Today’s Reflection

I am always reflective on Fridays. This Friday morning, the rush of getting the boys to school is done and I am hoping that they both have good days. Kyle has been struggling so much since school started back. Little blue notes sent from his teacher- he is talking too much, poking a pencil in his dry eraser, distracted, not paying attention. I went in a talked to her yesterday and she said that academically he is doing fine, but he is just acting like a space cadet. I know what she is saying- he is acting that way at home too. I ask him to get his shoes on and 5 minutes later he is in his room looking for a toy. I’m used to this with Justin, but not with Kyle. Kyle is growing and eating everything in sight. She is going to move his desk closer to the front and we will see. I hope he has a good day.

Justin went outside to pick up the dog’s poo and stepped in it. It is the second time this week that he hasn’t realized it until he has tracked it in the house. Then he scrambled to put all his stuff in his backpack and it just wouldn’t go in right- stuff went in sideways, fell out, etc. It was that kind of morning for him.

Last night we rented the movie Reel Steel. It is like Rocky for this generation. You should have seen the boys watching it, it was more fun watching them than the movie. They were so into it. Kyle was literally sitting at the edge of his seat captivated and Justin couldn’t sit at all- he was jumping up and down screaming and cheering. We do loud really well. It was so much fun.

We don’t usually rent a movie on a school night but last night I just felt like it. I felt like sitting together in the living room with a fire burning hot in the fireplace and popcorn for all.

This might be part of the why:
A wonderful lady who plays the keyboard in our worship team lost her husband yesterday. No warning, nothing was wrong that they knew of- he was a cop. We are thinking he must have had a heart attack, but really I don’t know. I know that it sudden and unexpected and now her whole world has changed. I had just published yesterday’s blog, “Volcano” when I found out.

On this side of mortality, this loss brings into focus the preciousness of what we have, who we hold. I don’t really know what is on the other side. We have glimpses and promises, a knowledge that there is another side but even with all we know, how can our finite mind understand an infinite eternity? There will be a day I know. A day I will understand. A day I will see God beyond the veil of mortality. I will get it.

Today is not that day for me. Today I see as through a glass dimly, I peer into the mystery of eternity with questions.

Today I deal with dog poo on shoes being tracked in the house and a son whose struggle to pay attention worries me. Instead of it stressing me out, I smile and simply appreciate the life I have.

I am praying for my friend, Lesa Johnson and her family who are in shock and pain. I keep thinking that her husband knows now. He is in the presence of God and knows.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12, 13 NLT)

Scrambled Eggs and Ham

Yesterday morning while I was groggily scrambling eggs for breakfast on the first day of school for the boys after vacation, I thought about Grandma Mary doing the same for us a couple of months ago. It reminded me of a story my Mother-in-law, Caron, told me. She said that for years when she made a ham in the oven, she cut off both ends and put it in the pot. One day her mom (Grandma Mary) asked why she did that and Caron told her it was because “I saw you do that when you cooked a ham.” Grandma Mary replied, “Well that was because my pot wasn’t big enough- so I cut the ham to fit”.

My mother-in-law stopped cutting the edges off her ham. She took the new information with a chuckle, applied it to her life and we get more ham to eat:)

Sometimes we need to do the same thing with our beliefs about God and ask ourselves, “Are there things in my relationship with God that are based more on tradition or past experience than truth?”

I know in my life there has been many issues that when the time was right, God whispered in my heart and said, “Why are you doing that?” and followed it up with a gentle nudge to examine my belief and adjust it according to the truth.

He is so patient and loving. If God is pointing out a core belief in your life that needs to change it is because He wants you to walk in more truth and freedom.

“So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”(John 8:36 MSG)

Jesus was talking to the religious Jews who thought they knew God. He was constantly challenging people to get out of a religious mindset and get into a relationship one. He does the same in our lives.

Be free to grow in your relationship with God, let go of the past and cook ham in a new way, if the situation calls for it.

First Monday

Good Morning, my friend.
How are you doing on this first Monday of the new year?

I am doing good. I rang in the new year snuggled in between two excited boys under the warmest softness white blanket that I got for Christmas. We all watched Kung Fu Panda 2 then watched the ball drop in Times Square a few minutes later. A few minutes after that, we dropped the boys in their beds after a hug, a kiss and a quick New Years Prayer.

I usually sleep in on New Year’s Day and wake up just in time to watch the last half the the Rose Parade on TV. But this year was different. We all got up early and groggily shuffled into the car. Then we drove though the quiet empty streets to Starbucks. Oh yes, nothing better a good cup of Awake Tea to start the year. After a stop at the McDonald’s drive through for the boys, we headed to the church.

On this special Sunday, instead of doing services for the Jr. High and High School, we pulled a team of students together and had them help us do two Children’s services for grades 1st-5th. The youth team did such a great job and it reminded me of the outreach days of long ago. During the second service and with everything running smoothly for the kids, I got to sneak out and sneak into the adult service for worship. I closed my eyes and got lost in the words of “I Surrender”.

Start as you mean to go.
Surrender is a good place to start.
In that moment, I surrendered my controlling fearful mind, my doubtful wavering heart, my aging and unpredictable body to God. I surrender. Less of me and more of God.

I missed the Rose Parade today, but I have to say, a sincere moment of surrender isn’t a bad way to start the new year off.

Have a wonderful first Monday!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, my precious friends. No matter what your day looks like or feels like, I pray you have a moment of rapturous joy as a redeemed child of God.

The great orator of a century past says it so beautifully:

We esteem every day alike, but still, as the season suggests thoughts of Jesus, let us joyfully remember our dear Redeemer’s glorious birth. Who but He was ever longed for by such a multitude of hearts? When did angels indulge in midnight songs, or did God hang a new star in the sky? To whose, cradle did rich and poor make so willing a pilgrimage, and offer such hearty and unsought oblations? Well may earth rejoice; well may all men cease their labor to celebrate “the great birthday” of Jesus. Let gladness rule the hour; let holy song and sweet heart music accompany our soul in the raptures of joy.

– Charles Spurgeon

Love, hugs and many blessings from the Grasso’s on this Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve Poem

Years ago when I was working full time and the boys were little I got them each a small stuffed animal from the Albertson’s grocery store across from City Impact Center in Las Vegas.

One was a white tiger that Justin named Stanley and the other was a brown cheetah that Kyle named Tiger. They loved them more than all their other stuffed animals and played with them until the black stripes had worn off Stanley and the Tiger got a hole that I fixed with a safety pin, and the dog ate his tail.

Kyle showed me this poem yesterday.
He copied into his journal from the Calvin and Hobbs Comic book:

“On window panes the icy frost
leaves feathered patterns, crissed and crossed.

But in our house the Christmas Tree
is decorated festively.

With tiny dots of colored light
that cozy up this winter night.

Christmas songs, familiar, slow
play softly on the radio.

Pops and hisses from the fire
whistle with the bells and choir.

My tiger is now fast asleep
on his back dreaming deep.

When the fire makes him hot,
he turns to warm whatever is not.

Propped against him on the rug,
I give my friend a gentle hug.

Tomorrow’s what I’m waiting for,
But I can wait a little more.”

Merry Christmas Eve.

Vacation

We are smack dab in the middle of our vacation. This is the “big” family vacation, the one we have been planning for years. Bobby’s brother and his family flew in from the East Coast, and his sister is here with her husband and baby Emma. Yesterday, my parents joined us at Disneyland and all together we made a party of 16. It isn’t easy to navigate 16 people through the park, but the payoff is worth it. Filling up an entire It’s A Small World boat and seeing the kids eyes light up at the lights, colors and dolls is worth it. Going on Star Tours and having my brother-in-law, Josh, chosen as the “Rebel Spy” to the cheers of half the cabin will be a memory we will relive for many Christmases to come. Going with Emma and her parents for her first ride on Pirates of the Caribbean is priceless. At 4 months old, she won’t remember it but we will never forget it.

It is great fun but it is inevitable that moments of stress seep in. The loud personalities are louder and the quiet ones are quieter. Making sure children and grandparents don’t get lost or left is half of it.

On the trip down to So Cal (that started way too early on Sunday morning 3:45am), I was in the Word looking for sanity and found a verse that has I’ve kept close on this trip:

That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything.” (Mark 11:24 MSG)

Thank God it is okay to pray for anything and everything, big or small. In fact, the more you invite God into your world the more opportunity he has to impact it.

I am continually amazed that God wants to be a part of my world, wants to join me in my day, walk with me in the midst of chaos or the solace of solitude.

I’m not going get much solace in solitude on this trip but I’m definitely asking God to give me his everything in the midst of this special brand of Grasso chaos.

I hope you are having a fantastic day and whatever you are doing that you invite God to be a part of it.

A Thanksgiving Minute

It is about 9:30am in the Grasso household and I’m having a quiet minute. The turkey is in the oven and potatoes are boiling on the stove. So far, things have gone rather smoothly other than a clogged garbage disposal at 11pm last night and a little glass bowl shattering into a million pieces this morning.

I wanted to take this minute – this one right here and say how thankful I am for you. Yes, you.

Thank you for opening up this email, clicking the link and reading my blog. Over the years we have met over coffee, in my office, in a service, a God Encounter or at the altar and I treasure each one.

Thank you for each text, reply or comment. It is how I connect with you and know you are there. I am amazed at what God has done in you and through you since we first met. You have grown and stepped out in faith. You’ve let God move in you and through you to touch others. Thank you for joining with me on this journey and giving me permission to speak into your life. My prayer is that every post encourages you in the pursuit of your purpose and helps you authentically connect with God’s Word so you can truly thrive in your relationship with Him.

I am thankful for each one of you.

Have a wonderful and very happy Thanksgiving Day.

“You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it’s a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it’s only right that we give thanks.”(2 Thessalonians 1:3 MSG)