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poinsettia0609"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Psalm 91:2)

Mrs. S. had lived alone for many years and got out only with the help of a wheelchair. Every Sunday she wheeled herself into the side aisle of our sanctuary (one without handicap access) where she worshiped enthusiastically. She always seemed to be "up." People smiled when they were around her.

One evening Mrs. S. spoke to the youth of the church and was asked how she could always be so alive, so full of joy. She responded, "Because I *choose* to. I had no choice about living the last half of my life as a widow or having one of my sons killed in the Korean War. And I certainly I didn't choose to have to ride around in this chair for the past ten years. But one thing I did choose - to be happy. I decided to make the best of every day and to see the best in every person."

A friend who had been a missionary in South America told me of taking some American visitors through his city. One of them spotted a beautiful, large poinsettia tree in front of a small house as they passed by. The visitor wanted to take a picture and, not realizing that the plant was brittle, reached up to pull down a branch for the camera. A six-foot length of flame-red poinsettia snapped to the ground.

At that moment the woman of the house stepped out of the door and confronted the gringos standing there, poinsettia branch in hand. Humiliated, they offered to pay for her loss. But they could no more fix the personal damage than they could repair the tree. Still, instead of adding to their embarrassment, the woman cheerfully asked them in for tea. She chose to forgive them, to overlook their clumsy behavior. She chose to offer them grace.

Nothing is more crucial to the quality of our lives than the choices we make about how we approach the circumstances and relationships of each day. In the end it is that attitude which largely determines the outcomes we will find. The Lord made today, but it is we who decide how we will live in it. I *choose* God as my refuge . . . I *choose* to believe . . . I *choose* to find a way.

Michael Halleen