Jesus was born. A stable seems too humble for the newborn King. I imagine they cleaned an area of the stable before Mary delivered the baby. She needed a clean open space for the birth and a place to lay the child when He wasn't being held. 

"And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them." -Luke 2:6-7

That night, the new mother and new earthly father must have had their hearts and hands full. New babies are kind of overwhelming. And then, the visitors started to arrive, filling the shelter with voices and wonder. Oh, what a night! 

This Christmas season, are we remembering to keep a clean open space for Jesus in our hearts? Honestly, the dirt and dust in the nooks and crannies are already known to Him. He finds no surprises and loves us anyway. He longs to help us reclaim hope. He longs for us to find new life in Him with the freedom that comes with letting go of the guilt and shame and allowing His Light and His Love to spread into our hearts. 

Today, I am grateful for clean spaces.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Trading places

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 346: Today, I am grateful for the King who became a baby.

"A thousand times in history, a baby has become a king but only once in history did a King become a baby." -Anonymous

I have no idea who spoke this quote, but it hits the nail on the head! Only once did a King become a child. Imagine the humility and discomfort of taking on human skin and qualities. Scriptures tell us he was full human and fully God. 

"But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law." -Galatians 4:4

Most of us don't  enjoy "the wait", but timing matters. "When the time was right" is very significant. So many words of the prophets needed to be fulfilled. The scriptures of the Old Testament proved true.  The mathematical probability of all the prophecies coming true by accident are mind-blowing. Only God could bring everything together. In His time is the best time.   

Make the most of this day.

Today, I am grateful for the King who became a baby.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Unexpected

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 345: Today, I am grateful for the unexpected. 

There is something extra special about unexpected goodness. My friend, Traci, left some unexpected goodness at my door this week. She calls it "spreading sunshine".

Even in the sad and hard moments of life... there are sweet and unexpected gifts in the gatherings. It helps us carry the sorrow. 

I can't help but think of the poor pregnant girl, Mary, and her new husband, Joseph, as they traveled the many miles required to pay their taxes. She was so close to delivery, but the government had decreed how it would be and they went. So much surrounding their circumstances seemed difficult, but they did what they had to do. 

How did they prepare? We don't really know. They stepped out in faith. They had to be exhausted. He provided her with any small comfort he could. Still, it must have been difficult. Were they ready for the labor pains? Were they ready for the son? Were they ready for the Savior? 

The following passage refers to preparing for the second coming, not the first. I can't help but state the obvious. We must be ready, but we do not know the time. The unexpected can be expected. 

"You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” -Luke 12:40

The watching and the waiting are part of the mystery. We are to learn to trust on the pages in between. 

Today, I am grateful for the unexpected.

Friday, December 10, 2021

No Coat Needed

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 344: Today, I am grateful for no coat needed.

I am grateful for a coat when it is bitter cold, but it is even better when there is no coat needed. 

The temperatures are unseasonably warm. In the 60's in December is not the norm in the Midwest. I love the mellow feel in the air. It seems winter is suppressed into silence. 

The Christmas lights still sparkle and glow, and barely a jacket is needed. For those who run warm, no coat is required. 

Savor the season... maybe even a little more because of the sweet delight of unseasonably warm days. 

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

Enjoy the season... and the reason for the season most of all. 

Today, I am grateful for no coat needed.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Close To His Heart

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 343: Today, I am grateful to be carried close to His heart.

This scripture feels like a hug from heaven:

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." -Isaiah 40:11(NIV)

He carries them close to his heart! What a perfect place to be. When we get weary physically or emotionally, we can trust the one who tends to our souls. He will not abandon us or leave us lonely. 

Most of us spend our days tending to others at work, in the community and at home. Taking care of others is a big part of being human. Some days, it is easier than others. To be cared for is refreshing. In Him, there is restoration. 

To be carried close to his heart means we are sheltered and protected. The Good Shepherd does not fail us. He doesn't push or pull. He gently leads us. 

Today, I am grateful to be carried close to His heart.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Security

  

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 342: Today, I am grateful for security.

The unrest in this world is at the highest level I've ever recalled in my adult life, and I was born in the Vietnam War era. There have been wars and rumors of wars. The unrest today is happening on so many levels. 

I saw this Elisabeth quote and it hit home:

"Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your savior, your guide? If He is, you don't need to search for any further security." - Elisabeth Elliot

She nails it with her question. She was so articulate. If He is all of those things, you need look no further for your security. 

I've read several times recently that Charles Schultz was intentional when he crafted "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with Linus dropping his blanket as he spouted off the real meaning of Christmas. In that moment, the timid little guy is full of confidence and courage as he boldly states what so many miss in the hustle and bustle of the season.  Whether the story is fact or fiction, it is a detail I notice each time I watch the Christmas classic animated feature. 

https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/klivhc/linus_christmas_speech/

"but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" -Luke 2:10-11

We do not need to be afraid. We can lean on Him and into Him. We can talk to Him and seek guidance. Our redeemer, savior and friend. We do not need to look any further. He is our security. 

Today, I am grateful for security.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A Wood Fire

 Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 341: Today, I am grateful for a wood fire.

It is 23 degrees outside. (Claire, Gypsy and Kinga... that is -5 degrees Celsius.)It's cold.  Not frigid but cold enough to make me wear a coat. It is December, so the temperatures are expected to be around the freezing mark here in the Midwest plains.

I came home to a fire started in the fireplace. I love my fireman. Our fireplace burns wood. The smell and the radiant heat make the colder months more bearable. 

Generations of humans have sat by a wood fire to warm themselves. There was a time, it was for survival. For us, it is more for pleasure, although it does warm us to the bone. 

I know the scent of the wood fire reminds me of  so many evenings when the boys were small and the Love of My Life would build a fire. We would all lay with our feet on the hearth until it was too hot to bear. Morning fires are special. Mostly on Christmas and a few blizzardy days. A fire makes any day or night a little more special. 

I can't help but imagine the night the shepherds were out watching their sheep. I imagine they had a fire. I am not sure what wood they would have burned, but we know they had different kinds of woods available. Can you imagine the snap, crackle and pop as the flames danced? It is always mesmerizing. The stars illuminated the sky and suddenly an angel appeared in their midst. What a night! 

"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,  " -Luke 2:8-9

I imagine the scent of a fire and a star filled night would forever remind them of that special night and their chance to welcome the Christ child. 

Today, I am grateful for a wood fire.

 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Fuzzy Socks

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 340: Today, I am grateful for fuzzy socks.

Let me start with a confession of sorts. My feet are almost never cold. It is the naked truth. I guess it is a blessing. I typically have to spend hours in miserable temperatures before my feet feel truly chilled.(I love sandals and tend to wear them until it is real boot weather.) But on the rare occasion my feet are cold, I love fuzzy socks. 

Fuzzy socks are soft to the touch and some feel quite breathable. They do require some extra room in your shoes to accommodate the thickness. On the really cold days or days spent outdoors, fuzzy socks bring comfort and increased joy. For most people, cold feet and hands increase overall discomfort.  

I have heard from different sources that socks are always in high demand at homeless shelters and on the streets. They can be doubled for extra warmth and serve as mittens if you have no gloves. 

Fuzzy socks can be colorful, l, silly or even black or neutral for those who want to fly under the radar. Yesterday's gratitude spoke of the manger. What if sweet Mary had owned or been given a pair of warm and fuzzy socks. How would she have used them to warm the child? 

"She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them." -Luke 2:7

Socks appear ordinary and humble by nature. But when you need them, they are a game changer. A little like our Jesus. He arrived looking quite humble and ordinary, but He changed everything. 

I hope your Christmas season is full of Jesus and fuzzy socks. 

Today, I am grateful for fuzzy socks.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Manger

 

Daily Gratitude Year 9- Day 339: Today, I am grateful for the manger.

Daisy Mae is our fur-baby. She thinks she weighs five pounds, but she is closer to 70 pound. She loves to share a couch, a bed or a chair. She doesn't love sharing her food and water bowls, but she can when she needs to share. We have worked with her to keep her from being food aggressive. She does really well, but her bowl is still one of her favorite possessions. She can share, but she would rather not. 

Have you ever paused to consider that the newborn Jesus was placed in a place where animals feed? Odd right? Yet, He was born in Bethlehem which means "house of bread" and He was born to be the Bread of Life. 

Where the Christ child was laying was part of how the shepherds would identify him when they found Him. What the shepherds were told proved true on that special night. The manger was key.

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:12

Nothing was accidental that night. God waited a long time to unfold His plan. Everything had to be perfect. The inn was full, but there was room in a stable. The child was born and placed in a manger. He was the bread of life, but that night, he was Mary's sweet miracle child. She gave him the best she could. Swaddling clothes and a manger for a bed. 

Odd, yet perfect.

Today, I am grateful for the manger and the miracle.