Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thankful for sleep

 . . . for God gives rest to His loved ones.
~from Psalm 127:2

Do you ever wonder about what sleep is?

We all know what it is, sort of.  We all sleep: some more, and some less.  When we were little, our parents were always trying to get us to go to sleep.  Then we grew up, had babies of our own and learned, first hand, the unutterable beauty of a sleeping child.

It can feel tremendously good to sleep, to fall into bed when you are tired, and drift away to an unconscious state.

If we weren't so used to it, it would be creepy, though, the loss of consciousness, the way daytime memories and experiences morph into dreams, the way we don't perceive what is going on around us, outside of us, while we are asleep.

Studies show that most growth and healing occur while people are asleep.

We just take it for granted, for the most part.  At least, we take it for granted until we are unable to sleep.

Different things keep us awake.  Pain.  Worry.  Distress.  Sorrow.  Even excitement.

I wonder what actually happens to our bodies and our minds while we are sleeping.  I wonder what happens to our spirits.  I wonder if God speaks through dreams.  I suppose He must, sometimes, although I doubt if He does routinely.

I've been through some traumatic events, and by the grace of God, He's virtually always enabled me to get at least a few hours of sleep even when despair and fear have run deep.

On the other hand, I have often had incredible trouble falling asleep in a strange bed, despite how comfortable I may have been or how happy I was to be there.

Nevertheless, I am thankful for sleep, for the rest and refreshment that come from a good, solid eight hours under the covers.  I am thankful for night, and the opportunity to snuggle down into feather pillows and warm blankets, to close my eyes and rest my head.  I am thankful for quietness and darkness.

I am thankful for sleep.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
~Psalm 4:8

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankful for a message about waiting

Advent is about waiting.

The pastor said that bound up in the meaning of advent are both the "already" and the "not yet."

Faith is being convinced about the "already," so we can hope securely for the "not yet."

I have a big "not yet" in my life.  Some days it seems almost as though it's going to kill me, bearing down in darkness and despair.

But God.

Those are some of my favorite words:  But God.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . 
But God, being rich in mercy, 
because of His great love with which He loved us, 
even when we were dead in our transgressions, 
made us alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved).
Ephesians 2:1, 4-5

God became flesh and dwelt among us so that we could behold the glory of the Father, and especially so He could fulfill the Law of Righteousness and then die in our place, the sinless one in the place of sinners, the Redeemer.

He spilled His perfect, priceless blood to pay our sin debt, to purchase men for God.  The payment has already been made.  Whoever will come is eagerly invited to come, to be forgiven, cleansed, healed and delivered from darkness.

Sometimes you may have thought that someone was already covered under the blood, redeemed and counted as one of God's children.  And then that person falls away both in lifestyle and in the declaration, "There is no God who cares anything about me."

You remember a different time, a different reality, a different declaration.  That is the "already."  In the midst of billowing blindness and rebellion, you claw away at the clouds that only Jesus Himself can break through, because you know His mark must be there, and His truth.  He was the Creator in the very beginning, and He will be the Judge at the bridge to the next life.  Despite all other confusion, these two facts seem to remain in the consciousness of the rebel.


But God.

And so you wait, and pray.  Advent.  Waiting for the light of hope to dawn in a sick and stricken heart.  Waiting for the living waters of the Spirit to begin to flow again, and bring flourishing life to a barren environment.  Waiting.  Hoping.  Expecting.

Waiting is hard.  Waiting requires patience, and patience requires trust.

With God, all things are possible.

Often, nothing seems to be happening, not in your limited, human perspective.  When nothing seems to be happening, when a treasured soul is on a trajectory towards destruction, fear can well up like a plague in the belly.

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

I never used to understand that verse, but now I think I do.

Patiently waiting.

Trusting that because God is God, everything will be all right as His perfect will comes to pass.

Thy will be done.

I never noticed before that the passage in Isaiah 40 is about those who wait for the Lord.  It's a promise to the hopeful waiting ones, the trusting ones.

Yet those who wait for the Lord
will gain new strength;
they will mount up with wings like eagles,
they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31

Waiting and hoping, these are good disciplines, and they strengthen us.

I am thankful for this source of strength, thankful to be reminded that I have this hope, thankful that my God is always faithful to His promises.

Thankful for a message about waiting.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thankful for my family, and a glorious family Thanksgiving

We got them all together.  It was beyond wonderful.

I had worked and worked to make sure we had adequate sleeping arrangements for everyone.  When everyone was here, all together, under one roof, bedtime was deliriously satisfying as I climbed into my bed knowing they were all here, snug in their own beds.  I do not know why this phenomenon is such a big deal to me; I suppose it is a throwback to the days when it felt so good to get lots of little people settled down and put to bed.

I am thankful for my family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful for fingernails

At this time of frantic food preparation, I am thankful for my fingernails.

Although I hate it when I slice into one of my fingernails with a knife on the chopping board, I am undeniably grateful that they have saved my fingertips over and over.

Incidentally, I think this is an argument for creation by God.  He knew our fingertips would need protection from knives, long before knives were ever invented.  If we'd been depending on evolution, the fingernail might not have had a purpose until it was too late for it to develop.

I am thankful for fingernails!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankful for soap

I love my showers, the hotter the better.

I love to soak in a long, warm bath.

I even love to wash my hands, especially when I arrive home after a tiring shopping trip.

Soap makes washing a sensory experience, with smooth, slippery soapsuds and usually a delightful scent.

I am thankful for soap that loosens grime, dissolves greasiness, and flushes away germs and unpleasant odors.  Soap cleanses, freshens, purifies.

I am thankful for soap.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thankful for water

I am thankful for water.

It's a source of life, for one thing.  Amazing.  Where there is water, things grow, and where there is no water, things shrivel up and die.

On a simple plane, water is a good beverage, the healthiest one.  Who would have thought that the healthiest beverage would also be the least expensive one, often available for free?  You'd think it must be too good to be true.

I am thankful for water.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thankful for the Bible

I'm thankful for the Bible.

There are two ways that God has made Himself accessible to humanity.

One is through the person of Jesus Christ, who in an unfathomable miracle joined the divine essence of God into a flesh and blood human body.  The Almighty Creator and Sovereign Lord of the Universe somehow inexplicably made Himself human.  He came to experience life on a fallen, broken, sinful world, to know what it is to be mortal and to suffer the effects of sin.  He came to bring hope.  He healed, comforted and taught people about the Kingdom of God, even though hardly anyone could understand what He was saying.  Ultimately, He died for our sins, paying the devil's price, in blood, the ransom for our redemption.

The other way God makes Himself accessible is through the Bible, where the story of His plan for all of history is recorded in amazing synchronization, through the collected writings of 40 or more different writers over a span of 1500-2000 years. There is no other world religion that has a resource anything like this.

Amazingly, both Jesus and the Bible are known as "The Word of God" (see John 1).  Jesus is the center of everything, so if the Bible is named after Him, it is very significant indeed.

Back to the Bible:  whenever I am tempted to doubt any of the truth about Jesus Christ, I can ponder on the origin of  the Bible.

Except for the miraculous provision of God, there is simply no way that a collection of discrete writings compiled over such a span of time could fit together to explain our origin and our problem, and then point in astonishing harmony to God's solution: Messiah, Jesus Christ.

I believe that even the "mistakes" in the Bible attest to its truth.  Yes, the writer of 1 and 2 Chronicles puffs battle numbers compared to the writer of 1 and 2 Kings.  Yes, the four writers of the gospels each have slightly different versions of what the sign over Jesus' head on the cross said.  These details must not be particularly important to God as details.  The point is that the Israelites were able to defeat their enemies against great odds when God was fighting for them.  The point is that Jesus was crucified as King of the Jews.  The differences show that real, fallible men were keeping these records.  More than that, the fact that the differences remain after centuries during which the manuscripts were being copied and recopied by scribes, long before photography or computers were a part of the publishing world, attests to the validity of the documents.  If this were a construct, humanly crafted, somebody would have fixed the inconsistencies long ago.  However, those who worked on these pages understood them to be the Holy Word of God, so that even when an inconsistency would crop up, they had too much respect for the identity of the Bible to change it in any way.  The Bible is not like dentures, pure white plastic formed into rows of perfectly shaped, perfectly straight teeth.  The Bible is real teeth.  Real pearl.  Real diamond.  Everyone knows that real things are essentially different from their "perfect" imitations.

I love the way the Bible tells the story of a merciful God who created a beautiful world, and then set out to save it when it turned against Him.  I love how the Bible shows God calling a special people, the nation of Israel, to be the ancestors of His only begotten Son, Messiah, who would come to pay the price to redeem the world.  I love the way the Bible admits the shortcomings of Jesus' ancestors over and over, even the people who were most pleasing to God, such as King David, the "man after God's own heart," who committed adultery and murder.  This is not to excuse or condone sin, but to demonstrate that the very best among us are still in desperate need of a Savior.  I love how forshadowings of Christ exist in every book of the Old Testament, regardless of when it was written or who wrote it.

I love the way God gave us not one, but four stories of the life of Jesus, to round out our view and open our eyes to multifaceted perspectives on one single truth: Christ fulfilled all the prophesies and brought the hope of redemption to this miserable sin-stained world.  I love the promises in Revelation (and a number of the epistles), that at the fullness of time Jesus will return to deliver us into a perfect new heaven and earth, unbroken, unmarred.  Until then, we soldier on, those of us who believe, shouldering our responsiblity to help in the task of bringing God's children into right relationship with Him while there is still time for them to hear and respond.

I am amazed by the Bible, its beautiful, intricate treatment of God's plan for us, revealed for our salvation.  There is no other book like it.

I am thankful for the Bible.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thankful that I didn't get a parking ticket

No picture today.

I try not to do that in November.  But today was one of those days.

While shopping in town--yes, downtown--I parked at a meter and deposited enough quarters for nearly an hour's worth of legal parking.  Then I popped up my umbrella and happily skipped away in the rain.  A lady ahead of me on the sidewalk dropped her package into the UPS box, and while she was doing so, another lady approached her from the other direction, holding out her umbrella generously.  "Can I walk you back to your car?" she asked.  The first lady looked a trifle surprised, but smiled.  "Thank you!  You're very kind," she replied.  This is yet another reason why I love the Midwest.  Strangers in the Northeast do not generally offer to share umbrellas or walk people to their cars.

I got engrossed in shopping, but finally finished and snagged Jonathan for a late lunch.  As we walked back to the van, it occurred to me that I'd completely forgotten to track time.  "I hope I don't have a ticket!" I told Jon.  When we arrived, the meter was blinking, "EXPIRED," but there was no ticket.

No ticket!  Hooray!

I am thankful that I did not get a parking ticket!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thankful for light

I am thankful for light.

Light helps us see, but it is also beautiful in its own right.

I love the sunshine, and daytime.

Daylight hours are shorter this time of year, making them more precious than ever.

I'm going to walk the dog while the sun is out.  Hey!  It's in the seventies today!

I will not go so far as to say that I am thankful for global warming, but I think it is okay to enjoy the perks of a long, warm, fall season.

I am thankful for the gorgeous autumn light.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thankful for black-eyed Susans

I'm thankful for these flowers.

Flowers bring color and joy to life.

My friend Melinda gave these to me.  She jabbed a shovel into her yard and lifted out some little plants with root balls.  We wrapped the roots in a plastic bag and set them into a box in the back of my van.  I drove home and stuck them into the ground at my house.

They grew.

Such things are always miraculous to me.

I am thankful for growth, beauty and friendship.

I am thankful for my black-eyed Susans (even though they're done now -- they'll be back next summer).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thankful for roads

I've written about this before, but it bears repeating because my gratitude for roads has been a painfully acquired taste.

Travel is not my favorite.  Travel throws off my groove and makes me feel sick.  Sleeping, eating and other basic body functions become problematic for me.  I get headaches.  I get grouchy.  I get forgetful and tense, panicked and exhausted.  Overwrought.  Rashy.  I want to go home, but I do not want to undergo the additional travel required to get there.

Therefore, when travel is required in order for me to be able to see my loved ones, I struggle with my attitude.

My life goes like this:
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
Long trip... Live on top of loved ones in their space, throwing their schedules and ours into a tizzy, creating stress and havoc... Long trip home.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.
No contact with loved ones.

This is the antithesis of what I would hope for.  I would hope for a cozy life where my loved ones are a regular part of the rhythm, where a "visit" means stopping by to drop off some extra cookies I made, not moving in and crowding the bathroom for days.

I don't sound very thankful, do I?

That's probably because, historically, I haven't been thankful.  I've been grumbly.  I pack up the van and sigh, moan, think, "Why me?  Why do I have to live so far away?  Why do I have to get carsick every time I want to see my family?"

I have slumped in the passenger seat, filled with discontent, hating the road, my seatbelt, the weather, the other traffic on the road, the billboards, the fast food restaurants, and especially the gas station restrooms.  I have actively spewed hate at all of it.  I hated it for twenty-five years while I lived in New York, and then I moved to Illinois.  In Illinois, I found myself still a significant drive from my extended family; but now, now I am distant from my kids as well.

Bet you can't even imagine why God would take her kids away from a grumbly woman like me.  [This is sarcasm.  I find that it is helpful to point out when I am using sarcasm.  And hyperbole.  Oh my word, do I get into trouble with hyperbole.]

I have three heart desires that I am trying to give to the Lord (back to literal truth here).  One of them is to live in close proximity with family, and to have family relationships be an integral part of everyday life.  I am so tired of missing people.  I used to call it homesickness, but that's not exactly what it is.  It's just plain missing people, the pain like an amputation that starts to ache beyond what you'd think you could bear in the evenings after the sun goes down, and on Sunday afternoons.

The Bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I understand that this does not mean I get a beautiful, toned and athletic body, plus all the delicious chocolate milkshakes I want.  Not only are these desires incompatible with one another, each is also selfish and idolatrous on its own.  We cannot "delight ourselves in the Lord" as an item on a checklist, in order to then gain some other earthly desire that exists outside of Him, even if that earthly desire is proximity to one's children.  We must truly delight in the Lord, and then when He is the delight of our heart, we have gained the desire of our heart.  Jesus is enough.

And yet, the Bible also says that God sets the lonely in families.  Families are good.  Relationships are good.  Fellowship and company and community are good.

Sometimes, much as we mourn the distance, roads are good.

Roads are what connect the distant points.  Roads allow us to get to where our loved ones are.  Whether it is a dusty country road, a tree-lined avenue in a neighborhood, or a busy interstate, roads bridge the gap between one location and another, and without them, we couldn't travel to see our distant loved ones.

Forgive me.  I'm tired (this always takes a toll on my perspective).  We were away driving for four days straight, visiting loved ones.  It was a blessing to see them, to touch them, to converse face-to-face.  I asked Shawn, "What was your favorite part of the trip?" and he replied, "Hugging the kids."  I have to agree.

Yes, I mourn the distances, but I am thankful for the roads that allow us to come together.

Also, airplanes that bring people to us.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thankful for this picture

I am thankful for this picture that hangs in my front hall.

It was a gift from a dear lady who used to come to Bible study with me.  I mentioned once how I wished I had a picture of Jesus and the children, like the one I remember our Sunday school teachers showing us back in the day, when they told us the story of how Jesus took the children into His arms and blessed them.

The only such picture I had was in a Bible story book that I really liked and did not wish to tear apart for framing purposes.

So, my friend procured this picture for me. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about the historical inaccuracy, showing children of many races and perhaps even time periods, instead of middle-eastern children from the first century.  But the little blond boy reminds me of David when he was that age, and really, Jesus loves all the children, then and now.

In fact, this picture reminds me that even though I am 50 (almost 51!), I am as precious as a little child to Jesus, and when I approach Him with childlike faith and confidence, He delights to hold me close to His heart and bless me.

So, I'm thankful for the picture, thankful for my friend, thankful that I am Jesus' beloved child, and thankful that Jesus is more wonderful than we can ever ask or imagine.

(Tomorrow I will tell you about why I was offline for a few days, and how I am thankful for that, too.  That is, I will tell you if a certain picture I emailed to myself comes through.  Technology hasn't been behaving very smoothly for me.)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thankful for the natural process of healing

I am thankful that God created us to heal, and to be healed.  By this, I mean that we heal routinely throughout our earthly lives, and we will be healed once and for all, eternally.  I am thankful that God is the greatest healer of all, ever.  Healing is what He does, along with redeeming, saving, delivering and restoring.

Healing on earth usually takes time, and often the rehabilitation process is painful.

However, with time and effort (especially time), healing comes to pass, until we find ourselves at the brink of our final, complete healing when we pass over to our eternal life where all things will be perfected and made new.

God is the great healer, and thus there is always hope.

"In this world you will have trouble," Jesus gently warned us,"but take heart, for I have overcome the world."

In the perfect, new world that Jesus has gone to prepare for us, there is a river of life running down the main street.  On each side of the river stands the tree of life.  The Bible doesn't say that the boulevard is lined with trees; it says that The Tree of Life stands on both sides of the river, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations (see Revelation 22:2).  I'm not sure what this means, but I think it might be something like this:

The river of life stands for the Spirit of God, spilling out to produce lush, flourishing growth wherever He goes.  The tree of life is many things, including Jesus, the root of Jesse, who called Himself the True Vine. The tree of life could also encompass the people of God, who are branches spreading out from the root of Christ, planted next to the river where there is an eternal, infinite source of life from the Spirit.

It's all a bit confusing and symbolic, but the point is that God is life, and He longs to share His life with us by healing us, and then, through us, healing the nations.

In this broken, sin-stained world, dandelions stubbornly force their way up through asphalt and concrete, golden blooms on savory greens, even in the most barren of habitats.  Babies squeeze brutally through birth canals into the bright lights of hospital rooms, and begin to squall, mingling pain and blood with the unspeakable wonder of fragile new life.  Love surges in the heart of a lover for his beloved, a mother for her child, a brother for his sister, a soldier for his comrade.  Winter snows melt away to the upcropping of daffodils, and the sun rises every morning, bringing light every day, even when that light may be dimmed by cloud cover.  These are all profound messages of the care and renewal of God, coming to play despite the curse of sin that constantly provokes deterioration and decomposition.

One day, everything is going to be all right.  Until then, we live in an ebb and flow of destruction and restoration, deterioration and healing.  God has never abandoned us, and this is why we heal.  We always heal.

When my Grandma died, my world was rocked.  I thought, "How can life go on, without my Grandma in the world?"  And yet, it did.  I drove to the store to buy milk for my children.  Shocked, I saw a whole bunch of other people out in their cars, driving wherever they needed to go, to work, to school, to the store like me.  The sun climbed  higher in the sky as the morning progressed.  It was amazing to realize that on this most earth-shattering day, the trucks had still delivered the milk to the stores from the farms and the bottling factories.  We ate.  We worked.  We drove and cooked and did math problems.  We washed dishes and put gas into the car and paid the bills.  Night came and we slept.  Meanwhile, Grandma lives in glory with Jesus.

Life goes on.  We keep doing what needs to be done, and we heal through the process of learning a new normal, all the time remembering that Jesus is Lord, and in His time He will heal everyone who will surrender to His loving hands.

I am thankful for healing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thankful for the redwood trees

I am thankful that God made the redwood trees.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity this summer to fulfill a lifelong dream and visit the redwood forests of northern California.

Again, I hesitate to share this thankfulness, because I waited so long to see these trees.  Before I got to go, whenever I heard about others who had seen them, I felt a trifle jealous.  When I viewed pictures of redwood forests, I was filled with intense longing to be there.

While I was there, my heart about overflowed to bursting with the wonder of it.  So far beyond what I'd imagined, God's creation brought tears to my eyes and a long-lasting lump to my throat.  The sheer beauty of the roads we traveled to get there was enough to make me almost sick, and numb, and punch drunk.  I remember pressing my hands to my collar bones as Shawn drove up the winding 101, each curve seeming to reveal a new, breathtaking vista of glory.  I remember whimpering, "I can't absorb it all.  I don't know what to do. I just can't absorb it all."

I remember standing in the forests, in the stillness beneath the giant trees, sensing the slow pulse of life through the roots in the ground while mysterious dappled light glowed green through the foliage.  Deep, rich scents of earth, bark, leaves and spring wildflowers (it was May).  Looking up, so far up.  Being there.  Surreal.  Holy.

I am thankful for the redwood trees, and for the fulfillment of a dream, and for God who sheds grace on earth through the beauty of His creation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thankful for the seashore

Like the sky, an expanse of ocean reminds me how small I am and sets me to thinking about the vastness of the Lord.  The seashore is the edge between things familiar and an immeasurable unknown.  It symbolizes the line between earth and heaven, mortality and immortality.

I am thankful for the times I have been blessed to walk along the shifting line of water washing back and forth from sandy beach to salty sea.  Warm and foamy, the surf bathes my toes before streaming away.  Then back it comes, constant, relentless, expected yet unpredictable.

God is so good to give us beaches where we can relax, refresh our spirits, minds and bodies.  At the beach, schedules and economics seem irrelevant.  We forget about the grind of life as we throw our heads back in the wind and breathe fresh air, digging our feet down into soggy, shifting sand.

I am thankful for seashore, and I am thankful that I have been blessed to experience it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Thankful for Schubert

I am thankful that I still have a sweet little dog who wiggles with frantic happiness whenever I come home.  He brings much joy, and he keeps me warm when he snuggles in my lap while I read or watch TBG (that's what he calls TV; no matter how many times I tell him it's TV, he still says TBG).

I think if everyone experienced the simple, unconditional love of a dog, this world would be a much better place.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thankful for the sky

I am thankful for the sky.

It is such a gift, to be able to look up at the vast expanse and ponder space, time, eternity, the existence of the Creator God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
~Psalm 19:1

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
~Psalm 8:1

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, 
so that people are without excuse.
~Romans 1:20 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
~Ecclesiastes 3:11  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Thankful for toilet paper

Yes.  Really.

In this time of preparing for holidays and houseguests, I'm planning bedroom arrangements, experimenting with recipes, and stocking up on things we'll need to have around.

On one shopping trip, it occurred to me that we will not want to run out of toilet paper.

Honestly, can you imagine a world without toilet paper?

Let's not think too deeply about the unsavory implications of such a fate.

Let's just be thankful for toilet paper.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thankful for White Stilton

Let me preface this by saying that I am morally opposed to being thankful in a way that could be construed as gloating.

I do not, in my thankfulness, want to dwell on something I have that others may not have, especially if it would cause jealousy to arise in someone's heart.

However, and please forgive me, but . . .

Today a miracle occurred.  I visited a new grocery store in town, and I found something that I have not been able to enjoy for over three years.  Over three years.

I found WHITE STILTON CHEESE.  This particular variety was sweetened with blueberries.

Not since we moved away from Wegman's have I been able to enjoy White Stilton.

Today I bought a small chunk, and I ate the whole thing.  Yes, I did.  And I do not regret it.

It was delicious.

By some miracle, I saved a nub at the end to photograph before I finished it off.

There are some wonderful pleasures to be experienced on this earth, fallen though it may be, and White Stilton is one of them.

I am thankful for such a special treat!  (And it's gluten free!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Thankful for grace

Today I do not have a naturally thankful heart.  I've had an unwelcome surprise and some technical difficulties with my phone.  No biggies, but you see . . .

These things, though very minor in the scheme of things, make me feel cross.  The worst of it is that then I act cross.  When I act cross and thus sin in my behavior, it begins a downward cycle of discouragement which leads to an increase in general crankiness, which leads to more outright sin, which leads to more discouragement.

Romans 7:21, 24
So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me . . . What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

The answer is Jesus.  Romans 7:25 answers the question: I am rescued through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Jesus loves me.

Jesus loves me even when I am miserable and ridiculous.

Jesus has grace for me when I am ugly and rotten, and nobody else wants to love me.

Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me, no matter how many  times I stumble.

As long as I confess my sins, He is faithful and will forgive me and cleanse me.  Cleanse me!

These are Jesus' promises.

I am thankful for Jesus, for His faithfulness, His promises, His forgiveness and His grace.

He's working on me, forming me through His grace into someone who will someday bring Him glory and praise with a radiant face.

I am thankful for grace, because it's the thing that leads me to repent and try again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy November 1!

I love All-Saints Day.

It's when we pause to reflect on all the believers who have gone to heaven to be with Jesus before us, a day of triumph.  This world is not our home.  Death is not the end; it's the beginning of life everlasting.  It is when we get to leave behind the cares of this world, and live forever with our beautiful Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Problem free, pain free, just plain free for all eternity.

November is when we begin to think about these things, and thinking about such things makes us grateful, thankful.  November is a month of thankfulness, culminating in a great feast where we celebrate the provision of God through this year's bountiful harvest.

Today was a glorious sun-soaked autumn day, and warm.  The temperature climbed into the upper 70s.  I didn't need a coat.  I wore a sweater, but I barely needed that!

There were about 3,000,000 things to be thankful for today, but I'm just going to dwell on the day itself.  I'm thankful that today was a beautiful day!

My baby hydrangea bushes display lush blue blooms.  We just planted these in mid July, during a heat wave.  A miracle.

A friend brought me a pot of mums back in the spring.  I stuck them into the garden and here they are now!  Talk about a trick and a treat!

Looking west up the boulevard, eyes feast on deliciously rich colors, like butterscotch, caramel and cranberry.

Trees make me happy all year.  They are like black lace aganst the bue sky when their bare twigs stand stoic through the cold of winter.  In spring, they grow misty and green with new life.  Summer trees spread tall and kind, blessing us with shade.  And autumn trees whisper and  glow golden in the late afternoon sun.

The lake glistens on this Indian Summer day.  How could a person not be thankful in the midst of it all?