Selfish vs. selfless. Time to reflect and re-adjust.

 

I am so grateful for a long phone call with Karissa last night, so grateful that she is taking care of herself, that she can laugh at the absurdities of raising little ones, and that she calls her Mom just to talk.

I am grateful for an email from Kristi, another new connection resulting from the challenge our pastor gave to us!

I am grateful I don’t have the loudest sneeze.

I am grateful to have been reminded of my selfishness this morning. It is a good thing when Sam gives me a little kick in the pants to bring me out of my hole, and then it’s an even better thing when a co-worker unintentionally backs him up. I think it is not a coincidence and I am fairly certain that God directed them both to say what they said in order to hit the point home. I need to intentionally be self-less, not self-ish.

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I am grateful for the SWEETEST email from Geri. I AM CALLING YOU DURING THIS TRIP, Geri. I have wanted to call so many times, but I keep forgetting to put your number in my phone! Doing it right…now.

I am grateful for a pancake on the porch this morning.

I am grateful for this video promo that makes me grateful and anxious for the new sermon series.

W*RK

I am grateful for Ken, who offered to give us a ride today, and for Rachel, who IS going to give us a ride today.

I am grateful for our neighbor who will help Sam out on Monday while we are gone. Good neighbors shouldn’t hide behind closed doors. This summer, I need to work on being a good neighbor.

I am grateful for Mary, who shared this very sweet, short video with me that made me say, “Awwwww!” because she knew it would make me say “Awwww!” It’s about 30 seconds or so, but watch it to the end to see why I said, “Awwww!”

Sea lion and the little girl

 

I am grateful for Joyce, who will help me out on Monday and take my paycheck to the bank.

And I am grateful for this devotion that began my day. Thank you, Lord.

Time with Me cannot be rushed. When you are in a hurry, your mind flitters back and forth between Me and the tasks ahead of you. Push back the demands pressing in on you; create a safe space around you, a haven in which you can rest with Me. I also desire this time of focused attention and I use it to bless you, strengthening and equipping you for the day ahead. Thus, spending time with Me is a wise investment.

Bring Me the sacrifice of your precious time. This creates sacred space around you – space permeated with My Presence and My Peace.

I am grateful that I feel sick to my stomach.

 

 

I am grateful for one more evening to get ready for the choir trip.

I am grateful for the sounds of happy birds in the early morning, gravel crunching underfoot, and of my boss eating pork rinds in the next office.

I am grateful for the feeling of the stylist combing/brushing my hair.

I am grateful for an absence of that leg cramp today.

I am grateful for the memory of the taste of American Beauty Chicken Dumplets.

I am grateful for this ill feeling after reading the details of my child’s case. It makes me want to run FROM, which is exactly why I need to run TOWARDS. Too many people in her life have abandoned her, and she needs a cheerleader and one who has learned to listen, not yell. 

 

I am grateful for the privilege of praying for Kristy, Lyndy, Rick & Mark, Russ, and Tom.

I am grateful for a ceiling fan to sleep under.

I am grateful for one of my devotions today – well, all of them, but particularly this one:

 I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Emmanuel (God with you); My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and darkest trials, can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me. Others feel closer to Me when their lives are filled with good things. They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the door to My Presence.

I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation.

And I am grateful for a Chick-Fil-A shake. Thank you, Collins family.

I can learn a lot from someone who has the right attitude.

 

I just received this email from a co-worker. Each sentence is a wealth of wisdom. So, this is an addendum to my grateful for today. 

Subject:  I’ve learned I get depressed when a candidate turns us down…but this wise woman makes me rethink my mood today. – Joyce, one of my co-workers

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

 

Today, I am grateful for a rich and diverse circle of influence in my life. In the past year or so, several people have made such a connection in my life that have changed my outlook, my direction of thinking, my view of this life and the world in which I live. Here are a few who are on my mind this morning: 

  • Rick Johnson, a United Methodist pastor and new friend in Kentucky with whom we’ve connected through email because of a simple challenge from our pastor to write a note of encouragement. He took the time to respond, and a friendship has begun.
  • A man I do not know but who challenges me to think outside my box through his blog, a blog that a former student, Cindy Balding Glover, introduced to me through Facebook.  Here is his latest:

I’m Not Sad That Maya Angelou Died

  • 98-year-old Louene, one of my Bingo friends, and soon to turn 99, who shared with me last night a glimpse into her loneliness and her sadness and disappointment with her two grandchildren who live less than 30 minutes away but never come to visit her and rarely if ever, call. She is an avid KU basketball and Royals baseball fan, loves to play Bingo, is mentally more sharp than I, and despite having lost her only child, a daughter, to illness four years ago, is happy and content. That visit last night taught me a lot… Take the time, MAKE the time, because life is short.

 

  • My trainers at CASA, my experience with CASA as a new advocate before this challenge ever begins, and the fact that there are opportunities all around me to reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who have experienced such internal and external hurt and pain. My child will be a teenage girl. I now know her name. I know the basics of her story and her abandonment. I am grateful that I have a Savior who is preparing my heart to walk beside her and with her as she learns how to face a new life as an adult. I am grateful that I have a passionate supervisor who will guide me as I serve this young woman and the CASA organization. I am grateful for examples that somehow surface in the most unusual places that solidify my decision to become a CASA, like this one last night – the TV was on less than 15 minutes as I folded laundry, but this is what I happened to watch:

Jaycob Curlee

 

I am grateful for an extra treat this morning of seeing a hummingbird. First time we’ve seen one at the house. Time to figure out Mom’s red juice recipe.

And I am grateful for a wreath hanger that I finally found, so that I could hang my Mother’s Day wreath that Karissa made for me. The bow at the top represents her because it is her favorite “pattern,” and the giraffe patterned bow at the bottom represents Katrina, because she collected the animal when she was a little girl, and we’ve always thought of Katrina as the “giraffe collector.” I love that my wreath is now visible for the whole neighborhood to admire.

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I’m keeping my eyes turned in the right direction.

 

I am grateful for a beautiful weekend in Texas with my daughter and her family.

I am grateful for Memorial Day, remembering last year of walking through the cemetery in Haviland with my Dad and my brother and sharing memories while placing flowers at each grave. I missed the experience this year, but Dad was able to go and carry on the tradition and spend some time…

I am grateful for time spent singing in the van with Anissa, Andrae, and Annistan: “Skinnamarink-y-dink-y-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, I love you! I love you in the morning, and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, underneath the moon…”

“Six little ducks that I once knew, fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones, too, but the one little duck with the feather on his back, he led the others with a quack quack quack!” 

“This old man, he played one, he played knick knack on his thumb, with a knick knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone, this old man came rolling home.” 

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray, you’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.”

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I am grateful for these six words spoken from a sad little face, “I don’t want you to leave.”

I am grateful for the warmth and comfort I feel in Dad’s apartment.

I am grateful for “new truck smell,” and grateful that Sam will smell it every day now.

I am grateful for time spent cracking eggs with Anissa and slicing cheese with Andrae for our breakfast cheesy scrambled eggs. Not quite “baking cookies” I expected to do with them this past weekend, but it was time spent in the kitchen, so it’ll do just fine.

I am grateful that Ron and Pam put this quote in their bulletin, that it meant something to Dad, and that he shared it with me:

 

God’s love still stands when all else has fallen. In my life, everything had fallen. Every day I stood on roll call in a concentration camp where 96,000 women had died. In front of us stood a guard who enjoyed demonstrating his cruelty. I could hardly bear to see and hear what happened around us. But then a skylark started to sing, and when I looked up to see the bird and saw the endless sky, I remembered Psalm 103: “As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is God’s mercy and love toward them that fear Him.” I awakened to the reality that God’s love still stood. God sent that skylark every day during roll call to keep my eyes turned in the right direction. – Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

 

I am grateful for pony tail curls and bows and grateful that Anissa and Annistan have a Daddy who does a great job of making them look pretty for church.

I am grateful for training wheels and the feelings I had of seeing two little precious children riding their bikes down the sidewalk on Saturday morning.

I am grateful for the smell of baby lotion on a chunky beautiful baby Anjalie after her bath.

I am grateful that there is not a “clean” page in my purse-sized notebook – it’s full of hearts and stars and pictures of Mommy and Daddy and doggies and kitties and flowers and my name and Mommy’s name and Daddy’s name and bumblebees and butterflies and snakes and houses and suns and clouds and and and…

I am grateful for laughter in the kitchen with Mandrae and Karissa as they told us their horseback riding story.

I am grateful for a little girl who quietly said, “I love you, Ama,” when the light was turned off for the night.

I am grateful that we took the time to sit on the porch in the quiet of this morning to enjoy the cool air and listen to the birds and reflect on the weekend.

I am grateful that my Dad is still climbing nine flights of stairs every day and he no longer needs to stop to catch his breath at the 6th floor.

Finally, we’re no longer expecting.  What a beautiful sound. It has been a long wait, but the big day arrived this weekend, and now the nursery is full and Mama is busy busy busy. Robin’s babies are here, and I am grateful for the sounds of very hungry little ones.

 

 

 

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation and the only explanation I can find…

 

I am grateful for mornings after a rain.

I am grateful for the success we have had with Advocare and for the way it has changed our eating habits and lifestyle in order to shed the extra pounds and become healthier in the process. I am grateful that Mandrae and Karissa shared their success with me and encouraged me to try it.

I am grateful for Zak and Katrina, because they introduced me to Bob Goff’s “Love Does;” for Aunt Patsy and Mark, because they introduced me to John Fischer’s “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me);” for Kathy, because she introduced me to “TrueFaced: Trust God and Others with Who You Really Are;” for Ron, because he sent me M.Scott Peck’s book, “The Road Less Traveled;” and Mardel, because it was there that I found the book “Divorce & Remarriage: A Redemptive Theology” by Rubal Shelly. I am grateful for these books that have been instrumental in my healing, along with the Word of God and my daily devotions.

 

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I am grateful for cinnamon and sugar, mixed together.

I am grateful for a dry cleaning company that picks up and delivers.

I am grateful for the picture of the sunrise on the water that Dwight sent this morning.

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I am grateful for memories of a beautiful Wednesday wedding, seven years ago, in North Richland Hills, Texas. 

Happy Anniversary

I am grateful for bills paid.

I am grateful for my church.

I am grateful for families who want to make a positive difference in the life of a child who has been rejected or neglected or abused.

 

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can cut like a knife.

 

I am grateful for moments that I catch myself before allowing my tongue to be a weapon.

I am grateful for another opportunity this weekend to see my Texas grandchildren – three weeks in a row. It will be difficult to say goodbye this time, because I do not know when I will see them again…

I am grateful for a “new” pair of jeans from a co-worker, and grateful that I am struggling to keep them pulled up. 

 

Hurting someone can be as easy as throwing a stone in the sea. But do you have any idea how deep that stone can go?

 

I am grateful for parents and grandparents who teach their children good manners and who gently train them when they exhibit bad manners.

I am grateful for fast Internet.

I am grateful for the presence and conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

And I am grateful for the music of The Carpenters.

 

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I will claim the message of the rainbow. I am forever His child.

 

I am grateful for men who tuck their shirts in.

I am grateful for the crinkling sound of a potato chip bag – it was so pleasant this morning coming from my boss’s office. Almost like eating those wonderfully delicious salty crispy potato gifts…

I am grateful that I am almost 50 and don’t want to go back in time. I love being a little older and seeing how much I have changed in 20+ years. My parents had to have shook their heads in disbelief at some of the things I said and did back then.

 

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

 

I am grateful for the tears that flowed last night when I got home from class. I wanted to share my proud moment with Mom and couldn’t. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…oh, if I could just hear her voice again.

I am grateful for completion of my CASA training and certification.

I am grateful for our leader Abby and the training she facilitated. Her passion and enthusiasm were just what I needed to finish what I started.

I am grateful for fun memories of watching episodes of “Bewitched.” I loved that show as a little girl. I wanted to grow up to look like Elizabeth Montgomery or my other favorite, Barbara Eden.

     

I was reminded of “Bewitched” last night when we talked about how if only we could stop time and figure out the right things to say and do for our CASA kids before the world moved on and they turned 18 and aged out of the system.

 

The nose wiggle that would make life interesting.

So strange how God just lays out coincidences. I got home last night after completing my training, had a little cry all by myself, and then turned on the tv. The last two minutes of a Law and Order episode was on, and the scene was a judge making a TPR (termination of parental rights) ruling for a small child and asking the detective who apparently had been on the case if she would consider becoming the foster parent for the child. It was such a sweet, tender ending to a show I didn’t watch, but it was so fitting that I happened to see that moment, a moment I will soon experience in court. And then, when I read my church devotions this morning, this was the added insight:

By the time our son came to live with us at the age of 10, he had already seen the inside of many courtrooms. Having spent half of his life in the foster system, to him courtrooms were where new moms and dads were assigned. Judges were the people who asked him odd questions and eventually decided that he couldn’t see his biological parents again. Hearings were painful reminders of the reality of the situation.

So when we adopted our son, I wanted so badly for him to realize that this trip to the courtroom was unlike all of the previous ones. So beyond the legal aspects, we made the decision to celebrate this unifying of our family in a covenant ceremony. The night of the adoption, we gathered in front of a small group of friends at the church. Together, my husband and I made these promises to our son:

We are so happy that you are our son
We promise to do our best to be good parents
We will keep you safe and protect you
We will be here to listen to you
We will be here to guide you when life is hard or confusing
We will cheer you on and celebrate your victories
We will learn from the love that God has for His children, and we will do our best to love you that same way.

We had this ceremony so that he would know that this was new. This was special. This was forever…

I LOVE THIS!

…I imagine that as Christians reading the story of the flood, we’re meant to have a similar understanding through the message of the rainbow. The rainbow is a promise – a message. The rainbow says, “There may be times of danger and uncertainty, but I am with you.” It says, “I have not forgotten you, nor will I forsake you.” The rainbow is our opportunity to hear God whisper, “You have to know that our relationship is special – it’s different. You are forever my child.”

As an adoptive mom, one of my greatest desires is for my son to understand the fullness of our relationship and my love for him. If I have this deep yearning within my heart, I can only imagine how much greater this must be for the One who adopts us into His eternal family. No matter the weather outside, we’re meant to claim the message of the rainbow as our own. To do anything less means that we’re not fully grasping what God so desperately wants to say to us – that we are, and will forever be, His. – Janelle Gregory

What a perfect message that was for me today, and so timely.

 

When asked for some final thoughts at the end of class last night, a fellow classmate said that he has been a CASA for three years now, and there are times when he has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, if he’s doing it right, or what to do next. But there’s one thing he DOES know, and it’s why he is an advocate:  “I’ll be the one adult in my ‘child’s’ life who is consistently there, listens, and who gives a damn about them.” So in closing, I am grateful for Bill and his final thoughts that put it all into perspective for me.

I am so grateful for the many times God has shown me the mercy of not giving me what I want. – Steve Maraboli

 

Very random thoughts today:

I am grateful for privacy and for people who respect it.

I am grateful that my Mom taught me to wash trash cans with soapy water so they don’t smell bad.

I am grateful for onion rings and miss sharing an order with Mom.

I am grateful for a sticky notecard this morning. As I sat at the table to write some notecards to send, the first one stuck to the table, and then I realized that it was because of a small smear of pancake syrup from breakfast on Monday morning with those beautiful grandchildren.  That is something to definitely be grateful about.

I am grateful for two young girls who have now decided that it is a good thing to volunteer at an assisted living facility, so they took over Bingo last night, leaving me the freedom to sit at a table with Avis and Beulah and participate.

I am grateful for a bouquet of orange roses to enjoy at the breakfast table.

 

I am grateful for an email from Charlie and Patsy.

I am grateful that tonight is my last night of class.

 

It is the purest sign that we love someone if we choose to spend time idly in their presence when we could be doing something more constructive. – S. Cassidy

 

I am grateful that my Mom and Dad taught me that girls do not look or sound very pretty when they use bad language.  It’s true, in my opinion. I witness this on a daily basis, and it isn’t beautiful at all.

I am grateful that I like to be clean and smell good, so I am grateful for soap and shampoo and facial cleanser and q-tips and towels that don’t smell bad and my toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash and laundry detergent and dryer sheets…and deodorant.

I am grateful for antibacterial wipes. I’m on a clean kick today, I guess.

I am grateful for the willpower to package all of the peanut butter oatmeal cookies for Max without snitching even one of them for myself.

I am grateful for the hymn, “O to be like Thee,” one of my many prayers for today:

Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer, 
This is my constant longing and prayer; 
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, 
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. 

Refrain: 
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee, 
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; 
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; 
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. 

Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion, 
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, 
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, 
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find. 

Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit, 
Holy and harmless, patient and brave; 
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, 
Willing to suffer, others to save. 

Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading, 
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love, 
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, 
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Even though it may seem like I share everything here, I am grateful that I have learned to remain private about most things in my life and have learned the value of discretion.

Face your problems instead of facebooking them.

Get out of the ark.

 

I am grateful that God didn’t give up on me, that He didn’t decide that because I wasn’t perfect I should be thrown out, that He understood my hurt and pain, that when others couldn’t or didn’t forgive, He did. I am grateful that He cared not only about their story, their hurt, and their pain, but He also cared about MY story, MY hurt, MY pain. That I mattered, too. I am grateful that He placed people in my life to be Jesus to me, to hold my hand through the flood. I am grateful for second chances, for my Jesus who chooses to associate with sinners, for new beginnings, for beauty from ashes, for grace to forgive and let go of my past, and for the realization that things won’t be the same and grateful for hope that they can and will be better.

I am grateful for a poignant message on Sunday with the reminder that God had to tell Noah to “get out of the ark” when Noah and family found themselves landing on Mount Ararat in a new place that was unfamiliar and possibly scary. Sometimes, even though that miserable place feels comfortable and safe, because it is familiar and what we know, we need that push to “get out of the ark” and take that risk, because God is right here with us, and even in the “in-between” times when we are on the water and do not hear His voice or see where He is leading, He is working on our behalf, and He is preparing the way for our next adventure. Our job is to trust and get out of the boat.

 

 

I am grateful to have had the privilege of sitting in my church with my daughter and son-in-law seated next to us. What an extra special blessing that was on Sunday to experience while this hymn was sung:

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

I am grateful to have been scolded by my boss this morning. I needed that figurative slap on the wrist and his insightful wisdom.

Which also reminds me that I am so grateful for simple wisdom from my Dad last night, when he said, “That’s all that was needed at this point in time.”

I am grateful that I only have one more class before I will be introduced to my CASA kid. It’s almost time…

I am grateful for good manners from the smallest of children. Andrae is only two years old, but he was the sweetest little guy when he quietly told Sam on Saturday evening, “You have a nice house.” And he and Anissa never had to be reminded to say “Thank you.” They have been taught well.

I am grateful for the genuine love of a little girl – for the feel of her hand in mine, for the sweet words heard over and over again, “I want you to sit by ME, Ama.”

I am grateful for leftovers that tasted so wonderful when I got home from class last night. Thank you for having dinner ready, Sam. And thank you for time spent without the distraction of the TV so that we could just visit while eating a late meal together.

I am grateful for a clean car – it feels so good when the car is clean on the inside and outside.

I am grateful to know the power of a sincere and heartfelt “thank you,” as well as the sting of insincerity and ingratitude, and I am grateful that my parents taught me how powerful those words can be.

I am grateful the kids had a safe trip home and Dwight and family made it safely to Mexico.

I am grateful for a quiet evening to have s’mores on the patio with Mandrae, Karissa, and the grandchildren.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make breakfast for the kids as three little faces watched me and kept me company while they sat around the island in the kitchen.

I am grateful for Lisa and wish she were going to be on the choir trip this year.

I am grateful for small handprints on the glasstop tables and the patio door. Sorry, Windex. You won’t be needed while this Ama hangs on to the memories.

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I am grateful for a kids menu from Jack Stack that is colored from corner to corner in green and orange, complete with these instructions from Anissa: “Hang this on your ‘frigerator, Ama!”

I am grateful for Sam who has such a big heart and was so excited to have little ones come and visit that he went out and bought a tree swing, mowed the yard and had it looking beautiful, and then worked so hard to get the swing hung in the extremely tall tree before they all arrived on Saturday afternoon.

 

I am grateful for sweet little phrases that come from the mouths of children:  “Ama, I wanna swing in circles, not stripes!” (Picture Anissa sitting in the swing that hangs in the tree from a single rope, easily adaptable for swinging in big circles or the common back-and-forth motion, now known as “stripes.”)  Or Andrae’s eyes focused, forehead scrunched, just after having successfully hit the ball with the bright blue plastic bat, and out of his silly mouth, he said, “Good shot!” or “Nice pitch!”  or, when he struck out, “Bad pitch!”

I am grateful that my Texas grandchildren like to sing.

And I am grateful for giggles in the darkness of the evening, as Annistan struggled to wind down for the bedtime story and Anjalie decided it was time to play and treat Ama to that priceless sound of a baby’s laughter.