another miracle amid the mundane (you can’t make this stuff up)

It was an ordinary day, like any other Saturday, I promise you.  Well, except for the fact that it was 60 something degrees on a Saturday in the month of January, but other than that minor detail, in every other respect, just an ordinary Saturday.  At least that’s how it started out.  I decided to go for a walk before tackling my “to do” list because I wanted to take advantage of this gift of such unexpectedly warm weather at this time of the year.

Now walking is one of my favorite things to do. Its free, it relaxes me, helps to prepare and energize me for the day ahead or allows me to unwind and think about whatever it is that needs contemplating at day’s end.  So I often walk around my neighborhood on the sidewalks or on the paths on the golf course not in use at the moment.  Today was no different,  I took one of my usual routes which took me onto the golf course and a little bit closer to nature as there are woods and water with bridges connecting one side to the other.  Plenty of ducks and geese frequent these ponds as well as the occasional heron, bullfrogs, and the elusive muskrat, so there is plenty to watch as I walk, if I am not too deep in thought to notice.

I was walking at a pretty good pace as I stepped onto the wooden bridge from the concrete path.  The wood was wet from the recent rain and without warning I slipped, throwing my arms out as I reacted in order to keep my balance.  As I did so, my house key flew from my hand into the water before I even knew it was happening.  My cell phone was also clutched in that same hand, I had been holding them together as I walked.  So this could have been a repeat of an earlier incident in my life, “cell phone two, lost again to water”.  But that was not the case.

However,  I still had a very real and immediate problem, how to get into my house without my key or how to find my now submerged key.  Either was going to be a challenge.  What to do?  All the if onlys flooded my thoughts first.  If only I had a key pad entry on my garage, I could just press in the numbers and I’d be able to get in.  But I don’t.  If only I’d left a spare key with one of my neighbors, but I hadn’t.  If only my keys (and phone) had been in my pocket instead of my hand, but they weren’t.  If only I’d been wearing gloves, but I didn’t think I needed them today.  If only I kept a spare key on my front porch or around my house somewhere, but I don’t.  If only I’d taken to the sidewalk as I had considered doing as I exited one part of the golf course, because I thought the next section might have parts of the path under water, but I didn’t.  I had decided to chance it and see if I could get through.

So the reality of my situation slowly began to sink in. ( much more slowly I might add than the split second it took my key to sink and vanish from sight)  Now questions ran rampant through my mind.  Triple A can break into my car for me, could they break into my house for me as well?  Who do you call to break into your house for you? (criminals R us?)  Were any of my neighbors home at the moment?  And even if they were, what could they possibly do?  Did I want to break a window?  (that would be an expensive replacement)  I decided I would get my very tall rain boots and return to the scene of my mishap to wade in and search for my key. (after all it wasn’t that cold) This seemed like a satisfactory plan, inconveniencing no one, until I realized I would need my lost key to get into my house in order to get my rain boots.  So back to square one.

My ordinary, well planned day had just taken an unexpected turn.  I take such pains to protect myself from so many things, and yet here I was.  I hadn’t planned for this, nor planned how to prevent it.  I didn’t see it coming.  I was reminded once again that the things I worry about often never happen and things I don’t worry about do.  Only a week ago I had spent two days worrying about a predicted ice storm that was going to be in full force when I needed to be at the airport picking up my daughter and son in law.  I watched the weather expectantly, making all kinds of contingency plans in my head, but as midnight approached not a drop was falling.  There was no weather issue at all.

But today I had an issue and it needed a solution.  I knocked on my neighbor’s door. (fortunately I had walked mid-morning and not at my usual quite early hour, or I would have had the additional problem of it being too early to bother anyone)  These particular  neighbors are good friends as well as kind and compassionate people, so I hoped my embarrassment in my current predicament would be minimized at least. (imagine having to explain this to strangers)  I asked to borrow boots, explaining my situation.  What I received in addition to the boots was a huge chunk of metal, which was a magnate fastened by duck tape to a long cord.  (duck tape is always involved in problem solving in some capacity)  My hopes soared, this would surely do the trick.  I hiked back over to the bridge and set to work.  I could “fish” from the bridge so I didn’t even need the boots.

I was pretty sure I knew where the key had entered the water, well kind of sure, it happened so fast.  My solitary key was attached via key ring to a small circular piece of leather I had had since college, with a rose design now faded and worn but still visible. This circle of leather actually has a lot of sentimental value to me; it is special but it’s the key that is necessary. This brown leather circle would blend in perfectly with the wet brown leaves that blanketed the bottom of the pond where it was shallow enough to see the bottom, that is.  I looked first and saw nothing and so began to fish for my hidden house key.  At first I lowered the large magnate carefully from the bridge until it touched bottom, let it rest there a moment, then pulled it carefully up.  I didn’t want to muddy up the water or to push my key further into the mud and leaves at the bottom.

Each time I hauled the magnate from the water I firmly believed my key would be attached.  My eyes were glued to the magnate each time it came up out of the water. I held my breath in expectation, already filled with gratitude and relief.  And each time it came up empty, my anticipation turned to disappointment. I would second guess where indeed my key had entered the water, recalculate and try again.  Feeling frustrated after some time had passed with many failed attempts, I broadened my search area.  I cast the magnate a bit further from the bridge and began to drag it along the bottom as well. This made the water really murky but I had to try something different.  I brought up a few nails, a bolt and lots of leaves each time, but no key.

I was getting discouraged but I knew my key was down there somewhere.  I had watched it and heard it as it entered the water.  I needed it back!  I even tried the other side of the bridge,  thinking of Jesus’s advice to Peter to put the fishing nets on the other side of the boat.  But there was no current and I didn’t think the key would have moved much.  So I started over, working the area again where I thought my key should be.  By now I was just going through the motions.  Lowering, dragging, retrieving, removing leaves and lowering again.

My disappointment was turning to despair with each failed attempt.  I wasn’t really looking as the magnate broke the surface of the water each time now, because I was no longer expecting the key to be attached.  Still, I persisted in fishing for my key while considering, what next?  I had tried deeper, going as far as the middle of the bridge and further out from the bridge, though I believed my key was both closer to the bridge and to the bank.  So I decided to put on the boots and go wading so that I could search with my hands.

As I pulled the magnate up yet again, I reached out to catch it and remove the leaves, while looking at the bank, planning my point of entry.  When I actually looked at the magnate, it took me more than a moment it seemed to realize that I was looking at my key and leather circle!  I had quit expecting to see them how many throws into the water ago?  I couldn’t say exactly when my many disappointments had turned my certain expectation into something else., into  resignation?  into hopelessness?  Was it on the 15th try? the 50th? or the 150th?  I couldn’t tell you.

But I can tell you that even though I was feeling resigned and hopeless, I continued to “fish” for my key, I did not stop.  Now feeling relief, joy and gratitude I hurried back to my neighbors to return their things and share with them my good news.  What was lost is now found.  That’s the miracle. or is it?

Or is the real miracle God’s reminder to me that He never gives up on me or on anyone?  Therefore I should never give up on myself and neither should you, dear reader, ever give up on yourself.  God doesn’t.  God reminded me while I was “fishing” that I need to persist even when my feelings tell me otherwise.  We all need to be encouraged to “keep on keeping on”.   I’m glad I did.  I’m glad I didn’t stop untill I found my key.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him”  (1Cor. 2:9)

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”  (James 1:12)

sincerely,               Grace Day






Why Remember?

when I am on the mountain top, let me remember my journey through the valley,         lest I neglect to show compassion to those in the valley,                                                       for I will be in the valley again.

In times of abundance may I remember my times of want,  lest I forget to be generous to those in need,  for I will be in want again.

when I am enjoying the sun, may I remember the rain, lest I forget to be grateful and give thanks,  for I will see the rain again.

when I know joy, may I not forget my pain, lest I forget to show sympathy to those who are hurting,  for I will know pain again.

when kind words encourage me, let me not forget the wounds of cutting words, lest I fail to speak encouragement to those who need it,  for I will need encouragement again.

in healing, let me not forget what it was to be ill, lest I forget to care for the infirm,  I will need healing again.

when I am rested, let me not forget what it was to be weary,  lest I neglect to provide a respite for those who are tired,  I will be weary again.

when my heart is whole, let me not forget how it felt to live broken hearted, lest I forget to show kindness to those whose hearts are broken,  for my heart will be broken again.

when my burden is light, let me not forget what it was to carry the heavy load of my cares and my sin, lest I neglect to bear another’s burden, for I will be heavy laden again.

when I am walking in Your light, Lord;  let me not forget what it was to walk in the darkness, lest I neglect to share Your light with someone else, for I will walk through dark times again.

when all is calm, let me not forget the storm, lest I forget to sing Your praises, God, in both; for I will be in the storm again.

in my laughter, let me not forget my tears, lest I fail to lighten others’ hearts; for I will need laughter when my tears fall again.

when I am filled with hope, let me not forget my times of despair, lest I have no empathy for those who are struggling,  for I will see times of despair again.

when I am surrounded by those dear to me, may I not forget my times alone, lest I fail to reach out to those who are lonely;  I will walk alone again.

when I am filled with faith, let me not forget what it was to doubt, so that I can reassure those who doubt;  for I may yet doubt again.

when I am home, let me not forget what it was to wander, lest I fail to welcome every returning prodigal home;  for I was once a prodigal in need of welcome;  I could yet be a prodigal again.

Let me remember always, Heavenly Father, Your all sustaining, ever present comfort, that I might share it freely with all;  remembering and rejoicing, in being both the comforted and the comforter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  (1Cor. 1:3-4)

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.”  (Psalm 77:11-12)

sincerely,                     Grace Day


New or Not?

I’ve always had trouble with New Year’s; the concept, the resolutions, things dropping etc.  Now this may seem odd coming from someone who loves beginnings of any kind (see very first post) but I don’t see New Year’s day as a beginning.  I mean it’s the middle of winter, the middle of the school year, the middle of the fiscal year for many, and middles are a whole different thing than beginnings.  We don’t celebrate middles nor commemorate them.   We acknowledge and celebrate and commemorate beginnings and endings in every aspect of our lives.  Births, deaths, weddings, divorces, new jobs, retirements, starting school, graduations, making the team, winning the championship, etc.   Not so with middles.

Middles are messy.  The middle of anything can be monotonous, made up mostly of the mundane day to day details that drive our days. Middles are murky and meandering,  we can easily lose momentum, we can easily lose our way.  The middle may be mellow, devoid of the highs and lows that accompany most beginnings and endings, but still full of feeling, of longing or anticipation, of dread or despair.  When we are in the middle of anything it is often slow going and we are left to muddle through, making the most of every moment.  Making sure we don’t lose our way.

Now, lest middles get a bad rep here, let me just say that the middle of an Oreo is the sweet spot of the cookie.  The middle of a sandwhich is where the meat is.  And it’s precisely in the middle where the real work of living our life is done.  It is in the middle that life is lived, friendships formed, skills acquired, services rendered, dreams pursued.  We live our lives in the uncelebrated, unheralded middle; punctuated by numerous beginnings and endings marking this or that;  but by and large we live out our moments in the middle.  In the middle of school, in the middle of a marriage, in the middle of a career, in the middle of raising children, in the middle of an illness, in the middle of training for the marathon, in the middle of being on our way to whatever it is. We live our lives in the middle.

We are living in middle times.  Jesus has come and lived and died and risen and returned to heaven.  He has told us that He is coming again.  “‘Men of Galilee’, they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'” (Acts 1:11)  “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”  (Mark 13:26)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'”  (Revelation 21:3-5)

Now that’s what I call a NEW YEAR!  A true beginning, the old is gone, the new has come.  Not more of the same with a different spin or twist or a different name.  Truly something new and different.  Until then,  we are living in the middle, between Jesus’ incarnation and His return to earth.  We are waiting for His return, for that new beginning to began.

But we do get a preview of what is to come.  Each day is a new beginning/clean slate in and of itself.  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

And there’s more good news.  When God said He was making everything new, that includes me!  I don’t have to rely on myself, on making New Year’s resolutions that I ultimately can’t and won’t keep anyway.  I don’t have to try “twenty minutes a day to a better me”  or “five things that will ensure my career success in the New Year” or “the secret super foods that will change my life” or “three ways to find lasting love in the New Year”.

My Creator is at work in me, creating something new.  “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (2Cor. 5:17)  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  Who needs New Year’s resolutions when we have the very power of our Creator available to us for the humbling and the asking?  And He is faithful.

“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)  No matter how many times I fail, God never gives up on me.  Even if I give up on myself, He is faithful.

God has given me a new heart and a new life and His mercies to me are new every morning.  There may be nothing “new” about New Year’s (except the date on the calendar) but there’s everything new about the life God offers each of us through His Son, Jesus.

Now we see through a glass darkly, as we muddle through this middle, but then we shall see face to face.   So I think, dear readers, the more truthful salutation that I will offer you on this New Year’s day is,  a Merry Middle to you!    May your Mountains become Molehills (instead of vice-versa), may you both receive and grant Mercy unconditionally and may your Mustard seed of faith enable you to recognize and rejoice over the Miracles God grants you each day.

sincerely,                            Grace Day