Jesus: The True Origin of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness

Framed America

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  These are the principles our nation is founded upon. Our forefathers risked everything to make them our everyday experience.  With Jesus as their example, they laid their lives down for the generations of Americans to come.  They made Scripture come to life in a government.

John Quincy Adams said,

In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.

 This birthday of a nation is linked to the birthday of a Savior.  It is Jesus the Cornerstone of our faith who laid the foundation for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 LIFE. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word life as real and genuine, vita quae sola vita nominanda (Cicero, de sen. 21, 77), ‘a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever'”

John 14:6 tells us, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except by me.'”(NIV)

John 10:10 states, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have LIFE, and that LIFE more abundant.”

Finally, II Peter 1:3 reminds us that, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto LIFE and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

It can be surmised from these Scriptures that true and abundant life is found in relationship with Jesus and in knowing Him.

Deut. 30:19 charges, “Today I have given you the choice between LIFE and death, between blessings and curses.  Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose LIFE, so that you and your descendants might John 8:31-32 says that it is this truth that will set you free.

Jesus is the only giver of life, and His life brings us into fullness of freedom.  In order to experience freedom we must acknowledge that we are in bondage.

According to Romans 6:18 we have been freed from sin.

HELPS word studies translates this freedom this way.  Cognate: 1659 eleutheróō – properly, set free, release from bondage; (figuratively) to remove the restrictions of sin (darkness) because delivered by God into true spiritual liberty (growth). See 1658 (eleutheros).

Friends, when we are free from sin nothing and no one can enslave us.

 God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.

 –    Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

Freedom from sin is God’s greatest gift to us because it gains us the right to be in His presence without guilt and shame.

We are told to guard this freedom. Gal 5:1, It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS:  According to our Independence Declaration, we do not have a right to happiness, but the right to pursue happiness.

The word blessed in the Old Testament literally means, “happy is the one who walks the straight path” .

“The rights essential to happiness. . . . We claim them from a higher source — from the King of kings and Lord of all the earth.

 – John Dickinson

 The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

 – John Jay

We are happiest when we pursue the straight path of God’s Words.

A Hebrew scholar recently translated Psalm 1:1 as, Happy [a] are those [b] who are boldly able to enter into God’s presence, who choose not to model their lives after those who are not walking on the right path! [c]  They do not form close friendships with those who habitually sin, nor do they purposely spend their free time in the homes of those who make fun of God’s laws.

How fortunate are we to live in a country whose foundation was built upon the right to follow this path of happiness.  By allowing us religious freedom, every man, woman and child has the ability to choose to model their lives after those who walk on right paths; paths of righteousness that lead to true happiness both in this life and the next.

Still counting…

Three gifts found around the table.
70. Natural sweetness. image
71. Trash to treasure
72. Empty seats of the empty nest means wings are strong enough to fly away and come back home again.

Gifts found in water, words and white.

73. The water that didn’t come into our basement.
74. You are resplendent with light… Poetry in the Bible
75. Misty mornings veiled in white.image

Three gifts found in those older than you…

75. Morning walk holding hands. image
76. My dog is old.image
77. Volunteers still willing to help.

Three gifts found in fabric.

76. Lacy beauty from creative friend.image
77. Embroidered napkins wiping dirty mouths.image
78. Jesus, the red thread in my tapestry of life.

Three things framed….

79. American laundry framed in forgotten treasure Framed America
80. God’s Word, my frame of reference..image
81. My words, the frame of my future.image

Three gifts found in food

82. Cherries…
83. Breyer’s ice cream treat from John
84. I know this is nasty, but have you ever tried those Keebler Coconut Dream Cookies? Mmm….good…

Three things found in one gift small, one gift big, and one gift just right…

85. Glory in the morning image
86. Friend coming through big time…again!
87. Worship encounter just right on time!image

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…
strokec2 }

And with my dearest Emily…

Making Memorial Day Memorable


In the United States, the Memorial Day holiday has come to indicate the official beginning of the summer vacation season. Many spend the day focused on cookouts, pool openings, and a day off from work. However, its origins are more somber. After the American Civil War, citizens put aside a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers–to memorialize them. Eventually, this became a nationally recognized event. Yet through the years, the day has lost its original significance of remembering veterans. Grilling has taken priority over gratitude. It’s meaning has been forgotten along with the soldiers who served their country…join me at Family Fire to find out some fun new traditions for Memorial Day.

When Glory Came


Surprised, frightened, nothing to give but pure adoration, the shepherds stare in wonder.

Why would they be invited here and now?

Simple shepherds…included in the best surprise birthday party….ever.

No one but Angels and shepherds, a humming cow, oohing and mooing

All invited to the birth of a King, the Son of God.

They weren’t searching for deep wisdom, only a savior from oppression,

Quietly, calmly, minding their own business, tending their sheep

When Glory came down on a blue velvet night.


Waiting…calculating…the kings poured over books.

What did this bright star proclaim to the world?

Men of means…and wisdom seeking to honor a child. An infant.

Riding, rolling on the back of a camel, for one thousand miles.

Just to catch a glimpse of a planet altering arrival. God on Earth.

The stars couldn’t help but sing. Light broke through darkness.

History was being made, and these wiseman, astrologers, magi…they knew it.

When Glory came down on a blue velvet night.


Pacing….hands wringing…Herod had heard enough!

Murmurings of an insurrection…an overthrowing of power.

Someone to deliver the Jews. Whisperings of prophets and foreseers.

And what about those foreigners? The ones following signs in the sky?

Traveling from the other side of the world to pay this “king” homage?

Not to see him, Herod, king of this land.

He must rid himself of this opposition, no one would bring his

glory down on this blue velvet night.


Heart pounding, hands sweating, do I approach as simply shepherds?

Looking for a savior, deliverer, mighty to save?

Do I pour over books, desperately searching for meaning, following yonder star?

Prepared with gift in hand, relinquishing my right to rule to an authority higher than I?

The one who asks me to bow not in golden hall, but in an animal odorous cave,

Who lays as Perfection embodied, nestled in straw, not feather ticking.

Or, like Herod, do I resist too proud to experience deliverance and surrender?

When Glory comes down on a blue velvet night,

am I shepherd, or wiseman or king?

Thanksgiving – Future, Past and Present

My volunteers and I sit in the back pew, ready to run down to the fellowship hall and start another carafe of coffee if necessary. The organist plays “We Gather Together” and sights and sounds from my childhood invade my thoughts. The lump in my throat that remains for the rest of the service begins to build. Love Inc of Tinley has offered to provide desserts for the Tinley Park All Church Thanksgiving Service and I am overcome by the simple beauty of it all. It’s true, I come from what some call a mega-church, and I wouldn’t trade my family of believers for all the tea in China. But all of the professional singing, videography and special lighting wouldn’t have made this service any more effective. A simple table adorned with pumpkins and surrounded by food for the local food pantry is the only decoration in this small timber beamed chapel. And now the local Catholic priest begins the “Peace be with you,” ritual. I am strengthened with each hand that grasps mine.

I am reminded of days gone by, when holidays were nothing more than an event created by grown ups for me to enjoy and to celebrate. A world filled with tradition, ritual and security. My eyes now brim with tears. I am grateful for my heritage of godly parents who served in a youth mission during the Chicago race riots, with toddler me in tow. I never felt anything but safe. I long for those days when danger can be all around and mommy and daddy make everything okay.

I remember where and who I am. After all, I have a duty to fulfill, a task to perform. Brushing away tears, I smile at my new friend next to me. We have labored together she and I, talking to people who are desperate in desperate times. Praying with them, and helping them carry their burden. Blessed Be the Ties that Bind. Though storms rage everywhere we look, we have an army together facing the future with God fighting for us. It’s time to sneak out of service and put the finishing touches on the table.

Happy cheerful faces, coffee mug in hand, chat about community events. The room becomes a kaleidescope from those pesky tears again. I am grateful to serve. To sow. Grateful to have hands that can make homemade buttercream. Thankful to have all of the ingredients at home. Amazed at the opportunity that the present presents. Heart to God, hand to man.

I drive to my own church building to pick up my kids. Familiar feels good. I want to hug everyone. Son puts away camera, daughter gathers things and I glance at the table of coats for our Love INC Tinley coat drive. It’s full to overflowing, as is my heart. The future is good when it includes those with whom I walk the walk. He is present in my future, past and present.

I Am God’s House – A Thanksgiving Community Poem

Before you read today’s poem, can I encourage you to come and visit me at a friend’s house? I am excited to announce that I have recorded me very first vlog! Yes, you can actually see me and hear my voice..okay now I’m nervous…I’ll be there later today at Amy L. Sullivan’s place doing the impossible…explaining my favorite non-profit organization in 60 seconds…

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?

'House of the lord' photo (c) 2005, glasgow's finest - license:

We are
God containers
Full of self
or full of Him













Death By Beauty

by Journey Toward Epiphany Community

Golden jewels in cornflower blue sky;
a parasol of leaves,
filtering light overhead
and I wonder, will I sparkle with one last burst of beauty before I die?

Or will I fade slowly,
losing lustre one molecule
after another,
finally fading to nothing;
and all that remains
is cornflower blue sky.

Morning sky bluer than grandson’s eyes
Waning moon still high in west
His Word assures Springtime and harvest
As He sows, so He reaps.
We are born, live, and die.
Yet we are not annual;
We shall live forever,
Not just for a single season,
When we live in His love.
the grass withers
but His promises shine bright,
they never wanes.

He rides high on wings of wind
and tiptoes across the clouds
how could I not love Him so?

Sharing moments of gratitude with Ann:

296. I made it through a difficult week.
297. I have had the pleasure of editing community poetry.
298. My son treated me to a salted caramel mocha…yum…
299. My fabulous volunteers at Love INC.
300. I got to celebrate an upcoming marriage at a wedding shower.
301. Learning to trust…
302. Finished my first vlog and was featured over at Amy’s!!

Meeting with Michelle:

Learning from Laura:

Death By Beauty – A Thanksgiving Community Poem

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?  (P.S. tomorrow I will be over at Amy’s place talking about my favorite charity…can you guess which one it will be?)

Golden jewels in cornflower blue sky;

a parasol of leaves,

filtering light overhead

and I wonder, will I sparkle with one last burst of beauty before I die?



Rest For the Weary

by Journey Towards Epiphany Community

'autumn leaf' photo (c) 2004, tracy ducasse - license:

I let go of summer’s bounty to join the fallen,

the broken fragments blown together

by the exhale of cares,

fettered by fools for the feat of forgiveness.

Leather worn leaf settles to rest for winter’s sleep

…and so do I.

Old man winter makes fragile remnant shiver

falling, twirling, spiraling down to rest among

piles of others.

Sifting with a sigh into the earth,
I leave behind the exuberance
of seasons past,
choosing the soothing quiet
of snowdrifts.

Leathered hopes sigh in the letting go

rest under the cover of grace

wait for the spring of new life.

The days shorten,

the leaves fall,
Life closes in as the cold air comes.

But this is not an end,

just a pause.

All waits, beneath snow of purest white

For that one December day,

When life and His love are reaffirmed.

Then all gather strength,

As the days grow long and warm,

And life bursts forth, everywhere,

Stronger for the rest, and for

His love.

Even though I often long for the days to match my mood or schedule,

to know that in charge I am not;

this is far more of a blessing than any kind of weather,

no matter what this world holds

I am held by the Creator.

Leaves, like hands wave

to their Maker

and in a final hurrah

they shine brilliant

against October sky.

November comes

and life is over

floating down from pinnacle of praise.

There is beauty in life


I have arrived.

Like weathered leaf

At last I achieved

the deep creases of life experienced.

Some joy, some angry,

but most are deep,

full lines of joy and laughter.

Rest For The Weary – A Community Thanksgiving Poem Project

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?

'autumn leaf' photo (c) 2004, tracy ducasse - license:

Leather worn leaf settles to rest for winter’s sleep…and so do I.

I am so proud of our first work together!! Your word pictures were beautiful…thank you for sharing your heart!

Margus Saluste

Frost Dawn

by the Journey Towards Epiphany Community

Moon sliver slices sky silver
and star dust settles
on shoulders and hair
reminding me that I am dust.
And slithering down, down,
deep into Spirit breath
that holds it all together
Inhaling scent of pumpkin spice,
autumn leaves,
the candles crackle
casting characters on the wall…
loving all things autumn.

The dappled drops of light
play silently on my face,
casting me as the lonely spirit
that I am,
a character also on the wall.
Cup of warmth in hand I step outside
where icy, white horse in pasture
glistens in moonlight glow.
She snorts and prances
bold and fearless
dancing praise to her Creator.

Sun shoots neon pink
painting treetop tips
the new day has begun
and I am here to witness.
But trunks and ground
stay colorless
unstained by morning rays.
These shades of brown and gray
seat so deeply into heart
– the branches empty and wanting –
o be still my heart and listen
for His whisper of
hope and new life.

Colored leaves
dancing through the crisp air
sweep me off my feet
into the glory of God,
spirit soaring,
and then love taking the final bow.
The buoyancy of the breeze
beckons boldly
while my breath
ingests it’s intoxicating essence…
Then I fly into my imagination
and I’m happily in heaven.

Though light pierces through
eastern sky,
sobbing clouds mist tears overhead.
The cold that aches my fingers
reminds me
I don’t have to sleep on a street;
The drizzle stinging my face,
reminds me
my home is safe and dry;
The dreary grey sky,
now blazing with fire color
reminds me
that my family is safe and happy;
And all of this?
reminds me
Of His love for all less fortunate than I.
We are poor,
and we are rich
– it is the search
that determines which.
Day drives on
His presence near
And because of traffic snarls,
I get gift of sunrise,
and sunset;
all in one day.
Search over
I am rich.

I Remember You Mama

You were a gypsy queen
who sat cross legged on golden oak floors
guitar on lap, singing about being His “Flower Child”.

You wore bell bottomed corduroys
and wire rimmed John Denver glasses
making even Chicago a “country road” to home.

Your hair was straight
and long and brown, no curly grey
to interrupt its beauty. And you were just that…a beauty.

You made bean soup and corn bread
a special event, ironed cloth napkins
and all with a side of fried okra.

You were crazy in love with Daddy
treating him like the great man
that He was because of the great woman you are.

You hid behind trees, until certain
that I could walk to school
alone. We laughed about it even then.

You exude femininity and womanhood
because you make everything you touch more beautiful.
The world is a much better place for having had you.

You walked out your grief
when you lost your man to the world beyond
with grace and beauty and dependence upon Him.

You hungered and thirsted for more of God,
making all the spectators in the stands
want to join in the race so they could drink and be satisfied.

Because this is who you were,
this is what you are:
treasured friend, confidant, and mentor to all who take time to watch in wonder.

And it has been you and your shadow all along
The two of us being stretched
like the image in a circus mirror.

Like a sundial, the shadow of who you were
encircles the reality of who you are,
because His light shines on you, and He is illuminated

to a lost and dying world
who watch us with eagle eyes.
They watch not for uncommon greatness, but for what you have in the every day:

Jesus made real.
And you do that so well.
We need you and your reality with Him. May I follow in your footsteps like Elisha with Elijah.

Double portion of Jesus
made real.
In private belonging to Him, to the world proving His existence.

Poured out. empty.

Poured out.
my words are spilled out on page
or screen.
whichever two dimensional tablet I choose.

Poured out.
His insides are spilled out on ground
or me.
whichever lifeless surface I choose.

How do I make my words count?
They are only sounds spelled out
by letters.
I throw them into the air
speak life to them with hot breath.

How do I make His death count?
Blood has fallen on dead flesh
and bones.
He’s splattered it everywhere
and sighed last with death rattle.

My words
in me.
His Life
for me.
and I pour out my words infused with His life.
It was His life for mine.
His Words for mine.

An excellent exchange.
for me,
dontcha think?
What about for Him?
Was the trade good for Him?
aside from obedience?

Make my life count, Jesus
Who lives forever.
Make my words count, Lord

photo courtesy of Dustin Blay

Counting with dear Ann:
232. Easter brunch with my Bible Study girls!!

233. Gifts from neighbors…

234. Coloring Eggs with little ones…

235. A surprise in the parking lot, a sponge painted sky…

236. An out of time moment…

237. A day to write to my heart’s content.

238. Beauty in chaos.

239. Standing at the door of my weekly place of grace.

240. Bluebell, cockel shells, Evy, Ivy over!

241. The path to Narnia…

242. A makeshift clothesline.

243. The yeasty smell of bread raising…

244. My children inviting people to Easter brunch…:)

245. Getting to see the batmobile in action!

246. Leftover muffins to give to neighbors as Easter treat!

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button


shared over at D’Verse Poets

At One Moment – A Good Friday {Repost}




Dark Sky,





Criminals on either side, one bitter to the end, the other humbly repenting.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they have done, do and will do.”

“King of the Jews”

The sign jeered.

“Save yourself!”

Soldiers sneered.

Man far from God

God far from man.

“It is not Myself

I am here to save.

It is you thief,

You soldier.

You reader.”

God close to man

Man close to God

In a moment