A day in the life of my brain.

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There is a city of roly polies in the bathroom on the first floor this week. The floor is tiny-tiled, so it looks like the 4,367 bugs are little Volkswagens driving on roads and meeting in intersections. And by mid-afternoon, there are multiple accidents on the roads and the tow trucks have not yet arrived to remove the debris.

I’m hungry.

Recently, my feelings were stung by comments about ham salad. I didn’t even make the ham salad. I just delivered it as a token gift from my boss to my family members. He thought they would like it as much as he does. But they didn’t. And they poked fun about the ham salad and my insistence they try it to the point it was a big joke to everyone in the room. And I felt bad for my boss. And I felt like the 11-year-old at the dance who is the laughing stock but laughs along with everyone else to cover up the sting. I’m 52 years old and had hurt feelings over a dish of ham salad. Still trying to grow up…

Why can I never finish a book?

I really, really, really dislike being scared. When someone comes up behind me and says, “Boo!” I seriously have an internal meltdown. Why do people think that is so funny? It isn’t funny. It’s mean. I used to be the “BOO!-er,” but over the years as I have become more mature and wise, I have repented of my ways and wouldn’t do that intentionally to anyone else. That stomach in the throat feeling is not fun. That keeps me away from rollercoasters, too. Who needs to ride a rollercoaster anyway? Or bungee jump? WHY, people. It’s the same feeling as sitting in the darkness watching any of the “Saw” movies or Criminal Minds. WHY, people. Fill your minds with goodness. Treat your people with “Excuse me’s” rather than “Boo! I’m right behind you!”

Is it possible for me to go a week without my phone? But if I didn’t have my phone, how would I take pictures of roly-polies in the bathroom?!

I could use a winning lottery ticket so I could get some new clothes for our trip and rugs for the white house and all the greeting cards on Etsy and back-to-school clothes for granddaughters and new shoes for me and take Sam out for his birthday and order good water for the white house and put a down payment on a new place for Dad and wash the car and pay off the Home Depot bill and –

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory, full of glory, full of glory it is joy unspeakable and full of glory, oh the half has never yet been told!

I never knew baby powder on a greasy food drip would take care of a stain. If only I had all those shirts I’ve thrown out.

I wonder if those cookies are still in the conference room. If they are there when I go check on the Volkswagens, I’m grabbing one.

Karissa just sent me pictures of their visit two weeks ago. I have GOT to lose weight. I wonder if that food is still stuck to the front porch. That snake looks like poop. Awww, that piggy. I miss my kids. All 13 of them, in Texas and in Washington.

 

I am grateful that my brain is a little goofy. It sure makes the day go faster. Nights are longer, but days go faster.

And I am grateful my brain does not resemble this.

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I heard a voice.

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Experiences for which I am so grateful:

Chicago beef with au jus and hoagie buns, mac & cheese, corn on the cob, and the best cake in the history of bundt cakes arrived at our door this past Friday night. We had a slightly stressful day with an unexpected doctor appointment and a long day at work, and when the doorbell rang, our small group friends, the Batemens’, marched inside carrying our dinner. They were headed to a restaurant with their daughter for the evening all dressed to the hilt, but on their way, they brought us a homemade meal and one of Roxanne’s latest cake creations, soon to be a page in her new cookbook.

*****

Gold, yellow, navy. Patterns of varying pieces of cloth, stitched together by servant hands into a lap-sized blanket covered in love and prayer. Our small group had lunch together on Saturday, a day when Sam was supposed to be feeling great but was feeling a little less than. No one would have known since he does not complain. After lunch was over and we were finishing conversation, Linda presented Sam with a beautiful new chemo blanket made by the quilt group at our church, chosen especially by Linda and prayed over by her group.

IMG_2818.JPGI love Sam. And his blanket. And his blanket giver.

*****

It was in the middle of church on Sunday morning, during an announcement, of all things.

Almost audible, that voice said, “It’s time to start writing, Rhonda.”

And this week, several times through devotions and prayer time, the point has been made, that to move forward, it takes one small step. One thought change. One word on a page.

So this weekend, I will begin. I am not an outline person and have never been an outline person. I have very disorganized thoughts. I am Vice President/Head, Process Procrastination. Random Rhonda. But in order to start writing, I have to put onto paper what swirls in my head – after the brain-unloading storm, then I’ll worry about Operation Organize by Outline.

*****

We met an angel on Sunday morning. His name is James. He is 1st chair cellist in heaven, I am sure, although he told us he goes to school in St. Louis. He played music that needed no words and ushered us into worship. We cried real tears. They were tears that happen when God reveals and His Presence surrounds, although that should be continually all day every day, but on this particular Sunday morning, we entered worship with palms up, and God sent James to provide the music.

*****

I am grateful for Roxanne’s talent of hospitality blended with her gift of food creation.

I am grateful for Linda’s sweet soul and her ministry of thoughtfulness through stitching and sewing machines combined with prayer.

I am grateful for that still, small voice that speaks so clearly to me and continues to prompt.

I am grateful for angels who manifest themselves in human form via cellists and seamstresses and chefs.

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This morning, this former music “leader” read Psalm 40, one of her most favorite chapters in the Bible.

This is my story, this is my song…and I am so very grateful.

Psalm 40 – CEB

For the music leader. Of David. A psalm.

40 I put all my hope in the Lord.
    He leaned down to me;
    he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
    out of the mud and filth,
    and set my feet on solid rock.
        He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
    they will trust the Lord.
Those who put their trust in the Lord,
    who pay no attention to the proud
    or to those who follow lies,
    are truly happy!

You, Lord my God!
    You’ve done so many things—
    your wonderful deeds and your plans for us—
        no one can compare with you!
    If I were to proclaim and talk about all of them,
        they would be too numerous to count!
You don’t relish sacrifices or offerings;
    you don’t require entirely burned offerings or compensation offerings—
    but you have given me ears!
So I said, “Here I come!
    I’m inscribed in the written scroll.
    I want to do your will, my God.
    Your Instruction is deep within me.”
I’ve told the good news of your righteousness
    in the great assembly.
    I didn’t hold anything back—
        as you well know, Lord!
10 I didn’t keep your righteousness only to myself.
    I declared your faithfulness and your salvation.
I didn’t hide your loyal love and trustworthiness
    from the great assembly.

11 So now you, Lord—
    don’t hold back any of your compassion from me.
Let your loyal love and faithfulness always protect me,
12     because countless evils surround me.
My wrongdoings have caught up with me—
    I can’t see a thing!
There’s more of them than hairs on my head—
    my courage leaves me.
13 Favor me, Lord, and deliver me!
    Lord, come quickly and help me!
14 Let those who seek my life, who want me dead,
    be disgraced and put to shame.
Let those who want to do me harm
    be thoroughly frustrated and humiliated.
15 Let those who say to me, “Yes! Oh, yes!”[a]
    be destroyed by their shame.
16 But let all who seek you
    celebrate and rejoice in you.
Let those who love your salvation always say,
    “The Lord is great!”
17 But me? I’m weak and needy.
    Let my Lord think of me.
You are my help and my rescuer.
    My God, don’t wait any longer!

 

I’m Friday tired.

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I am grateful for the taste of spearmint in the first bite of a piece of gum when thirsty.

I am grateful for fingernails not broken or torn or chipped.

I am grateful for the smell of a fresh towel.

I am grateful for internet shopping when my world is scattered and grandchild birthdays don’t wait.

I am grateful for a bed and a little less than full weekend.

I am grateful for green grass in mid July.

I am grateful for pretty glassware from which to drink.

I am grateful to have held Natia once again last night.

I am grateful Sam is okay and has a week of rest from chemo.

And I am grateful for his oncologist and his surgeon who have the biggest hearts and made us laugh today in the middle of the scary and ugly.

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Pavarotti the bird.

 

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The alarm went off this morning. Not that unusual, but it wasn’t the typical cell phone alarm. It was a most beautiful alarm of singing, right outside the bedroom window that was open just enough to assist the attic fan.  Normally, the singing we hear in small town USA is the cooing of the mourning doves, one whole family in every stinkin’ tree in town…or else those doves follow me everywhere I go.

But this morning, it was a GRAND song with many voices coming from one little beak.

I didn’t want to get up – I wanted to stay until the encore was finished, but the little guy did like the old Quaker song, and couldn’t keep from singing.

And it made me smile.

We went on our first-thing-in-the-morning walk, and I forgot temporarily about today’s alarm.

But when we came back home and sat on the kitchen porch for devotions and breakfast, Pavarotti joined us and couldn’t keep from singing again.

And it made us smile.

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Turns out, Pavarotti is a catbird.

I am grateful for Pavarotti today, because I needed a reminder.

I am grateful for Pavarotti today, because I needed a song.

I am grateful for Pavarotti today, because Sam and I needed to smile.

How Can I Keep From Singing – Robert Lowry, 1860

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?

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Hard boiled? No, scrambled I am.

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I am grateful for the way eggs are packaged in their own little cardboard nests.

I am grateful for a hot breeze that is better than no breeze.

I am grateful for a few recent pushes to just start writing my story. SOMEONE needs to hear it, and it will be healing to put it all into words.

I am grateful for the beauty of a distant thunderstorm.

I am grateful for the end of a pickle stuck to the floor, because it is evidence that Aynjel sat in the highchair one week ago.

I am grateful for grace because I need a lot of it these days when I am behind in answering emails and voicemails and text messages and beautiful cards.

I am grateful for overdraft protection.

I am grateful for the twinkle of the fireflies and four little ones in our front yard chasing them with their jars.

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I am grateful for a level-headed friend who talked me off a stress ledge yesterday.

I am grateful for Sam’s silent wink from across the room.

I am grateful that Natia has Dad this week.

I am grateful for the voices in my mind that are hanging on to my memories, voices of six little ones who made lots of beautiful noise last week.

I am grateful for a drive in the country last night to watch a sunset with my husband and an ice cream cone. We are certainly slowing things down.

I am grateful for the next door neighbor who came across the yard to inquire about Sam and ask what he likes to eat for her meal train contribution, for the police chief who touched Sam’s shoulder last night and offered assistance with anything we need, for the rock quarry owner friend who happened to stop by as we were attempting to unload furniture from the trailer and gave Sam the “what for” and then assisted another next door neighbor to get the heavy furniture inside, for the waiter at the restaurant who immediately asked how Sam was feeling – I love our small town.

I am grateful for the hum of the window AC.

I am grateful for calls and visits with my sister.

I feel fragile right now. Fetal position fragile. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. I feel like an egg in a carton, nested secure in the friends and the prayers and the encouragement, all the while silently hoping the carton doesn’t fall off the counter.

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The nest of an egg carton that surrounds me is carried however, by the strongest hands, and I know He isn’t going to let me fall off the counter. I know it down deep. He is going to bring me back to the reality of beauty all around me, to the blessings that come with each sunrise, to the ability to accept whatever happens, and to just be Rhonda in this second half of 2017, cracked and leaking a little, but still usable. And laughing.

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I can’t unsee it!

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Aaagh!!

Sitting at the truck stop waiting on the fuel gauge to say “full,” and there she was, in all of her glory. Walking out of the convenience store, a pleasantly rounded female wearing a very, I mean VERY, thin and tight tank top. At first I noticed the jiggle in the middle, thinking, “Eww, honey, someone really needs to help you find a larger shirt.”

And then I realized someone really needed to introduce her to a lady’s undergarment too, because there was CLEARLY no undergarment. I do mean CLEARLY.

My brain needs a new image, because I cannot unsee what I just seen.

I looked at Sam, Sam looked at me, and we split a gut/guffawed/bellowed/cackled, and heartily laughed while picking up our jaws and putting our eyes back inside their sockets.

Holy double slingshot, Batman.

On this drive back to small town USA this Sunday evening, I do believe I am very grateful for ladies undergarments and those who need them and wear them.

And I’m grateful for laughter and road trips with Sam.

 

Please excuse the mess. The children are making memories.

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I sit here staring mid-afternoon at a color book page of a beautiful rose, inside-the-lines seven-year-old perfection. Beside it is a one-color scribble coloring of Ariel the mermaid. Downstairs, chatter and giggles from the three older grandchildren who have difficulty with quiet during quiet time. In the rooms next to my desk, one granddaughter in each bed, dreaming away the afternoon crankiness.

Our home is full. The sidewalks and porch are beautiful hues of all colors pastel and chalky, floors are generously sticky, and the glass storm door is smudged and smeared with a fingerprint duster’s dream canvas.

For lunch today, we sat around our table and enjoyed sandwiches and laughter after we sang our prayer:

♫  For the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord!
For giving me the things I need,
The sandwiches and chips and cantaloupe and juice to drink,
The Lord is good to me.
Amen! Amen amen amen, AHHHHH-MEN.   ♫

It has been an exhausting four days since Sam received his first treatment and began this chemotherapy. Between trying to maintain his regular schedule of go go go go go, preparing for daughter and grandchildren to arrive at our sparsely furnished small town USA home, experiencing heat exhaustion after unloading a trailer while the body adjusted to poison, severe vomiting in the middle of the night, glorious chaos and noise filling every nook and cranny, fireworks and humidity and scrapes and demands and whiny cries and giggles and garden tractor bucket rides and dirty feet and two jars of fireflies and runny noses and learning to ride bikes and the hanging of a porch swing and air mattresses and snow cones and late late nights, Sam is glad to be back in the relaxed atmosphere of his job during harvest.

I am grateful for laughter with Karissa.

I am grateful for sticky and dirty and for being peed on during a fireworks show.

I am grateful for pill boxes and nice nurses and KU doctors-on-call at 2 am.

I am grateful for beautiful grandchildren who are well-behaved in public.

I am grateful that Natia is tolerant of nervous littles who aren’t sure of canines.

I am grateful for cool breeze.

I am grateful for a core group of friends who are at the ready to pray when we are feeling desperate and at our most vulnerable.

I am grateful for juice boxes in the fridge and popsicles in the freezer.

I am grateful for a sidewalk full of snake burns, evidence of fireworks fun.

I am grateful that Sam is feeling better and survived the first awful.

I am grateful for peaceful nighttime when the town finally sleeps after shooting all of the fireworks.

I am grateful for memories being made.

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