Life as Thank You 46

Dear Jeanine and Carol,

I am taking this opportunity to tell you how grateful I am that you two are in my life.  I have been writing old-school thank you notes each week this year to let people know how grateful I am for them.  You two are together in my mind!

First, I want to say thank you for your faithful friendship.  I think the gift of life long friendship is rare and it is even more unusual to have parents that model it and families that teach it.  All three of us come from godly homes and have parents who modeled and passed it on to us.  We are so blessed!

Next, I want to say that I learned what it meant to be the community of faith at Harbor Trinity and you 2 were key players in that for me. You always told me the truth, held me accountable and held me up in prayer.  So many ordinary youth group activities were made extraordinary just because we did them together!

Finally, even though we have not been “together” most of our adult lives, the seeds of faith and friendship we planted as high school girls have become a garden that the Lord continues to water and it continues to be a blessing in my life.

I love you both and I thank God for you regularly.  Thank you for loving me.

May God continue to surprise you with His joy and hope as we all continue on our journey of faith.



Life as Thank You 45

Dear Dad,

In honor of your birthday I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me.  I am working on the discipline of gratitude in 2016 and so I thought this would be a great time to express thanks for all you do (and have done) for me.

Ever since I can remember you have always been there for me. You have given me advice and comfort in addition to a punny sense of humor, half of my gene structure and a love for southern food!

Thank you for working hard long hours so I could have the things I have. Thank you for giving me and M, J, D all the opportunities you gave us.  We traveled and had plenty of books, games, lessons and friends.  There was never a lack of food, clothing and shelter either.

I learned about our country by driving across it.  I learned how to read a map by looking at them with you and I learned about missionaries and cultures from you as we sponsored missionaries and world vision kids.  I learned to have a sense of urgency for the lost by listening to you share the gospel and talk about end times. I learned that worship was more than singing by watching you in church. I learned the value of a dollar and the importance of tithing and saving from you. I learned the importance of God’s Word as we had devotions and as you showed me how to hide it in my heart.  Even though others taught me to swim and ride a bike, you told me about a personal relationship with Jesus and you modeled what it looked like.

Thank you for setting a godly example in your marriage.  I never questioned whether or not you loved mom and even though you might have made parenting “errors”, I never questioned your love for and faith in me either!

I also learned so much from you by the things you didn’t do well.  You stood in the gap as my junior high Sunday school teacher and you were not engaging, yet, as a result, I devoted my life to junior high ministry! You were not a camper or outdoorsy kind of guy and yet you sent us and took us to camp.  You were not a dancer and yet you took me to a dance with girl scouts. You were not musical yet you paid for all my music lessons and sat through many concerts. You don’t care for sports yet you took me to baseball games when I earned free tickets and you still watch Clayton play soccer.

Dad, I love you and I am more than grateful to the Lord for the rare privilege of growing up in the home he placed me in.  You are my hero.  I believe whole-heartedly that God knew exactly what he was doing when he chose you to be my dad.

May God bless you all the days ordained to you.



Ears to Hear 1 John 4

The hardest thing you will ever do!

In this chapter there is much to unpack. Three times in this chapter alone, John reiterates that we are to love one another.  Why?  I think it is because the most difficult thing God asks us to do is to love.  That sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. God commands us to obey, yet we are a disobedient people. God asks us to sacrifice, yet we are a selfish people. God’s very nature is holy and loving, and we are made in that image, yet we are sinful and broken.

Love is a command to obey. According to Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 22 the greatest commandment and the second hinge on the act of love for God and people. If love were easy, would we be reminded over and over of its priority? Love is part of living a life that is real because God is love. Love does not define God, but God defines love. If love was removed from our lives, obedience, sacrifice, and even God Himself would be removed as well.

Love requires sacrifice in order for it to be real. Verse 20 provides evidence that loving others is hard to do. God does not need our love, but our brother does. God does not tell us to tolerate our brother. That is easy. Instead, the greatest sign of love is a bloody cross. The greatest expression of God’s love in us is the daily taking up our cross, sacrificing self and loving the world as Jesus did.

Love is a lifestyle to be lived daily. It is not a “live and let live” mentality; that is easy. Love requires work. When we are united to Him through faith in Christ, then we share His nature. For example, when hiking, I might use a map, but ultimately I navigate which way to go daily by using a compass to show directions. Why? Because the compass points north; it is tied to the earth’s magnetic field, and the needle is responsive to the nature of the earth. If the nature of God is love, then the person who knows God and is born of God will respond to His nature. Follow the logic? Just as a compass naturally points north, we will naturally practice love if the nature of God is love. It won’t be a forced reaction, and it won’t be an emotion, rather it will be a natural proof. John says that love is the evidence that He lives in us.

God is love. This truth is revealed in the Word. It is demonstrated on the cross. And it is something that happens in us, as we become participants in God’s great love story. He breathes His grace over us. His mercies reflect the great love He has for us. He forgives failures. He reveals Himself through the lives of His children! Imagine the wonder and privilege of that – God abides in us! Amazing Love – how can it be?!


Life as Thank You 44


I am writing thank you notes each week this year to work on the discipline of gratitude.  I want to take the opportunity, in light of your birthday, to tell you how grateful I am for you.

You are more than smart.  I love your drive, your creativity, your humor and your logic.  I am so proud of the way you make the most of every opportunity.

You are more than pretty.  You are beautiful, inside and out, but even more than that you are not the sum of your beauty alone.  Your character and your lifestyle make you stunning.

You are more than kind. There is not a mean bone in your body.  Your parents did well in raising you to be big hearted but you too have crafted a character that is one to follow.

You are more than a christian; you are a disciple, following and pursuing a relationship with God.

Because you are a teacher and 26 I thought this would be appropriate:

American Girl doll

Beautiful inside & out


Disney fan

Example to follow



Harry Potter Fan






Never give up


Pursuing a relationship with Jesus

Quick to listen







Xtra amazing friend

You like running!  I am in awe!

Zillions of reasons to love and admire you


May God bless you with people who challenge you, may he bless your health, your relationships and your faith beyond your wildest dreams!

I love You!

Aunt Miriam

Life as Thank You #43

Dear Karen,

Most of my childhood memories include you.  I am working on the discipline of gratitude one old school thank you note at a time.  I want to let you know how grateful I am that you are in my life; in fact my life would be very different if I had not known you.  You, Karen Diane, are my first friend since moving to CA at age 2 and we have shared many experiences and memories, laughed and cried together more times than I can count. We have had adventures, shared secrets, had multiple sleep-overs, gotten in a fair share of trouble and more!

First, I want to say that I am grateful to parents who modeled the true meaning of friendship and who encouraged and supported our relationship even when our families moved away from each other!

Next, I am grateful for the things I have learned from you and for being a person I can look up to to challenge me, to encourage me and to faithfully care for our friendship.  You are so smart and talented.  I admire you for more things than you know; I “brag” about you all the time!  I cook your mom’s recipes.  I play games with my kids because we grew up loving playing them. I can’t think of hiking without thinking about you.

Third, thank you for allowing me the honor of “burying” your sweet dad. I am blessed that your family trusted me with that responsibility.

Last, I look forward to future together.  Even when we go for long seasons without regular communication, please know that I am thinking of you, praying for you and your family (including Judi), and cheering you on from my corner of the world!

I love you, Karen,  May God  bless you and may you be happier than a thousand rainbows!



Amazing Finish!

Check out this link to an amazing win for the Eagles against Master’s College in overtime!!

It was a very happy game since I spent it with the Tutens!  bu-soc tutgame

The Discipline of Remembering

Humans are forgetful, whether it is because we repress the truth to create an alternate reality, avoid emotional triggers or are just too busy.  It is interesting to consider what we forget and what we remember.  Whatever the reason we are forgetful: Forgetful of God’s provision, God’s blessings, God’s answers to prayer.

Ps 103:2 says not to forget any of the Lord’s benefits and yet Is. 43:18 says to forget the past and don’t dwell on it.  So how to reconcile these 2 verses?

The Bible is clear that we are not to forget.  We are to remember because God remembers us first and because he remembers us he actively intervenes on our behalf. We are instructed to remember by hiding the Word in our heart, by gathering together, by sharing His works from one generation to another, by observing the Sabbath, the Lord’s Supper and the feast days.  Memory is an important part of worship. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Remembering is good but like everything, if taken to extremes, can be dangerous.  While it is possible to sin against God by forgetting the past, it is also possible to sin by remembering it in the wrong way! Don’t forget, but don’t dwell or live there.  Nostalgia is something that in and of itself is not a bad thing; but it can become an idol and very unhealthy when it overwhelms life in the present by dwelling on the past experiences and the burden that those events are never going to come again, a kind of paralyzing regret that the best days are history. Because of prior grace the demand for the believer is hope.  The best is yet to come. The future is too important to live in the past. Prior grace demands remembering and living in light of eternity. A theology of remembering the past is critical for the believer.  The past is not for fueling disappointments, regrets, anger or grudges.  The past was not given to us for such a misuse; rather it was given to us by God for gratitude, repentance, faith and wisdom.

Gratitude: We remember history as an ever-growing reservoir of God’s prior grace.  It is for drinking in thankfulness and growing gratitude.

Repentance: We remember when we were separated from the Lord; we are never to forget what we are saved from because it is what leads to joyful living rather than entitlement.

Faith: We remember as a source of faith for the future.  Romans 8:32 says how will God, who did not withhold His son in the past, Not give us all things in the future? When we don’t remember past grace, we don’t trust for future grace.

Wisdom: We can’t learn from what hasn’t happened yet.  We can only learn from the past!

I think I have a pretty good memory and I worked hard to train and exercise it by hiding sections of scripture in my heart.  There are not too many shortcuts, but memory begets memory.  The more I memorized the more I was able to remember.  And the opposite is true.  Repetition every day ingrains the passage (or whatever it is I am memorizing) but when I don’t practice it for awhile I find that what I remembered so well fades away.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think God knew this about human minds when he established the law, which is why he commands us to remember (by habit and discipline) the Sabbath to keep it holy.  Week in and week out we repeatedly observe the Sabbath to etch on our hearts who God is.  Remembering the Lord’s day regularly helps to remain aware and not to forget. Similarly, rituals, memorials and annual festivals encourage internalization and rehearsal.

There is a hymn, “Come Thou Fount”, that sings about “raising an Ebenezer.”  Ebenezers in the Bible are stones that the Israelites constructed to mark significant battles and places where God met His people. For example, there were a pile of stones by the Jordan River to mark where God parted the water for them for the second time. Ebenezers are monuments to mark occasions when God shows up; they represent a physical reminder of what God has done in the past.  The cross is a constant reminder that God is victorious!

Today, Ebenezers can be everywhere, thanks to social media, jewelry stores, trophies and homes with solid walls.  As we trust God to show up again and again we can post on Facebook and they even send us reminders of our past memories. We can build a charm bracelet with reminders of God’s intervention, we can record our testaments in journals or on blogs, we can make scrapbooks or put our memories in frames. Our Ebenezers help us remember who God is and celebrate His faithfulness and lovingkindness. Our memories can intentionally reveal His presence, even when we didn’t realize it at the time!  They free us to rely on Him today and in all of our tomorrows. Just as God has been faithful in the past, he will continue to bless and strengthen us in our daily lives and every day in the future!

I need this reminder to record my personal history and set up a personal Ebenezer Stone, naming the events and people of my life that demonstrate God’s hand at work through to this day. Remember and give thanks, repent, lean in and grow.

I write this as my own response to the teaching of Jon Lunde in Encouragement Inc. 9/25/16.

The secret of discipleship is to:

  1. recognize grace as a gift without assuming it
  2. receive grace by remembering and reliving prior grace
  3. respond daily to covenantal grace
  4. relying on the Spirit

“A pleasure is not full grown until it is remembered.” CS Lewis

Life as Thank You #42

carl-mrmDear Carl/Son,

I am so thankful that you are in my life.  This year I am taking the time to write old fashioned thank you notes to the people that I am most grateful for.

I won’t be able to express it well but I want you to know that it meant the world to Jim to “mentor” and build a relationship with you, and then watch you grow (albeit from a distance) into a godly servant and minister.  He was humbled that you and your dad came out for your 21st birthday when he was sick.

I too treasured my time as a junior high director at Christ Church especially because of relationships with students like you that God blessed me with. Thank you for trusting me and allowing me the privilege.

Thank you for your prayers and for staying in relationship with our family over the years. You really became family when you came for Emily’s wedding.  I still look forward to the day when I can meet Lesley and the boys in real life.  You are loved by mom #2. I pray for you all regularly and thank God for you upon every remembrance.

May God continue to meet all your needs beyond all you could ever ask or think all the days of your life.

Love you,

Miriam aka Mom


Vin Scully Day

Last night I watched the celebration of the 67 year career of Vin Scully.  Amazing!

He definitely is the voice in my head when I am at a ball game; he could make the great word pictures and where ever I was I was instantly transported to the ballpark as I listened to Vin call a game.

I am moved by his responses; they speak volumes about his character.  His own modest reflection of his life’s work:

What I should do is be on my knees everyday giving thanks. God has been so good. I have received so many benefits. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve these benefits. I have gotten my health and my years and a job that I’ve loved since the day I even thought about it at 8 years old.  So, as I say, I’m a thanksgiving dinner; I mean it’s all I think about. I don’t think about “Boy, What a life!” except to think, “God, why have you been so kind to me?”

Kevin Costner gave a very moving speech & here is an excerpt:

“We will miss you, my friend. We will miss you in our radio, in our cars, in our backyard. You’ve been a gift to Los Angeles and to baseball itself. It seems forever that you’ve been guiding us through your personal window into the game. For 67 years you managed to fool us into believing you were just a sports announcer, when in fact you were really a poet, a wordsmith. It was a nice trick, and after almost seven decades, you might’ve thought we would’ve caught on.”

Of course baseball will never be the same; but that is still a good thing because it is what it is because Vin called the games!

What I did not buy at Target

Sometimes weird things make me ruminate on information perhaps more than I should.  I was at Target when a man came up and wanted to to talk religion with me.  It turns out that he wanted me to buy into his weird cult (World Mission Society Church of God) that believes that there are 2 gods – God the Father and God the Mother.  According to this man’s interpretation of Gal 4:26, Gen. 1:26, 27 and Rev. 22:17 there are 2 gods rather than a Triune Godhead. I argued back, of course, but eventually I told Him that I felt he was deceived and I was not interested in buying what he was selling.  When I looked up information online, I was startled at the size of this cult.  20 new religions start up each year in America; some make it and some last for only a short season.  That is so crazy to me.  But, of course, the guy I talked to thinks he is right and I am brainwashed.  As I read through Revelation with ears to hear I am reminded of how horrible the end is for those who deviate and lead others away from the truth, et al.   How much more we need to actively pursue the truth and diligently live and share the Gospel.

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