Nothing you could do would make me love you less.

 

 

I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of a kitchen towel. I have had some very special ones in my life, and I know exactly who they came from and every time I use them, I think of the giver.  The one currently hanging is from my boss and friend, Karen. It is soft, colorful, and long enough to do some good. She gave it to me on our wedding day as she worked in the kitchen to make sure everything was set out/cleaned up/washed up/prepared.  I have two of Mom’s embroidered tea towels, and each time I hang one, I am reminded of every day of my young life at home – they were permanent fixtures on her kitchen towel rack. I miss the red checked and green checked kitchen towels embroidered with x’s in the shape of a tea pot, I believe, that Delores helped me make for my Mom for Christmas when I was a little girl. And then, there is the little brown finger towel with a beautiful turkey on it, made with love by Bonnie and sent to me because she wanted me to have one just like she had made for my girls. Kitchen towels are unique, useful for just about everyone, and can be very personal. I am grateful for my cloth reminders of people I love.

I am grateful for a surprise call from my sister, inviting me to join her for lunch today! I am not so grateful that I had no self-control and ate the entire burrito.

 

I am grateful for the rediscovery of an album I bought three and a half years ago – Shawn McDonald’s Closer. I love every song on that album. Oh man, listening to it this morning brought back a FLOOOOOOOOOOOOD of memories, all good. It was a divine union, that CD into my life…

Storms – Shawn McDonald

 

I am broke, and I am grateful. I spent all that I have on a family reunion trip, and as a result, I have nothing left for two very special birthdays. I’ve never been good at saving. Money or otherwise. Occasionally, I stock up on gifts, and it is impossible for me to keep them hidden – I want to give them right away. I am a Last-Minute-Larry when it comes to Christmas and birthdays, because I cannot bear to hold onto a gift. I spend anything extra that I have on others, mostly, and I guess that’s not such a bad thing, except for the fact that I have no reserves. So, I am broke. Why does that make me grateful? Because I spend anything extra that I have on others, mostly. Because I still have a lot to learn. Because I learned generosity from my parents. Because I can’t take it with me. *But if your birthday happens to be tomorrow or a week from tomorrow,  I am sorry. I’ll send something as soon as I can save up enough to send something.

 

 

I am grateful for Nooma videos. I used to have almost all of them. I wish I still had them. They were a source of great strength.  This is probably my favorite one, and if you ever have a chance to watch it, you won’t regret it. Here’s a trailer, since I can’t find the long version on the free internet…

  Lump – Rob Bell

This video reminds me of my parents when I was at my lowest point. I believe Mom and Dad were a part of God’s message for me – they were a reminder to me that His love is far more encompassing than we can possibly think. That no matter what I did, what I was, they would not love me less, and in fact, they loved me even more. A love like an ocean with no end. Their love for me was a source of sympathy for my hurting and loss, their love for me was a source of patience as I struggled to stand up again and face my failure and sin, their love for me was a source of encouragement when I felt there was no hope. They knew that by loving me through God’s eyes, He chose them to pour out His hope, healing, and a little bit of heaven in my life, and for that, I am grateful.

 

Advertisements

I have a crooked head.

 

I am grateful for crooked things, like Bebe’s tail, or that one flower in the arrangement that just won’t conform, or the part in my hair that Mom always insisted on fixing with that comb that hurt so bad, or the handwriting of a grandchild just learning to write her name and mine, or Bingo players who are crooked in temperament and in stature, or the stately old tree that is so beautiful with character from years of growth, displaying its  one-of-a-kind silhouette against the sunset. Crooked is unique. Crooked is evidence of a process, of something that happened or something that is happening – either forward or backward.  

My head is crooked. I used to be bothered about my crooked smile. I think I fixed that, for the most part. Practice, I guess, pulling the muscle up on one side, being conscious that I wasn’t “even.” But now, I notice, in almost every picture of me, my head cocks to one side. I think I figured out why this morning – I sit at two computer screens all day long and stare into the monitors, head cocked to one side as I glance back and forth from screen to screen, but I mostly concentrate on the screen not directly in front of my gaze. Hmmmmm. I need to fix this.

How interesting that if we fix our eyes on something other than Jesus, other than above, other than Who should be our Focus and our Anchor, we become “crooked.” And after so long a time, it just becomes who we are in the process. We don’t notice it unless we are forced to look at ourselves and stand in front of the introspective mirror.

My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord by Moses Hogan

It’s kind of like crooked teeth – it doesn’t happen overnight. Well, unless a person is in a bar fight or something… Teeth just grow crooked sometimes, until an adjustment is made and braces to change the alignment of the teeth are forced into place.

Or that back, knee, or hip that slowly goes out and isn’t necessarily a big deal, just a slight ache and a dull pain that changes our gait and prevents us from enjoying a beautiful walk on a summer evening. We learn to live with it, when the chiropractor is just down the street and could easily provide a solution with a little bit of sacrifice and work on our part.

I am grateful for an introspective mirror, for pictures of my crooked head to remind me to re-focus, to sacrifice comfort and force myself to work and not become complacent with the way I am. I am grateful that the shadows and “crooked” of my life only prove the work of the Sunshine and the Healer and the Anchor whose name is Jesus.

 

We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight…the shadows prove the sunshine. – Switchfoot

A pearl of grace and thinking of Mom.

 

2012-12-29_14-43-34_878

I got a pill stuck this morning…and it made me think of Mom and her groups of pills she had to take each morning and how she dreaded it and would sit at the table for such a long time, procrastinating the task.

I read a devotion today about letter-writing…and it made me think of Mom and her daily exercise of writing letters – the tradition of the “family letter” that was sent continually through the mail in a large manila envelope, a letter from every brother and sister; the letters to her sextet friends; the monthly/weekly letters or cards she would send to each of her children, and in between those “regular” letters, she would be so thoughtful to send a birthday card to EVERYONE in the family – even all of the nieces and nephews; and to her many friends.

I was reminded yesterday how important it is to inquire, to be nosy, to ask questions, especially this one: “How is _____?” or this one: “How are YOU?”…and it made me think of Mom. She was the glue that kept the family “together,” the string between the cups in the game of family information. I need to ask more questions. I need to take the lesson from Mom, from Sam – I need to not talk so much about myself but ask questions and be interested in others’ lives. It’s another way to show how much I care. And I DO care. I just need to do a better job in inquiring, because it feels good when someone wants to know how I’M doing and responds to MY life, and I should do likewise for others.

I heard a cardinal singing in the cool evening last night…and it made me think of Mom and her love for cardinals and birds, in general.

I made my Grandma Johnson’s pan cinnamon rolls last night/this morning, hoping I got the recipe right since I no longer have my recipe box…and it made me think of Mom and her sometimes unsuccessful substitutions when she made a dish and didn’t have the right ingredients on hand, but she created with what she had and expected us all to be grateful, and if we weren’t “Campbells souping” with “Mmmmm, mmmmm, goods,” she was visibly crushed.  I’ll never forget her ketchup for tomato sauce substitution. Yucky poo. But she was definitely resourceful.

I reflected on the past weekend when three little grandchildren came to our hotel room on Saturday morning and we had some silly moments of jumping on the big bed while chanting, “Three little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and cracked its head! Ama called the doctor and the doctor said, ‘NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED!’”…and it made me think of Mom and how she would have relished those silly moments and been so proud to show off her granddaughter and her great-grandchildren at the reunion.  

There was a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup on the table in the kitchen here at the office this morning…and it made me think of Mom and the fun Dad had with her when they kept my dog, Natia for several months. Natia would always go outside to “do her thing,” and as a result, always got a treat when she came back inside. So, on occasion when Mom had to use the restroom, Dad would go and get a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup from his stash and put it on her plate or at her chair – her treat for “doing her thing.” And her reaction was always a hearty laugh followed by, “DELmarrrr!”

Sam asks me for suggestions sometimes for catchy slogans to put on the digital sign at his business, and they are usually rhyming phrases, so this morning when he asked for a suggestion…and it made me think of Mom and her Christmas letter that she always turned into a recap of the year in the life of the Ferguson family in poetic form.

So,

I am grateful that every morning I am reminded of Mom when I take my pills, grateful that my pills aren’t prescription drugs like Mom had to take but just vitamins; grateful that mine are vitamins that my daughter and son-in-law introduced us to and grateful that they did; and grateful for Ruth who started me on the daily habit of taking herbs and vitamins many years ago.

 

I am grateful for beautiful emails, cards and letters via snail mail, and text messages that I receive from friends and family who reach out and share their lives with me and inquire as to mine – thank you Valerie, and Erin, and Geri, and Pastor Kristi, and Michelle, and Kathy, and Danny, and Pastor Rick, and Dwight, and Ginny, and Deb, and Aunt Estalene, and Delores, and Aunt Patsy, and Adam, and Lisa, and Karissa, and Katrina, and and and…it takes me awhile to respond, but I’ve been convicted once again to stay on top of it and reach out to touch others.

Which makes me grateful for this devotion from Dad’s devotion book:

It’s no accident that God chose the written form of epistles or letters to convey the teachings of the Christian life to the earliest believers. Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and the others wrote personal letters to churches ad individuals, and this body of correspondence makes up the richest source of our understanding of the Christian way and walk. Paul could have compiled volumes of sermons or books of systematic teachings. But instead the Lord led him to use the medium of letter writing to leave a lasting legacy for all of Christian history. Letters are personal, readable, informal, enduring, and quotable.

Though our correspondence isn’t inspired in the scriptural sense, don’t underestimate the power of the written note. It’s easy to pat someone on the back and say, “good job.” We need to frequently do that. But there is great value in taking time to write encouraging words. They are durable and distance-proof. Rediscover the art of letter writing.

I am grateful that Dwight called me yesterday to fill me in on the news from our family and grateful that he was able to sit in a hospital waiting room all morning, have lunch with Dad, and take the time off to “be there,” and I am grateful that Marlene and Aunt Drula are loved by so many.

I am grateful for the beautiful songs that birds sing.

I am grateful for the recipes that I DO have, for the lesson Mom taught me through her “experiments” that sometimes substitutions are not a good idea and if I’m going to substitute, I shouldn’t be disappointed if the guinea pigs don’t applaud, for homemade ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls, for my mixer (thank you, Sam), and for cooking spray that makes life in the kitchen so much easier.

 

I am grateful for silly giggles in a hotel room and for the freedom to jump on that bed that doesn’t belong to us because life is too short to always be proper and it’s okay to break a rule now and then when it comes to silly giggles in a hotel room.

 

I am grateful that my parents took Natia in and loved her even when she was naughty and made her fat with treats, and I am grateful that my Dad saw the importance of silliness and making Mom laugh in the last couple of years she was with us.

I am grateful that my Mom was creative and wore her heart on her sleeve and shared freely the events and happenings in our family – good and bad – through annual Christmas letters in rhyme. There were no secrets. She loved and expected to be loved in return. She needed and expected to be needed in return. She proudly displayed the Christmas cards and letters they received in the mail and expected each of us to read those 578 cards and letters they received when we visited.

I am grateful for Mom, Pearl Grace, Grandma, Gma, GG, Mrs. Ferguson, that Johnson girl.   She is and was a “pearl of grace.”

Failure is not a deal breaker in my house.

 

I am grateful for Winnie the Pooh. Such innocence, simplicity, and a wonderful storybook world to escape.

I am grateful for my family full of the most wonderful Aunts and Uncles, and I am grateful that I belong to a family who cherishes getting together and keeping reunions alive.

I am grateful for a daughter who insists on taking pictures, even when it’s 117 degrees outside. Because without her insistence, we wouldn’t have the visual memories. Thank you, Karissa.  The only one missing was GG…

Grants Farm 2

ArchAt the topNever thought I’d sit in a pod again. But there were NINE of us in that little thing, and it certainly helped to hang on to a granddaughter, because it forced me to remain calm and act like my heart wasn’t racing.In the pod

 

I am grateful for a peanut butter sandwich made by my daughter.

 

 

I am grateful for the blessing of my friend Grace and her mom, Roxanne.

I am grateful that my sister and her daughter were such entertainment for my grandchildren.

 

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” – Winnie the Pooh

 

I am grateful for the smell of coffee, no matter the time of day. Just the smell, not the taste.

I am grateful for a little red cardinal sitting on a snow-covered pine cone to hang on the tree. Thank you, Aunt Patsy. May the world be full of cardinals to remind us of Mom.

 

I am grateful for guests who wash their sheets and make the beds so that we don’t have to when we arrive back home. Thank you, Marlene/Laundry Queen.

I am grateful for the gift of really good water pressure when taking a shower.

I am grateful for Geri’s email that makes me miss her SO MUCH today.

 

 

And I am grateful for this, taken from an article written by Jen Hatmaker to moms, because it reminds me of my parents who showed grace and taught me by example how to love like Jesus. In the midst of my big fail, their love covered a multitude of sin, and when others decided to walk away and/or righteously scold and advise, Mom and Dad just hugged me tighter and loved me even more. Their work is complete, and for that, I am so grateful for their example:

Failure is not a deal-breaker in this house. Love indeed covers a multitude of sins. If Jesus told us to forgive our enemies, then certainly we are to forgive our own flesh and blood, especially the ones we gave life to.

Mamas, we discipline to teach our children responsibility, honesty, character, and godliness – all important. But we forgive to teach them mercy, kindness, gentleness, and grace – all equally important. We communicate to them, “This is not a perfect family; it’s a human family held together by love, compassion, and a lot of duct tape.” We must get vulnerable and honest with our children, sharing our mistakes and identifying with them way down deep in their guilt, teaching them that we are safe and they need never hide from us.

Your kids will fail in sometimes epic, embarrassing ways. Like you did. Like I did. This doesn’t mean you’ve done a sorry job as a parent or your child is destined for the penitentiary. It just means God has given you yet another chance to act justly, to love mercy, and to learn to walk humbly with Him. If motherhood hasn’t taught us to die to self, then we haven’t been paying a lick of attention.

It also means he is training your children in the safest possible place: your home. Where they know they are beloved no matter, accepted regardless, forgiven always. Not only do we shape their character but we give them security, so easy to learn early but so difficult to learn later. Teaching our kids what to do with failure – in our choices, with each other – is one of the most important lessons, one they will return to until the grave.

May we show our children grace today, modeling Jesus to our young ones until they are old enough to taste His goodness and see for themselves. And one day, they’ll make the connection between the Jesus in their mother’s heart and the Jesus in theirs, and our work will be complete.

Are you wearing the newest fashion?

 

I will list just three things today for which I am grateful:

  1. Sitting at a picnic table, a slight breeze to cool the skin in the late July early evening sunshine, the only sounds coming from the toddler and his daddy playing on the playground equipment and the neighbor greeting us a “hello” while walking her Labrador retriever, and giving all of my attention to a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her – the hour went too quickly…
  2. Foster parents who sacrifice their comfort, time, finances, and their lifestyle to do love for the unloved, abused, and neglected.
  3. Andrae the giant, otherwise known as my only grandson, because today he begins his fourth year of life and delights every person who is privileged enough to know this little giant.

IMG_12811553288386

 Happy birthday, sweet kiddo. You are pure joy to this Ama.

 

Oh, I can’t stop at three. Gratefuls to me = Lays potato chips, because I can’t eat/speak just three. I must partake of the entire bag of bliss.

So…

4. This crazy book I am reading by this crazy author who is “interrupting” my life with her radical thinking and is being used by God to mess up my entire belief system about Christianity and the role of the church in a post-modern world.

 

pin page 28

 

I am so sincere about this. If you will read it, I will send it to you. But you have to promise me you’ll read it and then pass it on.

 

120w banner ver 2

 

About the Author
 author photo Jan Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl’s Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go towww.jenhatmaker.com.

 

And finally,

5. This nugget of pure perfection to begin a weekend that started with LOADS of stress and unexpected challenges and will conclude having spent time with my daughter and son-in-law, four of my grandchildren, my sister, my niece, my Dad, and my Mom’s beautiful family in St. Louis:

Hey Soul? Just exhale (right now) … and Smile. Feel better? Practice again. Smile. “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Ps.42:5 MSG.

Sometimes smiling is an act of defiance against what’s pressing down hard. Sometimes smiling is an act of sheer bravery.

Practice Smiling. Practice counting gifts. Practice your faith.

It’s Friday & let’s bravely wear the label — Joy is a habit: wear it.

 

 

Sometimes you just need to take a nap and get over it. – Maura, age 8

 

I am grateful for Sarah Young. She wrote “Jesus Calling,” and her writing begins my day:

Thankfulness opens the door to My Presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have placed a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective.

Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely from your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank Me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness.

I am grateful for a cheap container (is that what you call one of those big round boxes?) of oatmeal. I’ve never eaten an entire container of oatmeal in my life, until now.

Speaking of cheap, I am grateful for generic.

I am grateful for Reader’s Digest magazine and their condensed books that were a part of my reading enjoyment for so many years. I am also grateful that I learned to love to read.

I am grateful that even though it is uncomfortable and inconvenient, I am stepping outside the box. Tonight, I spend time with my CASA girl. I remember when I began volunteering at the assisted living facility. It was uncomfortable and inconvenient. Now, it’s a highlight of my week.  I’m anxious to be able to say that about my weekly CASA visit, too.

I am grateful for naps at this age. I wish a nap was a requirement for adults. Some people in this world could really use one and would be easier to get along with if they just had a nap.

I am grateful for my cousin, Valerie. I wish I were going to see her this weekend at the reunion. She is such an inspiration to me.

I am grateful that someone left a bag of unsalted, roasted almonds in the office kitchen for me to help myself. Carrots and celery gets old after awhile.

I am grateful for the fire drill in the building this morning that allowed me to step outside and breathe some fresh air.

I am grateful for Sam. He is an example of strength and bravery. God is watching over him and is walking with him, and for that, I am also grateful.

I am grateful for an email from Deb!! What a beautiful surprise!

I am grateful that I am not in charge of the world.

I am grateful for Lite Brite and the O’No 99 card game.

I am grateful that I didn’t hit the delete button accidentally or on purpose, but I took the time to click on the link my brother sent to me, even if it was 22 days later.  Seriously, you need to watch this. It’s five minutes of your day, but you won’t regret it:

 Meet Chris

 

Are you talkin’ to ME?

rhondaisgrateful

I am grateful for the newest Audi commercial with the ice cream truck music, because it reminded me of the pure happiness of hearing the ice cream truck coming down the street when I was ___ years old. Still gives me a tinge of happiness when I hear the music, because I think of the desire to grab a dollar and run as fast as I can to meet the truck and get an ice cream bar or sandwich. I’m fairly certain I never had that experience of actually getting to spend money at the ice cream truck that was probably non-existent in Haven, but for some odd reason, the thoughts evoke some pretty pleasant emotions. Maybe it was the ice cream truck in San Antonio, and maybe I actually led my girls out to the sidewalk to buy an ice cream. Or maybe it’s all a dream.

I’m still…

View original post 757 more words