Thursday, January 31, 2013

31 - Technology

Day 31: Technology

3We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.
                                                                        2 Thessalonians 1:3

Today as I reflect on the blessings of life, and the blessings of these past 31 days, my mind is wandering to technology. For indoor plumbing and heating, for phones to stay in touch, e-mail to converse with friends, and this blog to have conversations with you. For all of the wonderful little gadgets that help me to make better use of my time, and yes, sometimes waste my time as well, I am thankful. So as I send this out over the gift of the web, I am thankful that I can communicate with all of you in this way.

What blessings have you seen in the past 31 days?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30: Opportunities

Day 30: Opportunities

10He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 11as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
                                                                        2 Corinthians 1:10-11

Over the past few months I have seen a number of amazing opportunities come forward in the life of the church and in my own life as well. They have been opportunities for growth in a variety of ways, including in my own spiritual life. Today I recognize the blessings of new opportunities.

What opportunities have come into your life lately?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 - 31 Days

Day 29: 31 Days

11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:11-14

We are nearing the end of the 31 Days of Blessing, only two more days left. So today I see the blessings of doing this. Over the past month I have heard from a number of people how looking at their daily lives through the eyes of blessing has made them reflect on how they view what is happening in their life and look at the positive things that are happening with them. It has also helped me to slow down and remember why it is we do what we do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

28 - sitters

Day 28: Sitters

13Then we your people, the flock of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Psalm 79:13

Today I celebrate the blessings of those who care for our children, especially when we are going out for a movie or dinner. These times are important to us as a couple, to have adult conversation without the prying ears of an eight-year-old who wants to know everything. The people who care for them are loved by both the girls and us, and they are a true blessing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27 - Noise

Day 27: Noise of Children

4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind — 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9

Today I hear the blessings of the noise children make. Throughout the entire weekend there was laughing, screaming, truck noises, Scarlett barking like a dog, and everything else you could think of. The girls were having a blast and the noises that they made were wonderful.

What noises are blessings to you?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

26 - travel

Day 26: Travel

6With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
7For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
Psalm 54:6-7

Today I celebrate the blessings of travel – of being able to go to places near and far, seeing amazing sights, and meeting different people. Travel is exciting and education and something I love to do and share with the girls.

What blessings have you seen in your travels?

Friday, January 25, 2013

25 - Bedtime

Day 25: Bedtime

21When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy splendor, as they went before the army, saying,
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his steadfast love endures forever."
2 Chronicles 20:21

I love the busyness of our girls, it is shows me their growth and love of learning and excitement they have for life. And I love bedtime, because it is a time for us adults to slow down a little too. So today I celebrate the blessings of bedtime, the rituals we go through, the good night kisses that are shared, the “I love you’s” that are said, and the silence that eventually comes as well.

What part of the day is a blessing for you?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24 - Garbage Day

Day 24: Garbage Day

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
Psalm 100:4

Today is garbage day in our neighborhood, and so today I am thankful for those who take care of the garbage for me. This is one of those things that I do not think about often, I just haul the cans to the end of the driveway and pick them up a few hours later. But to live in a place where the garbage is taken care of and not just lying in the streets - it is a true blessing.

It is also a blessing when the girls decide they want to help haul the garbage out with me in the morning. It might make for a little more work, but to see them take pride in helping dad with this chore – priceless.

What part of modern day life do you often overlook, but now see as a blessing?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23 - Adult Classes

Day 23: Adult Ed Class

13We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers
                                                1 Thessalonians 2:13

Yesterday it was the blessings of our younger generation, today it is the blessings of those who come to the Adult Ed classes. These great students are filled with questions that challenge me and make me think and study. In one of our classes we have been working through the series called "Making Sense Out Of Scripture" and the conversations we have stick with me for days afterwards. They are a blessing in many ways.

Is there anything you want to study more of in your life?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22 - Confirmation Students

Day 22: Confirmation Students

28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
Psalm 118:28

Yes, there are blessings that come from the lives of our confirmation students. These are 7th and 8th grade students who meet weekly in large and small group settings to learn about the Bible, the Church, and what it means to be a Lutheran. They are an active bunch this year, and a smart bunch as well. They bring some good questions, and, when focused, have some great conversations as well. They also keep me young, and that is a blessing as well.

Do you have young people in your life who are a blessing to you?

Monday, January 21, 2013

21 - Hans of Faith

Day 21: Hands of Faith

You will say in that day:
I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
and you comforted me.
2Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord GOD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
Isaiah 12:1-2

One of the programs we are associated with here in Beloit is the Hands of Faith program. This is a program that helps those who are homeless by housing them in churches for a period of time while helping them to find housing and be self-sufficient. It is a great program that really helps those in need.

The blessings of this program, and those who help serve it, are numerous. We have had children as young as 2 weeks old stay at our church. We have also had people who serve be overcome with tears because of the difference they were making in the lives of another.

What group are you a part of, or want to be a part of, that showers blessings on others?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20 - Jennifer and her creativity

Day 20: Jennifer and her Creativity

12I give thanks to you, O LORD my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:12

Today I see the blessings of creativity in my wife. Over the past few years she has written the dramas for our Lenten Series, Sunday School Programs, and Summer Dramas. She has a gift with words and a way to make a point and be humorous in the process. It is a gift few have, and she has an abundance of it. She is a true blessing in this way.

Is there someone in your life who blesses you with their gifts?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Day 19: Snow

16Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17singing,
"We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
who are and who were,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
                                                Revelation 11:16-17

I see the blessings of snow. Yes, I know this sounds weird, but earlier this winter, when we had snow, there are some days when I was driving the girls to school and they are giggling in the backseat talking about how they want to get out and play in the snow. They laugh about building a fort and surprise attacking me with a snowball fight. They talk about the snowmen they built in the backyard already this year and how they want to do it again.

That kind of time together is precious, and it is the blessing of snow brought that to light.

What blessings do you see in the winter?

Friday, January 18, 2013

18 - Healing

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Day 18: Healing

13But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
                                                                        2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

This morning the alarm on my phone went off, as it does every morning and evening, to remind me to take my cancer pill. Twice a day I take this little pink pill that has worked miracles in my life.

Well, this morning, as I was filling up my cup with water, getting the pill out of the little pill box, and was overcome with gratitude for the blessings of healing. The medication I take wasn’t around 10 years ago, and if I wasn’t on this med, well, I very well might not be here. So the blessings of this healing medication are immeasurable to me.

In what ways have you been blessed with healing in your life?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 17 - Spirit

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Day 17: Gift of the Spirit

7Bring me out of prison,
so that I may give thanks to your name.
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me.
                                                Psalm 142:7

Our congregation is filled with an amazing Spirit. They are open to trying so many new things and reaching out the community in ways that they may even be a bit uncomfortable with, but they do it because they feel called to do so.

This Spirit has called a wide variety of people into a wide variety of ministries and made a huge difference for the whole community. It is a true blessing to everyone around here and I am so grateful for this Spirit.

How have you see the Spirit bless those around you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 16 - People

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Day 16: People

35Say also:
"Save us, O God of our salvation,
and gather and rescue us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.
                                                1 Chronicles 16:35

There are a couple of people in our congregation that have become amazing blessings to me over the years. The have provided support, knowledge, and compassion in a variety of ways. They have made a difference in my life and in the life of my family many times over.

So today I celebrate the blessings of these people in my life. I won’t name them all, it would be quite a list and I don’t want to embarrass any of them, but they know who they are. So thank you for all of the blessings you have showered up me.

What people have been blessings to you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

14 and 15 - Swim Lessons and Humor

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Day 14: Swim lessons

11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
                                                                                                John 6:11

Monday night is swim lesson night for the girls. It has been this way basically since Sierra was three. Now both girls have their own classes and both are continuing to grow into amazing fish. Scarlett is moving past her fear of jumping in, Sierra is learning the butterfly and has talked about being a life guard when she is big enough.

I love sitting there, watching them swim and have such a great time. It brings a smile to my face.

So today I celebrate the blessing of swim lessons, and the girls having so much fun in the water.

What sport or exercise is a blessing to you?

Day 15: Humor

19Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
                                                Psalm 118:19

Life can be depressing.

It really can.

There are so many bad things that happen at times. So many trials and struggles. It can really drag me down.

So I often search out a way to try and smile during the tough times. There are some web sites I go to that are filled with humorous posts, there are people I sit and talk with there are shows that I watch and podcast I listen to.

There are many different things, and I know that I need to search them out because humor is an amazing blessing that helps to give life.

So today I celebrate the blessing of humor.

What do you find funny?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

12 and 13 - Staff and Music

Day 12: Staff

12As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
                                                                                    Colossians 3:12-17

One of the greatest blessings I have in life is the people I work with. They are a dedicated group of people who have amazing gifts and work well together. I know there are times I must frustrate them (like coming up with new and crazy ministries and ways to share our message with others), but they handle my craziness well.

So today I am thankful for the staff at this church. They are a great group of people and have blessed me in ways they can never imagine.

What people in your life are a blessing to you?

Day 13: Music

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
                                    Psalm 92:1-3

On of the great joys of driving around town with the girls is listening to music with them. There are a few of the music TV shows that we watch together as a family, and when the girls hear the one of the songs played on that show or the voice of one of the judges blaring through the sound system, they squeal with delight.  Music is powerful, and hearing it come from the mouths of those girls makes it even more so.

So today I celebrate the blessing of music and the affect it has on our entire family.

How has music been a blessing to you?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 11 - Craft Time

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Day 11: Craft Time

7The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
                                                Psalm 28:7

Our two girls are busy.

Very busy.

Our littlest, well, she never stops. She likes to run and play and sing and dance. Even when she is eating, she twirls in her chair and hums tunes or tells stories (and as a parent it is cute, but at times frustrating).

And some of the most difficult days we have are days when we cannot get outside.

The girls need to run and burn off energy, and if they don’t, we better have a plan in place.

So today I am seeing the blessings of craft time.

I like crafts. I am not very good at them, but I like them. I like to be able to sit with the girls and create something that I see as absolutely beautiful.

And more than the crafts, it is the time with them. The time watching them work on something and build something that comes to life right in front of us.

So today it is the blessing of craft time that I celebrate.

What blessing of creativity do you have?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 10 - Shelter

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Day 10: Shelter

14But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.
                                                                                                2 Corinthians 2:14

A few days ago I woke up to the sound of scratching in the attic. As I lay in bed, thinking of the kind of poison I would need to take care of that scratching little animal up there, I was reminded of the blessing of having that roof over my head. So today I celebrate the blessings of having shelter that protects me and my family from the weather outside (but not the little critter living in that roof).

In what way can you share a blessing with someone else today?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 9 - Kingdom

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Day 9:

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.
                                                                                                Hebrews 12:28

The phrase “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” is sticking with me today.

So much of the world is shaken. From earthquakes and tsunamis, to cheating heros and dishonorable politicians, there are times it seems like everything we hold dear is shaken, and maybe even broken.

But then I hear this word from God, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and a sense of peace flows over me. For I am reminded that God’s kingdom, God’s peace, God’s love is here to stay.

There will be times when the pains and struggles of life coming rushing up to face me, but even in those times there is that voice crying out in the darkness, the voice of the true light that brightens all of creation, and it is a voice that calls out with words of love and peace.

You are my beloved.

So today I look for the blessings of this kingdom that is coming to us, and I pray that my eyes may continually be opened to see this kingdom in the lives and faces of others.

What blessings have given you a sense of peace and comfort over the past few days?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 8 - Soreness

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Day 8:

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
                                                            Psalm 9:1-2

I remember my high school days when I was playing football. We had three-a-days in the August heat, and after the sessions we would just collapse out of exhaustion and pain.

I remember my rugby playing days in college. There were some mornings after a match that nit would be hard to move.

Yes, I remember soreness, and I think one of the reasons I remember it so well is that today, I hurt.

Yes, today I am sore. At the beginning of the year I started a new workout routine, and today I am paying for it.

But I wasn’t going to let that soreness beat me. So I slowly creaked my way out of bed this morning and went at it again.

But as I was showering after the workout, I was reminded that the soreness really is a blessing. It is a blessing because I am able to get up, go work out, and physically get healthier. As my trainer used to say – It’s a good pain.

Are there parts of your life that have some soreness in them, but really are blessings?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 7 - Necessities

Day 7:

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks in all circumstances. Sometimes this is a hard one for me to do. It is so easy to not always give thanks, but rather, to dwell on the bad things that happen in life. But I have also learned that if I dwell on these things, if ignore the blessings, then my life starts down a negative cycle that I really want not part of.

So this morning, I am focusing on the blessings of life no matter what, and as soon as I got up, I was challenged with it.

I was huling out some stinky garbage before the girls got up, and as soon as I opened the door I was blasted with a breath of cold air. The past few days have been quite chilly, and the coldness this morning was a temptation to not give thanks and see the blessings of the morning.

But as I hauled the garbage out and then quickly moved back to the house, I was reminded of the blessings of heat and warm clothing. Not everyone has what they need, and I have extras.

So today I am celebrating the blessings of the necessities of life – necessities like heat and clothing. I am blessed to have what I do have, and need to look at ways I can share my extras with others.

What are some of the basic things in life that you take for granted?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 6: Children

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Day 6:

11Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
12Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
                                                Psalm 97:11-12

I remember riding in the back of the car as a child, peppering my mom and dad with questions as we drove around town or went out on our family vacations. Back then, no questions was too silly to ask and every answer was longed for. Part of the fun was trying to stump my parents and see how they would respond if I happened to ask them that tricky question.

Now the tables have been turned.

Earlier this week, the girls were riding in the back of the truck and started asking me all sorts of questions – the kind of questions I used to ask my parents, the kind of questions that as adults we tend to pass right over and silly. But as I answered all of their questions the best that I could, I was taken back to those innocent and care-free days of life. To have the freedom to ask any question, and not think it was silly. To have the trust that asking a question would not elicit a laugh, but rather a thoughtful answer, and to have the ability to see the world as an overall good place. With just a few questions, my mind flashed back to what it was like to live in that innocent child world once again.

So I am thankful to see the world through my daughters’ eyes. I am thankful to have my eyes opened to their world and the beauty that resides there.  I am thankful that silly questions can be asked and answered, and that the innocence of children can inspire others.

In what ways have children blessed and inspired you over the years?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 5 - Worship

Day 5: Worship

10Then David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly; David said: "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, forever and ever… 13And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
                                                                        1 Chronicles 29:10,13

On a typical Sunday, I am the first one up at our house. I get ready and then head into the office around 5:45 am. When I get here I go through my morning rituals - making coffee, prayers, drinking coffee, getting the worship space set up, drinking more coffee, and the list goes on. Then the rest of the family comes in and the girls have breakfast in my office before their sitter shows up, and then we are off and running for the three morning services.

I love the routine of Sunday. I love being able to come in early and spend some time silently in the building before worship starts. I love having the girls in my office as they eat and get ready for a long morning at church. I love the people who come and care for Sierra and Scarlett, who make time on Sunday morning to get up early and play with two little girls. And I love worship.

And so, today I am reflection on the blessings of worship - with its wonderful variety and different styles. I am thankful to have the opportunity to gather with brothers and sisters, friends and strangers, and sing and pray and hear the life-giving word. Yes, worship is a true blessing and I am thankful for that blessing this morning.

How does worship speak to you and what blessings do you received from this gathering?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 4 - Creation

Day 4:

15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
                                                                        Ephesians 1:15-16

I like to walk. Back when I lived in Montana I take walks with my two dogs and wander through the countryside. Walking is a way for me to escape the pressures of the day and get back to the root of life – creation.

I remember a walk I took earlier this fall. It was a beautiful morning so I walked down by a little stream that runs through town. As I walked the dirt path I looked around at the trees, listening to the stream as it ran beside me, and felt the rush of the air against my face. It was one of those moments when all of civilization seems to disappear and all that is left is the beauty of creation, untouched by human hands.

In this moment I was overcome with thankfulness for blessings of this gift of creation. To get back into nature, to be with the birds and the deer and the frogs jumping in the stream – it is overwhelming at times. I took a moment and sat on a dirt-covered rock, taking it all in. Yes, today I celebrate the blessings of creation, for its beauty, its power, and the gift it is to all of us.

Is there a place or part of creation that speaks to you? What does it say and mean to you?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 3 - Church


Day 3: Church

11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.
                                                                                    2 Corinthians 9:11-12

The past year I was re-diagnosed with lung cancer and had to undergo radiation and start a new medication. Once again this congregation showered us with prayers and support that was amazing. Thinking back to all they have done still brings tears to my eyes.

Today I am thankful for the blessings of the church, especially this part of the Body of Christ, this congregation. We have seen the best of the church over and over again. I am truly grateful and thankful for this part of the body, the church, and for all that you mean to me.  Being who they are and doing what they do, this congregation has demonstrated the love and compassion that is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. I pray all people may experience this in their lives, and I am thankful that I have.

Is there a part of the Body of Christ that has blessed you? If so, in what way?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

31 Days of Blessing

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This is a series I wanted to start yesterday, but didn't get to it, so I have the first two days today.


Day 1:

We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds.
                                                Psalm 75:1

What would happen if we started our year by focusing on the amazing blessings we have been given in our lives. That was a thought I had one afternoon as I reflected back on a conversation with someone who was filled with negativity. If I was to look at every meeting, every encounter, every event of the day, no matter how joyful or difficult it may be, through the eyes of blessing, then what would my life be like?

Our lives are filled with blessings, and something we fail to see them because of the busyness and distraction of life. So I wanted to start this year out on the right foot, and I invite you to join me,, as we enter into 31 days of blessing. Over the next month we will look a the wide range of blessings we have been given and see how those blessings can help us to grow in our lives of faith.

So in starting on this journey, I start with who has blessed me the most - God.

I am thankful for the God who has claimed me, loves me, forgives me, and empowers me to share his grace and love with others. I am thankful for all that God has blessed me with and for all of the relationships in my life. I am thankful that God continually shows me his face as I have gone through the various struggles over the past year. I am thankful for his hand of healing and compassion. I am thankful for the people he put in my life to encourage me and help me along the way. Yes, the only place I can start this journey is with my God and the many and wonderful blessings he gives to all of us.

What blessings has God showered upon you lately?

Day 2:

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
                                                            Psalm 136:1

As I reflect on the reading for today, my eyes are drawn to the word “love.” Love is a powerful emotion, and it has enhanced my life in mind-boggling ways. Thinking about love pulls me to my family – my wife Jennifer and our girls, Sierra and Scarlett. They give me life. They shower me with love and hugs and kisses every day. It is near impossible to have a bad day when a little girl climbs on my lap, kisses me on the cheek, and asks to have a book read to her. Yes, love is powerful and I experience it in this gift of family.

So today I look at the blessings my family. I am thankful for the blessings they have given me, for the support and nurture that I need. I am thankful for the difficult days that I have with them, because in the struggles the bonds of love grow stronger and the celebration are all that more joyful. I am truly blessed with this family.

Who is in your family (if they are related by blood or just close friends that you consider family), and what blessings have they given to you?