Let us be thankful

Dear Friends,

Of all days in the year, let us count our blessings today.  Let us give grace to family and friends because we have received it in abundance.  Let us enjoy the great food and thank the cooks.  Let us remember how blessed we are in this country to gather at the table.

Let us remember how precious the people are who live with us, live near us, work with us, and open their hearts to us.  They are the real treasures of life.

Let us give thanks for the Word of God that does not fail.  It is true when all else is false.  It has stood the test of time and will continue through eternity.    It has been given to us as a love letter so that we may know the One who wrote it.

Let us look to the Giver of all good gifts, the unchanging Father.  He sends sunshine and rain to the just and the unjust.  He loves regardless. He offers the free gift of salvation and a relationship with Himself.  He does not treat us as we deserve but is full of mercy and compassion.

Let us be thankful for the breath we breath, the strength to stand, the talents we use daily, the new day and the night to rest.

Of all days of the year, let us count our blessings.

Blessed Thanksgiving, friends.


hands lifted


The traditions begin.

At 6:30 am, I talked with my prayer partner, Julie.  It was our annual day to remember all the answered prayers through the year.  I looked back over a year’s worth of pages in my prayer journal and saw how God had done great things.  We prayed prayers of thanks to One who hears and answers our prayers.

I’ve started feeding the birds since harvest is over and cold weather has descended upon us.  I call them in the morning, “Come on birdies,” and they are beginning to recognize that I am friend, not foe.  It is something I do in the fall and winter months.  Feeding them provides so much enjoyment, plus it reminds me how a faithful God cares for me.

The cooking frenzy has begun.  The cranberry relish is prepared and waiting in the fridge.  It is one item on my list of Thanksgiving food to prepare.  It gets better as it sits and marinates in the juices of orange and sugar.

Butter is getting soft on the counter in preparation for Sour Cream Cake, one of my mother’s recipes.  It continues to be a family favorite.  I have to pull out my big mixer for this cake, the only one that can handle the thick batter with ease.  I will wash and dry the perfect-size plate that fits the cake.  It was a wedding gift to my parents in 1942.  The gold edging is almost gone but it is priceless to me.


I started my yearly Joy List this morning.  I will add to it throughout the day and tomorrow morning, perhaps even through the weekend.   The list gets longer every year, and why not?  God gives so many gifts that I  cannot count them all, though this week I try.

Sweet William and I make calls today and tomorrow, wishing friends and loved ones a blessed day.  It is good to chat for just a few minutes in the flurry of activity.  I sent texts message to sweet friends who have enriched my life in so many sweet ways.  People are the best gifts of all.

Tomorrow we will gather with my cousins and their children and grandchildren.  The house will be full, loud, festive.  We will quiet long enough to pray and give thanks to our great God who gives us so many, many blessings.  We will eat the best food in the whole wide world (my family are good cooks!), and we will talk and laugh and catch up with one another as families do.  This only child is grateful for extended family.


I will remember those not with us at the table this year, my dear dad who is at home with Jesus now and my family-too-far-away.   I will remember others who are missing family members this year, trying to learn how to do life without them.  And I will say a prayer for them because I know what loss feels like.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for so many reasons.   It is the beginning of the end of the year when stress can rise and suck the very life out of us.  But on this day, I will still my heart.  I will look at the faces around the table and enjoy the moments.

And I will give thanks.


Know the truth

{This is my second book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

I remember when I found out that the Bible didn’t really say there were three kings who came to visit Jesus when he was a baby.  It was a shock.    But wait, I’d sung that song, We Three Kings, learned to play it on the piano as a young girl.  How could it not be true?

The story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew says that there were wise men from the east who came searching for a king.  When they found the baby Jesus, they rejoiced.  They gave him gifts.  They worshiped  him.  And that kind of sums up the information about them.  There’s no mention of how many there were or even that they were kings from different countries.

How easily we believe what we are told without checking the facts.  Just listen to conversations.  Quotes from political figures, the latest news report, messages from Facebook, a friend’s declaration – and we are inundated with “facts.”  And if it is said enough by enough people, we tend to believe it.

We should not be so gullible.

Urban Legends of the New Testament, by David A. Croteau,  examines 40 common misconceptions of Bible passages.  Croteau looks at original language, searches different translations, and studies to come up with an accurate analysis of what the Bible is really saying.

urban legends

He puts verses into context, rather than letting them stand alone like we do so often.  Honestly, sometimes we try to use the Bible to make our point rather then looking for what it really says.  Shame on us.

This is a scholarly book, searching out the truth instead of settling for fiction.  And in a world where our culture shades the lines of truth to adjust to whatever it wants to believe, we need to be aware of what we have so easily accepted and acted upon.

God’s Word is clear in its presentation of the Gospel story.  Let’s don’t blur the lines by quoting things we’ve only heard.  Paul admonished Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

We would do well to pay attention.  Handling the word of truth carefully is vital to our daily living and how we present Christ to the world.

If you are interested in truth, read the book with an open mind.  Prepare to think and evaluate what Croteau offers.  We want to know the truth, quote the truth, present the truth to a world that desperately needs to hear it.

Let’s do it with care, with study, with precision.

NOTE:   *  I received a copy of the book Urban Legends of the New Testament, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 


Sunday grace

We enter the week of Thanksgiving.

Hopefully I have been thankful each day of November and am learning to have a grateful heart at all times and under all circumstances.  My joy journal should be filled with many entries listing the daily graces I’ve looked for and recorded.

I’ve been given much.  I wish I had been better at being thankful. But I was not.

And yet, the Perfect One continues to give.  He is the Fount of Every Blessing.

When Jesus had given thanks, he broke the bread and said, “Take this and eat it.  It is my body . . . ”

He gave thanks and gave the bread.  He gave His body.  He gave His life.  He keeps giving grace.

As I recognize how much I’ve been given, I want to respond with gratitude and thanksgiving.  And then perhaps my life will become a life of worship.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forgot not all His benefits.

Sunday grace.




Joy in the morning

I had breakfast with a young woman whose mother died almost a year ago.  She has faced many “first” holidays and events in the past 11 months.  She still has a few to go.

She and I talked about our mothers, their profound influence on us, their lasting legacy that goes beyond the tangle.  It was easier for her to talk today than it was months ago when she and I first met on the mutual ground of grief and loss.

We are glad to chat about these women we called “mother.”  As we do it keeps the memories alive.  And we want to remember this special person and have others remember her also.

We want to tell those yet to be born about the fun things we did with our mothers, about holiday traditions, about lessons we were taught and how they have influenced us.

I see joy returned to this young friend of mine.  I wonder if she has fought for it the way I have when life was just plain hard and questions remained unanswered.


In the dark, we reach for the lighted candle of hope.  Though its beam is small, it will show the way one tiny step at a time.  We endure knowing others have traveled a similar path.  And we are comforted by the greatest Someone who walks with us now and forever.

The dark night of the soul does indeed precede a sunrise.   Though the night seems long and unending, the light will come.  Day will break and the sun will shine again.

Even while we sorrow, we wait with hope.  We wait for the new day, for the fresh grace.  We wait knowing joy does indeed come in the morning.

Grey days

It’s a grey day today.  Bright hues of fall have virtually disappeared and all that is left are browns and the few evergreen cedars.  Bare branches, ashen skies and rain falling steadily adds to the drabness.  It’s easy to let the weather dictate my mood.

I think about the coming holiday celebrations and how different they have become since the family-too-far-away is just that.  Too far away.

Lists begin to take shape in my mind, things to do in the next few weeks, preparations, agendas, schedules.  They grow and take on their own shape inside me, creating tension.

Sometimes I can let pressure build like the cooker on the stove that spews its steam and juices all over the surface, smoking and smelling burnt.

Sweet William and I prayed before breakfast, naming names and seeing faces in our minds.  So many are still wrestling with disease, grief, worry.  Some are anticipating dates of testing with uncertain outcomes.   Others have written “surgery” in the square of their calendars.

The world has become a scary place.  Nightly newscasts make me wonder what we are coming to.

It’s all overwhelming to think about.

And it’s a grey day today.

I decide to put the tea kettle on the burner.


Water heats as temperature rises.  Steam intensifies and pressure builds.  And the kettle starts to sing.  That five-dollar bargain I bought in Tulsa a few years ago at a yard sale that has not sung worth a nickle.  But today, it sings.

And when the days are grey and the stress levels are high, as the pressure builds and I wonder what life is all about any way . . .

When I remember a life recently passed from this world and how brief are the days of our lives on this earth . . .

When I consider that his world is not my home and I’m just a’passing through, that it is a preparing ground for something more glorious than I can imagine . . .

I decide to be like the kettle.

I will sing.


Monday grace

I missed “Sunday grace” yesterday but isn’t grace an everyday thing?

Sunday’s Grace:  My fellow Sunday school classmates showed me an immeasurable amount of love yesterday.  Their words of affirmation and love filled me full and running over.  I think I must have been glowing the rest of the day.

Sweet William and I witnessed the renewing of wedding vows from a couple who had been married fifty years.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  As the pastor asked them to repeat vows to one another, they pledged, once again, to love each other until death shall part them.  And isn’t that what love really is?  A pledge, a commitment, a covenant?  It’s not a fluffy emotion that rises and falls like a thermometer reflecting the conditions around it.  Love is something we do, something we promise when the feelings fluctuate.

As I reached for Sweet William’s hand during the ceremony, I was thankful for his commitment to me, for my commitment to him.  Where would we be if not for that?  What would we have done if God had not given us the grace to endure the rough waters and fiery trials?

Monday’s Grace:  I got a long-awaited letter from a far-away friend.  Our ages are decades apart, but she is dear to me.  Her words made me laugh out loud.  I read them with care, taking in all the inflections she shared, smiling at the funny pictures she drew, and hearing her heart.


I love snail mail.  I think we miss something in this quick-message life we live.  While it is a convenience to send and receive texts, emails, tweets (what is that anyway?), I enjoy going to the mailbox at the end of my drive, shuffling through the ads, bills, requests for donations, and spying a return address sticker at the left top corner of an envelope from someone I love.  It’s like candy from the postman (woman).  I open it when I have time to sit and relish every word and sentiment.

Most texts and messages seem more like something to read, respond to, and check off the list.  Not all of them, mind you.  I do get some really endearing letter-like messages from friends, and I try to treat them like a hand-written note.  Reading slowing.  Savoring the message.  Taking my time to write a response.  I would not want to lose that kind of communication.

I must admit that while my young friend hand writes her letters, I usually type mine.  It’s faster for me which may put me back in the category of quick-messaging.  I’ll have to think about that.

letter and envelope

Words.  They have impact.  They are important.  It used to be the highest compliment to say a person was true to his word.  If he said it, he meant it no matter what.

We throw our words around casually these days.  Promises are made all day long.  I see it at every TV commercial break.  During a political campaign it’s hard to believe whose words are true.

It makes me examine my own words, my easy responses, my commitments to do something or be somewhere.  I really want to be a woman of my word, someone who can be counted on to do what she says.

Seeing that Jesus was called the very WORD of God shows me that God values His own words, His own commitments.  He sent His Son to fulfill His promise, long-awaited and far away.  The Word was God’s way of communicating with a world that needed to know Who He really is.  It was His way of inviting us into a relationship with Himself.

The Word made flesh.  Dwelling among us.  God coming down to speak in a language we could understand.

That is amazing.  And that, my friends, is Monday grace for sure.