Gratitude Day 102 – Psalm 23 

Psalm-23-the-contented-life

Fri., Aug. 17, 2018

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Here is a version of the 23rd Psalm from Japan:

The Lord is my pace setter … I shall not rush

He makes me stop for quiet intervals

He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity

He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here

His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility

My cup of joyous energy overflows

Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house forever.

These words are hard for me right now. They feel more like a “someday” desire than today.

But for now, I want these words to inspire me. May they encourage us all in our journey with God.

For words of scripture in a little different way: I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for another way to pray biblical words that are so familiar to us. May they inspire us in our journey with you.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 101 – Timing

Ecc 3

Tues., Aug. 13, 2018

Ecclesiastes 2:11 – Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work, and it was simply chasing the wind. Nothing on earth is worth the trouble.

Sometimes, the right words just seem to show up.

I began reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes recently. The most well-known chapter of this book? Chapter 3 – the “there is a time for everything” chapter. I’ve used this scripture at weddings, funerals and everything in-between. The words are popular Pinterest projects as well as on the front of worship folder covers.

Before chapter 3, however, comes chapter 2. I know that I have read this chapter before. In fact, in the copy of the Bible that I read from most often, (the one that is literally falling apart), several verses are underlined.

Only two verses in chapter 3 are marked up. Hmmm. What does this say to me?

As I read chapter 2 again, I realized why. One time when I read chapter 2, I wrote this in the margin by verse 11, “how I feel right now.”

To help understand verse 11, we need to know what comes before. The author writes of being busy, accomplishing lots of things and using wisdom in making choices.

Now, with this context, please re-read verse 11 once again.

Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work, and it was simply chasing the wind. Nothing on earth is worth the trouble.

Does anyone else struggle with chasing the wrong things? Maybe it’s just me?

The author continues with a discussion about foolish versus wise people. He thought wise was better … until he realized wise people die also!

Where is the comfort in this?

There is more discussion … more contemplation … more confusion.

And then, comes chapter 3. Here are verses 1-11:

Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.
There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping,
for killing and healing, destroying and building,
for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing,
for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting.
There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving,
for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking.
There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.

What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future.

Sometimes, as much as I struggle to, I must defer my timing to God’s timing. As much as I want to align things for my comfort, desires and anticipated outcomes, God really has a more correct timeframe then I ever will.

We can read these verses and declare, “Well, then. I have no say in what happens to me!” Actually, I do not subscribe to this thought process. I believe we engage with God, look for guidance and acknowledge our AND God’s role. In the end, our views of our past and the future will never quite be the same as God’s view.

Think of it this way. The sun never really disappears. It only disappears from our sight. Someone else is viewing the sun when it is not visible to us.

God never really disappears. Sometimes, we may feel God has disappeared from our sight. Maybe, we just aren’t looking in the right spot. Or the timing hasn’t aligned appropriately. God will appear again soon. Maybe it will be a little cloudy when God does. Or a shower will prevent us from fully grasping God’s presence. But God is there. Sometimes, our timing is just a little off.

For God’s timing which is so much better than my timing, I am grateful.

Almighty God – As easy as it is for us to blame You for “leaving” us or thinking we’re all alone, I pray we can be wise enough to remember You never leave us. Thank goodness Your timing is far superior to our timing. Just grant us patience in the meantime! Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 100 – Resurrection

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Sun., Aug. 12, 2018

1 Corinthians 15:13 – For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ must still be dead.

In the early dawn of morning, I stood at the kitchen window, filling the coffee pot with water. Light was dawning on this cloudy morning. Hues of blue and grey hung in the still partially dark landscape. It was just bright enough that I saw them.

The resurrection lilies.

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Some people call them surprise lilies. Or magic lilies. I prefer resurrection lilies.

They are one of the first green plants of the spring. Thick, wide leaves that seemingly sprout up overnight and grow like a bush. They last for a couple of weeks. And then they die. As quickly as they arrived, they disappear just as hastily.

Until now. For Wisconsin, it’s early-to-mid-August when once again, almost overnight, beautiful pink flowers grace our presence. No greenery. Just flowers on long stems.

My, how beautiful you are.

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When we bought our first house in 2005, I discovered resurrection lilies. The greens had sprouted in the spring. Unfamiliar with them, I asked some ladies at church about them. I was told to wait until later in the summer. Then, I would see the precious flowers.

They were spot on. And I was not disappointed.

I was pleasantly surprised when we purchased our current house and discovered the same thick, wide greens early in spring. Hubby Rick asked what these leaves were. I knew immediately that come August, we would have resurrection lilies.

Just as predicted, they arrived.

I love calling them “resurrection” lilies. Why? They remind me of how disappointed the followers of Jesus were when he died and was stuffed into a cave. Their grief had to be overwhelming. Stifling. Impossible to understand how their fearless leader went from healing people to death in such a short period of time.

He died on a Friday. Because of the Jewish Sabbath, the women did not have time to properly prepare the body for burial. They wait until Sunday morning when they could now go to the tomb and perform the appropriate Jewish rituals.

 

The surprise and confusion when they arrived at the tomb is impossible for us to fully grasp. Who stole the body? Where did the put it? Why?

And then, the surprise of discovering that Jesus wasn’t dead. He really was alive.

What a surprise. What a resurrection.

Just like these gorgeous lilies.

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For resurrection lilies and the reminder of the story of Jesus’ resurrection, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for reminders in our daily, ordinary lives of the live, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as the resurrection lilies must “die” before their sweet, sweet flowers arrive, so did our sweet Jesus die to share the gift of eternal life with humanity. Thank you for his gift to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 99 –Blessing of Prayer

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Sat., Aug. 11, 2018

1 Peter 1:21 – Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone.

This week has been one of those especially full weeks. A week when there do not see to be enough hours in the day. When I just try to figure out what really is the most important thing to do in each moment.

When I feel like there is a lot going on, I also desire for moment of escape. Diversion. Not having to think. A few moments when I can put my life on hold. The problem is this: when I want those moments of escape, I don’t always make the best choices. I choose the something that will not really restore my soul. I choose something that lets me escape reality for just a few minutes.

As I was driving home tonight, the radio was on in the car. I turned it off. This is not uncommon for me. Sometimes, I just want the quiet of nothing but my own thought running through my head. And so, I just drive.

We all have seasons that are more demanding than others. Whether they last for a day or two, a week or two or for a couple of months, it helps me when I know this is not forever. Sometimes I know the timeframe. Other times, I don’t. What I do know is that I can trust God to be with me. I’m not alone. I can journey through whatever lies in my day because my faith and hope can rest in Christ alone.

For this, I am grateful.

Dear God – thanks for being with me whether I am fully aware of the need for you or not. When we feel overwhelmed, I pray your presence will increase and encourage us to simply look to you.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 98 – Blessing of Prayer

ben-white-692414-prayer

Fri., Aug. 10, 2018

1 Kings 8:54-55 – Solomon had been kneeling with his hands outstretched toward heaven. As he finished this prayer, he rose from before the altar of Jehovah and cried out a blessing upon all the people of Israel.

Prayer is a blessing. I consider the following prayer, written by a Benedictine nun from North Dakota named Sister Ruth Fox, a true blessing.

May God bless you with discomfort at each answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your had to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough follishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

May we all be blessed by Sister Ruth Fox’s prayer.

For prayer, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 96 – Letters

letter from Linda

Tues., Aug. 7, 2018

Romans 1:1 – Dear friends in Rome: This letter is from Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave, chosen to be a missionary, and sent out to preach God’s Good News.

This envelope arrived in our mailbox a couple days ago. It was in a plastic bag with a card, envelope and a little note inside. Here is what the note said:

July 31, 2018

Dear Postal Customer,

The enclosed piece of mail had been held by the United States Postal Inspection Service for an investigation into mail theft in Milwaukee, WI. That investigation has now concluded, and the mail has been released for deliver to you.

We regret the inconvenience this may have caused to you, and appreciate your assistance.

When Hubby Rick initially opened the plastic bag, he noticed the card was from his sister and sent on Jan. 18, 2018. This was just a few days after my Mom passed away. It is a sympathy card.

A mere 6+ months later, the card arrived.

Rick and I were not aware this piece of mail was being held for potential mail theft. We did not know we were missing the card until after it arrived. How often are other letters or cards sent and never received? It’s hard to know.

The New Testament is compilation of 21 epistles. Epistle means “letter” or “message.” They were the primary form of written communication in the ancient world. These 21 epistles were written to individuals by individuals or sent to churches. They would have been written on a scroll. The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Revelation were also written as letters; just not epistles.

How were these epistles were transported to their intended audience? Probably by foot or a person riding an animal. Where letters ever stolen enroute? It seems there would be the possibility. Did the stolen letters ever make it to their intended recipient? Hopefully.

The yearn of running to the mailbox has weaned the last few years. The actual number of pieces of “real” mail in our mailboxes has declined tremendously. There is a whole generation of kids who may not have received an actual letter. Letters have been replaced by text messages, e-mail and social media. Why take time to write a note, put it in an envelope, and get it to the mailbox when most elementary students can send a text message quicker than we can find the stamp?

The last several months, I have been going through boxes of things that were my Mom’s. I’ve found lots of interesting things, including letters written decades ago. It’s fascinating to read the letters and observe the fancy penmenship. These letters may not be “lost;” just hidden for a few decades.

When the epistles in the New Testament were penned nearly 2,000 years ago, did the writers intend for their letters to be read and re-read thousands of years later? Probably not. Did they expect their words to be used in such a way that people would reference them in how Christians should live today? Hardly.

I appreciate that the letters were kept, read and reread. There was a process in how the letters included in the New Testament were included. Did one or more of these letters surface just in time to be considered and included in the New Testament? I don’t know but certainly a possibility.

I pray we do not loose the art of sending cards, writing letters and putting words down on paper. It is different from reading a text message or an e-mail. When a card or letter arrives in our mailbox, I guarantee you it is the first piece of mail opened; even if it has been lost.

For returned lost cards, I am grateful.

Thank you for those things that we don’t even know we are missing. Thank you for the holy words that make up the epistles found in our Bible. Thank you for making these words available to us today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

P.S. – Thanks for the card, Linda. It finally arrived!

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Gratitude Day 96 – Making God Enough

God enough

Mon., Aug. 6, 2018

2 Corinthians 9:8 – God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs, but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.

Most days, I think of someway in which I do not feel “enough.”

Not healthy enough.

Not eating right.

Not exercising enough.

Not organized enough

Not completing enough.

Not crossing enough off my to-do list.

Not investing into relationships enough.

Not appreciating Hubby Rick enough.

Not following up with people who I know are struggling.

Not working enough.

Not writing enough.

Not getting household things taken care of.

Not confident in what I do.

Not committed to my faith.

Why does it seem there is always “more” that I yearn for rather than being content with who I am and where I am at this place in my life?

Maybe it is because I’m getting just a little older.

Possibly because I am realizing my time is not infinite.

I want to make the most of today, my time and my activities.

But I realize that quite often, I’m looking for things in all the wrong places.

Rather than trying to stuff my life with more “things,” or squeeze another volunteer activity onto my calendar, I just need to see that I have all I need in God.

All the security I need.

All the peace.

All the grace.

All the contentment.

All I need, I can find in God.

Not in another scoop of ice cream.

Not in a full calendar.

Not with another appointment.

Not with another affirmation from someone else. (OK – but don’t we like these?)

Not in a larger bank account.

Not in a new pair of jeans that fits me fantastically.

All I need, I can find in God.

God is enough.

I just need to discover God’s enough-ness in me.

I can search for “something” in so many places:

Work, relationships, possessions, financial security, or people who respond to a social media post.

That “something” is always there. It’s always God.

Thank you, God, for being enough for me. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

For God’s “enoughness,” I am grateful.

Lord God – forgive me when I look for something to make me feel enough in all the wrong places. I pray that I can feel completely fulfilled in you today. May you be my enough.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 95 – Phone

cell phone

Sun., Aug. 5, 2018

Proverbs 24:12 – For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and he knows you knew! And he will reward everyone according to his deeds.

Saturday turned out completely different from what I expected.

I didn’t wake up thinking, “Today, I’m going to get a new cell phone.”

But this is what happened.

Hubby Rick and I were taking in a water ski show in a nearby community. We arrived in the park and planted out lawn chairs just as the show began. Part way through the hour-long show, I checked my cell phone. It seemed to be on, but the screen remained black. Not a thing showing.

I checked later. Same thing.

And again later. No change.

My phone was not new. I’ve had it several years. A couple years ago, I accidently dropped it. While the backside cracked, I put it into a wallet phone case and no one ever knew the difference. Business as usual!

Until now.

After the show, Rick called my phone. It rang, and I could see something on the screen, but it flashed in and out. It was different colors. It didn’t last long. There was a serious problem with my phone.

Afraid of losing all the information stored on my phone, later, we headed to the cell phone company. A nice man told me said something was wrong with the screen. The cell phone company could not fix it. I could take it 30 minutes away and try to get it fixed. Or, he could see what might be available at the store.

About 90 minutes later, I walked out with basically a new phone. Someone purchased this phone and returned it within the 15-day grace period. Because of this, it was marked down and is now my “new” phone.

Relatively new technology allows for transfer of date from one phone to another phone to be super easy … if both phones work. For a few minutes, my old phone behaved, and the new phone was able to get a remarkable amount of information from my old phone. All my contacts, photos, text messages (yes, all 10,000+ of them!). This information transferred relatively quickly to the new phone. The nice man said it was a good idea we got to the store so quickly. This allowed for so much information to be transferred.

It was daunting to realize how much information was on this 3” x 6” piece of equipment. Basically, it contains more information about me than any other source.

The one exception? God. God knows more about us than we know about ourselves. Amazingly, God doesn’t forget the three different passwords for the three different e-mail accounts we have messed up. God distinguishes us from others who might look somewhat like us. No scrolling is necessary for God to determine if everything is there or something is missing.

The good news? Before the information was transferred, the nice man asked if there were any apps or programs that I didn’t want transferred to the new phone. I could not have them transferred. I chose a few, including the scrabble app I sometimes play.

In the grand scheme of things, getting a different phone was relatively easy. Is this what I had planned? No. But this is what happens in every day life. We choose whether to let one little bump in the road upset our day or if we can let it be a teachable lesson for our benefit.

I’m going to let this teachable moment remind me how God keeps track of all the information on me and a bazillion people. I don’t have to wonder if God remembers something about me. God knows it. I can’t imagine everything God knows about you, me and every other person, past and present. It really is quite remarkable and amazing.

For God’s knowledge of me and everyone else, I am grateful.

Almighty God – it’s easy to forget just how much information you have on all of us. No file transfer is necessary. It’s already there. Thanks for carefully handling all this information. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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