No tricks, just lots and lots of treats, thank you.

First full day in Madras and I am relaxing on a hotel bed while my daughter and youngest granddaughter sleep on the bed next to me. After about an hour of giggling and silliness in the next room for the other three who were refusing to nap, Ama took charge and “napped” with them until they all fell asleep. We must nap. Tonight is going to be crazy chaos, I do believe.

i am grateful for the opportunity to visit Parker at her school this morning and have lunch and recess with her. I am grateful for the opportunity to return to the same school shortly after and share lunch with my daughter and see where she works. I am grateful to be so privileged to watch these two families of little ones squealing and giggling and loving each other. It was so touching to stand on the playground and watch Parker and Anissa playing together and see Parker “show” her friends her little sister, Reilly,  Anissa, and her Ama.

I am grateful for time this morning to take three littles downstairs for breakfast and enjoy being an Ama while they ate waffles, eggs, cereal, and fruit and gave high fives to the breakfast guy.

i am grateful that this bed was big enough last night for two little girls and an Ama, since they just couldn’t sleep in their own room. I am grateful for the clarity to lie in silence and listen to my family breathing in their sleep in the middle of the night. I may not have such a clear head tonight when all six share this room with my daughter and I after trick-or-treating and candy and silliness.

And I am grateful for two of them who just woke up from their Ama-forced nap and are eating a snack of chips beside me while we watch Spider-Man and wait for the other three to wake up for costume time. Life is short. Enjoy every single moment. Okay, I will.

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I can sleep when I’m dead.

I am grateful for exhaustion. It means a full day of missing a morning flight, waiting for God to provide a way to make the trip happen, four little grandchildren on an airplane full of travelers, a friendly seat mate who made the flight very enjoyable and an extra blessing, a daughter and granddaughter who are pros at handling luggage through an airport and onto shuttle buses and into the rental car line, spilled drinks at Subway and many “I need to go potty’s,” a beautiful 2 1/2 hour drive through the mountains, the joy at seeing my other daughter and her two little girls at the hotel, an evening in Katrina’s home, and quiet time tonight to write this while three exhausted kids are giggling in the other room. The day began at 5 am, and it is now 10:40 and we are just settling in the room for the night. So tired, so blessed.

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T minus 24 hours and counting…

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“These are the faces I get when I tell them you are coming tomorrow! It’s true. This was their real-time reaction!” – Karissa

I am grateful for butterflies, the kind that are fluttering internally as I anticipate the sights, the sounds, the memories to be made in the next six days.

I am grateful for this quiet night of solitude and rest. It may be the last full night of sleep until Monday.

I am grateful for this gift of a trip to see my daughters and grandchildren. Priceless. Thank you, Sam, for the suggestion, and for the help in making it happen. One giant step at a time…or should I say, one ROYAL step at a time. Yes, I should.

What a child doesn’t receive, he can seldom later give. – P.D. James

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to witness beauty unfolding.

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a CASA and watch it happen from the sidelines.

Today, I am grateful for a reminder of what happened almost exactly 30 years ago.

Today, I am grateful for the gift of my parents.

Last week, I read an article posted by my friend Jeanine, about the parents of a young man who had died of a drug overdose, the result of so much pain and anguish in his life. The parents raised their son in the church, to love God and follow Christ. And he did. But, he confessed to them one day, at the young age of 12, that he was gay. And the years that followed were devastating, culminating in his death. They did everything “right.” They had all the “right answers.” Heartbreaking story – I’ll send it to you if you’d like. The thing that stuck with me was this: The mom said that she would just about do anything to have her son back. Her GAY son back. Because at this point, having her GAY son was better than having no son at all. Or something like that.

And since then, I have been reminded time and again how very fortunate I am to have the parents God gave to me…

I sat down on the bed, after Mom and I had just put clean sheets on it. The weight on my shoulders too much, I could no longer stand.

It was a fall weekend my freshman year, and I had driven home from college – not because I wanted, but because I had to talk to my parents and confess what had been hidden.

In my mind, I had envisioned the worst. I had faced Mom’s wrath many times before, and it wasn’t pleasant. It was an experience to be avoided at almost all costs. But not this time. This wasn’t a time that could be avoided. I was at my lowest point in my young life of 18 years. And I feared that by the end of the hour, I would be kicked out, forever abandoned, on my own to face the future alone.

“Mom, I’m pregnant.”

Words that were meant to be followed by rejoicing and squeals of delight from a Mom, but not on this day. These words, on the contrary, were followed with silence, followed by quiet sobs as I sat hunched over on the bed that Saturday morning. It was more than I could bear alone. And my Mom knew. She just knew…how to be a parent. Her instincts kicked in, and she walked around the bed and sat beside me, her arms holding on to me all tight. There was no yelling. There was no slamming of doors. There was no abandonment. When I was at my lowest, when I was hurting and afraid and desperate for acceptance and redemption, my Mom was there. She didn’t rail against my sin. She didn’t put conditions on her love for me. She didn’t begin a tirade of all that I had done wrong and how I needed to repent.

She loved me more fiercely than ever before.

The crying continued as she called my Dad to come home from work. And he did. He dropped everything and was there in minutes.

I wasn’t excused from the tough, but I was held responsible to tell my news. Dad is a man of few words. His quiet strength had always been intimidating as a child. But now, as I shared again this uninvited sentence that fell heavy like iron in the bedroom, I saw no condemnation in his eyes. I saw no contempt or disgrace. I saw my Dad’s eyes filled with tears, sorrow and pain…and love all gentle. And he wrapped his arms around me and as he hugged me, he patted my back, over and over and over again.

I will never ever forget that day. That day when I felt, for the first time in my life, that there was nothing I could ever do to make them love me less. That day, when I discovered in true life form, what unconditional love really meant. That day, when I saw God’s example of undeserved, unrestricted love, lived out in my parents’ reactions.

And they have shown it to me over and over again, because my life has been a mess of sorts through the years. Because of wasted potential. Because of poor decisions. Because of human nature. Because I am who I am.

I am witnessing another example of this kind of unconditional love in this season of life, and it is a beautiful thing to watch it happen. A young girl who was left alone in this world found two parents who have opened their hearts, their home, their lives, and they love her with an intense, powerful love and prove it to her every minute of the day. To hear this amazing young girl say last night that her dream is to become permanent in this home, because she found a family who loves her no matter what, broke my heart but at the same time, made it swell with so much hope for her future and faith in the way God is at work in the lives of these parents and their foster daughter.

My daughter was born a few short months later, and from the moment she entered the world, she had two grandparents who could not be more proud of her. She and her little sister were surrounded with unconditional love and her Mama has been living in her grandparents’ forgiveness and acceptance, remembering that pat on the back from Dad all of these years later, while Grandma and Grandpa proudly displayed pictures and told stories and encouraged those little girls to sing loud and be proud of who God made them.

We all have an opportunity to love, to accept without exception.  We all have an opportunity to be “that kind of parent.”

Today, do love. Today, show grace.

I feel like I’m waiting for the ketchup to plop onto the hamburger.

Today, I am grateful for Roxanne. She sent this article to me this morning, and I was going to share something else, but this is PERFECT to start this particular week:

Gratitude is more than pausing once a year to offer up thanks. It’s more than a snappy word that rhymes with “attitude.” I am told that of all the human emotions, gratitude is the most powerful.

So powerful is gratitude, it can obliterate fear, hopelessness and doubt. Gratitude can heal a broken heart, slow the aging process and restore broken relationships. Gratitude creates hope and hope brings joy. It is in joy, not fear, that we can find strength.

Greed is the enemy. Never in this history of our country has so much meant so little to so many. The easy availability of credit has allowed us to live beyond our means. It has encouraged greed to creep into every area of our lives. Some call this affliction Affluenza—an unhappy condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.

The more we have, the more we want. The more we want, the more it takes to feel satisfied. The more credit we accept the farther we slide into debt.

The more we have the greedier we become and the more we suffer from possession overload. We let what we lack prevent gratitude for what we already have.

Affluenza in its advanced stages leads to stress. And stress leads to the breakdown of mental and physical health.

Gratitude is the antidote. Gratitude, the conscious and heartfelt expression of appreciation and thankfulness, is the number-one best antidote for dissatisfaction.

Greed says I must have more; gratitude counters with I have more than enough. Greed says my life is pathetic; gratitude says I am so blessed. Greed steals joy; gratitude restores joy.

To develop gratitude you need to talk to yourself and regularly write your thoughts. The idea is to begin to see all of life including the difficult times, as challenges, opportunities and blessings. You may also find it helpful to “reframe” a situation—to choose to see it from a new perspective.

Reframing can be difficult but is especially important when misfortune strikes. If you wreck your car, that is unfortunate. Still, it means you’re alive and that is something for which to be grateful. And you get bonus reasons for gratitude if no one was hurt, you have a good insurance policy or the car wasn’t totaled.

Authentic and heartfelt gratitude can hush up insatiable desires and negative attitudes.

For instance, you can hate your job, hate the boss, hate the people, hate the commute and hate the work. Or, you can be genuinely grateful that you have a job.

You can learn to appreciate everything about that job, even the distasteful aspects because they build your character, tolerance and compassion.

No matter what the situation, you choose your focus. If you choose fear and anger, expect depression and misery. If you choose to respond with a grateful heart, expect hope, satisfaction and joy. Yes joy, even in the midst of adversity.

Giving is the action. Want to really pull the plug on your greed? Become a giver. Giving away some of what is most precious to you—your money—is the ultimate thank-you note.

Giving allows us to take our eyes off our own situations to view the world through new eyes of compassion.

Giving is an outward expression of a personal affirmation that no matter how bleak your situation may appear, you really do have enough.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home; a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of the past. It brings strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!
– from Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate

I am grateful that almost everything is done except for the packing, and I will see my daughters and grandchildren in just a few days.

I am grateful for productivity, which makes me very grateful for Sam. He is not one to sit on the couch and watch TV. He likes projects and he is wonderful to include me. My tendency would be to sit on the couch and watch TV on a day off, but it really does feel good at the end of the day to look back and see what all was accomplished.

I am grateful for my Dad’s advice…”It’s just a ballgame.” It’s really funny to hear him say that tongue-in-cheek when our Royals are winning, but it’s excellent to remember after the last two nights of this World Series.

I am grateful for three little guys who came to our house to watch the World Series on Saturday night. I am grateful for the silliness from a little boy named Harvest. If you ask him what his name is, he’ll tell you, “Hawvest.” And what a delight to have him visit. We were watching the game, and Hawvest wanted another cookie. Instructions from Mom were to eat one fruit or vegetable before he could have another cookie. So, he circled ’round and ’round the table, saying, “I’m playing Wing Awound the Wosy, and I like bwoccoli, and I like cauliflowuh, and I like cawwots…”  In the meantime, his brothers and Dad were sitting on the couch and leaping in the air when our Royals did something awesome and there were shouts and yells and high-fives and much rejoicing. What an all-around beautiful sound in our home.

And finally, I am grateful for happy anticipation. The kind that makes you not sleep at night because all you can think about is seeing your little ones all together for the first time and hearing your girls’ laughter again.

…but it’s so worth the wait.

It’s about time for David to meet Goliath. I’m rooting for David.

I am grateful for this devotion this morning. I highlighted the sentences that were accompanied by an invisible nudge and a silent “Hey, YOU.”

Lie down in green pastures of Peace. Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd. This electronic age keeps My children “wired” much of the time, too tense to find Me in the midst of their moments. I built into your very being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need! How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives.

I have called you to walk with Me down paths of Peace. I want you to blaze a trail for others who desire to live in My Peaceful Presence. I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me. Depend on Me more and more, and I will shower Peace on all your paths.

I am grateful for the beauty of this autumn afternoon! The parking lot is a blanket of yellow and orange

I am grateful for a group of ten guys whose singing brought tears to my eyes with almost every song.

I am grateful for Sam, because he loves and appreciates good music as much as I do.

I am grateful that my job is not a clerk at Toys R Us. I would be in so much debt and my grandchildren would never appreciate gifts because Ama would never know how to stop.

I am grateful for toilet paper and indoor plumbing so that I don’t have to do that corn cob thing. So I am grateful that I was born post-outhouse days and to non-farming parents.

I am grateful for shopping carts so that I don’t drop everything as I walk down the aisles.

I am grateful for another gift of an evening at home watching the World Series! Go David, slay that Giant.

I am grateful for a van rented, car seats rented, hotel room booked, and a much smaller list of tasks to cross off before next week. 5 ½ more days!

I am grateful for Sam’s Royals t-shirt to wear today.

I am grateful for something Geri said to me on the phone the other night about being content where God has placed her. It has stuck with me and I hope that I can have that same beautiful attitude one of these days.

And I am grateful for a long phone call with Karissa last night and grateful for the sounds in the backseat of the van created by these:

The older I get, the less I care about what people think of me. Therefore, the older I get…

You have an instrument and a song, and you owe it to God to play them both sublimely. – Max Lucado

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous.
– Psalm 139:14

So random and with absolutely no flow, my gratefuls are today:

  • Memories of little white paper sacks and the sounds they made when the clerk opened them up to put candy in from the Haven Drug Store glass case
  • Memories of summer nights at the Broncs games in Hutchinson
  • The sound of an ice cold can of Dr. Pepper being popped open
  • Seven more days until my trip begins and I see my grandchildren!
  • A 95 minute phone call with Geri last night
  • The way this expression “rougher ‘n a corn cob” sounded so funny until I learned the meaning behind it

  • Watermelon in October
  • A clean load of dishes in the dishwasher
  • Anticipation for a great evening tonight, seeing “Straight No Chaser” in concert
  • Watching the crowd at the K erupt in cheers and high fives as the boys in blue dominated last night
  • Chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips
  • This song:

    Happy!

  • The sound of tap shoes
  • Hardware store employees who know everything there is to know about gadgets
  • And finally, getting off work early to go to a concert, an incredible way to spend a World Series Travel Day evening!

Photo: Nothing better than Baseball in October. #WorldSeries