It’s a new day. Begin again. Appreciate what you have before it turns into what you had.

 

I am grateful for the hearing that I have left after last night. We went to my niece’s last home basketball game against their rival school. Two all-girls’ schools. Rivals. Broadcast live on local TV with cameras panning the student sections. Did I say two all girls’ schools?! I’ve not heard that much high-pitched screaming/yelling/squealing in…forever. Add the extremely loud music, and it was pure pain to the eardrums. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to see Rachel play. Next time, Formula 1 racing earplugs.

I am grateful for a long conversation with Karissa yesterday and LOTS of pictures of my beautiful grandchildren that she sent to me. It was so healing to hear her voice, and she sounded so good.

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I am grateful for a surprise visit this morning in the office from Sam.

I am grateful for a really good haircut.

I am grateful for another weekend of snow to anticipate. All too soon, there will be complaints about the heat and the humidity, so I will choose to enjoy the cold and the snow and the opportunities for a roaring fire and soft blankets and sweaters to wear.

I am grateful for a portrait of THE honking tree on K-96 that Dwight took for us. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. This is not the picture he took – but it IS the honking tree.

 

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And I am grateful for my devotion from Dad’s book this morning. One of my favorite scriptures is Lamentations 3:22-23: 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
     His mercies begin afresh each morning.

I love how this devotion weaves it into a lesson on my failures in this life:

 

Sir Winston Churchill, the legendary politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the second World War, once said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” We can’t rest on our victories, neither can we wallow in our defeats. Everyone occasionally fails, and sometimes our failures can demoralize us. But even in failure there are benefits to be gained and progress to be made. Some lessons can only be learned in failure, and a day is never lost if a lesson is learned. 

God can do more with our failures than the world can do with our successes. Failure is often the back door to success if we persevere. Basketball great Michael Jordan understood this. He once said, “Failure always made me try harder next time.”

As we encounter our ups and downs, it’s helpful to remember that God never fails and that His mercy never ceases. His compassions fail not; they are new every morning. If you’re brooding over a failure today, place it in Christ’s hands. He can turn it for good.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

 

 

If you don’t like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree.

I am grateful for my devotion this morning about change. I would share it, but I forgot my book at home.  But it was based on 2 Corinthians 3:18…and such a good message about how we should always be in the process of change, never satisfied to remain as we are.

I am grateful that my Mom taught me to clean house.

I love Staples Advantage. I just got a free flash drive, because they sent the wrong one in our order. When I spoke with my account rep, he told me to keep it and he would have the correct item delivered today.  I am grateful for Staples, and for Pernelius, my account rep. What a great name.

I am grateful for my counselor and her soft-spoken wisdom that hits the bullseye.

I am grateful for chips and salsa.

Today is my brother’s birthday. I am grateful for Ron. I always wanted to be just like him when I grew up. He was always the smartest person I knew, and after speaking with him, a person feels more intelligent, like you’ve just been to school. He is a great example of a servant, spending years in Africa with MCC, both he and Pam living on next-to-nothing and being happy about it, and pastoring churches here in the US — such a true example of the word “pastor.” Their family is their congregation, and they take such good care. Ron is a caretaker, not only of his congregation, but of the earth, and of his community.  He and Pam are responsible for a community food bank that has grown and is such a big part of their lives now, in addition to their many responsibilities at their church. Memories of Ron include the day he drove home in his “new” car, a Datsun 240Z. I was so impressed – my brother had a sports car; riding on the train to Dodge City in the night, all by myself, to spend a week with Ron and Pam in Fowler; and getting letters on that crinkly airmail paper all the way from Africa. We’d save those letters and collect the cool stamps. I’ve never known a man who wrote by hand all of his letters, LONG letters, but Ron always has. It’s a lost art.  Happy birthday, Ronald Jay. You deserve God’s blessings, over and over and over again.

 

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. – John Wooden

 

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I am grateful for the dogs that have been a part of my life over the years. Thanks for sending the picture to me, Lisa.

I am grateful for my boss today. Every day, but especially today.

Thinking about my boss… My bosses love dogs. Love dogs so much they had to breed one of their Samoyeds. Love dogs so much they had to keep one of the puppies. It is daily drama, this puppy and the raising of it. I am grateful that we do not have a puppy.

I am grateful for a desk calendar that Michelle gave to me.

I am grateful for an email from Karissa. A long-awaited wonderful answer to my prayer.

I am grateful for Avis. Last night, she was wearing a KU t-shirt during Bingo, and of course, we had to give her a hard time, since K State was playing. She left in a big hurry as soon as blackout was done. And when we were almost to the door, ready to leave, she came speed-walking down the hall to show us why she had left so suddenly:

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Gotta love Avis.

I am grateful for the Cheezits that Rob and Shirley sent to me – they are a wonderful lunch today.

I am grateful that God can use all of my failures.

I am grateful that God doesn’t show me the whole trip, just one little step at a time. He doesn’t show me the whole picture, just one pixel at a time. He doesn’t serve the entire meal, just one course at a time. Makes life much more interesting, and it allows me to grow a little every day.

I am grateful that it was too cold to walk this morning.

I am grateful for the smell of walnut wood.

And I am grateful for the messages from two of my devotions this morning:

When we experience failure – or any kind of affliction – we focus on what is seen; we focus on the moment. But God is at work in us doing the unseen – shaping our character into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). Only the Christian can be confident that God is going to use failure for a deep purpose in his life.

If you regret a failure in your life, thank God for the unseen work He is doing in you today.

Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that. Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go.

I am grateful for anti-itch creme. No, I’m not. It doesn’t work. I’m grateful for Benadryl.

My devotion this morning:

Rest in my Presence, allowing Me to take charge of this day. Do not bolt into the day like a racehorse suddenly released. Instead, walk purposefully with Me, letting Me direct your course one step at a time. Thank Me for each blessing along the way; this brings joy to both you and Me. A grateful heart protects you from negative thinking. Thankfulness enables you to see the abundance I shower upon you daily. Your prayers and petitions are winged into heaven’s throne room when they are permeated with thanksgiving. In everything give thanks, for this is My will for you.

I am grateful for pretty little toes that should put a smile on everyone’s face.

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I am grateful that The Voice and The Blacklist are back on – the only “shows” I make a point to watch these days.

I am grateful that tonight is Bingo.

I am grateful that I can begin praying for my “child” that will soon be mine for whom to advocate in the Johnson County court system.

I am grateful for a roaring fire.

I am grateful for a happy boss after a KU win, even if he is a little obnoxious and sends me KU propaganda emails.

I am grateful for an email from Danny.

I am grateful that God gives talent out so freely. This guy can SING. My favorite so far:

TJ Wilkins – Bennie and the Jets

And I am grateful for very witty judges who make the show so much fun to watch.

I am grateful for a pillow to sleep on every night.

I am grateful that my shoes do not have holes in them.

I am grateful that the grocery store is open when I need or want something.

I am grateful for people who do their jobs well and really know how to serve and treat their customers.

Which makes me grateful for people who treat those in the service industries with much respect.

And I am grateful for memories of singing in the car with Anissa.

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Scenario: You have fifteen minutes to fill your “suitcase” with everything you want to keep. What would you pack?

 

I am grateful a busy Sunday: for our church service and choir rehearsal that followed, for Fabien who makes me laugh every Sunday during his piano lesson, for clean laundry and a clean kitchen floor, for time to take in a movie yesterday afternoon, for a “new” pickup for a guy who needed a work truck and for memories made in that “new” pickup, for a waitress who is one of the best I’ve ever seen who makes our experience(s) so very enjoyable, for a young lady named Karina from the grocery store who will very possibly become a new friend soon, for a brisk walk, for a delicious steak and salad to end the day yesterday, and for the fact that I was able to finish my homework in the silence of the night.

I am grateful for all of those squirrels that have taken over the back yard, because I’m pretty sure we now have a regular owl visitor now because of them. What a beautiful sound as we walk…

I am grateful to have been able to borrow Katherine’s bird book this past week so that I could identify what I’m pretty sure is not a wren but a brown creeper.

 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Vangie’s baby shower on Saturday and see Roman and Nancy and Leona, too. It was so good to hug those two kids again and catch up on their busy and soon-to-be busier lives. I am so proud of them…

I am grateful for the news Dad received about his car. Someone ran into the back end during the big snow but didn’t let him know it. He got it repaired this last week but of course, had to pay that fairly expensive bill. All the while, he was sarcastically telling people that he was sure the person was just busy and would stop by and share their insurance information soon. His car was all repaired on Friday evening, and on Saturday, he got a letter in the mail from the City of Hutchinson, apologizing for their snow plow’s damage to his vehicle and offering to take care of the repairs. Thank you, God.

I am grateful for the two hours I was able to spend in Michelle’s chair on Saturday morning.

I am grateful for another CASA training class today. One more training class before graduation and my first case. Today, we had to handle a mock SIJS case, Angela. I felt so smart.

And I am grateful for a suitcase. This is what most children use for a suitcase when removed from their home and subsequent foster homes. (I feel a new idea forming for ministry):

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

 

 

I am grateful for John Denver’s sweet song:

Sunshine on My Shoulders

I am grateful for the feeling of warm sunshine on a cold morning.

I am grateful for pretty Easter dresses for little girls.

 

  

I am grateful for emails from Mandrae and Katrina.

I am grateful that as far as I know, my grandchildren are safe.

 

I am grateful that nothing can separate me from the love of God.

 

I am grateful that my aunt and uncle are now in a nice assisted living facility and my aunt has immediate help at the push of a button.

And I am grateful for Max and the beautiful family he and June raised. He is a handsome 94 today, and still sharp as a tack, living on his own and making us all laugh with his wit and charm. Happy birthday, Max.

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A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, but is miles ahead in results.

 

I am grateful for the smell of rain. Rain puddles are a gift from God.

 

I am grateful for the sound of thunder.

I am grateful for the sound of sizzling fajitas. I remember sitting in restaurants watching the next table receive their hot plates of sizzling fajitas, and we could never have it – too expensive. Now, to share a plate, especially on Fajita Wednesdays, is such a treat.

I am grateful that I am able to fall asleep and stay asleep.

I am grateful for sore legs that remind me I am exercising again.

I am grateful for my new counselor group.

I am grateful for lots of work to be done at the office.

I am grateful for lessons and activities on the dangers of stereotyping in my CASA training.

I am grateful for the anticipation I am feeling about seeing my Dad, Michelle, Roman and Vangie this weekend.

I am grateful that I have enough money in my account to get some long overdue shopping done tonight.

I am grateful that Sam will be able to spend the day with Max tomorrow for his 94th birthday.

I am grateful for Delores’ reminder that God sees the big picture, the finished tapestry, even though we only have the limited view, the side with all the threads and ugliness. Every stitch, every step, even though difficult, is part of the design of our finished product. Thank you, Delores. What a great story and lesson for me – you must be so proud of that grandson.

And I am grateful for “pats on the back” from my bosses and co-workers.  My goal is to give some today. Everyone needs an “Attaboy!” at least a couple of times a week.

A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit! – Sarah Jessica Parker

 

I am grateful for squirrels, but very much beginning to feel like this guy:

Attack of the squirrels

or this couple:

War of the Squirrels

Mom and Nadine would love our back yard right now.

 

I am grateful for another new Bingo player, Helen. Last night was so much fun. Jim played the whole time, Avis made me laugh when she talked about someone being grumpy, Lucy couldn’t wait to tell me she has a new great grandson named Drew, Barb offered to do any mending that Sam and I might have, and Katherine let me borrow her bird book so I can figure out who is coming to visit when the squirrels are otherwise occupied, and then she took me to her apartment to show me pictures of her 90th birthday last year, made by the son she wanted to introduce me to before she knew about Sam! And there was no dilly-dallying…the KU game was most important, so the room cleared pretty quickly. (I just wanted to use the word dilly-dally. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have mentioned that team.)

I am grateful for the sound of an owl in the darkness of the morning as we walk.

I am grateful for my training yesterday – all about poverty and cultural diversity. My eyes are being pried open to another world that is reality for so many in our city, and I haven’t even stepped into that world yet, but when I do, I want to be ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I am grateful that I don’t have to eat ripe bananas but know how to use them in bread. I may not use curdled milk, okay, not CURDLED curdled, just bad-smelling milk, in pancakes like my Mom used to do, but she taught me to freeze those nasty bananas and they make excellent banana bread.

I am grateful for paved streets.

I am grateful for warmer weather and the anticipation of some rain tonight.

And I am grateful that our pastor posted this animated video and explanation of our new church sanctuary:

Attached is the animated video of our proposed new sanctuary and narthex. Our current sanctuary becomes our fellowship hall, the mezzanine of it becomes a 2 story adult education wing, and the “back of house” becomes our kitchen and dedicated Matthew’s Ministry space. 

What our church sanctuary will look like when completed.

Regarding the proposed sanctuary: The seven roof panels represent the seven days of creation and the seven days of Holy Week. The base of the building is native Kansas limestone, a reminder that God is our rock (Psalm 18:1-2) and we are living stones (I Peter 2:4-5). The stained glass window you see in the video is a placeholder – the window is yet to be designed. At its center will be the resurrected Christ. The room seats 3,500 but will feel 30% smaller than our current sanctuary. 5 windows, six feet wide and 35 feet high, located between the seven roof panels, allow natural daylight into the room. 

The garden is the motif of the room. The Bible begins in a garden (Eden) where Paradise is lost and ends in a garden (Revelation’s paradise) where Paradise has been restored. In between, in John’s gospel, we find Jesus crucified in a garden (John 19:41), buried and resurrected in a garden – John’s way of saying that Christ came to restore paradise through his redemptive work. These three gardens will be captured in the stained glass. Live trees will grow in the chancel. The interior of the roof panels may appear as tree branches. The aim is that as people enter the sanctuary they enter a garden, and in so doing, they enter and become a part of the biblical story. When worshipers leave they go as Christ’s instruments to continue his work of healing and restoring the world.

 

I will be a magnet today and collect reasons to be grateful.

 

I am grateful for this excerpt from the book I am reading, “You’ll Get Through This” by Max Lucado. The chapter is titled, “a splash of gratitude with that attitude, please”:

      I was flying home from the Midwest when a snowstorm delayed my arrival in Dallas. I raced to the gate in hopes of catching the final flight of the night in San Antonio. The airport was in a state of contained turmoil, everyone dashing to a gate. The airlines had already loaded extra passengers on my plane. With all the charm I could muster, I asked the attendant, “Are any seats left?”

She looked at her computer screen. “No,” she replied, “I’m afraid…”

I just knew how she was going to finish the sentence: “I’m afraid you’ll have to spend the night here.” “I’m afraid you’ll need to find a hotel.” “I’m afraid you’ll have to catch the 6:00 a.m. flight to San Antonio.”

But she said none of these. Instead, she looked up and smiled. “I’m afraid there are no more seats in coach. We are going to have to bump you up to first class. Do you mind if we do that?”

“Do you mind if I kiss you?” So I boarded the plane and nestled down in the wide seat with the extra legroom.

Color me thankful.

Not every passenger was as appreciative as I was. A fellow across the aisle from me was angry because he had only one pillow. With the attendants scrambling to lock doors and prepare for the delayed departure, he was complaining about insufficient service. “I paid extra to fly first class. I am accustomed to better attention. I want another pillow!”

On the other side of the aisle, yours truly smiled like a guy who had won the lottery without buying a ticket. One passenger grumbled; the other was grateful. The difference? The crank paid his way into first class. My seat was a gift.

If you feel the world owes you something, brace yourself for a life of sour hours. You’ll never get reimbursed. The sky will never be blue enough; the steak won’t be cooked enough; the universe won’t be good enough to deserve a human being like you. You’ll snap and snarl your way to an early grave. “A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks that he gets as much as he deserves…”

The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. THANK YOU, GOD. A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. THANK YOU, GOD. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power. THANK YOU, GOD.

For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. For the men who didn’t cheat on their wives, and the wives who didn’t turn from their men, and the kids who, in spite of unspeakable pressure to dishonor their parents, decided not to do so. THANK YOU, LORD.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover His heart. To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.

 

I am grateful for this book.

I am grateful for the fat little wren that is so enjoyable to watch on the patio.

I am grateful for another opportunity today to learn how to be a CASA.

I am grateful for early morning walks that allow me to get moving and arrive at work extra early.

I am grateful for my devotion this morning that reminded me of this hymn:

O To Be Like Thee

And I am grateful for these three words: I love you.

I love the smell of the soap that comes through the vents at a carwash. It’s pleasing to the nose.

 

And I love the sound of those furry/rubbery/microfibery spinning/hanging cleaner things in a carwash when they go down the side and over the top of the vehicle. It’s pleasing to the ears.

 

Oh, and carwashes that use the rainbow colored foamy soap. It’s pleasing to the eyes.

 

I am grateful for an early morning walk in the darkness – a new beginning to shedding winter pounds. 

I am grateful for free time last week to go to a middle school choir concert. They ended their concert with this song, surrounding the audience, and I wish we could hear it again, it was SO GOOD! This isn’t Abbie and Tara’s choir, but they were BETTER, although this choir is pretty good:

Bonse Aba 
(translated: “All who sing have the right to be called the children of God.”)

 

I am grateful to be included in important conference calls.

I am grateful for TWO letters from Delores this weekend!

I am grateful for another opportunity to serve this evening – taking after my Mom and my brother, donating platelets. I am grateful that Sam answered my phone and grateful that the lady from Community Blood Bank was pushy, because I would have ignored the call otherwise.

I am grateful for pictures of Karissa and family that Aunt Alda/Aunt Patsy sent to us this weekend, and grateful for a beautiful letter that was included.

I am grateful for a clean car – thank you, Sam.

I am grateful for melting snow…FINALLY!

I am grateful for Sam’s Club samples and nice employees who hand them out.

I am grateful that my homework is nearly done.

I am grateful that a young family sat a few rows in front of us yesterday, so that I could enjoy watching the little brother and sister who reminded me of Andrae and Annistan.

I am grateful for a Freddy’s chocolate cone yesterday after choir. If only it was accompanied by a large order of fries…

 

I am grateful that our pastor and church take such care and consideration regarding every aspect of building the permanent sanctuary – every part of it will have meaning and symbolism and has been covered in prayer – no stone unturned. It’s good to have a small part of building something historic that will be a huge impact for generations to come.

I am grateful that Lisa is coming to have lunch with me today!

I am grateful for a new bird feeder pole to keep six squirrels from eating every last seed, and grateful for entertainment of the squirrel circus that we watched this morning as they realized their feast had vanished.

I am grateful to have been invited to Zak’s Youth for Christ banquet.

I am grateful for Delmonte Fruit Naturals red grapefruit.

 

And I am grateful that my grandchildren have wonderful parents and do not know the reality of so many children in the United States, being interviewed by caseworkers and then removed from the only home they know to live with strangers in a foster home. I dreamed all night of this scenario after having read what these little ones feel and face when taken from their home. I am grateful for my daughters and sons-in-law who love their children dearly and take such good care of them.