Who Knew? Glad I didn’t.

Last year our family celebrated Christmas in Germany. We spent time with our son-in-law’s family who lives there, holding hands around the dinner table as we prayed. We toured Hanover and the Christmas market, rubbing elbows with happy strangers. We gathered in packed cathedrals and sang worship hymns.

“The World is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”― J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)

No masks. No social distancing. No fear or thoughts of catching a deadly disease.

I’m glad I didn’t know a world-wide pandemic would hit us like a tsunami in 2020. I’m glad I could live in the moment. Clueless to the new normal that would change life as we knew it.

I’m glad I rang in the New Year and hugged my folks in Texas without worrying that I’d unknowingly expose them to a disease I may or may not have. I’m thankful I didn’t know I wouldn’t see them again until November.

In early February, my husband and I flew to Georgia to celebrate our grandson’s first birthday. If you’d told me that our traveling days were over, our church services would Have to stop meeting in person, we’d rarely (if ever) see our friends, and I’d have to stop cooking/serving the homeless–I wouldn’t have believed you.

When I attended our local theater to watch a play in early March, I didn’t know that live theater would disappear indefinitely. School, sports, and ALL outdoor events like our county fair would be canceled.

Thank goodness I didn’t know in January 2020 that …

My prayer list for sick, dying, depressed, and unemployed people would grow longer.

My 15-year-old kitty would have to be euthanized.

My son-in-law’s parents wouldn’t be able to travel to the U.S. to visit.

One of my family members would need to move in with us.

My mask would become a new accessory, hand sanitizer my new lotion, and toilet paper a thing to be hoarded. The list goes on and on. Right?

But today is December 1, and I’m decorating my house for Christmas with more fanfare than normal. For everything bad that happened, I have a gratitude journal and a blessings jar to remind me of everything good that happened this past year. For one thing, my 89-year-old dad survived a major heart attack. My mom couldn’t even go into the hospital to be with him.

I get to choose each day how I see my cup. Half-full or half-empty? But I prefer to see my cup as full and overflowing because my attitude is the ONLY thing I can control. And our attitude affects our emotions and how we respond to this pandemic.

I’m especially thankful that when I don’t know what’s around the corner….God knows. He’s not only waiting on the other side, He’s with me in this moment. He’s shown me the things that I thought were important ain’t so important after all. God’s also stretching my stiff-neck ways to make me more pliable, and toning my flabby faith muscles so I’ll trust Him more.

God has a bigger plan for my life and yours. He’s not concerned about our happiness and entertainment as much as our character and the salvation of our souls. God wants us to love others and show mercy. He wants us to seek Him rather than His gifts.

Who knows. Events in 2021 might make 2020 look good. But for everything I don’t know about tomorrow, I Do Know that God Doesn’t Change.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10)

One day we will see our Savior face to face. “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!” (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

Until then, the Lord is our anchor. Our hope. And all the more reason to celebrate this Christmas with renewed focus on what matters most! Faith in the risen Savior, Family. Friends.

How are you coping with this pandemic especially during the holiday season?

Photos: K. Foster

What’s Your Best Day?

“That was the best day of my life,” exclaimed a little girl to her parents.

Her blond curls bounced as she skipped down the gravel pathway in her cowboy boots.

And my heart skipped with her causing me to chime in, “Me too!”

Her parents turned around and nodded. We’d just listened to a free symphony concert in the park. Notes from the William Tell Overture twirled in my head.

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Like a keepsake rose, I pressed that “best day” into my memory bank.

Do you remember one of the best days of your life?

Those sweet spots on this earthly journey when your cup runs over and it feels great to be alive.

If only we could rejoice…be happy, joyful, pleased, glad…every day.

Even on those rotten tomato days when it feels like the worse day ever.

The Bible says we should rejoice. (Psalm 118:24)

  • Rejoice because God has made this day. And He is fully present, longing to be part of our day.
  • Rejoice because inducing happy thoughts changes our perspective and makes us glad.
  • Rejoice knowing that our best days on earth don’t hold a candle to one day in God’s house. (Psalm 84:10)

That evening, I sat beneath a canopy of stars, swaying to the melodic notes of that orchestra which reached a spine-tingling crescendo, and I envisioned God’s angelic choir singing “Hallelujah. Worthy is the Lamb.”

The image gave me goosebumps.

For if that symphonic high is a glimpse of God’s glory and the joy of being in His presence one day,

Then it’s possible to rejoice today and always. (1 Thess. 5:16)

The only sad thing is…no one can make us rejoice. Choosing to be glad is up to each individual. 

Even in this moment.

Thankful I Don’t Have

IMG_5310Although I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, I also praise God for the many things I don’t have:

Terminal illness

Delinquent child

Empty food pantry

Rat eating my kitchen pipes…like a year ago

Some readers may be dealing with these issues, or worse. So forgive me if I step on toes. And yet, when I’m trudging through the messy circumstances of life, I believe….God’s grace pads my life in ways I can’t imagine.

Crises diverted. Grief avoided. Unspoken prayers favorably answered without my knowledge.

Doesn’t God deserve gratitude for covert blessings too?    

During imperfect days, sprinkled with more discomfort than joy, it’s natural to grumble, “Why me, Lord?” Then I hear the news, or receive a prayer request, and realize the multitude of evil and sorrow that God spares me from each day.

My perspective changed back in the day, when my five-year-old son fell from the Monkey Bars. While I kissed the bruised bump on his head, he whimpered, “Why did God let me fall?”

I responded, “Let’s thank God you don’t have a broken neck.”

It’s not just viewing a half-empty cup as half-full. It’s naming names.

Praising God that I have good health doesn’t have the same powerful imagery as thanking Him that I don’t have breast cancer when my mammogram comes back normal.

That’s because I remember driving my bald-headed friend to her chemotherapy appointment. I listened to her miserable groans afterwards. I’m thankful I still have my friend.

I’m also thankful I don’t have to walk in her shoes…at least, for the time being. But even then, God willing, I’d be glad I didn’t have to go through cancer alone.

Three weeks ago, I sprained my ankle. No big deal comparatively speaking, but rotten timing. I was scheduled to travel in two days to visit my daughter. As I lay on the floor, wreathing in pain, I wailed, “No! How will I drive to the airport? How will I get from my parked car to the terminal gate?   

I hobbled to my couch, placed an ice pack on my elevated ankle. The more I mused on my clumsiness and misfortune, the more gratitude bubbled and spilled over, soothing my taunt nerves.

Thank you Lord, I don’t have a broken ankle. As I massaged my bruised hip, I sighed, “I’m not a spring chicken. Thank you, Lord, I don’t have a broken hip bone.   

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A positive spin weaves threads of have and have not into a tapestry of thanksgiving. And gratitude enables us to look at life like a two-sided coin:

The blessings we have,

The battles we don’t have to wage in this moment.

It’s a win-win~~no matter how the coin lands.

What are you thankful for that you don’t have?

Slow Down, Don’t Move Too Fast

Stop and smell the flowers? Many days, it’s all I can do to slow down and notice them.

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I rush from home, anxious to accomplish my “tyranny of the urgent.”

But last week, circumstances forced my hand, made time stand still.

Or so it felt when the orange cones and yellow warning signs stopped my race against time. When I wasn’t at a complete stop, I drove at 5 miles per hour because there was construction work on the shoulder of the rural highway.

I glanced at the clock, no way to reach my destination on time. Excuses tumbled in my head as I envisioned walking breathlessly into the room. Not my fault. Road work prevented me from being on time.

But self justification was interrupted by a popular truism: Life’s a journey, not a destination.

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Like the gears in a car, I shifted my mindset to “enjoy” the journey instead of fret over something beyond my control

Relaxing my grip on the steering wheel, I turned my head to gaze out the window. Winter’s once dormant trees were bursting with new mint-green growth. Their branches cast shadows on the sunlit asphalt.

When I rolled down the windows, a warm breeze embraced me. The smell of fresh cut field grass tickled my nose. And I marveled as a yellow butterfly fluttered among the orange poppies and bluebonnets that adorned the hillside.

How many times had I traveled this highway with windows rolled up and radio blaring, unable to hear the chorus of birds twittering in the trees? Even the purring of my car engine couldn’t drown their song.

Most days, I move too fast, fixated on my destination.

I miss the journey because my mind is already there, or stuck on autopilot, rather than living in the moment.

But on this fine spring morning, forced to slow down, and intent on enjoying my journey…………

My heart felt light as air. Not unlike those calm mornings when I’m able to relax and enjoy God’s wonders.

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When the orange-vested man waved me forward, and the cars sped by me at 55 mph, I was singing, “Glory in the Highest.”

Because there is joy in the journey. It’s all around us when there are eyes to see and ears to hear every good thing that God has created for our pleasure and His glory.

Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth!

Worship the Lord with gladness.

Come before him, singing with joy.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

He made us, and we are his,

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

Go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

For the Lord is good.

His unfailing love continues forever,

And his faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100:1-5)