Category Archives: Gratitude Attitude

2020 VISION – EPIPHANY

Epiphany – 12th Day of Christmas – The arrival of the wisemen – put away decorations – an idea that takes hold in the mind.

Everyone seems to have their own ideas on what Epiphany is – that is – IF they even remember that there is such a thing.

“On the twelfth day my true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming…”

The 12 disciples – the Apostles Creed – the 12 tribes of Judah – the prayer of Yeshua…

GOD IS!

The wisemen raised in a tradition started by Daniel during Babylon sojourn (or so I’ve read). They read their histories. They read the stars. They trusted something beyond belief and rode into the unknown following only a star to a baby and his family.

GOD ACTS!

Long before any could put all the pieces together, God was already doing so. Aligning stars. Using Daniel’s captivity to unfurl another mystery. Protecting His newly given Son. Drumming history into the words of a song that people would sing far in the future.

GOD CHANGES!

People reason. Ideas take shape and wallah – there is a plan to act on – an answer to the problem. “We are so smart,” we think. We march forward only to find a river in front of us. A storm on the horizon. A mountain that won’t move. A fig tree without a bloom. An empty garden. Silence around us. What now?

“I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.”v.16

I am eclectic. No other way to put it. I bounce between genres of music, literature and religion. Any day you could find me bouncing between Lauren Diagle – Beverly Sills – Streisand – Julie Andrews – Ella Fitzgerald and singing – singing – singing. Did I mention? There has been a miracle over Christmas – my voice is back. Still pretty weak, but back. The squeaks are rare. The doctors wrong. So like any physical therapy – I keep exercising it – pushing it – testing it’s limits.

Praising GOD.

While I am still mostly reading non-fiction – Bible, poetry, history, and devotionals. I’ve started adding some fiction. That also started over Christmas. I read several Christmas novels – Charles Dickens, Lloyd C. Douglas, Truman Capote, T. Davis Bunn – not to mention – the wonderful Christmas stories I read as a child that still sit on my shelf. I cried. I giggled. I gleaned some wisdom. I promised myself to read and re-read some of my favorite fiction authors in 2020.

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,”v.17

Sundays find me going to my traditional early service at a local Methodist church. Especially this year of trying to step onto the dry riverbed with towering walls of water all around me. I am savoring the comfort of rituals learned at my parents’ knees – the old hymns – the majestic chords of classical choral music – the organ that thrums deep within me. Then I come home to feed on the non-traditional services – Ravi Zacharias, Brian Biggers, Rabbi Johnathan Cahn, Priscilla Shirer, Max Lucado. I mark up my Bibles. I look up verses and re-read them again. Note cards get filled. Walk the lab girls. Hug my teddy bear. Sing. Play the piano. Talk to My Father.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.” Hab 3:18-19

GOD IS!
GOD ACTS!
GOD CHANGES!

Not sure I like changes. I have a friend whose focus word is “trust” for 2020. Last year, that was my word. It changed my life because that is what Our Father does. He changes us – from the inside to the outside. My 2020 vision seems to be clearing a little. His “power” (which is my focus word this year) – his powerful presence continues to overwhelm me – clearing my path when I see no path – opening my throat when the notes are lost in tears – reminding me of a tiny book written by a prophet 3000 years before I was born.

Just a matter of trusting the power of the Spirit in 2020 and remembering always: GOD IS – GOD ACTS – GOD CHANGES!!
What an Epiphany! 

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ADVENT #17 2019

“A smile is laughter’s whisper and has its roots in the soul.”~ Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

After my dad had his first heart attack, we stuck pretty close to home for the rest of the summer. There were only 3 stations on the TV. No computer or phone to mess with while sitting in an ‘easy’ chair. But there were lots of things that were so much better – conversations with family and friends dropping in (and they always brought good food to eat since mom didn’t like to cook), tons of books, newspapers and magazines shared, not to mention – music of all kinds – via friends bringing their instruments, radio, and records playing on the stereo. Smiles were everywhere in that stormy time of life.

Storms in life bring changes.

Tonight, instead of banging my head against a wall, I went searching for a Catholic mass on TV. I’m not Catholic, but when the chaos of my world tries to blow out my candle light, I need to close my eyes and let my soul fall into the cadence of songs and traditions of worship that have been passed down through the ages. It is there – in that place – between breathing in [Yah] and breathing out [Weh] – when I remember His presence is never gone; It is in that breath where His voice is never silent; His light never cloaked – – – it’s just me that has forgotten to breathe. So easy to inhale deeply and enter His presence with Thanksgiving.

“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” Ibid

After the mass, a priest asked for prayers for the canonization of Bishop Sheen which in turn was God’s wink at me tonight. I could see me sitting on the floor, leaning against my dad’s leg, listening to mom sing in the other room, and watching to Bishop Sheen on TV. Sometimes, Dad would nudge me with his knee if Bishop Sheen said something I should remember – or something that made him laugh. Dad was intentionally making his own weather in the storm that had changed his life, and as he did so, he was teaching me to color my own skies when the storms buffet my horizon and threaten that Light that is within all of us.

Most years, the holy-days season brings such joy, but occasionally those storms of everyday life overlap and darken the horizon whether we want it to or not. This is one of those years of me. But if there is one thing I learned at my father’s knee, it is this – that I can color the skies of my emotional universe and be thankful to the One who waits for me between breaths.

One of my favorite teacher/preachers likes to say: “I do not live by sight, hearing, or feelings, but instead, by every word breathed by the mouth of GOD”. I like that – A LOT. When the skies darken, it is my mantra, and then I repeat the Ps 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

A week from tonight, Advent calendars will be completely done for 2019. Kids will be squirming with excitement and straining to hear a sound of bells in the distance. Churches will be bathed in candle light. And last of all, stockings will be hung by the chimney with care. But for some of us, the storm clouds are overhead, and  choices need be made. So as for me, I choose to breathe. Breathe deeply and find that place between breaths to remember. No matter what chaos may be swirling, Christ-mass is one of my favorite times of the year. And if I remember to stand, look up, I can rejoice to see a sky colored by many, many treasure chests full of memories of joy and love and most of all – the grace of a newborn baby’s cry.

“Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”~Is 9:6-7 mom's nativity 1940's [personal image]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #20 2019

“Yank some of the groans out of your prayers, and shove in some shouts!”~Billy Sunday

Now that is some attitude about gratitude right there. A reminder that praising the LORD with loud, joyous shouts did not stop with King David dancing in the streets……at least……it shouldn’t have.

Day to day life does tend to get in the way sometimes. Today, I got up feeling a little better from the “Fall yukkies” that I finally succumbed to over the weekend. Luckily, I have a terrific doctor who knows my immune system pretty well. Anyway, I got everything done in record time. Checked off the list before I left for school. Got a mile down the road and remembered – I had forgotten the cookies I had packed up for a friends’ birthday. Errrr – – –

I didn’t feel like praising My Father at that point – let alone shouting out those praises.

“To quiet the voice inside my head that tells me the good ol’ days have passed me by or that the best is yet to come. To choose instead only the moment that’s unfolding right in front of me. To breathe in every sight and every sound…if I sensed myself drifting, I’d do my best to pause and look up.”~Joanna Gaines

I’d just read this last quote this morning and as I completed the u-turn to make my way back home, I paused and looked up. The Carolina blue sky seemed to wink back at me. Cars zoomed by on their way to someplace. I took a deep breath in – – – Yah. A bird flew between the branches of the trees and dipped its wing as I left that breath ease out – – – Weh.

A simple moment in time.
A simple breath as I looked up.
A praise that rose from the depths and sing a long with the Lauren Daigle song that “just happened” to come on the radio…

Look up child, ayy,
Look up child, ayy…”

God winks happen all the time and most of the time, I miss them, but not today. Today, I paused. I looked up.

In the busyness of life, praise sometimes gets forgotten. Loud praises rarely get passed the mind, let alone the lips. But today – even though I got to school a little later, retraced my steps a few times, I paused. I looked up. And – – – I let my praises rock the car. After all, when the Carolina blue sky winks at you, what else can you do but “shove in some shouts.”

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.”~Ps 98:4        unnamed (2)   [Ann Voskamp photo]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #10

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #10
 
“…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”~Ecc 3:8
 
On the 10th day of this transition month, my heart is full of gratitude for the Veterans who have stood in the gap for the freedom that the rest of us enjoy.
 
From the Revolutionary War to all the skirmishes that continue in our war-torn world of today. there are those who use their talents, gifts and blessings to honor those who have gone before them – whether out of love for country or love of the principles – or family tradition – they sacrifice what the rest of us do not: time, family life, easy continuity, safety, images that haunt their steps all their days and nights……
 
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”~President George Washington
 
How can I not be thankful and full of inexpressible gratitude to those who volunteer to serve – not drafted – not paid a lot of money – far from home and all its comforts – willing to lay down their life for me? How can I not bow my head and offer a prayer of thankfulness for those who serve now and those who have served in the past?
 
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” — Abraham Lincoln
 
While women may not have always been on the battle lines, some have always sacrificed in their own ways out of their own talents, gifts and blessings. Almost all wars have accounts of women working behind the scenes – serving as spies – healing those injured – making uniforms and flags – traveling to bring much needed food, water and supplies. In fact – it is partly due to a woman poet, Moina Belle Michaels, and the use of her talents, gifts and blessings, that we wear a poppy to honor our Veterans and have a day to honor Veterans of all wars. Besides working during the WWI, she was moved to work with disabled Vets when they returned home. It was her poem that struck a chord and began a movement that was eventually separated from Memorial Day and named “Veterans Day” by President Eisenhower in 1954.
“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”~Jn 15:13
So as I prepare to transition into November 11, my heart continues to hope that someday, we won’t have to walk this path any more. But until that day – I am thankful for the watchman – watch-person if we want to be PC compliant – who stands on the wall of freedom – their sword ready by their side, their eyes always watching – waiting – and prepared to do whatever it takes to protect this precious gift of choice – FREEDOM.
 
“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”~Is 2:4

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GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #9

Spent some time laughing, sharing space and time with friends that I don’t get to see often enough. Scrubbed and polished my slate end tables. Kicked some leaves with my lab girls while they chased the beloved ball. “Technology Talked” with a couple of cousins and friends. Got a little chilly while I was swinging on my patio swing. And – put most of my fall decorations away.

Yupper. This year, I am one of those that have started the transition to Christmas before Thanksgiving. I usually do try to change everything over the week before Thanksgiving anyway – so this really isn’t much of a stretch. But when push comes to shove, in my mind, there is something about thanking God, eating turkey and enjoying the decorations at the end of that wonderful day. And  this year – I just need to surround myself with His Light a little more than usual since Thanksgiving is a little different for me this year.

“…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” ~Matt 4:16

There are so many things to be thankful for during this month of transition. One of them is technology. Right now, I am watching the 1955 version of Peter Pan with Mary Martin. How fun is that for this baby boomer? “I Gotta Crow” that it is even more fun than I expected it to be!! How can I still remember most of the words to this play and its songs from so long ago? And yet – here I am – singing along and loving it.

Of course, besides remembering all of the songs, I also remember that I got to stay up late  just to watch it. My daddy brushed my hair while we watched – eating popcorn from a big orange bowl and drinking a soda pop – special treats for a special night. “It is a place where dreams were born…”

A daddy who brushed my hair. A mommy who sang along with the songs and braided my hair when Daddy finished up. An older, big (at least to me – he was huge) brother who tried to ignore us all as he worked on boy scout badges or homework, but casually kept his eyes on the screen. It was definitely a time when I “thought wonderful, happy thoughts” and found that “I’m flying” faster than I thought possible.

Simpler, joyous times. “2nd star to the right and straight on to morning…”

It is good to pull out the treasure chest of memories occasionally. The gold and the silvers ones shine brightly – – especially those shined with Our Father cloth of love. I had a pretty nifty childhood. Church and Sunday School every Sabbath. Sunday drives to visit aunts, uncles, and especially – cousins. Family meals together. Chores done. Bedtimes full of books and prayers. Pretty good model for what a marriage and family should be.

November is that month of transition. The skies darken earlier. The cold wind slows my gait a little more as arthritis clamps down on the joints a little more tightly than I like. And yet, if I go past that silly 2nd star and soar way beyond all stars, the winter morning gets here earlier and sooner than I expected, freeing its sparkling Light to make all things new, and it easily outshines Neverland in the process.

“I, The Light, have come to the world, that no one who believes in me shall abide in darkness.”~Jn 12:46

GOD is good all the time – even on the darkest of nights. All the time GOD is good.

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GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2019 #4

When the kitty is sick with a cold and just wants to curl in a ball on my lap, I can’t do much else than hold her and pray. After all, it is what I have done with her since she came to live with me a year and a half ago. Way too young to be abandoned on the side of a street, she shouldn’t have survived this long. Her siblings didn’t, and I really didn’t expect her to be the one to live.

I am thankful that she did.

She is still tiny. Tiny enough to lay on my lap as I type on my laptop and be comfortably stretched out. Tiny enough to curl on the back of my chair while she sneezes and snuffles, rubbing her head into the blanket that comforts us both. My heart aches for her, so I move her food and water a little closer hoping to tempt her to eat something.

Yet – through it all – I’m still thankful. Thankful when she turns to me for comfort. Thankful, when she eats a little. Thankful that today, she seems a little better than yesterday. Thankful that the Father trusted me to be her guardian.

“From them will come songs of thanksgiving
and the sound of rejoicing.”~Jer 30:19

How often does Our Father feel this? How often does He hold us on His lap? Rub our back? Whisper a prayer of encouragement? Move the manna and spring of living waters just a little closer for us?

Somehow, I feel as if He does it a lot more than we realize – – –
and I am thankful.

As I finished devotions today, preparing for getting on with my everyday life, I ran across this verse that I had used a few years ago in a blog post:
“The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”~Is 58:11

I’ve been doing lots of reading in the WORD. More than I have ever done in my life. Intermittent fasting as well. Praying a whole lot more than I ever thought possible. His refiner’s fire is like that as He molds and challenges the new shape that is emerging. I see links between everything that happens during the day. A path outline that He has designed just for me to notice. And – while I do not live by sight, hearing or feelings, I definitely feel His wisdom seeping in through those crevices as the day progresses.

“It [is] the best of times, it [is] the worst of times, it [is] the age of wisdom…” to paraphrase Dickens.

And through it all – I am praising My Father for holding me in His lap, encouraging me with His Grace-filled songs of love. He rubs my back and moves the water and bread just a little closer to my reaching hands. He dries my tears as I reap His songs of joy.

For this – – – I am truly thankful to Elohim Chasdi.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” ~Is 58:9-14  just be held [google images/House of Maria art]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #3

Not a big fan of daylight saving time. Not a big fan of switching the clocks. Not a big fan of helping my critters adjust to new feeding schedules. Just not a big fan.

I do like when we get back to “normal” time though. It seems right to have the skies darkening by 5 P.M and lighter at 7 A.M. Then again, I enjoyed in summers past those same hours way before “daylight saving time” became standard changes every year. In fact – I remember when we had to drive to nearby city in a different county that was on “daylight saving time” when our county was not. Needless to say, made getting to doctor appointments interesting.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.”~1 Chron 16:8-11

Fall days find me wandering outside to do a few things. Returning inside to do a few more things. It is the “perfect” seasons for wandering – even if the leaves have not been spectacular this year. I enjoyed today’s sermon by a veteran. I swept the porch and patio, painted the rest of the living room/hallway walls (at least the parts I could reach). Went back outside and painted another plant stand. Did a few loads of laundry. Read a few devotions. Walked my chocolate labs a few times. Kicked a few leaves and then sat on my swing.

“Let the trees of the forest sing,
let them sing for joy before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.”~1 Chron 16:33

For whatever reason, I am thankful and fully aware of My Father’s presence when I sit on that patio swing. Rocking back and forth. Back and forth, as I let the movement and the squeak of the swing settle into the deepest part of me. Those rhythms and sounds jostle awake other rhythms. Soon I am singing with the trees – singing for joy before the LORD – and thankful.

November is that month. That necessary month of transition in our mortal minds. After all, the worldly celebration of Halloween’s frivolity and pretend has passed. Christmas is a month in the future. We need these thirty days to realign our centers so that our focus can be on what is important – the greatest gift ever given to anyone – anywhere.

So this week, I am enjoying the wonder in my freedom that others sacrificed much to ensure that I could sit on a swing singing on a fall day. I am enjoying the transition from worldly concerns to that of thankfulness and praise for a Father who has held me securely within the shelter of His promises and wings over the past months of 2019. I am breathing in His name with every breath as I swing – breathing in: Yah – breathing out: weh – YHWY – Yahweh – Yahweh

A month of transition. A month of to enjoy transition. A month to humble myself. A month to prepare as I swing back and forth – back and forth – Yah – weh — Yah – weh — Yah – weh.. 

[google images/House of Maria]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2019 #2

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”~2 Cor 4:15

The words have started to rumble about getting their say in my life. They have been passive for quite a while, biding their time, waiting to emerge, and that was okay – for a while. Somehow they know that putting one foot in front of another takes a lot of focus which oft leaves the body just plained tuckered out at times, and the mind somewhat befuddled at other times. So the words waited.

Until today.

Well – – – actually – – – they started the clamoring last night.

They bugged me, but I ignored them because – well – I fell asleep. What can I say?

The body was a little weary.
Heart was a little teary.
Eyes were a little bleary.
Mind was a bunch leary.

After all – – – what could be so important that the words wanted to say, and I wasn’t sure i was up to the task of lining them all up in some kind of cohesive order?

It has been a long couple of weeks with every day more blessed than the last. Days filled with things that needed to be learned, accomplished, and enjoyed. Got to admit, I’m pretty good at getting that first two parts – it is what teachers do. Go in the class. Teach. Observe. Absorb wisdom from what I’ve missed – what I need to do next time. But lately, I’ve missed that last part.

ENJOY.

A little word. An important word.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”~Jn 14:26

Enjoying that blessing of “doing” – whatever it is – just enjoying the blessing of “doing”. Somehow – seeing it in print makes it seems obvious and simple. Yet – for me – lately – just putting one foot in front of another has kept me from the blessing of what we were created to actually do – ENJOY. 

Enjoy this temporary garden that He created after we screwed up.
Enjoy the wait.
Enjoy the process.
Enjoy the sweat.
Enjoy the tears.
Enjoy the planning.
Enjoy the people.
Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy His presence, His light, His laughter, His smile at watching me stumble and fall and cry and lift myself up just so He can hug me even closer.

ENJOY.

The Holy Spirit kicked me this morning with a simple song. A song that I loved to sing with my family’s small church choir long ago. It is probably the first choir that started my love of choral music. Anyway – as I was doing this, that and the other thing on my to-do list of the day – the Moses Hogan Chorale started singing: “Let us break bread together on our knees…” and I found myself singing, crying and listening.

The Holy Spirit is like that when He gets a tight hold of my ears and heart. The voice in the choir began to sound more like my mom just as it had sung those same words in my ears year after year. The words – the lyrics – long dormant in some recess of my mind – were brought forth as if they were always at my tongue’s tip. The joy of singing in mixed formation as the harmonics overwhelmed me and went beyond the ears, flowing into the eternal consciousness that always encircles me when I participate in choral music.

“Enjoy this day that the LORD hath made. Enjoy the tribulation. Enjoy the work. Enjoy the refining and molding fire. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the sweat – the tears – the laughter – Enjoy the words that push their way forward – the blessings of all things for indeed,” the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart – “He is there – He is here – He never leaves or forsakes – He is faithful in all His promises – He is Your Father and He wants to see you smile.”

“Let us praise God together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us praise God together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy if you please. (if you please)”  75407655_10156713434853549_5688404572591095808_n