C.C. scatterbrained #100

Now there’s a term I haven’t heard in awhile (maybe it’s considered hate speech now?) but I confess – I identify as falling into that category of people often. Truthfully, most of us find ourselves scatterbrained at one time or another in our daily lives. So many thoughts in my head, all swirling around, vying for attention and top billing in my mind. I find it hard to focus on any one thought, with so many competing thoughts crowding together in my brain.

Where do I land? On which thoughts do I settle my mind? (I think we call that settling of the mind, focus, which is what we scatterbrained people lack) My brain needs a full time bouncer to throw some of these thoughts out! Particularly the thoughts that are causing me trouble, making me anxious or fearful or depressed or angry or confused. In fact, a good bouncer would never have let those thoughts into my brain in the first place!

I guess it is time to hire a new bouncer for my brain. Better known as a filter, a good one could do wonders for my disposition, I’m sure. Why are my thoughts important? Scatterbrained or not, why do my thoughts even matter? Well Proverbs 23:7 tells me exactly why my thoughts matter.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

My thoughts are going to determine who I am? I guess I should really pay more attention to what my thoughts are and to which thoughts I give precedence. I need to be wise in choosing which thoughts I allow to have my attention and my focus. Philippians 4:8-9 gives me some advice in this area, saying –

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.”

Taking control of my thoughts will bring order and peace to my mind, replacing the chaos and fear that untamed thoughts running wild will produce in me. That must be why I am told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to –

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Taking my thoughts captive so to speak, ordering them, testing them, determining which ones get banished and which ones get to stay – determines the course and quality of my life. Romans 12:2 gives me clear instruction saying –

“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.”

I can be transformed by thoughts which renew my mind! Those are the thoughts I want in my brain – thoughts that have the power to renew my mind! Those thoughts are God’s thoughts and I can find them in God’s Word. No big secret. God’s life giving, life transforming words and thoughts are there for me to read any time I want, just by opening up my Bible. David sought after God’s thoughts, too. He said in Psalm 139:17-18,

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”

I am so glad I don’t have that many thoughts to keep track of, running around in my head, spinning out of control, refusing to let me take them captive. But then I am not the infinite Creator of the universe, just a finite, mortal being – yet still I have more thoughts than I can deal with on a daily basis. (the average person has more than thirty thousand thoughts per day – no wonder I can’t take all of them captive. My brain bouncer needs to keep more of them out)

Thoughts matter, they have value. Hence the expression, “a penny for your thoughts” which is what you say when you want to know what someone is thinking. Today the going rate per thought is substantially more than a penny, I’m sure. Nevertheless, not all thoughts are of equal value. I need to learn to recognize the harmful from the helpful, the toxic from the transforming, the deadly from the lifegiving, the lies from the truth – in all my thoughts.

There is Someone who helps me to do this. John 15:26 & 16:13 explain,

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me. . . . when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

So I will do as instructed in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds (my mind) on things above, not on earthly things.”

There’s that directing of my mind, that taking control of where my thoughts are focused. And when I make that choice to focus on God, He has promised me that He will – well you can read it for yourself, dear readers, and God will do the same for you and your thoughts – He is faithful to His promises –

“You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is (thoughts are) stayed upon You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3)

My Heavenly Father will take all my wild scatterbrained thoughts under His control, sort them out, expel the dangerous, deadly ones, leaving the lifegiving, renewing ones to do their redemptive work as His living and active words always do.

“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)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a tough question #99

A friend posed a question to me recently that does not have an easy answer, if indeed it has an answer at all. But it is a question we all struggle with daily, even if we do so unconsciously. For sometimes the answers we seek are to questions we are not able to fully articulate, we mortals being often unable to find the words to express our deepest longings or to ask the questions whose answers would satisfy our souls. If only we would ask the questions.

At this point I must confess – I did not have a ready answer to my friend’s question, only the all too real realization that her question was also my question, her struggle also my struggle.

Her question? The simple version – when should we give up? (give up praying, hoping, believing) The less simple version, containing all the questions that go into the makeup of the original question – should we just assume . . . God what? doesn’t hear us, isn’t going to act or intervene, doesn’t care about our pain, wants us to stop bothering Him with our requests? In order to be at peace do we stop praying for certain seemingly impossible things?

Is giving up hope our pathway to peace? Is it resignation that resolves our constant conflict between what is and what we wish to be? At what price peace? Is the loss of hope the price we must pay for peace?

Which I think leads into the ultimate question that we may be asking ourselves everyday. How do I live in this broken world with my broken heart and still have hope and peace and joy in living each day?

Jesus had something to say about these questions of ours. In Matthew 18 we read, “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” So I guess the answer to the question is, we are not to give up. But that means we may be constantly upset, sad, worried etc. over whatever situations and people we are praying about, so we will have no peace.

Or will we? Look at what Philippians 4:6-7 tells us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is incredible news! I don’t have to be anxious. I can continue in prayer, continually petitioning God if need be and even if my requests aren’t granted now or ever, I receive a gift every time I pray. That gift is the peace of God. And that is one priceless gift.

God’s peace is a peace that doesn’t make sense to others or even to me, as its recipient, because the peace that my Heavenly Father gives me, doesn’t depend on my current circumstances. (and it doesn’t come and go as my circumstances change either) It is a constant peace, a powerful, protective peace, a gift from God that guards my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.  

This must be why it is called the “peace that passes understanding.” It is a peace beyond the limits of my human wisdom. And it is an active peace, a peace powerfully protecting my heart and my mind from the enemy’s attacks of doubt and fear. As I pour out my heart to God, asking for oh so many things, I may receive none of them, but I always receive His gift of peace because it is promised to me in Philippians 4:7. And God always keeps His promises.

So we are instructed to “pray without ceasing;” (1Thessalonians 5:17), and to ” . . . pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

We are also told, “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) There’s that hope we have, we are promised a harvest, if we don’t quit during our tough times.

But living with a broken heart is hard. Although a broken heart lets God’s love in and it allows other people’s pain in, which gives me the ability to share in another’s suffering. We are supposed to do that, to bear one anothers’ burdens.

But why is it life seems to be moments of joy and hours of pain? I need to notice those moments of unexpected joy so that I can hang onto them. I need to store them up as solace against the hurts and wounds and inevitable losses that accumulate until they seem too much to carry.

Psalm 84:10 says, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere;”. One compared to a thousand seems obviously lopsided. And yet the one day is more valuable than the thousand apart from God. (I guess location really is everything)

Joy, hope and peace are possible for those who live each day with a broken heart. I know this to be true. We can be both broken hearted and joyful simultaneously. Only with God is this possible. As I pour out my heart to Him in prayer, broken over my own sin, broken over the lives of the loved ones I am praying for, something miraculous happens.

My circumstances may not be changed, my loved ones may not be changed or healed, but I am changed again and again, each time. Forgiven, comforted, encouraged, empowered, equipped, strengthened, sustained, shown new things, reminded of old truths, given new eyes to see, humbled and filled with hope, protected by His peace, fed by His new mercies – I can walk another day in this broken world, full of broken hearted people, with my own heart broken and still find joy in whatever lies along the path He directs me to that day.

When should we give up? Never! God doesn’t give up on me, may I never lose hope or give up on anyone, but persist in prayer as God enables each of us to do. And it is while I am in the act of praying that I receive God’s gift of His perfect peace that passes understanding and actively protects my heart and my mind.

Though my day may be full of trouble, it will contain moments full of joy, so full of joy that it cannot be adequately contained nor expressed. They are fleeting moments of deep knowing, glimpses of the certainty that awaits us. Eternity contained in a moment that is gone before it can be fully experienced. It is those moments which outweigh and outshine all our hours of pain. Eternity present in each and every moment of joy.

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. True Confessions fyi #98

It occurs to me there is something ya’ll should know about me, just fyi so to speak, so I hereby confess it to you now – I am a target and I am under attack. How did this come about? Well let me tell you how it all started innocently enough, on a day not all that long ago.

You see, I believe there is a natural law stating something like the following, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” That could explain what has been happening to me recently. I do not feel safe on my morning walks anymore nor on my daily bike rides. Again today I found myself peddling furiously in order to dodge the barrage of acorns falling around my head while at the same time trying not to wipe out as these same acorns crunched under my bike tires, threatening to send me into a skid.

I trace this back to the day I wrote the post entitled “C.C. an acorn ambush #94.” This post must have upset the squirrel population, leading them to seek revenge. I am now a target because I exposed what they are doing on a daily basis. Squirrels had everyone believing it is gravity that is responsible for all the falling acorns. But I pointed out it is actually the squirrels, hurling acorns at unsuspecting passersby, simply for sport. (there are a lot of bored or otherwise disgruntled squirrels out there)

Little did I know squirrels had such an organized network. My post must have gone viral in squirrel world. Because I was riding at least two neighborhoods away today when out of the blue an acorn ambush let loose all around me. Luckily I was able to peddle out of the falling acorn zone to safety. But today I realized just how upset the squirrels are about being called out in my recent post, for their acorn throwing behavior.

The truth isn’t always pretty and I guess the squirrels don’t want their image as fun, furry little forest creatures tarnished by my portrayal of them as vicious, persecutors of pedestrians or any people who dare to pass under their precious oak tree abodes. These squirrels have plenty of ammunition at their disposal (acorns) and they are not afraid to use it!

Fall is my favorite time of year to be outdoors, so I spend as much time as possible out walking or biking. However, since my post exposing bad squirrel behavior, I am constantly on guard and find myself endeavoring to avoid areas with oak trees if at all possible. This substantially limits where I can walk or bike at the moment. (there are a lot of oak trees around here)

I am feeling targeted and persecuted by the squirrel population every time I leave home. I suppose I can take some comfort in these words from Matthew 5:10,

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Was it right of me to write the truth, to expose the squirrels’ deeds and warn other unsuspecting pedestrians? 1 Peter 3:13-14 says,

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.”

I may have to suffer for doing what is right? Yes, it looks that way. But that is no reason to keep silent if I know the truth about something. 1 Peter 4:15-16 makes it clear that if I suffer because of my own wrongdoing, there is no honor in that. I should suffer for doing wrong. But when I suffer for pursuing what is right, it should not deter me from continuing to do and to say what is true and right.

“If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

I may face continued acorn ambushes, even acorn avalanches in my daily walk with my Heavenly Father, for as long as I am in this world. But I have these assurances, these promises, from His word –

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19)

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. dating during COVID #97

I confess – dating can be daunting all by itself. Add in the era of COVID and one could ask, is dating even possible? I mean, a date by definition is usually when two people go out somewhere together. A traditional date might be pizza and a movie or dinner and a show or attending a sporting event or a concert together.

But during this time of COVID, there have been no movies or shows nor have there been restaurants open. So what does a date even look like? Plus how would you even meet anyone during those days when everyone was quarantined in their homes, sick or not? Well, I guess the obvious answer is – online – that’s where you could meet someone. Remember – our whole lives moved online into cyberspace overnight as it were.

People no longer worked together (physically that is) nor worshiped together nor ate out together nor played together nor exercised together . . . well you get the idea and you remember how it was. (or still is for some of us)

So did COVID kill dating? Is dating among the COVID casualties? (why do we call them casualties when there is nothing casual about death?) Nonetheless, COVID rules and restrictions must be every parent of teenagers dream come true.

Imagine it if you will. The would be daters have to stay at least six feet apart, no holding hands, hugging or kissing – and they are masked! Remember masks are mandatory. This sets up a socially safe scenario for the daters, which would put any parent’s mind at ease. Of course even with all the restrictions dating would only be possible if there were events to attend or restaurants open for business.

I wasn’t really dating pre-COVID, so imagine my uncertainty when faced with the prospect of going on a date now. Did I say uncertainty? Okay, substitute fear or terror and you have a more accurate description of my mind set. First dates can be awkward enough, you’re not really sure how they will turn out.

Now add to this first encounter, COVID protocols, a new way of behaving, and this could get really uncomfortable fast. Do I maintain six feet of distance at all times? Do I panic if the six foot barrier is breached? Do I leave my mask on or take it off at some point? Is my date smiling or not? Sometimes it’s hard to hear each other. Are these masks sound proof as well as germ proof? (are they germ proof or only COVID proof?)

Oh the agony of the first date, now magnified exponentially by COVID! By now dear readers, you may be wondering about the particulars of the event that allowed this date to take place. Well, it was a movie, but a drive-in movie, so outdoors and possible with proper spacing. (it was an old movie, of course. I don’t think they are making any new ones right now)

Food was prepackaged, catered to our car individually. (it was good) Conversation was great and once fears and phobias were faced down and forced out, it could have been a normal, pre-COVID, first date. And it was. Well except for the masks and other constant reminders that we are living in a COVID dominated time. But one can pretend for an hour or two, can’t one?

And so, dear readers, I have survived my first date in the time of COVID. Definitely preferable to a cyberspace date. Because there is no substitute for the real thing. (post C.C. True Confessions – the real thing #83)

Personal interaction is one of God’s good gifts. He is a very personal God and He created us in His image, made for a personal relationship with Him and for in person, personal relationships with each other. That’s why COVID quarantine and resulting isolation have taken a toll more egregious than we can realize. They take from us God’s good gift of fellowship with each other.

“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)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. wild flight #96

wild geese flew across the sky today, overhead and faraway

I felt their silent call as if my own, drawing them to journey home,

to a land of lakes on which to land, grassy reeds and hills of sand,

I share those wild geese longings for the lake laid down to sleep,

as sun’s last rays summon stars into place, in peace the night to keep.

wild geese flew across the sky today, overhead and so faraway

that I could not keep them in my sight, were I to try with all my might –

the beauty of their flight in perfect “V”, evident for all to see,

while unseen, is the compass, that guides geese on their way,

I know it well, it guides me, too – to memories of a bay –

a bay so blue, so wild, so pure in all its untamed glory,

it lives still in memories’ mind, its tale an untold story.

wild geese flew across the sky today, overhead and faraway

taking me with them to that long ago place,

memories time cannot erase,

young girls in nightgowns on a dock, holding out breadcrumbs to a hungry flock,

shivering, shrieking with delight, at every goose who’d take a bite.

morning mist rising from the lake’s mirrored surface as sun’s first beams break through,

bread crumbs run out and geese take flight, as only geese will do,

before our very eyes they rise noisily into the air – the wonder of their nearness gone, leaving us in despair –

how I thought to follow those wild geese in their flight, to fly so far, to be so free –

that to this day my mind takes wing, each time I watch their flying “V”.

I wonder where they’re going? upon which lake they’ll land?

I wonder if they know my lake? or my bay in the wild by the sand?

I envy them their freedom, what adventure there surely will be –

as a little of my heart goes with those wild geese, each time they fly over me.

“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:13-16)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. another ambush #95

I confess – I didn’t see this one coming either – but again that’s what an ambush is – a surprise attack, one you don’t anticipate and therefore don’t prepare for in advance. Which is exactly how it went down on that particular day. The rain came down with force and volume as I watched and waited out the summer storm. But without warning the raindrops on my roof morphed into hailstones hurling from the sky.

This ambush of the hailstones moved on quickly as the hailstones were replaced once again by raindrops, the quieter, less destructive version of their frozen form. The hailstones, however, had literally left their mark (or marks to be more accurate) on my roof before moving on, a reminder of their angry ambush.

So just after writing about the importance of a firm foundation in my previous post (#94) I find myself focused on the necessity of a covering that can shelter me from the weather and the storms that inevitably come into my life. This is definitely a stormy season. I need a reliable roof to protect me, to be a secure covering providing me shelter.

So being forced to focus on my earthly dwelling at the moment by the necessity of a new roof, has me thinking about my true dwelling place. I am told to build on the rock and not the sand in Matthew chapter seven. God provides the foundation Himself, He is the foundation, He is the Rock. God also provides the protective covering.

“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in You. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from the intrigues of men; in Your dwelling You keep them safe from accusing tongues.” (Psalm 31:19-20)

God’s very presence is a shelter for me! King David realized the same thing when he wrote in Psalm 61:3-4 these words about God,

“For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ . . . He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:1-4)

Psalm 137:1 tells me, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” I want to live in that home whose foundation is the Rock and whose covering is His wings, His Presence. I desire what David spoke of in Psalm 27:4-5 when he said,

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

He is my dwelling place.

He is my complete dwelling place, from foundation to covering. As those words attest, my Heavenly Father hides me, covers me, shelters me and sets me firmly upon a high rock. He establishes me and He covers me. Rocks and feathers. A firm foundation and a soft sheltering cover. And He provides walls as well!

“You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5)

“Surely . . . I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

I could not ask for more than that. Because –

“Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10)

I am getting a new roof made of shingles now, but my Heavenly Father is already building and preparing a place just for me, a place that will never be damaged by fire or wind or rain or hailstones. I have His word on it. Jesus said in John 14:1-3,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

yes, this house I live in now, will eventually fall apart and crumble away. But I will dwell in the house that God builds forever. He is my fortress, my strong tower. He is my dwelling place even now.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. an acorn ambush #94

I confess – I didn’t see it coming, it took me by surprise and so I was unprepared and unable to protect myself. But then, an ambush by definition is an unforeseen event, it is a surprise attack. And surprised I was!

I was on my usual morning walk, minding my own business, lost in my own thoughts as usual. Now I am not one of those who wears earbuds and listens to music as I walk. I like to hear what’s going on around me, whether it be bird calls, the wind in the trees, lawn mowers or noisy car engines. (as you can see, my walks are a mixture of nature and civilization, coexisting side by side)

So today was no different than any other day. I was enjoying the cool stillness of this early fall morning, a cloudless blue sky and leaves just getting ready to burst into their fall colors. It was a peaceful morning. It was a perfect morning.

And then it hit me. By this I mean it literally hit me. And by it I mean an acorn. I did not see it coming. I did not hear it falling. I felt it’s impact as it hit my shoulder and bounced to the ground. I was stunned! How could something so little hurt so much?

The pain was short lived, but I am sure there will be a bruise. How could there not be? My first thought was thankfulness that the acorn had not hit my head. It had narrowly missed my head, grazing my ear and bouncing off my collar bone.

Of course, at the time of the ambush I was walking under an oak tree. I was literally walking over ground strewn with fallen acorns, which were crunching under my feet as I walked. That should have been my first clue or warning of impending danger. After all, how did I think all those acorns ended up on the ground anyway? I had entered into a dangerous stretch of terrain which should have included a sign with words something like this – “danger – entering falling nut zone – proceed at your own risk.”

But I entered in undaunted. Actually unaware would be more accurate. I was blissfully unaware of my precarious position until I was actually assaulted with said acorn. Why do I call this an ambush or an assault rather than a random act of nature and gravity acting in concert as they have always done?

Because there was a perpetrator. Yes, in that tree was a squirrel. That acorn didn’t fall. That acorn wasn’t pushed. That acorn was hurled at me, the innocent, unsuspecting walker. What had I ever done to that squirrel? I don’t think we had ever met before?

Now I didn’t actually see the squirrel do the hurling of which I accuse him. (or her) So how do I know the squirrel was the perpetrator of this acorn ambush which intruded upon the peace of my morning? Simple. The answer is physics.

That acorn hit me hard, with enough force to cause pain. Now acorns are pretty small but this one did fall from a considerable height. It was a very tall tree, which gives gravity more time to do its work. There is some physics formula I’m sure (which I can’t remember but I bet some of you know it well) which takes into account distance covered, weight of falling object, velocity, mass, rate of speed as it falls etc. which would predict the amount of force at impact of said object.

And I am telling you, based on my being the recipient of said force of said acorn upon said impact, that acorn did not randomly fall from that tree – it was hurled at me with whatever force a squirrel can muster. I do not wish to malign all squirrels as vicious and violent attackers of pedestrians, lest this post be construed as stereotyping or as hate speech against squirrels. Then all the squirrels will be out to get me.

So what can I do to protect myself in the future? I’m thinking maybe I need to start wearing a helmet on my morning walks. After all, that isn’t the only oak tree I pass under on my morning route. And maybe I should add shoulder pads while I’m at it? And maybe a disguise so the squirrel that is out to get me won’t recognize me. Or does this squirrel attack all pedestrians equally who dare to walk under his (her) tree?

This is my long time, familiar, regular morning route and I did not see this acorn ambush coming. It had never happened before and I was caught off guard and unprepared. (you’d think the squirrel could have at least given me a verbal warning beforehand, like golfers who yell “four”) Then I could have run for cover or at least covered my head.

But I had no warning. That’s what an ambush is. A surprise attack. Figures this should happen in 2020, the year of the ambush. COVID-19 ambushed us all earlier this year followed by the ambush of the riots, riots which have burned down our monuments, our memorials, our cities, our stores, our parks – all the places where we eat, shop, live and play.

How do we protect ourselves from things we do not see coming and have no control over? Not as simple as my putting on a helmet to protect me from further acorn ambushes. I’m thinking in times of ambush, attack, uncertainty, danger, change and fear it may not be so much about my head but about my feet. That’s right. My feet. Where are my feet? On what am I standing?

Yes, that’s the important question. On what am I standing? There’s a story Jesus told about this which I remember hearing as a child. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 7:24-27 this story,

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We are certainly in a storm these days. Many storms actually. The COVID storm, political storms, literal hurricanes and floods, financial storms facing all those put out of work and business, losing their ability to provide shelter and food for their families. These are stormy times. We are all feeling battered and beaten down by the winds of these storms in our own lives. And where our feet are matters. Just as the foundations of our buildings determine their fate when the storms hit, the foundations of our faith determine our fate when life’s storms hit.

Jesus’s admonition for me to build on rock is relevant because we learn from God’s word that Jesus Himself is the rock. As a matter of fact, Jesus is The Rock. He is my firm foundation in the storm. King David explained it this way so many years ago in Psalm 62:6-8,

“He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

There are those times when the storm tide overtakes me and the storm winds are stronger than I am and I lose my footing on the rock. What then is to become of me? I have found these words of King David in Psalm 40:1-3 to prove true time after time in my life.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

It is my Heavenly Father who sets my feet safely on a firm foundation. He is that firm, unassailable eternal Rock, the sure foundation for my faith.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:2-3)

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)

I can’t know what future “ambushes” are waiting for me out there. I could wear a helmet twenty-four/seven, but it’s where my feet are that will determine my ability to withstand and to stand in the storm.

Heavenly Father, help me to build my life on the rock rather than on the shifting sand.

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a walk in the park #93

A walk in the park is literally what I did recently – I went for a walk in the park. But I confess to you here that it wasn’t just any park and it wasn’t just any walk. For me and for those with me, it was a walk of faith, it was a walk for a very special and a very specific purpose. It was a walk in a very special and extraordinarily symbolic park.

We must have been an unexpected and inexplicable sight to anyone who was witness to our presence in the park that morning. As I have described us before, (post C.C. power walk redefined #78) I will again – nothing has changed. We look a lot like America and exactly like Revelation 7:9-10 which says,

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ ”

On this particular morning, we were singing but we weren’t exactly wearing white robes. What were we wearing? – white t-shirts with a cross and the word peace written on the cross. We had come together in peace, we had come together with a purpose, we had come together to pray. We had come together to pray for peace.

We were gathered together at the Landmark for Peace, which is a memorial in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in our city. This truly was the most appropriate place for us to come together, as this landmark has a history and a story so relevant for today.

It was here in this park on April 4th, 1968 that Robert Kennedy was to give a campaign speech. But instead, Kennedy ended up announcing the assassination of Dr. King to the assembled crowd and making pleas to them for peace and racial reconciliation. So on that day of national shock and sadness, while other cities burned, Indianapolis remained peaceful.

Twenty-seven years later, on September 30, 1995 the sculpture/memorial that is the Landmark for Peace was dedicated in this park in memory of Kennedy’s speech here on the day of Dr. King’s death. This is particularly poignant as Kennedy himself would be assassinated just two months after Dr. King.

The memorial features the half figures of King and Kennedy reaching out to each other, arms and hands extended, from walls opposite each other, separated by a walkway. Their hands, reaching out, each to the other, reaching out in brotherhood, in unity – these two slain civil rights leaders, one black, one white, fighting together to demand that America live up to her promise of “liberty and justice for all.”

These men loved America. Instead of fighting each other, they were fighting together to make the United States a better place. They did not want to see America torn down. They wanted to see her continue to grow more fully into her promise, into the vision those who have fought and died over the years hold in their hearts of all she has already been for so many and all she will yet be for future generations.

So on this day, with our cities again on fire, it seemed this Landmark for Peace memorial was the perfect place for us to come to pray for peace. Indeed, just how significant and special this site and what it symbolizes are, was made clear just a few years ago. On April 4th, 2018, fifty years after King’s assassination and Kennedy’s speech, President Trump signed into law the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site Act. This act designated the Landmark for Peace Memorial as the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site.

This designation by President Trump, affirms to us that the story told by this memorial is not only meaningful to the people of our state but it is an important and necessary story to preserve for all Americans who want to understand the story and the history of our nation.

And so it happened on this day, that my walk in the park, our walk in the park, began and ended at this historic memorial, this Landmark for Peace. We were there on this quiet, overcast early morning in obedience to these words from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 & 8,

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. . . . I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”

These are our marching orders and they are clear. For months we have been surrounded by anger and disputing everywhere we look. This has led to violence and destruction, pain and suffering surrounding and engulfing us as a country.

As Americans, we have always been there for each other. Whether tornadoes or hurricanes or blizzards or floods or fires, states have always sent power crews to restore downed lines, teams have shown up with food, water, clothes and other supplies from far away states. Individuals and churches have mobilized to provide shelter and assistance in times of trouble. Individual acts of kindness too numerous to take note of in the national discourse, have abounded and prevailed.

How short our collective memory is! How we long for peace in our day and in our daily lives! Psalm 34:14 tells us to,

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

We are told to actively pursue peace. And so we came to pray for peace – God’s peace – peace in our own lives, peace in our families, peace in our neighborhoods, peace in our schools, peace in our city, peace in our state, peace in our country and peace in this world.

We are given instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” That’s pretty clear.

Then I am told, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your (my) hearts, since as members of one body you (I) were (was) called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

I am called to peace! I had better be more intentional about pursuing it then. Hebrews 12:14 tells me to, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Jesus reassures me with these words from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Romans 12 has much good advice about pursuing peace including, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. . . . Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

And so on that peaceful morning, in the park with the peace landmark, we walked through the park, praying peace for the people of our city and peace for the people of our nation. We will not stand silent while our country burns, watching our freedoms go up in flames. We will stand in the gap as God calls us to do, in prayer as intercessors, crying out for peace to the very Prince of Peace Himself.

“And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

A walk in the park and a prayer for peace. This is my prayer for you, dear readers.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a mango miracle #92

I couldn’t believe my eyes! There it was, right in front of me on the shelf. I was reaching for the yogurt with the cherry fruit, my second choice substitute since the mango yogurt had mysteriously disappeared some time ago. And without warning, I might add. But today my mango yogurt had magically reappeared! A miracle amid the mundane just for me.

Funny how such a small thing could make my day. But it did. I thought back to when this mystery of the missing mango yogurt first began and realized it was mid March. That was the same time everything shut down, including my school, due to the COVID crisis. There followed empty shelves where toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels and Clorox wipes had been, but I made no connection between the disappearance of my mango yogurt and the appearance of COVID-19 on the world scene.

What possible connection could there be? But then the toilet paper scarcity took me by surprise as well. What was the connection to COVID with that one? So at first, I just assumed my mango yogurt was temporarily out of stock and would return soon. I mean, this happens with all kinds of products. On any given day I go to the store and they are out of my favorite brand or flavor of whatever. But the next time I go, it is again in stock.

For awhile, each time I went to the store, I looked with eager expectation for my mango yogurt. After all, it had always reappeared in the past. But not this time. Months went by. Six of them, to be exact. But who’s counting? I wasn’t anymore. I confess – I had stopped looking for my mango yogurt at some point. I can’t even say when that point was. All I know, is that I no longer looked for it. I no longer held out any hope that mango yogurt was coming back to a store shelf near me.

But today it did! How easily I gave up hope. How quickly I found substitutes and told myself I liked them just as well. This got me to thinking about other things for which I no longer hope, things I no longer expect to magically reappear like my mango yogurt. One would be Clorox wipes. Why aren’t they back yet? If we can make ventilators, why can’t we make wipes?

Something else I quickly substituted, was zoom for the face to face. I told myself I liked it just as well but I could only lie to myself for so long. When the real thing was possible once again, even in a limited form, I was reminded how far superior it is to its stand in and would be replacement.

How many things, like my mango yogurt, have I quit expecting to return? What other things have I given up hope of finding once again? What is lost that I no longer expect to recover? What is gone that I no longer expect to experience ever again?

Churches and schools are not fully open and functioning. Both fulfill their purposes more truly and more fully in person. That’s how they were designed to carry out their callings – in person. Birthdays and baby showers, weddings and wakes, parades and plays, movies and musicals, concerts and sports contests of every kind – all were designed to be experienced in community. Not in isolation.

Have I stopped expecting the return of these things? Have I no longer any hope? Former president Ronald Reagan said something sobering and sad and alarming all at the same time. It was this,

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Have I given up hope? Just like I was no longer looking for my yogurt, am I no longer looking for those freedoms lost to COVID-19? Am I no longer expecting those freedoms to be returned to me, to you, to each one of us? Are our freedoms to be reinstated? Will they reappear in the fabric of our daily lives? Or do we have to demand our freedom all over again, just as those in 1776 demanded their freedoms, their unalienable rights, rights guaranteed to them by their Creator, rights no longer to be withheld by any government? Am I content to remain silent while every freedom falls away from me, from us? “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.”

Where are the voices that would speak up before it is too late? Free speech is one of those freedoms being taken while we are busy pursuing other things. Now speech is taken down from Facebook and YouTube, while college campuses censor and silence any voices of dissent as well.

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

And Psalm 31:24 instructs, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

The unexpected return of my mango yogurt today reminded me that other lost things could yet be returning as well. I don’t have to give up hope. All is not lost. Anything is possible.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’ ” (Mark 10:27)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a day to remember #91

Today is a memorable day and as such a special day, a day set apart from other more ordinary days. I confess – September 11th has been a particularly special day for me for the past thirty years. Now before you start calling into question my mathematical skills, let me assure you I do realize it has been only nineteen years since the terrorist attack that toppled the trade towers in New York City.

I remember that day well. That day was and is the Pearl Harbor of our generation and we are forever changed and defined by the events of September 11, 2001, both individually and corporately as a nation. However, my life was forever changed on this same day thirty years ago when I brought a new life into this world. My youngest daughter was born on this day thirty years ago.

So I remember where I was on this day thirty years ago. I was in the hospital! That day holds for me, the sacred memory of a new life making her grand entrance into the world after nine months of anticipation, preparation and prayer. It was the day of a miracle, the priceless gift of a child, a reason to rejoice with great gladness. I remember the overwhelming sense of relief I felt, because my daughter had arrived safely and in good health. It was a day of joy and of great gratitude to God.

That must be why we celebrate birthdays. We want to remember the miracle and the gift that each person’s life is. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that? (plus there’s the cake and ice cream)

So eleven years after my first memorable 9-11, nineteen years ago today, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Nine/eleven was already a day to remember for me, but now a day of celebration of new life would also become a day of mourning the loss of life.

This was my daughter’s golden birthday, she was turning eleven on the eleventh. With my children at school, I was home baking a birthday cake and wrapping presents, which would be eaten and opened after dinner. I think it was a chocolate cake that I would later frost with pink icing. One of her gifts was roller skates. They were white with purple wheels and purple laces. I wonder if she remembers them?

My mom called to tell me to turn on the TV and the world was changed before my eyes. We live in the middle of the country (fly over country people on the coasts call it) but we suffered the heartbreak and the loss as one people, as one nation. Prayer was politically correct and police officers, firefighters, and first responders were our heroes. Their courage and self-sacrifice were an inspiration to everyone of us.

Today it is nineteen years later. My daughter lives in another state, in another time zone. Because of COVID, it might as well be another continent. We have not seen each other in far too long. I am not baking a cake today, her gift has been wrapped and mailed already. Nothing as exciting as roller skates though. Although it is something dear to my heart.

Today, we as a nation are remembering and honoring those we lost on nine/eleven. I am multi-tasking – mourning and celebrating simultaneously. I am remembering the courage and the sacrifice of so many individuals and the collective cohesiveness of all of us as Americans, coming together to face the evil that had caused us such harm.

Also today, I am remembering birthdays past, starting with the one in the hospital – the day you were born, my dear, precious daughter. Life and death, inextricably linked. How many nine/eleven birthdays must there be anyway? But it is yours that I celebrate, my daughter. Nine/eleven will always be a day to remember with joy and with gratitude for me. The day God gave me the gift of you! (your birthday and I get a present, go figure?)

Maybe I’ll eat some ice cream in your honor? I hope you will have cake, if for no other reason than so you will have a place to put the thirty candles for you to blow out. Your Papa always had peach pie for his birthday, but getting candles to stand up on pie was always a little tricky for Grami.

So, on this day to remember, I am remembering you, my daughter.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your commands.” (Psalm 119:73)

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me (you); Your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of Your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

sincerely, Grace Day