What’s your journey? Gratitude Adventure?

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I have walked Malaysian beaches, galloped through the woods in the Philippines, ridden an elephant in Thailand, dodged the traffic in Delhi, climbed the Great Wall of China, floated along the Venetian canals, skied the Italian Dolomites and Austrian Alps, wept gazing at the Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, pondered the graves of Arlington National Cemetery, kissed my husband atop the Taj Mahal, renewed my marriage vows in the Garden Tomb of Jesus, relished fireworks at the foot of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, slept in the hotel room that Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in, and enjoyed picnics under the Sequoias.  I have been to the mountaintop and to the pit of despair; and I have chosen to walk the path of gratitude.

This crooked, uphill, downhill, sometimes overgrown path that I have chosen as my life’s journey has taken me to many destinations; yet, it was the journey, not the destinations that helped shape who I am.

My journey is one of stretching, making myself a little uncomfortable, so that I am always striving for something beyond what I have proven I can accomplish, honing myself, and, at times, choosing to reinvent myself.

Reinvention and innovation. That’s the language of today’s business environment. It’s uncertain and uncomfortable. It takes purposeful stretching and flexibility.

In July, my wonderful husband of 41 years, Keith, stopped me as we walked Vatican City with a group of students we were leading on a study-abroad course, “Who would have thought that a poor Tulsa girl would be doing this?”

That poor Tulsa girl became a Christ-follower when she was about eight-years-old at Vacation Bible School.

I remember reading my Bible and trying to understand it. Oh how I loved the Lord. I basked in His creation and loved taking walks alone, so that I could talk with Him. The journey was a delight. He led me beside the still waters.

Jesus walked me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in my late teens. All the while, I felt His presence. God sent a preacher who had suffered from polio and was confined to braces and crutches to mentor me through the tough recuperation and to be an example of a Christ-follower whose joy in the Lord spills out onto others.

Keith and I married, even though he thought I would not live to be 30. The love of a man like Keith is far more precious than rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. He blessed me through his selfless, servant-leader approach to marriage.

Trials, challenges, and mountaintops have enlarged our borders as we have delighted in the ways of the Lord.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:5

What a precious promise! God has given me the desires of my heart as He has stretched and continues to stretch me into the woman who will accomplish the works He planned for me from before the foundation of the world.

I am grateful for this life’s gratitude adventure.

My prayer for you:

Father, You have directed our footsteps and lit our paths. May we bless You and point people to You as You pour out Your Spirit upon us. May we show forth Your great compassion, mercy, and grace. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Wishing you a journey of joy and adventure as you stretch your capabilities and impact others for good.

Pieta, a sculpture of love, disappointment. Waiting for sculpture of joy of Risen Lord

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“… Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’” Luke 2:34-35

We lived in Italy about 25 years ago. Keith was in the Air Force, and we were privileged to be stationed at Aviano AB, a 1-hour train ride northeast of Venice. We lived in a 700-year-old town named Dardago.

We toured Vatican City 25 years ago, before the Pieta was vandalized, and it was not protected. I returned three times just to stand before the funeral memorial and weep.

This July, we returned to Rome. The Sistine Chapel paintings were more vivid and beautiful than we had ever seen them, since they have been restored and cleaned. But I was anxious to move through the Chapel to get to St. Peter’s Basilica to stand before the Pieta.

Before the Pieta, I wept.

The window reflection near the head of Mary made me think of the many people standing there taking photographs and then moving on to the next beautiful piece of art. Many did not understand the story. Others knew the story but did not stop to see the window of opportunity to understand more about Jesus, more about Mary, and to experience the pain of the moment.

“Pieta” in Italian means “pity.” Michelangelo was 25 when he released the Pieta from its marble. He believed that the sculpture already existed in the marble, and he just released it.

“Pity” is not the word I would have used to name this sculpture. From a mother’s eyes, I saw a woman who had experienced everything miraculous about this Son, her Savior, her Lord … from his birth, to the turning of water into wine, from raising the dead, to healing the lepers, restoring sight to the blind and song to the deaf. This was the Man who was going to save Israel. Here was all her hope, all her love, all her dreams. Beaten beyond recognition. Dead.

I wonder what sculpture is waiting to be released that shows Mary’s joy when she saw her Son, her Savior, risen.

My prayer for you:

Lord, You took on the beating, the scourging, the sins, the diseases, for us. You hung on the cross to take on sin and pay the price that we should have paid. AND You rose from the dead! You conquered death, and You are at the right hand of God making intercession for us. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and with Your wisdom, so that we can understand the power and joy that only You can bestow upon us as we contemplate our risen Savior.

May the Lord richly bless you as you contemplate Mary’s pity and Mary’s joy.