I’ve come to a conclusion.

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Conclusion is a funny word. Say it. Several times even. See? It’s funny.

con·clu·sion
kənˈklo͞oZHən/
noun
1. the end or finish of an event or process.
2. a judgment or decision reached by reasoning.

*****

The first words I hear each morning and the last words I hear each night: “I love you.” And more often than not, I also hear, “I am the luckiest man to have such a beautiful wife.” And sometimes I hear, “You make me so happy.”

I’ve come to a conclusion. Life is too short to take moments like this for granted.

*****

Remember when we were all little and Saint Patrick’s Day happened and we HAD to wear green to school so we wouldn’t get pinched? It was SUCH A BIG DEAL.

We would make shamrocks and rainbows and talk about the pot of gold and write limericks and I was never quite sure of those leprechauns, but it was always silly fun to say “Top ‘o the mornin’ to ya!” and be called lassies and lads.

We got a little older – junior high and high school – and if you were “cool,” you kept your green to yourself and acted like it was no big deal, but if someone tried to pinch you, you SWORE you were wearing green underwear, or you would point to the tiny speck of green on the tag inside your shirt.

Now that I am finally an actual adult – I know, it took some time to get here – I find this holiday kind of like President’s Day or Arbor Day or National Coffee Day.

Evidently, there are some people in this building who are still living out their grade school years.

I walked into the building this morning and had to look twice. A grown man was walking in at the same time wearing white pants, a bright green shirt, and a green ascot cap. I’ve never seen so many women wearing green shoes, green tops, green pants, green jewelry. I had to look twice when I saw the plant watering man outside our office doors – he was donning a sparkly green bowler.

(Yes, I had to look up “types of hats.” I had no idea, other than the kind of hat a leprechaun wears and what old men driving convertibles wear.)

I would understand if all of these people were on their way to the 3rd largest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the USA in downtown Kansas City to ride on a float. But they came to WORK like this.

I’ve come to a conclusion. Life would be boring if it weren’t for unique people who still try to live out their grade school years on Saint Patrick’s Day.

*****

My boss has taught me a lot in the last few years. In this season of claiming my independence and finding out who Rhonda is, she taught me that it’s okay to do things the way I want to do them – I don’t have to look a certain way or be a certain way because everyone else is. If I don’t want to wear green underwear, so be it.

I like casual. I like jeans and sweats and hoodies, too. I don’t like dresses. I might like dresses if I felt good about my legs, but I don’t, so I don’t. I am not a jewelry fan, so I don’t wear much. I don’t think I have ever worn a scarf around my neck. I would probably like scarves, since I like to be warm and covered, but since I never have, I don’t. I am very capable of choosing my clothes – my favorite shopping experience is to see a mannequin and tell the associate at a store, “I want to look just like that,” or see an entire outfit in a catalog and wish I could buy it, head to toe. It’s just easy to pull on a pair of jeans and a hoodie and be COMFORTABLE.

My boss doesn’t like to travel much, so she doesn’t. She loves wine, so she drinks it. She likes one certain pair of sandals, so she has that pair in several colors. We like what we like what we like.

I’ve come to a conclusion. We are 52, and we are old enough and capable enough to do life our way.

*****

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A co-worker came to the office this morning having an Alexander day. A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. My boss sat down in her office and lovingly told her to take the day off and go home. And then an hour or so later, called my co-worker to find out how she was doing. My boss even called a mutual friend to check on my co-worker, and I have no doubt that my boss will follow up all weekend, too.

Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.  – Henri Frederic Amiel

I’ve come to a conclusion. Today, I am surrounded by kind hearts and kooky people.

*****

Yesterday, I read my Love Does calendar. I read it every morning, but yesterday stands out. Okay, not THAT much standing out, since I can’t remember exactly what it said, word for word, but it was something about rocks and asphalt. It was more about how our lives are messed up with hurts and failures and mistakes and wrong turns and God still wants us. And He still uses us. Even when. Even if. Even so.

I still have trust issues. Sheesh, I am wearing a green shirt today. I have passive aggressive tendencies even now. I still find myself sitting in judgment more than I care to admit. I am selfish sometimes. I get very defensive and not very nice when it comes to my family. But, I am glad I belong. I am glad that I am a part of His plan. I am glad that He assures me I am worthy.

I’ve come to a conclusion. I am glad I am Yours.

*****

I’ve come to a conclusion. I am very grateful that I am loved, that my world is unique, that I can be comfortable and casual in my 52-year-old self, that kind hearts and kooky people surround me and make life interesting, and I am grateful to be chosen by YOU.

L-Loved
U-Unique
C – Casual, Comfortable
K- Kindhearted and Kooky
Y- Yours

I am grateful to be so LUCKY on this Saint Patrick’s Day.

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Because…it is good.

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I am sharing this morning’s devotion from church. I love how Chris shares what I feel. My Dad and I were talking on Sunday about the message and creation and the two very different creation stories in Genesis and how there is so much I do not understand and was it literally six days and how do we really KNOW the first day and the second day and who was around to write all that down and can’t creationists and scientists just get along and and and…and it frustrates me, because IT DOESN’T MATTER. At least not to me.

I just know that our world is pretty incredible, no matter what corner I stand in. Whether it’s at the edge of a mountain that is grandiose or standing by a babbling brook or even on a sidewalk in an urban downtown full of concrete with a sprig of grass or a weed poking through to reach the sun, our world is pretty incredible.  And I know the Creator. I know Him personally. He blesses me every hour of every day whether I acknowledge that or not. He loves me.  He loves ME. Even ME.

So I will savor the day. I will appreciate the daffodils and the robins and the eagles and the sunshine and the clouds. I will declare His glory and leave the apologetics and the reasoned arguing and the need to prove to someone else. I don’t have the time to waste to force God on others when I just need to do love.

Psalm 19:1-4

1 Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
2 One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another what needs to be known.
3 Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
their voices can’t be heard—
4     but their sound extends throughout the world;
their words reach the ends of the earth.

Psalm 33:6-9, 12-15

6 The skies were made by the Lord’s word,
all their starry multitude by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the ocean waters into a heap;
he put the deep seas into storerooms.
8 All the earth honors the Lord;
all the earth’s inhabitants stand in awe of him.
9 Because when he spoke, it happened!
When he commanded, there it was!

12 The nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom God has chosen as his possession,
is truly happy!
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees every human being.
14 From his dwelling place God observes
all who live on earth.
15 God is the one who made all their hearts,
the one who knows everything they do.

I’ve come to the point in my faith life where I’m not as concerned with “proving” Christianity. After all, I don’t prove that the music I like relaxes me. I don’t have to prove that Chipotle is delicious and convenient (because everyone already knows this. Duh). I don’t have to prove that sleeping a full night leaves me feeling more balanced through the day.

Following Jesus has led me down a path of growth, friendships, wonders, and purpose. I don’t have to prove these things — I’ve lived them.

And yet I have Christian friends who love arguing for Jesus. There’s even a word for the logic behind this: Apologetics.

The dictionary calls this the “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” It’s when people try to prove God or the Christian faith.

And yet I’ve never left an apologetic conversation with a good taste in my mouth. I’m grateful for reason and logic—but every time someone logically tries to prove their faith it comes off as… forced. And they’re already preaching to the choir! It’s like a salesman proving to you how effective their cleaning spray works. Guaranteed to be the best, right? Except… it’s just cleaning spray. Why the forceful approach?

Maybe it’s the millennial in me. I’ve just been sold too many false truths. I’ve been the target of advertising my whole life. If your faith resembles a television advertisement more than a source of awe, I’m just going to be hesitant to trust you.

And so when I read a passage like today’s reading from the Psalms, it’s like a breath of fresh air. The author is relaxed. He’s not concerned with proving his argument. He’s savoring existence. He’s not concerned with doctrinal purity or worship styles. He’s just taking it in. His heart is celebrating the goodness of it all.

“Their voices can’t be heard—but their sound extends throughout the world.”

I’m convinced that the most convincing evangelists aren’t the ones with the best arguments, but the ones who can tap into the wonder of it all. The people who see the greatness of God all around us are usually the people who also make God visible to the rest of us. They embody “good news.” They make faith not just convincing—but desirable.

You don’t have to force God on others when you display Him with your life. 

So enjoy this day. Savor the sun and wind and seasons and breath and life. After all, it’s all proclaiming the glory of our Creator. You can too :). – Chris Abel

(Chris Abel is the Young Adults Pastor at Resurrection, and he describes himself as a “Pastor/Creative-type/Adventurer.” A former atheist turned passionate follower of Christ, he completed his seminary education in Washington, DC. Before coming to Resurrection, Chris was a campus pastor near St. Louis, MO.)

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The eagle has landed. Sorta.

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Our little Florida eaglet accidentally fell out of his nest yesterday. I just assume he is a boy, but I’m not sure why. He is known as E9, but I think that sounds very science experiment-y, so I call him Everett. Everett allowed temptation to get the best of him, and he thought he could do it alone. But he was wrong.

I remember accidentally falling out of the nest. I also remember feeling very overwhelmed and relying heavily on Psalm 46.

It has been entertaining, to say the least, watching this little bird, almost ready to cut the apron strings but not quite. He must feel all alone, down there on the ground, feeling dirt and grass and pavement for the first time. Smaller birds swoop down and taunt him, teasing him that he’s big but can’t figure out how to soar. Other species, known as humans, gawk and take pictures and point at the little guy, all alone, trying to figure out how to survive while attempting to get back home.

It’s a big world out there. And sometimes, we aren’t ready to face it. Sometimes, we THINK we are ready to face it, but really, all we want is to be back home, curled up in our “nest” with Mom and Dad hovering close by, keeping a watchful eye, feeding us when we are hungry, protecting us from the taunting and the teasing and the gawking, seen and unseen.Sheltering us from the storms and hiding us from the dark and scary predators.

Image result for e9 eagletHarriet and Everett

Image result for e9 eagletMom and Dad keeping watch

Image result for e9 eagletLunch time

Image result for e9 eagletEverett, testing the wings, still safe and secure

Image result for e9 eagletAfter the fall, Mom and Dad delivering a fish
and in protection mode

Image result for e9 eagleEverett, figuring out this flying thing, yesterday afternoon

Image result for e9 eagleThis afternoon…beautiful, and so young,
still trying to figure out how to make those wings go up,
back to the nest.

Everett is sitting on a branch of a dead tree this afternoon, so close to the nest, but waiting. Every once in a while, you can see feeble attempts of take-off, or maybe Everett is just practicing for his homecoming. Harriet and M-15, (or Bond, as I like to call Dad) are near. One is in the nest tree, watching with an eagle-eye, and we all assume the other is out getting dinner from the local eatery so that dinner will be “on the table” when Everett comes home.

Tonight, I am grateful for the technology that now allows us to experience this little eagle family in Florida and have an eagle-eye view into the intimacy of parents so caring and concerned for their little one who has decided to test the waters.

I am grateful for God’s creation, complete with eagles.

I am grateful that Everett wasn’t injured in the fall.

I am grateful for a computer to watch this wonder of nature in real time.

I am grateful for the reminder in watching, of how my parents loved me and cared for me and didn’t abandon me when I fell from the nest.

I am grateful for the heart-wrenching emotions that come with getting attached to this Florida family.

And I am grateful, I think, that my boss gave me a new eagle family to now watch, and this time, I’ll be able to see from the beginning, as there are two eggs in the nest, to be hatched in a week or two.

Florida Eagle Family – Everett/E9, Harriet, and M-15/Bond

Washington DC Eagle Family – Mr. President and First Lady and eaglets-to-be

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. – Isaiah 40:31

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…you know you’re with a friend.

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I marvel sometimes at how God has given me so many gifts of friendship. Not just friends. GOOD friends. Friends who know me down deep and still think I’m okay to hang around. Friends who would wash my hair if I were in the hospital kinds of friends. Friends who would not turn their nose up at the cobweb in the corner or the dust covering every square inch. Friends who would write a sweet note in that dust with their finger, or better yet, ask, “Where’s the Pledge?”

Just when I think I’ve thought of them all, He reminds me of another. I know there are those experts who say that most people have one or two “best” friends, and about that many “close” friends, but I have more. I am sure I have the most.

I have been gifted like the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right when you come within $250 of the actual retail price without going over and win BOTH showcases.

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It’s one of those days. I’ve needed one of those days this week. It’s been a busy week. So, when I woke up to a cardinal singing and a dog tail thumping, I began to say my gratefuls.

I am grateful for alarm clocks that sound like cardinals singing.

I am grateful for happy dog tails.

I am grateful for the smell of bacon.

I am grateful for a friend waiting in the morning kitchen sunshine that shows every cobweb and all the dust.

I am grateful for flower beds full of daffodils that sing with their beauty, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…”

I am grateful for memories of Roman on a horse, singing, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…”

I am grateful for a KU loss and a KState win, a very rare happening at the Big 12 conference tournament. This Cat fan will take whatever she can get.

I am grateful for a purple sweater to wear today to kind of gloat a little.

I am grateful for Elaine who let me unload some heaviness last night.

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When you’re with someone you trust in, never needing to pretend,
Someone who helps you know yourself…you know you’re with a friend.
– Amanda Bradley

I am grateful for a new experience and a new writing “club.” Maybe I’ll learn something and get a little better at this.

I am grateful for the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and for “No One Understands Like Jesus” and for “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and for “Blessed Assurance.”

I am grateful for my Dad who says funny things to Natia and takes out the trash and shares special stories with our friends and family.

I am grateful for my sister who practices doing love when it is so hard and hurts and is uncomfortable and inconvenient, and through the ugly, she chooses to love.

I am grateful that Sam is my best.

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And I am grateful for the kind of friend who would write in my dust and hold vigil with me in the darkness:

  • My Mom
  • Elaine
  • Michelle
  • Angela
  • Julie
  • Geri
  • Delores
  • Amanda
  • Melissa
  • Rachel
  • Erin
  • Dad
  • Linda
  • Lisa
  • Lori
  • Nanette
  • Ann
  • Jeanine
  • Rhonda
  • Terry
  • Dwight
  • Chris
  • LaDonna
  • Shirley
  • Connie
  • Marcia
  • Jared
  • Cindy
  • Donna
  • Vangie/Roman
  • Joyce

 

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Okay, two things and a tank of gas.

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First. I am having a HARRRRD time being grateful today for the neighbor’s dog. Most days, I can put up with the incessant barking. Today is not one of those days. Seriously. NON. STOP. And the neighbors don’t know it, because they put this poor pooch outside and they all leave for the whole day – off to school, off to work. It’s not a small yappy dog, either. It’s an arf arf arf arf arf arf arf kind of dog.

Second. I am having a hard time being grateful today for parmesan cheez-its. Why? Because we had one teeny tiny little snack bag of them, and you can’t eat just one, so when I got to the bottom of the teeny tiny little snack bag and ate every last crumb, it wasn’t enough. That’s why.

Now, for being grateful, I am grateful for President George W. Bush. He’s funny. And he’s gracious. And he goes on Jimmy Kimmel and makes me laugh.

I am grateful for a dust pan. What a fantastic invention.

I am grateful for leftover spaghetti.

I am grateful for packages left on the porch. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday all year long.

I am grateful for people who know how to write and tell stories and put their stories on a page and turn their stories into books so that I can read their stories out loud to Sam and we can both cry and laugh and discuss their stories and their ideas.

And I am grateful for anticipation of a long drive and an appreciation for the view.

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Wafting can be a good thing.

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I am grateful for paint under fingernails.

I am grateful for frozen cheeks.

I am grateful for a pair of mourning doves.

I am grateful for cushioning on a chair.

I am grateful for dryer sheets that smell good.

I am grateful for blue sky.

I am grateful for an Oreo.

I am grateful when I see a dog sitting in a passenger seat watching like a sentry towards the door of a business, anxious for their owner to return.

I am grateful for the teaching this week about Solomon’s Porch.

I am grateful when I don’t get popped with bacon grease.

I am grateful for the smell of someone’s fireplace or their dryer sheets working during a walk.

Which reminds me that I am still grateful for hardware store smell.

Which reminds me that I am always and consistently grateful for popcorn and coffee and bacon and men’s cologne and peony and Comet and Pine-Sol and eucalyptus and Baby Magic and balsam plug-ins and alfalfa-at-the-co-op and road-construction-black-tar smells.

And I am grateful for new mercies every morning that I see and experience.

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Never thought I would be grateful for a trashcan.

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Life is way too short to woulda, shoulda, coulda. – Author-to-be, Linda Francis

We’ve been using small grocery sacks, the kind you see hanging up in a tree on a windy day, for our trash can in every room here in small town USA. They’re convenient and plentiful. They hang on door handles quite nicely.

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And when they are full, you just put them into a larger sack, or box, or enormous black industrial strength trash bag used for construction and deconstruction, but that doesn’t work so well when you have filled the small plastic grocery sacks with compost material from a meal or many meals. Because it takes quite some time to fill an enormous black industrial strength trash bag used for construction and deconstruction, enough time that small grocery sacks stuffed full begin to smell.

Dollar store to the rescue.

We bought a trash can this week! Not so small that we have to empty it every day, but not so humongous that things will begin to grow inside before it’s full. Only one, mind you. All of our rooms outside of the kitchen are still adorned with Heartland Grocery or Dollar Store grocery or Menards or Home Depot plastic sacks on the doorknobs.

However, I am very grateful for our new trash can. It’s almost like we LIVE here now.

I am also grateful for some simple yet wise wisdom from author-to-be, Linda.

I have this little tendency that surfaces every now and then. I weigh myself down with coulda, shoulda, woulda, and I let the guilt of undone take over my thought process until I can hardly function. I walk around with a lip bitten, with eyes focused below instead of above, and I feel BAD in the moment and all through the day. You know – that phone call you should make to a friend, that thank you note that needs to be written, that apology that needs to be given, that visit that needs to happen. Those kinds of things.

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Linda’s quick email to me this afternoon reminded me of the hymn, “And Can It Be?”

It’s old, but it’s WOW. Here are some of the words, but I replaced the thees and thous with regular ones to keep your eyes from glazing over, AND, I added a little boldy emphasis – work with me, people:

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for ME? who caused his pain! For ME? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be that You, my God, should die for ME?
Amazing love! How can it be that You, my God, should die for ME?

Here’s where Linda’s wisdom reminded me of this hymn, but I can’t take out the eye glazing words, because it just wouldn’t be the same without the thine and the thees:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

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Here was the end of Linda author-to-be’s wisdom:

“If I don’t forgive myself and move on, I won’t grow and I’m not ready to become stunted. Life is good!  I need to live it thoroughly instead of just passing through.”

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So, here’s to our new trashcan that will symbolize the throwing out of dead plants. Time to spring clean, Rhonda. Throw them out, I say, throw them out. But keep the sacks on the door knobs. For now…

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