It’s endearing when SOME people use incorrect words – but then there are those who DRIVE ME CRAY CRAY.

 

And I promise to never say “cray cray” again…

 

I am grateful for the pleasure of eating the salty crumbs from the bottom of a Cheezits box.

I am grateful for the simple but complex beauty of a Spirograph creation and anxiously await one from Oregon.

 

I am grateful for a powerful message yesterday at church, and I am so grateful for my pastor’s gift of teaching.

I am grateful that Karissa called.

I am grateful for the experience of sitting poolside in the evening, being able to cool off in the steamy air while watching the bats in the backyard.

I am grateful for homemade chicken tacos and rice during 60 Minutes.

I am grateful for the beauty of a curl at the top of an ice cream cone.

I am grateful for the glorious smell after rain, although I have no idea what makes the world smell like it does after the rain.

 

I am grateful for a friendly little guy talking college world series to Sam in line at the restaurant.

I am grateful for this last day of June to pray for “our pastors” in Kentucky and Minnesota and grateful that they have become a daily fixture in my prayer time.

I am grateful for a “putz” day. Not a wasted day at all when spent with someone you love.

And I am grateful that somewhere in my limited educational experience, I learned how to use the word “went” correctly, and I can honestly say that I never say, “have went.”

Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. – Francis Chan

 

I am grateful for two devotions this morning that seem to fit perfectly with each other, lessons intended just for me. The first one, from the David Jeremiah devotion book my Dad gave to me:

In Matthew 25, Jesus warned of a day when He will return to judge the nations. He will separate them as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He will say to the former, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…” To the others He will say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The former group is saved by grace through faith. Out of their salvation flows their good works – they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, care for the imprisoned, and minister to “the least of these.” We aren’t saved on the basis of those deeds, for no amount of good works can save us. We engage in them because we have been saved, and our kindness is evidence of the grace of Christ in our hearts.

Our days should be filled with blessing those around us, living in expectation of the day when we hear the words of Christ calling us to “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

 

And the second one was from church, and it coincides perfectly:

 

Colossians 1:3-10

3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. 5 You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, 6 which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, who is the fellow slave we love and Christ’s faithful minister for your sake. 8 He informed us of your love in the Spirit.

9 Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. 10 We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God;

In our reading today we see that Paul, the author of Colossians, along with Timothy, prays for the people of Colossae that they might “…live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” What does it mean to bear fruit in every good work? It means you and I are called to get practical with our faith by reproducing the life and ministry of Jesus within us. We do this in order that we might develop a set of practices that glorify God and make an enduring difference in the world, beginning with our neighbor. We might call these the “little things” that happen on the local level, but when lived out in a community (church) within an even greater community (Christianity), these Christian practices e.g. hospitality, generosity, faithfulness, care, etc.) can make a global impact. The fruit, therefore, that we bear or make real in the world around us is an opportunity for the people that we interact with to encounter Jesus—the real Jesus.

I think that is just pretty cool. And not a coincidence. And just for me today.

 

I am grateful for the game of Yahtzee.  What a weird name for a great game.

 

I am grateful for memories today of my former choirs making a global impact when they sang and served at countless homeless shelters and soup kitchens, when they unloaded semitrucks at the Food Bank in Colorado Springs, when they bagged beans and rice, when they cleaned and sorted on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, when they cleaned and painted at a church in Eagle Pass and did some fire damage clean-up on a ranch, when they spent their week cleaning rooms and cutting down trees and chopping wood at Quaker Ridge Camp, when they shared their personal stories from their heart with our audiences all over the midwest, and when they impacted my life with their sincerity, honesty, and genuine love for God.

I am grateful for lunch with Lisa.

I am grateful for the US Postal Service and self-sticking stamps.

My brother sent me this picture of my nephew, Adam – a glimpse into his new world in the army. (He’s the one in the front…the really tall guy that looks NOTHING like the Adam I once knew. Those glasses make him look like my brother Ron in high school!) I am grateful that his parents finally have some news from him, and grateful that they are sharing his news with us.

Photo

 

I am grateful for paper towels, all-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle, and clean counters that are no longer sticky.

I am grateful for people who have accents. Their language makes life so much more colorful.

I am grateful that Sam is with his family and working harvest, and I am grateful that he has a job that allows for this.

I am grateful for a sweet moment of sitting in the living room in the quiet of the morning, listening to Clair de Lune by Debussy, Mom’s favorite song.

 

It’s easy to be humble when we’re wrong; it’s how we act when we’re right that’ll tell us where we’re at with our faith. – Bob Goff

 

I am grateful for LED flashlights that are just the right size for two little Oregon girls.

I am grateful for memories of Darren and the chicken story that made us all laugh so hard we had tears in our eyes.

I am grateful for a surprise this morning of watching our chipmunk climbing in and among the branches of the little tree just outside the living room window.

I am grateful for the beauty of puffy clouds among a blue sky.

And I am grateful for a ceiling fan that cools my face as I sleep.

If you’re feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color.

 

I am grateful for a chipmunk that greets me on the patio.

I am grateful for memories of my Mom saying the tackiest, most inappropriate (but truthful) things. Not to purposefully hurt feelings; she was just being Mom. Then, it wasn’t so funny. Now, it is. Sometimes I find myself becoming more and more like her.  And that’s a good thing, mostly. Oh, Lord, please guard my tongue.

 

 

I am grateful for Nilla Wafers.

 

I am grateful for a home to go to when I am not feeling very good. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be homeless and be ill.

 

I am grateful that my grandchildren have had the opportunity to go to VBS this week.

Photo: Ready for their last day of vbs. Standing in front of all their projects for the week.

 

I am grateful for a news story about a little girl who I’ve thought about all day long, for the past two days – I imagine she sounds just like Parker:

Abby reminds me of Parker Grace. 

 

I am grateful to have spoken to both of my girls yesterday.

I am grateful to be cared for when I do not feel good. A simple act like removing my shoes and socks, or a kiss on the forehead, or taking care of cleaning up after dinner, or being given a glass of water with some Tylenol after I’ve already gone to bed – I feel very loved…and very blessed.

 

I am grateful to have finally met my CASA girl, “Cari.” She is beautiful and so easy to talk to, and I can see us becoming great friends. I am grateful that she is in a wonderful foster home, is attending a great youth group at her church, and life is beginning to look up for her.

I am grateful for memories of being rewarded with an angelfish from the pet store if I didn’t cry at the doctor when I got a tetanus shot after stepping on a nail at Susan Bishop’s house.

 

Today, my Dad needs a fish.

I am grateful for a jolly maintenance man – he is just so pleasant to be around, and jolly is the right word to describe him today.

And I am grateful that my Savior has his arms wrapped around my family members and is keeping them safe in the midst of it all.

 

 

 

Feelings, woah, woah, woah, feelings…

 

I am grateful for this song that has played on my internal jukebox since church ended yesterday:

And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

 

I am grateful for a husband who vacuums for me, and I didn’t even ask.

I am grateful for the sore muscles feeling after a really long walk to the bagel store on a Saturday morning.

I am grateful for another new beginning.

 

I am grateful for Saturday cleaning days and the way I feel when the day is done and the house looks good and smells good.

I am grateful for the feeling of satisfaction from a successful, home-cooked, slow-smoked brisket, even if I wasn’t the one who labored over the slab of beef.

I am grateful for the feelings of anticipation and excitement of working with a really great caseworker who cares deeply about our girl.

I am grateful for this, because it was the message I received when I spoke with my daughter on Saturday:

we_not_me

 

I am grateful for the feeling of a sudden wind change, a cool front blowing in just before a summer thunderstorm.

I am grateful for the feeling joy when I look over at Sam as he stands at the mixer and makes chocolate chip cookies, just because he wanted to help.

I am grateful for new technology; that is, cooled seats in a vehicle.

I am grateful for a letter addressed to Ama and for the contents inside: artwork and photos of two beautiful little girls.

I am grateful for the feelings I have as I watch touching stories that go along with the talent on America’s Got Talent – a great summer show on NBC. I love how some things just make me cry.

I am grateful for the pleasant feelings when I hear a co-worker discover a gift we gave to her.

I am grateful that when I am feeling less-than-grateful and want to complain, I have someone who will listen and will not share with anyone else, but he encourages me to dwell on the positives and lifts my spirits by reminding me he is proud of me.

And once again, I am grateful that many years ago, my brother included this in his church bulletin that I cut out and kept it on the refrigerator as a reminder. I’ve never forgotten the wisdom, although I have not always modeled it:

Complain as little as possible of your wrongs, for as a general rule you may be sure that complaining is sin; the rather that self-love always magnifies our injuries: above all, do not complain to people who are easily angered and excited. If it is needful to complain to someone, either as seeking a remedy for your injury, or in order to soothe your mind, let it be to some calm, gentle spirit, greatly filled with the Love of God; for otherwise, instead of relieving your heart, your confidants will only provoke it to still greater disturbance; instead of taking out the thorn which pricks you, they will drive it further into your foot.

 

complaints gratitude

I would like me some humble pie, please.

 

I am grateful for moments when I have common sense, because so many people have none…ever.

I am grateful that my daughter questions and ponders and struggles to make decisions and seeks with all her heart. Her seeking is causing her to grow spiritually and emotionally.

I am grateful for summer wonderfulness: an ice cream sandwich. One of my most favorite things in the world. It can cure a hard day.

 

I am grateful for things only found in the summer: fireflies. Everyone should experience catching them on a warm evening, or at least watch their beauty just after the sun sets and just before the moon appears.

 

I am grateful for a few minutes on the phone with Anissa and Andrae this morning. I could listen to those little voices all day long.

I am grateful for the realization that my life has been fairly trauma/drama-free after reading the first of Cari’s file, and I am grateful that her story is breaking my heart before I ever meet her.

 

As I sat in the lobby at DCF (Division of Children and Families) this morning, I became very grateful for the lesson I am learning in real-time: that every face has a story, and I have no clue the hurt and the pain and the wounds that are behind the eyes, eyes that just need someone to care.

I like my routine. I like an egg every morning for breakfast. I like the same order at the same restaurants or fast food places. It’s a crunchy taco at Taco Bell. It’s a large iced tea, unsweet with five sugars please, at McDonald’s. It’s chicken with vegetables at Fortune Wok. It’s the same hairstyle, same shampoo, same makeup, same song, second verse. Day in, day out. Don’t make me try something new – I’m happy the way I am.

I am grateful for familiarity and routine, finding myself in a rut, because it is comfortable. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm blanket or like wearing my blue jeans on Friday. It feels good. It’s not comfortable to try something new – it’s scary. It’s nerve-wracking. My sister is so good at stepping out of the box and doing new things, trying new foods, making friends with people not like her or her upbringing. I am slowly learning to do this a little bit at a time.

I need to do better in this area with my relationships. I too often gravitate towards others who are just like me – we have things in common. But what do I learn? Nothing. It feels comfortable when they agree with me. They’re in my corner. But I gain absolutely nothing but a stronger defense and less understanding. I need to befriend others who have a different perspective. I need to prioritize understanding over defending.

I am grateful for a neighbor who is from Iran and has become a new friend. She is different than us. She reached out and we could have easily “put up a wall” but instead, we have learned her name, asked questions about her country and her travels. I am anxious to learn more. I am grateful that she is friendly and likes to talk.

I love this advice from one of my favorites, Jen Hatmaker: Talk to someone who is older and wiser than you. Every year I get older, I become less of an ass. (horrors – she’s a pastor’s wife!) I will be a wonderful counselor in twenty years, for the love. We need mentors who know the value of compromise, humility, and compassion. The fervor of youth is a double-edged sword; it can be a mighty tool for the kingdom, but it can also wound and slice and destroy. Wisdom seeks out wisdom, not just affirmation.  I LOVE THAT! And her quote makes me think of Aunt Patsy, Delores, Dad, Danny – people in my life who listen and are slow to speak. I have noticed that as I get older and experience more of life, I am tending to be slower to offer advice, but I listen more, love more, and realize how judgmental I was. Condemnation has no place in my heart, and if I am to step out of that comfort zone of familiarity and routine, I must crawl out from under my warm blanket, take off my Friday blue jeans, and wear something new…

More amazing advice from Jen: In general, nurture some friendships that are way outside of your normal parameters. Someone from across the pond, across party lines, across town, across ethnicities, across ideologies, across age groups. This requires effort and time, but it will make you a more gentle, more informed human. I love my niche tribe, but there is more to humanity than us. I have a deep and varied friend roster, and I cannot even measure how much they’ve changed me. The diversity of ideas, experiences, and perspectives they have brought into my worldview has absolutely altered my trajectory. If all your friends are basically the same, you don’t even know what you don’t know. Southern Baptist pastor? Go make friends with a gay atheist. Then shut your mouth and do a lot of listening. Now we’re getting somewhere.”  Oh my goodness, I love this woman and her boldness to speak what I have felt for years!

And finally, if I really want to work on getting out of my rut in this new world I live in, I need to work on humility. I need to be a Delmar, a Sam. That means, again, humbly listen to others and do less talking. I need to decide that with every connection made, every face I look into, I can humbly learn something. There is a story behind those eyes. I am not always right. And if I AM right, I don’t need to act like it. I am at my worst when I am not humble. When I put myself in line with who God is, I am free to be just a forgiven sinner who doesn’t always have to be right. Or understood. Or popular. When I place myself on that pharisaical pedestal, I have a lot to defend and protect, but when I place God on His throne and step off of it, I am free to just be ordinary, love Jesus, and that allows me to love people and make them my priority.

 

And with that, happy Friday and weekend, friends. Do yourself a favor and have an ice cream sammich with a friend. I’ll have that piece ‘o pie AND the sammich.

We have this one life to offer; there is no second chance. – Jen Hatmaker

 

I am grateful for opportunities. Opportunities to reach out and touch. Opportunities to make someone else smile. Opportunities to speak to a stranger who might need a kind word. Opportunities to be-friend a young girl who has had a rough life and no longer has family who wants her. Opportunities to send notes in the mail. Opportunities to buy diapers for a family who needs them. Opportunities to pay for the guy behind me. Opportunities to deliver cookies to a neighbor, just because. Opportunities to leave work and take a break in the middle of a day. Opportunities to share pictures of my grandchildren with others. Opportunities to spend time with my Dad.

I am grateful for a public restroom floor crawling with roly-polies today. It makes me grateful I work in the woods in the middle of a city.

 

 

I am grateful for good tires on the car.

I am grateful for this oppressive humidity, because it makes me appreciate when the air is dry and the heat is tolerable.

 

“Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn’t for us at all, but for another. We don’t know how God holds the kingdom in balance or why he moves a chess piece at a crucial time; we might never see the results of his sovereignty… I might just be one shade of one color of one strand, but I’m a part of an elaborate tapestry that goes beyond my perception.” 
― Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

 

I am grateful that the Royals are in first place and are doing so well right now.

 

 

I am grateful for the time we were able to spend enjoying the bunnies in the yard. I am not so grateful for the neighbor’s cat. In a matter of hours, it was survival of the meanest.  

I am grateful for LED flashlights that we had to try and locate our furry friends and spot the predator lurking next door.

 

 

I am grateful for little squares of a milk chocolate Hershey bar. What a delicious, beautiful, simple gift that has been around for so many years and is still wonderful.

 

 

And I am grateful for my son-in-law’s newsletter from his Youth For Christ ministry. I am grateful for his ministry and his ability to write so well.

What’s all the hullabaloo? There’s something to be said for dilly-dallying in the middle of the night.

 

Funny words. My mom used funny words. I had forgotten them until last night during Bingo, when Beulah was clarifying how a particular game was to be played and said, “So it’s this line that goes cattywampus?”  Ahhhhh, yes, there’s my Mom. She is not here any longer, but she is. If only I could hear her trying to “find that doohickey” and when finally locating it, saying, “Well, I’ll be hornswoggled, that thing had me flabbergasted!” Or to listen to her tell one of the girls that the part in their hair is “cattywampus” or to ride in a car with her in the backseat when a sharp turn is made, only to hear her giggle as she slid into the unfortunate victim while saying, “Hold ‘er Knute, we’re headed for the pea patch!…” That would be heaven to my ears.

I am grateful for funny words that make me laugh and cry at the same time.

I am grateful for those automatic deodorizer spray thingys in public restrooms, especially the one in the first floor bathroom here in the building. Oh my goodness, can I move my desk in there?

I am grateful for the opportunities my little grandchildren have to experience new adventures. Last night, I received pictures of four-year-old Anissa conquering her first indoor rock climbing experience. Look at her! That’s MY GIRL!! I wish I could “squeeze her guts out!” as Mom would so lovingly say…

IMG_124559278949876 IMG_124569200175756

 

I am grateful for my car. It’s been in the shop for two days, and I have been privileged enough to drive a brand new loaner SUV in the meantime. When I got into my vehicle this morning, it was so much nicer. I am very blessed.

I am grateful to have seen independent little bunnies hopping in the yard last night. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to leave them alone? I just want to hold that cuteness so much.

I am grateful to have been awakened at 2:30 this morning by what I believe to have been a spider on my arm, although I really have no idea since it was dark. But “Charlotte” allowed me the time to get up and spend some quiet time in the still of the night, listening to a soft symphony. And then I watched a pretty cool documentary about the Egyptian soccer team. And then I began praying for our pastors in Kentucky and Minnesota, Cari, our girls and their families, Adam, our Dads, and a young lady who faces months of recovery from an accident. And when I was ready to try sleeping again, God put this melody in my mind as a lullaby:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

And that’s no hullabaloo.