Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – Eeyore

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On this Friday, I am grateful.

  • For a message this morning about looking for the flowers instead of the weeds. For example: instead of looking at a counter or sink full of dirty dishes, look at the fact that a meal was shared, there was food for everyone, and there is an opportunity to put forth effort to make the sink empty and the counter clean, another item crossed off the list.

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  • For a yard speckled with autumn yellow leaves.
  • For the sound of breeze whistling through the upstairs window screens.
  • For the sweet, sweet sounds of little Natia having a dream while she sleeps at my feet.
  • For a dusty shirt worn by Sam, evidence that he is working hard during this fall harvest.
  • For the satisfying feeling of an Ama package on its way to Washington for two little girls.
  • For new stamps, ready for cards to write.


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Random pet peeviness and reasons to count a blessing.

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When you eat a Subway sandwich and don’t order any chips, it takes away the goodness of the sandwich. Might as well have stayed home and eaten a leathery orange and a piece of cold toast.

Blessing #1: Small town USA actually HAS a Subway sandwich shop.


When the neighbor decides it is such a beautiful October afternoon, it’s a great day to cut BEDROCK for all the neighborhood to enjoy, too.

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Blessing #2: Said neighbor is finally working on his very neglected yard.


When the afternoon shadows on my desk are from the beautiful upstairs sunny window and are actually dozens of box elder bugs creepy crawling all over the window screens.

Blessing #3: While I see black and red creepy crawlies that give me the shivers, I also see beautiful yellowing leaves fluttering to the ground in the front yard, and for a minute or two, it makes me forget about the living shadows that have invaded our exterior.


When remodeling requires the doors to be open, allowing Marty McFly and all of his relatives to visit me while I work upstairs.

Blessing #4: Fly swatters.

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When there are not headphones strong enough to block out nail clipper sounds.

Blessing #5: Bedrock cutting sounds – it’s better than nail clipper sounds.

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What’s the dill, pickle?

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There is almost nothing worse for lunch than fixing a Chinet plate of smoked ham sandwich with the soft bread and the smoky ham and the crispy Romaine and the Hellman’s and two big slices of Claussen’s sandwich sliced dill pickles…

…only to discover on the first bite that the dills are not dills at all.


I am not very happy with the person who invented bread and butter nastiness and thought it would be funny to  inflict it on the rest of us unsuspecting dill pickle lovers. Why couldn’t they color those things PINK or something, since they have cotton candy flavor in them?! Then we could all tell that they are unnatural sweet, like PICKLES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE.

Bread and buttah belong in the guttah.

However, I AM grateful for Chinet plates during kitchen remodels.

And I AM grateful for Claussen DILLS, for which I shall be purchasing with a keen eye on the label, the next trip to the grocery store.

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And I AM grateful for soft bread and smoky ham.

And I AM grateful that there was just enough Hellman’s left in the squeeze bottle for my sandwich.

And I AM grateful that because it is box-elder-bug-white-house-loving season again, they are on the other side of the screened windows while I work and eat my de-pickled sandwich.

And I AM grateful that my Dad is here, along with two really great guys who know how to kitchen remodel while Sam and I are at work.

And I AM grateful that Sam can drink things with ice now and that he doesn’t have to wear gloves on cool morning walks or in order to touch cold or metal things. He can handle a COLD dill pickle jar, woo hoo.

And I AM grateful for memories of CBA concession stands when crazy students actually paid money for little cups of frozen DILL pickle juice. Fundraising entrepreneurs, for sure.

And one more thing. I AM grateful for tacos, especially tacos without pickles. Tacos should not have anything to do with pickles.

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In other words, Immanuel.

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I am grateful that in the stillness, God is here.

I am grateful that in the chaos, God is here.

I am grateful that in the warm breezy afternoon, God is here.

I am grateful that even with my distractions, God is here.

I am grateful that through a child’s laughter, God is here.

I am grateful that in a thunderstorm, God is here.

I am grateful that during sheet folding and shirt ironing, God is here.

I am grateful that while sad news is given, God is here.

I am grateful that when I am sleeping, God is here.

I am grateful that during tragedy, God is here.

I am grateful that when I am annoyed and shortsighted and a little irritated, God is here.

I am grateful that through the kindness of our circle of support, God is here.

I am grateful that in the beauty of swirling leaves, God is here.

I am grateful that by a smile and a little reassurance, God is here.

I am grateful that through a song, God is here.

I am grateful that by a doctor’s wisdom, God is here.

And I am grateful that at the start of my day, in the middle of my day, and when my day is done, God is here.

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Sadness is…imagining this carrot is a Dorito.

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I am grateful for sizzling hot dogs on a grill.

I am grateful for a purse big enough to hold it all.

I am grateful for the sound of Natia sleeping peacefully.

I am grateful that when I run, God still chooses me.

I am grateful for good sales and fun packages.

I am grateful for do-overs.

I am grateful for thoughtfulness acknowledged.

I am grateful for slightly melted ice cream in a bowl with chocolate powder sprinkles.

I am grateful for the experience of hearing Miroslav Volf and for the few points in his talk I actually grasped down deep.

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If you take “love your enemy” out of Christianity, it is no longer Christianity.  – Miroslav Volf

I am grateful for my KitchenAid mixer.

I am grateful for trees getting ready for fall homecoming before winter’s blanket covers their arms.

I am grateful for crossed-off lists.

I am grateful for pants that aren’t quite as tight, even though I am really obsessing about potato chips. Stay away from the grocery store, avoid the grocery store, not allowed to go to the grocery store…

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I am grateful for my circle of support.

I am grateful for shiny bathroom fixtures and an empty dishwasher.

I am grateful that I have a job where I can take off my shoes and work all day long with warm socks making my feet feel loved.

I am grateful for our art that we have chosen to beautify our home.

I am grateful that I do not work in a potato chip factory.

I am grateful for self-service postage machines and post offices that are open in the darkness.

I am grateful that my middle name is Joy. Sometimes I need to be reminded to wear it.

And I am grateful that God gave me the kind of heart that wants to sit on my sleeve.

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I must.

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When the weight of my world is heavy enough to suffocate but I cannot share with others because it all seems so trivial and I would sound like a prima donna who cannot deal with the insignificant and inconsequential…

When prayer time stings with no hand to hold, I must be grateful for the little amount of desire I do have, to sit in church alone.

When the chill of the day makes me long for a new sweater, I must be grateful for the many clothes I have that hang in my closet.

When I am feeling torn between the familiar and comfortable and the desire to be elsewhere and living full time in a new life, I must be grateful for the chance to live in two equally wonderful places in this season.

When I think I am starving and just want some carbs, I must be grateful for fresh carrots and celery and a handful of almonds.

When realization dawns that this could be my new normal, I must be grateful for adventure and never a dull moment.

When rain falls on just-fixed and too-short hair, I must be grateful that it is raining and that I was able to get a haircut.

When I know that I need to care but don’t want to because it is just too much, I must be grateful for the opportunities to serve and bless others by being for them as others have been for me.

When my favorite pen quits penning, I must be grateful for all of the free advertising pens taking up space in the junk drawer.

When the lump in the throat returns along with floods of memories, I must be grateful for pleasant and bittersweet memories that have not yet faded.

When I have to constantly go to the bathroom, I must be grateful I do not live in the days of outhouses.

When the imagined spotlight is on me, the woman who sits alone, I must be grateful that it is imagined.

When my boss gives me projects at the end of a long day, I must be grateful that I love my job AND my boss.

When I want to go back to simpler times that didn’t include heavy decisions, I must be grateful for a devotion that reminds that simpler times were not that simple.

The importance of today

When the dishwasher leaves spots and doesn’t take the dried-on yucky to the unknown wasteland, I must be grateful that I didn’t have to wash those dishes all by hand.

When I think we’re on the same page only to discover we are not even in the same chapter, I must be grateful that at least we are reading the same book and will eventually end up in the same place, ready for discussion and reflection.

When I am on hold for what seems like an hour, I must be grateful that it is only 4 minutes and 12 seconds and the hold music is just temporary and meant to soothe, not irritate.

When my wants and desires are lost at sea, I must be grateful that my needs are met so that I can create and dream those wants and desires.

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When the carpet needs cleaned and the dust can be measured by a rain gauge and there’s no looking out the dirty windows without squinting, I must be grateful that I have carpet and a home in progress and actual windows to keep out cold and flying insects versus black plastic covering rectangle holes in the side of the house.

When I am just too tired to put forth the effort to converse, I must be grateful for communication in a card or email, or a knowing look glance, or a reassuring squeeze of the shoulder.

When my tongue is burned from too-hot soup, I must slow down my spoon-to-mouth starvation exercise and be grateful I am not forced to eat cold soup.

When a hard day has been almost too much to bear, I must be grateful for the dog who wags her tail and wants to fall asleep next to me.

When my nose continues to drip, I must be grateful for an abundance of tissues.

And when the words to the song no longer make me cry and my soul feels a thousand miles away, I must be grateful that no one understands like Jesus.

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Small town USA hearts.

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I went to the doctor for the first time here in small town USA this week. My dad was here visiting, and he took me to my appointment. Funny thing, the last time I went to the doctor in the city, my dad took me. Come to think of it, many times in my life, my dad has taken me to the doctor. When I was injured in a motorcycle wreck in high school, my dad was the one who accompanied me to numerous doctor appointments.

I was standing at the front desk filling out a few forms when an older gentleman stepped up to the counter beside me. The lady behind the desk who also happens to be the first neighbor we met here in small town USA, asked, “You have an appointment today, Gary?”

“Nah, Aunt Judy’s just gonna give me a flu shot.”

Ah, I love small town USA.

In a small town, there ain’t much to see, but what you hear sure makes up for it. – Unknown

We had breakfast at the local café yesterday, just Dad, Sam, and I. The guys at the “coffee” table were shooting the breeze and making a few wisecracks at each other. Another local walked in to join them, and one of the guys, a pastor, said, “I don’t know how I do it – some guys are chick magnets, but I seem to be an idiot magnet,” referring to his good friend and church member who took a seat beside him. We all laughed, and he then began talking about our home and the fact that he grew up two doors down and was known for getting into mischief in the neighborhood, like climbing the persnickety lady’s fence next door.

The waitress brought over a get-well card for us to sign for her mom, who happens to be the other waitress at the café and had minor surgery the previous day. Our waitress friend was collecting signatures from all the locals who love her mama. A little while later, she came back to our table to show us a cell phone picture of her daughter’s 16th birthday present, a green iguana named Melk Melk.

Ah, I love small town USA.

Dad and Sam’s good friend Cosmo drove five hours on Sunday to help us with our kitchen cabinets installation. We are living in a mess these days, 100-year-old dust and debris everywhere. While Cosmo, Sam, and Dave, the local craftsman friend, drilled and measured and worked, Dad stood at the ready, retrieving tools, watching the process, loading the trailer with the cardboard and sheetrock and construction trash – two full days of breathing in dust and cleaning up just to have to do it all over again. It is nowhere near done, but much progress has been made. Last night, after everyone left, Sam and I stood in our under-construction space and marveled at how it is coming together, thanks to good friends and a Dad with small town USA hearts who bend over backwards in this season of our lives to help us live out our dream.



And then there was a knock on the front door.

Our next-door neighbor stood on the other side of the glass, holding a bag of cookies. As we visited with her in our under-construction that we are so eager to show off, we found out that her husband was the “elf” who mowed our yard for us while we were out of town, just because it needed to be done.

Ah, I love small town USA.

I took my dad to see the funniest thing yesterday. At least I think it’s funny. There’s a little store on the highway at the edge of town, and if you aren’t looking, you’ll miss it. Last week, Sam said we needed to go and get some paint, and we pulled up to this small building loaded with signage and displaying an outdoor Halloween decoration.


Do you see it?



You can rent a U-Haul, buy a gallon of paint, AND rent your tux, all in the same place.

Ah, I love small town USA.

Sitting at the Mexican restaurant, minding our own business, our favorite police chief stopped at the table to inquire as to how Sam is feeling, and in the middle of the conversation, he let us know that he heard we had purchased an investment property. LAST week. HOW IN THE WORLD did he hear that and so soon?

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Ah, I love small town USA…

  • where it’s easier to drive the golf cart or the riding lawn mower to the post office than actually start up the pickup truck.
  • where it is not uncommon to see young children walking to the park by themselves or playing in the ditch filled with rain water.
  • where “I seen” is appropriate and acceptable.
  • where you can buy a dozen eggs, a can of green beans, a quart of ice cream, and a box of ammunition, all at the same grocery store, AND collect stamps for a set of new pans in the process.
  • where suspenders are necessary for the pants.
  • where there’s a church on just about every corner and everyone goes to the football game on Friday night.
  • where the local radio station plays today’s elevator hits from the 70’s.
  • where volunteer firefighters are “called” with the town siren, in case they are out in the field.
  • where keys are left in the ignition and front doors may or may not be locked at night.
  • where it just makes sense to rent that wedding tuxedo while you’re fixin’ the screen door.
  • where neighbors look out for neighbors without having to be asked.
  • where the local flooring guy and the local painter and the local water guy and the handyman and the neighbors all have our garage door code and can be trusted when we are gone.
  • where a small town USA heart shows up on every corner if you just look for it.

I am so grateful for waitresses who tease with a wink, and board members who just came out of the field and offer words of encouragement, and neighbors who mow and bake, and the grocery store clerk with a friendly smile and a joke, and school teachers who love, and our police officer who cares, and the UPS guy and the handyman and the insurance woman who know us like they’ve known us forever, and the Dad who drives five hours to clean up and go to the doctor with his daughter and the husband who takes great pleasure in creating a forever home for his wife – small town USA hearts, all of them.

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