out of incarceration

I stand singing, surrounded by joy, by rejoicing, by love.  This is a typical Sunday morning at my church.  I said typical for my church, not necessarily for all churches that I have worshiped in over the years.  Why such an outpouring of joy here?  We are in an economically challenged, that is to say poor, neighborhood. There is more than our earthly share of pain, loss, illness, heartbreak, homelessness and suffering present here daily in our individual lives.  And yet such joy, such love is evident and present among us on this Sunday morning.  It defies explanation.  Or does it?

The words “But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:47) keep a constant refrain going in my mind until I realize this is the explanation for the outpouring of joy and love that I experience here every Sunday morning.  We are people who have been forgiven much and we know it; therefore we love much.

We are people who have come out of incarceration into freedom.  Not all of our incarcerations have been in a physical building, but we each one have been in bondage nonetheless.  We know what it is to be a prisoner.  Enslaved by our sins of addiction or greed or pride or hatred, we have now been set free by God’s redeeming love and forgiveness.  Because our sins are many, we are forgiven much leading us to love much; giving us reason to rejoice much.

We have each come out of incarceration into freedom, out of darkness into light, leaving behind the old – entering into the new, out of death into life, given a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start, a second chance; these all describe our transition from prisoner to free person.  That’s what we have in Christ, freedom. His forgiveness sets us free from our sin and gives us a new beginning every day.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  (Romans 6:18)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,”  (Isaiah 61:1)

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  (Ephesians 5:8)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (Luke 8:32)

we have been forgiven much, we have been freed from the prison of our own sin by Christ’s death on the cross

therefore we will rejoice much and we will love much

sincerely,      Grace Day





today’s desire

“For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.”  (Job 33:14)

“Be still and know that I am God;”  (Psalm 46:10)

“So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”  (1 Samuel 3:9)

Heavenly Father,  help me to hear You;  and in that hearing to listen to You; and in that listening to learn well Your ways;  and in the learning help me to live out Your lessons;  and in the living out of Your lessons may I honor You and bring You glory

grant me a willing spirit to sustain me (Psalm 51) for it is by Your power, Your strength, Your Holy Spirit that I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28) help me to hear Your voice Lord in the midst of this noisy world

“Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”  (Hebrews 3:15)

” I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;  I will counsel you and watch over you.”  (Psalm 32:8)

“I am listening carefully to all the Lord is saying – for He speaks peace to His people, His saints, if they will only stop their sinning.”  (Psalm 85:8 Living Bible)

“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”  (Psalm 62:5-6)

“This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is His name:  ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ ”  (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

speak Lord, your servant is listening,

sincerely,         Grace Day






I went for a walk today

with twenty thousand of my closest friends –  well, twenty-thousand, eight hundred and fifty-nine to be exact.  (but who’s counting?)  Some of my friends were running, I guess they were in a hurry to get home for turkey dinner; but the rest of us, (about nineteen-thousand or so) walked parade style through the neighborhood enjoying the day, each other’s company and the spectacle (or maybe pageantry is a better word) of the occasion.

My fellow walkers and runners were of all shapes and sizes, of all ages and ethnicities, of all athletic abilities from those in wheelchairs to those with wings on their feet.  Some were riding in strollers while others with white hair strolled the street beside them.  (remember, God’s word says white hair is a crown of glory)  So how did I know these people were all my close, personal friends?  We were all wearing the same shirt!  Yes, this is true.  We were all wearing the same bright red shirt with the same logo.  Now that’s unity!

Unity in the midst of such diversity is a beautiful thing to behold.  And we were a united group – united in the reason we had each decided to take a walk or a run on this particular Thanksgiving day.  We were walking/running to support those less fortunate, those in need of food and shelter.  Those in need of what Wheeler Mission provides for people on a daily basis.

The event is the Drumstick Dash, the reason – raise support for Wheeler Mission and its’ many ministries, the result- many homeless people receive food, shelter, job training, counseling, support as they transition out of addiction to a new life and receive life itself as they learn the truth of the gospel message.  Wheeler Mission ministers to the whole person, both body and spirit.

“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”  (James 2:15-16)

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Wheeler Mission addresses both the physical and spiritual needs of  each and every person that they serve.  This is what my fellow walkers/runners and I were united in supporting as we participated in the extravaganza on Thanksgiving morning.  And believe me, it was extravagant, just like God’s love for each and every one of us.

There was live music and a light-hearted atmosphere as mini beach balls bounced around everywhere.  The Drumstick Dash is a mixture of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one festive event.  Costumes are everywhere you look.  (just like Halloween)  You see some Santas, gingerbread men and other Christmas themed participants.  And true to Thanksgiving tradition (besides the turkeys) there are friends, family, food, fellowship, fun, and a faith that unites us in our diversity.  A faith that says, people are redeemable not disposable.  A faith that believes in second chances to the same infinite degree that God commands us to forgive one another.  A faith that sustains. A faith that brings hope to the hurting people that Wheeler Mission serves every day of the year.

So . . .  I took a walk today with several thousand of my close, personal friends and in the process helped to make the world a little better place.  Wheeler is so much more than a walk, but the money raised on this one day supports their many ministries to people in need every day of the year.  I will continue this walk, united in faith with all those who shared these special moments with me on this day;  this day designated and dedicated to counting our blessings, to sharing what we’ve been blessed with and to giving thanks to the Giver of all good gifts, our Heavenly Father.

“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)

gratefully and sincerely,       Grace Day








forgotten holiday

it seemed overnight that they mysteriously disappeared from front porches and front lawns, which is probably an appropriate exit considering their nature – all spooky and what not; ghosts, goblins, mummies, bats, tombstones and other Halloween type decorations that had filled front yards in many a neighborhood. But I barely had time to notice their absence as the orange lights had already been replaced with Christmas lights and snowmen and Santa Clauses stood where ghosts and goblins had been only the day before.

Colorful costumes and candy corn are traded in for Christmas carols and candy canes so quickly that something is lost in the exchange.  That something is the holiday of Thanksgiving.  A favorite for sure of any true foodie, Thanksgiving is a holiday full of food, family, friends, football, fellowship and fun; a uniquely American holiday.

Thanksgiving, however, seems to get lost in the shuffle between Halloween and Christmas every year.  Maybe it’s because there are no decorations required or gifts to buy, it is not a retail holiday but it is a real holiday.  (if the Post Office is closed it’s officially a real holiday)  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving Thursday has become the new Black Friday.  Yes, Black Friday now happens on Thanksgiving Day.

So now this lost, overlooked holiday is being erased by the retail rush to began the Christmas season. (notice Christmas has a season, not just a day)  And judging from all the demands and stress that can accompany the Christmas season, one would think we would value a day of doing nothing but eating, napping and watching football continuously.  We need to prepare ourselves for the season ahead.

But more than that, we need to take the time to be grateful, to be intentional about acknowledging all that is good in our lives, to focus on what we do have rather than on what we feel we lack.  Unfortunately, our culture wants to keep us in a state of discontent, so that we are always longing for more of something or for something different than what we already have.

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.  Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” (Psalm 107:21-22)

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – ”  (Psalm 103:2)

that’s the thing, true Thanksgiving involves remembering – remembering what God has done for us in loving us enough to send us Jesus, what Jesus has done for us by dying on that cross to pay the price of my sin and your sin, remembering acts of kindness rather than choosing to focus on the times others let us down.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

that may be easier said than done, but gratefulness is the key that frees us up to appreciate and enjoy what we already have instead of wishing for what we don’t.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 136:26)

“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)

Lord, tomorrow (and every day) help me to count my blessings, knowing they all come from You the Giver of every good gift.  For food, for freedom, for family, for friends, for forgiveness, for faith – let me be truly thankful.

gratefully,      Grace Day

the folding of fitted sheets and

other fantastically futile feats of the everyday homemaker.  This is truly one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe; can a fitted sheet ever really be folded properly?  Whoever invented the fitted sheet solved one problem and created another equally frustrating problem.  Folding fitted sheets falls last on my list of things to do.  Folding fitted sheets is like herding cats, it can’t be done successfully. Even the U. S. military knows this — why do you think they don’t use fitted sheets?

Fitted sheets were made for a very specific, useful purpose but they weren’t made to “fit” the standards of flatness that any respectable sheet attempts to attain when folded.  Fitted sheets are fine as long as they are fulfilling their purpose, as long as they are in use.  The trouble arises when they are not being used and must be folded, taken out of circulation so to speak, sidelined, relegated to a shelf in a linen closet.  But here the fitted sheets don’t fit, they can’t possibly reach the standard of flatness attained by the other sheets.

Let’s face facts friends.  Fitted sheets and folded flat are mutually exclusive.  If I can accept this truth perhaps my frustration with folding fitted sheets will cease. It is wasted effort and energy on my part to expect my fitted sheets to fit a folded form they were not formed to fit.

Folding fitted sheets has been frustrating for me for years.  But as I write this I am experiencing empathy for my fitted sheets for the first time.  Why?  Because I often feel like a fitted sheet – I just don’t fit in, measure up to, or conform to the standards of the culture in which I live my daily life.  I don’t “fit” in my world any more than my fitted sheets “fit” in my linen closet with all those perfectly folded flat sheets.

I was created by God for His good purposes.  I was created to serve something other than myself.  I was not made to be put away on a shelf, where I could rest and hang out with others doing the same thing.  I was created for a purpose and can find fulfillment only in filling that purpose.  This is not the easy way.  Like the fitted sheet that I identify with, which must be stretched in many directions to fulfill its’ function – I must be stretched in many ways to fulfill my purpose.

Luke 2:52 tells me, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  If I am going to grow, I will be stretched out of my comfort zones.  So I am stretched intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally as I grow in faith and am used by God for His purposes, not my own.  Left to myself, I would not choose the discomfort of being stretched in so many different directions and so many different ways.  But if I am sitting folded on the shelf, I am out of place.  I don’t fit in because I can’t conform to the flatly folded image of the sheets around me.  I can’t conform because I was created differently, created for something different.  (just as the fitted sheet is created for fitting over the mattress but not for folding)  I don’t belong there.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2)

“For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”  (Romans 14:7)

I’m tired of trying to fold fitted sheets, expecting them to conform to the flat form of pillow cases and other sheets.  I need to stop trying to conform myself to the expectations of those around me, but instead allow myself to be transformed by Christ’s redeeming love into the person He created me to be all along.  That transformation may mean being stretched a lot as I serve out my purpose, but it will lead to fulfillment as I live out the purpose for which I was created.

and this, dear readers, is the parable of the fitted sheet.

sincerely,            Grace Day











score one for “team cat”

I settled in, reminding myself that it is called a waiting room for a very good reason.  Perhaps the waiting room is one of the few things left aptly and truthfully named.  No political correctness in this name, no attempt to deceive by calling it something other than it really is, such as a pre-appointment relaxation & reflection station.  Let’s face facts, fish tank or no fish tank, it is still a room and you still wait in it. That is its’ sole purpose.  Changing the name doesn’t change the reality.  But I digress.

So, I and Chai (my cat) are in the aforementioned room but we are neither relaxing nor reflecting.  We do not want for diversion however.  The waiting room is filled with dogs and their respective owners.  And this is how I came to learn a very startling fact, reminding me once again that fact is indeed stranger than fiction and that cats are indeed smarter than dogs.

You see, veterinarians’ waiting rooms are not unlike the holding cells in jails.  The question the occupants of the room are asking of each other is, of course, “what are you in for?”  That is when one (proud?) dog owner revealed that his dog had eaten a bag of cat litter.  As I listened to him tell the tale I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the “clumping” kind of litter, but I dared not ask.  His dog had somehow gotten into a storage area where the litter was kept and chewed through the unopened bag to access and ingest the litter.

Clearly, dogs lack the discerning pallet cats are known for.  Cats, often called finicky, are simply discriminating eaters who won’t settle for substandard sustenance.  In contrast, dogs don’t even have the categories edible versus inedible, a food item versus a non-food item such as say, a shoe.

This difference in eating habits does lend credence to the view that cats are superior intellectually to dogs.  I mean, dogs, when one of you eats a bag of cat litter, it does not help your image or your cause one bit!   Have you not heard the truth that “you are what you eat”?   That may make you want to rethink your recent food choices in favor of eliminating cat litter from your menu.

But maybe I should give this dog and other dogs the benefit of the doubt?  Maybe the dog I met in the waiting room had been deceived.  Maybe the cat litter bag looked similar to the bag that holds his dog food?  Maybe the texture was similar? crunchy?  maybe the dog thought it was dessert because of the sweet, perfumey smell put in cat litter to counteract what the litter is going to come into contact with.  (that’s putting a delicate spin on it)

This poor, deluded dog did not know the truth about what he was consuming and it could have cost him his life.  It was then I had a moment of compassion for this clueless canine who couldn’t distinguish between a cat litter bag and a dog chow bag.  They often look the same. (remember, dogs can’t read and they are color blind)  He needed to know the truth about what is food and what isn’t food.

I need to know what is true and what isn’t in order to make the decisions I must make every day as I live my life.  But falsehood often comes packaged as truth. And if I consume falsehood rather than truth it will lead to my death.  After I open the package I have to examine the contents.  The Bible is the package that contains the truth that leads to eternal life.  There are lots of other books out there that might seem similar and promise me much.  But they are actually cat litter to my soul.  I may feel full but what I took in to my mind and my heart will lead to my death.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  (Proverbs 16:25)

The dog in the waiting room was full and was satisfied with the deadly cat litter. He did not continue his search for real food, for life sustaining, growth producing, nutritious food.  He was satisfied with his current state of being.  I don’t want to be so full of the world’s wisdom and ideas, that I no longer hunger and thirst for God’s truth, for God’s living, life-sustaining words.

I need to take in God’s truth.  “Jesus answered,  ‘ . . . Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”  (Matthew 4:4)

“For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32)

“Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”  (John 17:17)

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119:108)

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.’ ”  (John 6:35)

Lord, may I never be satisfied with anything that is not real food.  May I never be satisfied with anything that is not truth leading to life everlasting.

sincerely,      Grace Day





faceless in a Facebook world

Seen by all, known by none – we continue to crave connection in a caring community . . . but social media falls short of filling this most basic human need. On the surface cyber connections may seem to suffice, but those who seek substance over appearance are left lacking that which they had hoped to find.

We want to be truly known by someone or someones and in that knowing to be understood; and in that understanding to find empathy and in that empathy to experience acceptance.  Acceptance is what we’ve been looking for all along.

But true acceptance is hard to find in a Facebook, YouTube, twitter-tweeting world full of fans and followers while empty of friends.  I find the acceptance I seek in the person of my Heavenly Father, God.  As my Creator, He knows me completely, understands me, has compassion on me and accepts me as I am.  What more could I want?

“O Lord, You have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  . . . You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.”  (Psalm 139:1-4)

“The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.”  (Psalm 145:9)

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- ”  (John 1:12)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.  (Jeremiah 31:3)

“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)

God knows me intimately, knows me better than I know myself, knows everything about me and still –  He loves me, He accepts me, He even rejoices over me and watches over me!  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  (Psalm 139:6)

Because I am accepted I am able to extend acceptance to others.  This requires getting to know them, which leads to understanding them, which leads to empathy, which leads to acceptance.  This doesn’t happen on Facebook instantly but rather in face to face interactions over time.

I may feel faceless on Facebook but I am known by my Heavenly Father.  He who calls every star by name, knows my face, my name, my every thought and feeling, and every hair on my head. That is something social media will never be able to do.  Facebook can’t fill my need to be known and accepted on a personal level but a personal relationship with God through Jesus has done just that.

” . . .  Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.”  (Isaiah 49:23)

sincerely,       Grace Day





musings amid the mundane

it’s raining this morning — it’s not Monday– but still, it is raining.  It is at this point that I remind myself that nothing grows without water, without the rain. Not crops, not flowers, not trees, not any kind of plant or food; nor animals nor humans — we all need the rain.

without the rain nothing grows, why would we (as God’s creation) be any different?

all sun and no rain — everything dies

all prosperity and no hardship (difficulties, challenges, pain, loss, trials) we become lazy, weak, unproductive, we fall away from God as we stop seeking Him; we lack purpose, we stop growing, we stop developing new skills and character traits

Romans 5:3-4 says that, ” . . . we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”   Trials, like the rain, grow something good in us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4)  The rain is for our good, not our harm.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.  . . .  every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  (John 15:1-2)  pruning is painful but produces a good result in us.

Consider this; ” . . . the Lord disciplines those He loves,  . . .  God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  (Hebrews 12:6, 10-11)  More good things growing in us as a result of the “rain” of God’s discipline.

” . . . though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:6-7)

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”  (Job 23:10)

pruning, discipline, trials and testing; sometimes it’s a rainy day — sometimes it’s a rainy season.  But I can take heart in knowing it all has a purpose, a good purpose. Through the rain I will grow instead of perish.  I will develop character, be made complete.  I will become more fruitful, I will receive righteousness and peace.  My faith will be refined and proved genuine.  I will come forth as gold!

The rain isn’t going to separate me from my Heavenly Father.  No, the rain makes it possible for me to grow closer to Him and to grow into the person He created me to be.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  . . .  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35-39)

sincerely,                Grace Day