Food for thought

“Lord thank You for this food and bless it to our bodies’ use” (or bless it to the nourishment of our bodies)  How many times have I both heard and said that prayer throughout my lifetime?  too many to count, certainly.  It is one of those automatic prayers said anytime we are gathered around food, about to partake of a meal.  Now the first part about being thankful for food has always resonated with me.  I am well aware that here and around the world there are people who are hungry, people who are starving, people who are food insecure.  I don’t take my having access to good food for granted and I am truly thankful, always.

But the second part (bless this food to our bodies’ use) I have never really even thought about until now.  We eat, we are satisfied, we have energy to keep on going and growing and whatever else we need our bodies to do as we work and play and live our lives.  End of story, right? or so I thought but for two dear friends of mine.   You see, I knew starvation, malnutrition and many illnesses result when people don’t have food to eat, or don’t have enough food, or don’t have the right kinds of good, healthy foods.  I didn’t know you could starve in a house full of food, in a country full of grocery stores and restaurants and farms filled with growing grain and livestock and vegetable gardens in every back yard. I didn’t know until now.

You see, my friends have food, they can eat, do eat, like to eat but their bodies aren’t nourished by the food they eat, any of it, no matter how healthy the food. Sometimes our bodies don’t work the way they were designed to work.  In this case my friends don’t get any of the benefit from the foods they eat.  Something I just take for granted, food will sustain my body.  I trust that my body will be able to get what it needs from the foods that I feed it.  I take the prayer for granted.

This got me to thinking about how food is one of God’s good gifts.  One of His best gifts many would say, especially if you are a fellow Foodie.  What if He had designed us just to need a daily shot or a daily pill to meet our bodies’ requirements for health and growth?  But in His infinite creativity He gave us food and gave it to us in stunning variety.  “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.'”  (Genesis 1:29)  “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you.  Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”  (Genesis 9:3)

“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate– . . . and bread that sustains his heart.”  (Psalm 104:14-15)  Yes, food is one of God’s good gifts to us, one of His provisions for us.  All over the world different foods grow in different climates and soils, but all contain what is necessary to sustain us.  All the different varieties of all the various foods should astound us.  Food is fascinating, food is fun. Food tastes good and smells good and fills more than just our bellies. Can you imagine our culture with no restaurants and no cooking shows?  We trade recipes and hold cook offs or bake offs or chili cooking competitions. We attend picnics and potlucks.  All because of the gift of food.

Food brings us together.  The preparing and the sharing of food is present in every culture, creating community as people participate together in these activities.  We show our care for others by bringing them food when they are ill or there is a death.  We show our welcome and our hospitality to others by providing food for them.  We celebrate with food, our holidays and our traditions include and often center around food.  Food is a way to connect with others.  From funerals to weddings,  food feeds more than just our bodies.  Food fuels our relationships as we break bread together.  Jesus set the example in this regard as He often ate in peoples’ homes and broke bread with His disciples, culminating in His final and most memorable shared meal,  His last supper with His disciples before His crucifixion.

Yes, food binds us to each other and to God in ways no weekly or monthly pill or injection ever could.  Starting with depending on God for the rain to make their crops grow and ending with the offerings God’s people gave Him of the first fruits of those crops,  they gave grain offerings and also offerings of their livestock after each harvest.  From  Adam and Eve in the garden, to manna in the desert, to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand; from the Passover Supper to the Last Supper,  food has connected God to His people.

Similarly, food connects us to each other every step of the way.  Beginning with the growing of the food, no matter which culture, the planting and the harvesting of the food isn’t done alone but with the help of others in the community.  It’s a group effort as the survival of the group depends on the success of the harvest.  The food is produced in community and consumed in community, creating bonds that would not otherwise exist.    Our need for food serves as an ever present reminder to us that we need each other and that we need God.  We are even told to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”

We in this culture where food is accessible and abundant,  may have lost sight of just what an extraordinary blessing the gift of food really is.  I say this because like any of God’s good gifts, we often misuse or abuse it and food has been no exception.  We either eat too much or too little (anorexia etc.) or eat the wrong stuff.  Of course the wrong stuff only exists because we invented it. We tried to improve upon God’s perfection and fell woefully short.  God’s gift of food to us in its’ natural state was perfectly designed for our bodies’ use.  Our “improvements” to God’s provision for us have not been better for us at all, but often actually harmful rather than beneficial.  Artificial sweeteners are a good example. Turns out they’re not all that after all and they have a down side.  Sugar was ok all along in its natural state.  And Cheetos, are they even really a food at all? And butter is back. Turns out butter is better.  Butter is best.  Actually butter rules.  (ok, so much for my ode to butter)

God gave us so many good and perfect foods, it’s hard to improve upon perfection. (maybe that’s why farm to table is so popular right now?)  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17)

I won’t take that prayer for granted anymore.  Not knowing what I know now.  Not only is food a gift but that food can keep our bodies strong and healthy is a gift as well.  I will appreciate both, not just the one.  I will appreciate the gift of sharing food with family and friends not just on Thanksgiving Day but everyday.  Food binds us together and fuels community.  God meant for us to live in community. He knew what He was doing when He gave us food, not a pill or a shot.  He was giving us immeasurably more than we could think to ask for or imagine.  But then He always does.  Thank you Heavenly Father,

sincerely,           Grace Day


Gone bungee jumping

That’s what my sign would read were I a shop owner.  “Gone bungee jumping-back soon”.   Definitely not the more common place “closed for renovation” or “out to lunch” or even my favorite, “gone fishing”.   No, my sign would read “bungee jumping-back soon”.  Although realistically,  how soon does one come back from bungee jumping?  (don’t worry, that was a rhetorical question)

At this point I should probably clarify something.  I am speaking figuratively, not literally.  I’ve never had any interest in nor desire to sky dive or bungee jump or even ride the roller coaster at the theme park.  Daily life is exciting and daunting and even dangerous enough all on its own without any added obstacles to overcome.  I’ve bungee jumped before and probably will again,  but this particular jump coming up is different than any I’ve attempted previously.  This jump is farther and  higher and longer and more involved than ever before, requiring more preparation than past jumps.

Now you can be sure I have the most important item for this activity of bungee jumping, which we can all agree is, of course, the bungee cord. (don’t leave home without one)  Everyone knows the proper bungee cord is essential for the success of the jump.  The outcome of the jump depends entirely on the bungee cord.  For this particular jump,  my bungee cord is my sister.  You see I’m traveling farther and longer than ever before to a place I’ve never been, to a people I’ve never met.  But my sister has been there and she does know the people and she loves them.  So I will love them as well.

We will travel to the far side of the world, to another continent, to the other side of the equator.   We will travel.  I will jump and my sister will be my bungee cord. She will be with me.  I have made many jumps before, I realize as I look back at my life. They are called “leaps of faith” and I must and will continue to make them as long as I live. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  (2 Corinthians 5:7)

You see, even though I said my sister is my bungee cord for this particular jump I know Who her bungee cord is because He has always been my bungee cord as well, our Heavenly Father.  He is the One who holds us both, no matter where we travel.  “Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from Your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”  (Psalm 139:7-10)

A lot of my bungee jumping is done solo, but this jump will be special because I will share it with both my sisters, assorted nieces, a nephew and his girlfriend.  We will be each others’ bungee cords and we will all share the same cord, being held secure in the hands of our Heavenly Father.  He is our ultimate bungee cord, the one that never fails.  How exhilarating it will be to be His hands and feet to the people we will meet.  All I have to do is jump.  or even a baby step will do. He is faithful. He will catch me.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”  (Is.52:7)

so I’ll be gone for awhile,  gone bungee jumping to be exact.

sincerely,                      Grace Day


The end without the means

I’ve been noticing something about many of my students for awhile now. Something that concerns me about their approach to their education.  Something that I think they carry over into other areas of their lives.  They want the end without the means.  They want the result without having to participate in the process.  They want the title without the training, the destination without the journey.  As I pondered this sad state of affairs, I was suddenly aware that I often share this very thing in common with my students.  I am not happy to admit to this,  but if I am honest all I have to do is to look at the evidence.

For instance, I desire to experience new and different far away cultures.  I want to be there, I just don’t want to submit to the travel necessary to get there.  For me, it’s about the destination not the journey.  My bent towards motion sickness plus a dose of slight claustrophobia, make airplane travel particularly intimidating for me.  So I want to be there (wherever there is), I just don’t want to do what it takes to get there.

I’m the same way with clothes.  I like clothes.  I want clothes that are current in style, in the colors of my choosing, in the size that I need to be hanging in my closet ready and waiting for me to wear.  But I don’t want to shop for them.  All those malls, all those stores, all those racks in every store.  Finding something I like in a color I want in the right size at the right price, is exhausting to me.  Now there are those who thrive on this challenge of the hunt for that perfect article of clothing or shoes at the best possible price.  For them it is the thrill of the pursuit.  What is exhilarating for someone else is exhausting for me.  I just  want to skip that part and have the clothes magically appear in my closet.  Again I desire the end result without my having to participate in the process.

Life, however, doesn’t work this way.  At least it shouldn’t.  Consider education. Often, the students I see want the end result, the diploma and the degree. They want the good grades.  But they aren’t willing to put in the work necessary to achieve this goal.  The students aren’t willing to give their time, their energy or their attention to learn what needs to be learned in order to receive credit for the individual classes that will eventually earn them their diploma.  The process of learning requires of them sacrifice, dedication and persistence.  They are not willing to pay this price, but they want the outcome.  They refuse to participate in the process (reading books, writing papers, listening to lectures, doing homework, studying for tests etc.) but they expect the prize to be given to them whether they earned it or not.

Now anything worth having comes at a cost.  We value something more if we have to work for it than if it is handed to us.  We can’t fully appreciate that which we don’t have to sacrifice to achieve.

When I commit to achieving the end result by pursuing the means first,  the end is more meaningful to me and I am altered in the process in positive ways that prepare me for what is next.  If I am given the end without having to participate in the means I have none of the needed experience for what lies ahead.  I cheat myself by skipping the process and expecting the prize.

If I doubt that the means is just as important if not more so than the end result, all I have to do is to look at Jesus’ life to find the answer.  Jesus did not skip over the means in His journey to accomplish the end result.  On the contrary, Jesus participated fully in the process that took Him from cradle to cross to tomb to resurrection to ascension.  He skipped over nothing, left nothing undone.  And because of this we can know, as it says in Hebrews, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we  have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:14-15)

Jesus didn’t skip a single step of His journey on the way to His ultimate destination. He lived out each and every one of His earthly moments with no short cuts.  He didn’t come to earth as an adult with armies and political power and wealth and high status.  He came as a helpless baby and lived His life as one of the least of these, just like the people He came to seek and to serve and to save.  Jesus humbled Himself,  “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”  (Philippians 2:8)

Jesus knows our suffering because He experienced suffering Himself when He was here.  He even asked God that the cup might pass from Him,  (skip that step in the process)  but in the end He humbled Himself and participated in every excruciating moment of the crucifixion from the beatings beforehand to His final breath.  He fast forwarded over nothing so that He “died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”  (1Peter 3:18)  Jesus endured the means and achieved a lasting end.  “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5)

So there’s my answer.  I should not desire the end without the means.  If I do, I am only depriving myself of everything that the process, the journey of the means has to teach me, to give me, to equip me for what comes next.  If I don’t humble myself and submit to the means,  I will be unprepared and unfit for my destination, should I arrive there by less than honest means or by skipping over necessary steps in the process.

I witness daily the damage this end without the means mentality does in the lives of my students.  It will do no less in my own life if I am not willing to pay the price and submit to the process.  So I will get on that plane and not just endure but even embrace the process that will get me to where I want to be.  Maybe I will even go to that mall.  (no, that’s what catalog/online shopping is for)  After all, how am I going to have any good travel stories or shopping tales if I skip that part?

Today I renew my commitment to the means, knowing the end without it is not worth reaching.  travel on,  dear readers, the joy is in the journey

sincerely,     Grace Day




if I had known

if I had known,  I would have lingered longer, laughed louder, hugged harder, looked more closely, listened with my heart,  memorized each moment

if I had known,  I would rise, recognize and give the day its’ due,  my full attention, no sleepwalking, no daydreaming, no longing for what has ceased to be,  no wishing for nor dreading what is to come;  the one unchangeable, the other unknowable,  one memory, one imagination

but when I dwell in either place I trade the only thing I have to give, these moments now in which I live

if I had known I would have said goodbye, wished you well, given words and voice to all those things I never tell,  but hold in my heart, carrying them carefully, saving them as treasures till their time should come,  ushered in with pomp and circumstance to mark the moment of their release, so I would know—   if I had known

if I had known

I would have reached out, no holding back, no hurrying on but slowly stopping to linger long,

if I had known

I would have taken note, taken time, taken pictures in my mind—taken my leave properly, there would not be another chance to get it right

if I had known,  I would not have been in such a hurry to move on,  I would give this day its’ due, so ordinary, so mundane,  I let it slip like sand between my fingers,  there will always be more sand, I say—   and I am right,   it is time that is in short supply

if I had known,  I would have embraced not endured this day, this gift— allowed my eyes to clearly see,   no vacant stares— looked closer, unafraid to see the truth and what it would reveal,   I would have taken pictures with eyes that seek to see and remember—  pictures filed and framed in memory’s domain,  there forever clear, unaltered by time’s passing

if I had known,  I would have held on tight and cherished well and taken in my fill—  I would not have held so carelessly nor treated so lightly,  thinking there’d be still more time,  each day seeming much the same, always another day remains

if I had known,  I would not be so careless with today,  slipping away while I am looking elsewhere—  my present now become my past,  not knowing this would be my last

goodbye has shown up unbidden, unexpected and I do not recognize her—  I am not ready

I did not know——     what I know now

if I had known

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalms 90:12)

sincerely,       Grace Day

Believing the lie

How many of us live believing the lie?  I found myself wondering recently, how many lies do I battle or do I buy into on a daily basis?  This is important to me because decisions I make based on truth are always going to be better decisions than any choices I choose based on a lie.  These can be the lies others tell me, those I tell myself or those the enemy of my soul (and yours) perpetually proclaims to me in the hope that I will live like I believe his lies over the truths of my Heavenly Father.

My enemy’s voice is loud as a roaring lion, as soft as a slithering, hissing snake whispering words of doubt and deceit.  Others’ voices surround me, filling my head with words sounding wise in their own ears, but having no substance in reality.  They exalt what should not be glorified and destroy what should not be torn down.  Over all this, my own voice speaks alternately false condemnation or false exaltation of myself and others, that should not be.  I long for and listen only to the voice of truth.  This requires constant vigilance, as I seek the solitude necessary to hear this voice.  Yet I find that with practice of this pursuit I can hear this vital voice amid, in spite of and above whatever voices assail me at the moment.

It is the still small voice that sustains my soul.  “Be still and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10)  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”  “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word  is truth.”  (John 16:13, John 17:17) What are the lies so prevalent in our culture and in our own thinking?  I am told everything from God doesn’t exist to, He exists but He is unknowable or that He doesn’t care about me.

This is not true.  “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 men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20)   ” ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you’,  declares the Lord,”  (Jeremiah 29:13-14)  “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.”  (Psalm 145:9)   God exists,  He can be found by me and He cares for me because He created me for relationship with Him.

How often have I believed the lie that God doesn’t see me or see my struggle?  Do  I believe the lie that God doesn’t feel my pain, doesn’t bear my burden, doesn’t hear me when I call out to Him, or worse, He hears me but He just doesn’t care?  Or He cares but He’s not able to do anything about it.

The truth?  “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her:  ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ ”  (Genesis 16:13)   “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”  (Job 23:10)   Both Hagar and Job knew and experienced the truth; God saw them, He knew them, He heard them, He came to them and He cared for them.

More truth.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  (Psalm 34:18)  “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”  (Psalm 68:19)  “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.”  (Psalm 18:6)  “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”  (Isaiah 65:24)

For every lie there is a truth.  Truth continued, lest I think my Heavenly Father doesn’t know my circumstances or doesn’t care about them.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  (Matthew 10:29-31) One translation reads, “apart from the notice of your Father”.  Nothing escapes His notice; He sees and He cares.

More truth.  “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.”  (Psalm 145:9)  “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

More truth.  God not only cares, He is able and willing to be our provider and protector.  “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  (Romans 8:32)  “You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  (Psalm 145:16)  “and God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (2Cor. 9:8)

For every lie there is a truth.  “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32)  I can choose to believe the lie or I can seek out the truth. The enemy of my soul will whisper that there is no god, while all around me, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”  (Psalm 19:1-3)

There are those who would tell me God is uncaring, too judgmental and punitive. But I know His compassions to be new every morning, that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13) and that He doesn’t want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)  So much so that Jesus came to live among us, die in our place, conquer death and return to His home in glory to prepare a place for me and anyone else who calls upon His name.

“For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Romans 10:13)

Do I believe the lies?  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  (Proverbs 14:12)   For every lie there is a truth.  I will continue to seek and to listen to the voice of truth, the still small voice that can be heard above and amid the clamor and the chaos.  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8)  Truth endures, truth prevails, lies will be exposed and lose their power.  Lies enslave, truth sets free.  I choose truth.

sincerely,                         Grace Day





A misfit finds her fit

Misfit?, you ask.  Yes, that would be me. I’ve always believed myself to be a misfit. Perhaps it was the experience of growing up in a silky, straight haired world as a curly, coarse haired girl. Like any good misfit I’ve spent my days seeking to blend in, searching for that place to belong.  Searching for that place where I fit, because when I find that place I will no longer be a misfit.

Now, years later, not much has changed.  I’m still out of step with my surroundings. In everything from clothes to pop culture to technology I’m a step (or two) behind and out of sync.  Oh how I long to be cutting edge, whatever that would look like?  With clothes if I can just keep them in my closet long enough, they will make a comeback, once again being “in”.  If I can just remember that they are there somewhere in the recesses of a dark closet and then find them.  (but by the time I remember and find them their time may have passed once again.)  How often do fashion trends cycle, anyway?

With technology there is no question that I am out of sync.  I will admit to you now that I have a flip phone.  Knowing that about me, I assume no other explanation is required to illustrate how far behind I am in these matters of GPSs and APPs  etc.  I mean I finally mastered email but by then everyone was texting.  I now text, but everyone is now instagraming and snapchatting.   And taking pictures?  I want a picture I can put in a frame and set on my desk.  I don’t write with a quill pen and ink pot but pretty close, I guess.  (how did they write all those letters back in the day like that?  must have taken forever?  but I digress)

But why this persistent feeling of “misfittedness”?  What is wrong with me? (besides the obvious)  Philippians 3:20-21 reminded me why I feel this way. “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”  Now that’s something to look forward to, something worth waiting for.  Especially since the older I get the more lowly my body seems to be.  I could use a transformation.

In 1Peter  he says that we are aliens and strangers in this world.  He says in 1Pet. 2:11 (Msg) “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it.  Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.”  No wonder I feel like a misfit, I am not home yet.  I am an alien in a place not my home, not my final destiny.

And yet miracle of miracles, I have found a place here where my misfittedness, fits.  It is a place full of other misfits, such as myself.  Other broken people, just like me. I actually feel at home.  I am among friends.  How can this be when we all don’t look much like each other.  In fact we look pretty different, racially and in every other way as well.  From rich to poor, educated to uneducated, those who have been incarcerated to those whose job it is to do the incarcerating,  we don’t have much in common.  (it would seem)

And yet we have all things in common.  All things that matter, that is.  It’s our brokenness that binds us together.  We bring our broken, misfitted selves to the foot of the cross together every Sunday seeking and receiving the healing Christ offers each of us.  Jesus binds our wounds and binds us together as His body here on earth,  His church.   We are His church.

Jesus is the great equalizer.  We each find our fit in Him and then He fits us all together.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal.3:28)  “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but CHRIST IS ALL, AND IS IN ALL.”  (Col.3:11)  Those words could just as easily read, ” in Jesus there is no black nor white”,  we are all His creation and He sees us all the same.  Jesus wanted our man made racial divisions eliminated then and He wants them eliminated now, in our day as well.  In Jesus we find our common ground,  we find our unity.

Peter says this about us in 1Peter 2:5,  “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  We are the living stones and God is fitting all of us misfits together,  making something beautiful out of us all, that surpasses what we would be individually.  In this way, together, we reflect His glory and light up our world.

So there it is.  I am still a misfit, but one who has found her fit along with other misfits.  Jesus fits my broken pieces together with the broken pieces of the other misfits’ lives and something beautiful is born for all to behold.  Only in our yielded brokenness can we find our fit.  It is then we become those beautiful living stones with which God intended His church to be built.  Thank you Heavenly Father that I find my “fit” in You and in Your church.

sincerely,          Grace Day