Joy and Gratitude Friday, Apr 29 2011 

There comes a time in the process of recovery when we find ourselves seeing life in an entirely different way. Along with the pain, we sense with increased clarity that life is fundamentally a good gift from God. This is the experience of gratitude. Gratitude is a kind of participation in and response to God’s grace. Without it, recovery would be a cheerless and probably impossible journey.

When gratitude breaks through, we are able to stop our frantic efforts to earn our way through life. In these moments of calm we see that we truly belong to God. We are God’s creation. Sometimes that is all we need. Other times this thought that we are God’s creation is so far beyond all we could ever have asked, hoped or dreamed for, that our heart fills with praise and joy.

It is difficult to explain how, or why, or when gratitude comes. Sometimes we try to force gratitude on ourselves. Sometime other people try to force it on us. But it cannot be coerced. It will not come from pretending. It will not come from telling ourselves that some people are worse off than we are. But it does come. And when it comes it breaks through our pain and surprises us with joy.  -Dale and Juanita Ryan- NIV Recovery Bible

Prayer:  Give me the capacity for gratitude today, Lord.  Surprise me with joy.

-Ps 100-

On your feet – applaud Big Daddy Jazz! Bring a gift of laughter,

Singing and giggling yourselves into his presence.

Enter the gates of his big backyard with happiness and thanks

Come into his gardens around the back porch with praise. -the Message-

298 days till Mardi Gras (JazzFest week1 is this weekend!) Listening to Louis Armstrong. Peace. -gary-

The New Song of Recovery Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 

Just think! A day will come in recovery when the darkness will fade into sunrise and joy will come. We will experience joy and laughter where for so long only sadness resided. Praise will come from our mouths, and we will enjoy sharing our stories of recovery with others.

Today it may be difficult to think that could ever happen, but joy is a by-product of recovery. It just happens! Recovery is a new song, and each one of us writes our own.

Begin to listen and feel what the heart is singing then sing that song over and over until it is a part of you. Today we may not feel like singing, but one day soon our songs of recovery will become familiar. -Barbara Stephens- NIV Recovery Bible

-Ps 98-

Join the big band orchestra with the Big Daddy Jazz Trio

Add on a hundred voice choir.

Feature trumpet and big trombones,

Fill the air with music to Big Daddy Jazz. -the Message-

300 days till Mardi Gras. LOL! Listening to Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown) . Peace. -gary-

Seize the Op-port-unity Monday, Apr 25 2011 

opportunity – from an old sea village phrase, a port of unity. “Come in here where it is safe and beneficial.”

This is a devotion from Living Free Every Day (LivingFree.org)

Seize the Opportunity

Today’s Scripture
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” Galatians 6:10 NIV

Thought for Today
God gives us opportunities to do good to all people. Today’s scripture encourages us to use every opportunity that comes.

How often do we hear of a friend’s need and simply respond with an “I’ll pray for you.” Sometimes that’s all we can do. However, many times we could give some practical assistance as well. But that might be inconvenient. Or costly. “As we have opportunity, let us do good.”

And then there is the homeless man on the street corner whom we pretend not to see. Or the lady who lives across town and needs a ride to church. Inconvenient. Or the friend dealing with a crisis who just needs to talk. But I have so much to do today. “As we have opportunity, let us do good.”

Consider This . . .
Sometimes our lives are not characterized by caring and kindness. We are too busy, too caught up in ourselves and our own troubles, too isolated. Just imagine what would happen in the body of Christ if we each begin to show compassion and brotherly kindness at every opportunity?

Let us start each day with a prayer asking God to help us use every opportunity to do good. Let us be sensitive so we will seize those opportunities and not run from them.

Prayer . . .
Father, forgive me for sometimes being selfish, not wanting to help someone because it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. Teach me to seize every op-port-unity to do good. In Jesus’ name . . .

Grace-full Choices Sunday, Apr 24 2011 

We all experience heart-level choices from time to time. It is in the realm of our most severe addiction, however, that we experience them most dearly and profoundly. We have all had the experience of struggling to break a habit, failing repeatedly, and then at some point meeting with success. What was this success, and how did it happen? We can say it was willpower, but what suddenly empowered our will? We can say it was finding the right strategy, but what enabled that discovery? Did we do it on our own, or did grace break through and deliver us, or was it some mysterious cooperation of will and grace that we could never have engineered?

I cannot further describe how these grace-full choices happen. I can only say that while God is intimately with us in them through our own hearts and those of people around us, we are also very much on our own. Our usual props and handholds are absent, and we are, therefore, very vulnerable. In this vulnerability we are also more dependent upon and open to grace than at any other time.

– Gerald G. May – NIV Recovery Bible Psalm 95

“A Stanley” Saturday, Apr 23 2011 

I had the good fortune to have met a very kind man from India several years ago.  Bro. Stanley was a missionary attending seminary in Dallas.

He worked in a carpenter shop while attending school. Stanley would cut animal figures out of wood. He would go on the hunt finding scraps of wood in the trash bins. He would then glue these small scraps together to make bigger scraps. Walnut, Teak, Padauk, Maple and Bubinga…it really didn’t matter to Stanley. Any (and all) wood wasn’t safe when Stanley was around.

Stanley would then cut crude and elementary animal shapes and crosses out of these treasures of scraps. And fish, and fish and fish. Did I mention fish? There were schools of pools brimming with fish!

Hours and hours of sanding would showcase the labor of his creativity. Weeks and weeks of patience. Months and months of gently working the wooden scraps into his menagerie.

Then one day a wealthy lady came into the shop and spotted Bro. Stanley’s work. She was so excited to have “found” Stanley’s artwork. She came to the shop several times and bought practically everything he made.

Bro. Stanley was as happy and excited as we were surprised.

Someone even coined a name for Bro. Stanley’s labor of creativity. We started calling it “A Stanley” to anybody that came into the shop. What fun. We would humor Bro. Stanley about becoming a Rock Star.

Bro. Stanley also created in me a journey into the word “namasta”. He always greeted me with the word namasta. I in turn would greet him with this same word only partially understanding its meaning. We would leave the shop by saying namasta to each other.

I just recently heard a little more of the meaning and background of namasta. It is “I salute the Divine in you.”  I also learned that you have to greet yourself with namasta before you can sincerely greet the other person with namasta.

Bro. Stanley had a passion to move back to India. He left here “A little Stanley” in all of us when he went back to India.

Bro. Stanley, namasta.

Peace.

-gary-