The most satisfying sound

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I am grateful for the sound of rain hitting puddles just outside my window.

I am grateful for the sound of a purr from a contented cat.

I am grateful for the sound of a happy thumping tail on a couch when I walk into a room.

I am grateful for the sound of a soda can opening when sweat is dripping down my back.

I am grateful for the sound of an acapella choir at church.

I am grateful for the sound of sleet on a dreary day.

I am grateful for the sound of a breeze in an aspen grove.

I am grateful for the sound of gravel crunch.

I am grateful for the sound of metal door mats.

Metal doormat

I am grateful for the sound of Bible pages turning in church, and by my bed, and at the table.

And I am grateful for the sound of Sam when he comes home. Like right now.

Hellllo, Darlin’

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I am grateful for my road trip partner, my Senior Project Manager, my role model of forgiveness, my walking motivation, my forever home creator, the one who makes me laugh always, the one who cries with me during America’s Got Talent and when we are both touched by hymns that reach our souls, the man who holds my hand during every prayer and does not let me turtle when I am down but insists I deal right then and there, the guy who loves 10 grandchildren as if they were his own.

I am grateful for Sam, the one who found me in my brokenness and stretched out his hand so I could grab on.

Happy birthday, Sam I Am – this year holds so much potential and adventure, and I am thrilled to be by your side, watching God bless your world.

Because today, I cannot write anything that compares

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“I was chatting with a few people one day when the topic of salvation came up, specifically who would and wouldn’t be allowed into heaven. We were doing what we aren’t supposed to do – we were playing God. We’d name individuals we’d consider to be “on the fence” of eternal glory and foolishly determine their fate. Despite its gravity, it was a lighthearted conversation. That is, until the conversation turned toward certain evil deeds which much of the group considered to be unforgivable. We had done it. We had drawn the line. There would be no grace for them.

It’s been a few years since that conversation, but it still haunts me. Why did we draw the line? Why would we limit God’s ability to forgive? Is God’s mercy so powerless that it has a cap? Or could it be that God’s grace is much more comprehensive than we are comfortable with? Would it make our blood boil and cry out, “Not them! That’s not fair!”

Honestly? I hope so. I believe that God’s grace is so large and encompassing that we should be shocked by its unfairness. I imagine we will get to heaven and be stunned at those whose darkened hearts were lit in the splendidness of Christ’s mercy. We will all stand as reformed sinners in heaven, and the magnitude of the sin will be irrelevant in the brilliant reflection of Jesus.

Friends, God’s grace isn’t fair. And we should be grateful that it isn’t, because we all need Jesus. The vastness of God’s mercy is startling, perhaps even disturbing. We may get to heaven and bump into our earthly worst enemy, because the brilliance of the light of God’s grace may reach even the darkest of crevices. That is the very gospel itself. It’s absurd and sometimes even difficult to fathom, but I am ever so thankful for the irrational, illogical good news of grace!” – Janelle Gregory

(Janelle Gregory serves on the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist)

 

Don’t let being “right” talk you out of being kind. – Bob Goff

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It’s a good thought for an election day. This morning, I read a chapter from my Bob Goff book about Walter, a guy who is the first face of hope when refugees step off the airplane here in the United States. You should read it. It’s really, really good.

Bob talks about how he takes balloons everywhere. He’s kinda known for balloons. Balloons are not my friend, however, especially if I am within touching distance. If they are on the other side of a big room, I love balloons. They are happiness with air. Balloons say, “You make me happy!”

Anyway, Bob joined Walter at the airport and brought balloons to greet the people who were arriving with nothing and needed some help and happiness.

He also said that sometimes he goes to a fast food joint and buys 20 hamburgers and goes around looking for hungry people. How cool is that. I want to be like Bob when I grow up.

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Of course, Bob referenced Matthew 25:35-40, and he talked a lot about me. Because so many times, I drive past someone who is probably hungry or thirsty or sad or lonely or could use a new pair of shoes or a tank of gas, or just a little conversation…and I say a quick prayer and hope that the right person comes across their path to help them.

And these days, I listen to political pundits and hear the awfulness from people I know and love speak about “those Democrats” or “those Republicans” and I remain silent. That’s as bad as speaking the hateful words, isn’t it? Kind of like driving by “a situation” and hoping someone else stops to help.

I don’t understand how someone who lives a life under the umbrella of Jesus can spread hatred for a political party, so prevalent these days, and I don’t understand how some of my closest people can separate Jesus’ teaching to love everybody always when it comes to undocumented immigrants and homosexuals and those in an opposing political party…but I remain silent. Kind of like driving by “a situation” hoping someone else fixes the problems we have in this country.

In other words, I offer deflated balloons, not happiness.

Deflated balloon

I hope instead of help. I loathe instead of love. In this transformation of finding out who Rhonda really is during this chapter of life, God is uncovering some ugliness from down deep and revealing some cold, hard truth.

Doing

As my people spew distaste and disdain for opposing political parties and I sit in my silent distaste and disdain for them, the finger is pointed right back at me.

I thought I knew who I was. I am sometimes good, but I am sometimes in need of a lot of Jesus and a lot of grace. I have people in my life who turn my stomach for a whole batch of reasons, and I need some serious overhaul to extend grace and release judgment, to offer HELP instead of pious pity, to reach out with “balloons” and a hug rather than silence and inner contempt.

I am very grateful today for Bob Goff. God is using him in my life to uncover some ugliness that I thought was dead and gone.

And I am grateful for balloons.

As long as they stay wa-a-a-a-y over there.

Everyone's invited

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Jack Sprat and his wife.

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Sam and I are walking again. Six miles a day or close to it. The world’s problems could be solved if couples would walk six miles together with no distractions other than a random skunk that causes the couple to create a new route or the farmer in the dell who does the farmer wave while driving the farmer truck down the early morning street of Small Town USA.

Sam and I are walking again. It’s a good thing, a long time coming. We’ve both allowed life to become a barricade, and in so doing, we’ve gained a barricade around our middles.

Saturday morning, life’s problems had been solved, but we were still a couple of miles down the street. I saw a blackbird on a wire up above, and I immediately thought, “4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie…”

It drove me nuts. 

“How’s that nursery rhyme go?”

And for the next 20 minutes, we quizzed each other on Mother Goosers. I would start one, Sam would finish it, sort of. In Sam’s way, anyway.

“…stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum…”

“Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water…”

“…the cow jumped over the moon,
the little dog laughed to see such sport…”

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I am grateful for a husband who plays along and doesn’t ignore.

I am grateful for sore legs, sore feet, sore bottom, and satisfaction.

I am grateful for time to walk, for safety while walking, for cooler mornings and evenings to walk, and for a husband who fills in when I am absent of motivation.

He is Jack Sprat, and I am the wife, for sure.

Jack-Sprat

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie!

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And snapped off her nose.

sing a song of sixpence

That’s Some Pig.

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I am grateful for Charlotte’s Web visions swimming through my head last night as we walked around at the Republic County Fair.

I am grateful for blue ribbons and barbecued turkey leg vendors and ticket booths and bright colored lights and groups of youth hanging out by the big kid rides and carnival games with cheap prizes that will cost a fortune and smells of manure mixed with smells of fried heaven-ness. It was like a mini-state fair…and IT WAS FREE. At least the entry was. My hotdog was not. And if I had walked off with one of these birds or a pig or the 14 bunnies that were calling my name, I’m sure I would have paid the price.

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I am grateful for the coolest looking chickens in the history of chickens. I think I need a few of these in our back yard now.

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I am grateful for the ability to resist the bloomin’ onions and funnel cakes, but oh, how I enjoyed the ability to smell.

I am grateful for a partner who enjoys looking, not riding – just like me.

And I am grateful that Sam loves the county fair, too. Just like me.

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Random fact you need to know.

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That’s right. Wombats poop in squares.

We spent the last five days in Colorado and as we were rafting down the Colorado, our Aussie guide got so bored on a stretch of water with no fun, he decided we needed to be “in the know.”

So now we know. And so do you.

Here’s something else I know:

Lamentations 3

Every morning. Without fail. 

And I know that I am grateful for a long walk with Sam where we solve the problems and challenges we both face by talking about the nitty gritty.

And I know that God gives gifts by allowing me to hear the hummingbirds and enjoy the rain pelting the windshield and appreciate the words of a great book and He graces my life with the big huge present of a daughter who calls her mama when she is down and He treats me to funny moments and great food and beautiful scenery on I-70 and the “aaaahhhh” feeling of coming home and He blesses me with a little dog who’s happy to see me and He gives me sweet, sweet assurance that I am loved through the eyes and words and touch of Sam.

And I know I am grateful that the piece of chicken that came flying across the table on Tuesday night did not land in my glass of water or down my blouse or in my hair, but I am also grateful for lots of laughter with a family of very rambunctious children, including the little guy who decided to fling chicken.

And I am grateful for a 5:30 am alarm and the new resolve to get back to five miles a day.

And finally, I am grateful I am not a wombat, although I’m kinda shaped like one this summer.

wombat