Déjà vu – a feeling of having already experienced the present situation.

I bought bunnies this morning. The breed? Russell Stover solid milk chocolate. I had a stack about a foot tall, all ready for my Bingo friends tonight. When I walked in to the room, Louene had a fresh perm, white locks all curly and new. Avis was in a pleasant mood, not always the case. Ruth was her quiet self but ready to play. Barb was as confused and beautiful as usual. Jim decided he didn’t want to play tonight but stayed to watch and listen to the thrill and excitement of called numbers and the occasional “I’ve got it’s,” or “What are we playing again’s.” I had a new player, Dottie, who has watched several times but has never played until tonight. She is as sweet as honey, and her confusion is as thick. Helen and Shirley, newer additions to the group, were present and accounted for, ready to win some gold dollars. And I was missing Ken, on a trip to Texas with his children for the week. And Stan and Norma, absent because of company visiting them in their apartment. And finally…there is the chair that sits empty where Katherine is supposed to be. She was being prepped for the night by the nurse on duty, assisted by Katherine’s daughter.

After Bingo hour was over, Dottie was ready to go home. She stood out of her wheelchair and Shirley was certain she should not BE out of the wheelchair. I told Dottie I would be happy to take her to her room. “I don’t LIVE in this building, though…I just don’t understand.” We rolled out of the dining area, off to find her room, or at least a CNA or nurse on duty who could take over. After three trips up and down the hall, not knowing which room was hers, my student assistant and friend, Grace, found her room at the end of the other hallway, Dottie unsure all the way and adamant she did not LIVE in this building, until we opened her door and she recognized “home.”

Grace and I were walking down the hall to leave, when she asked about Katherine. “May we go and see her?” We walked to Katherine’s room and met Katherine’s daughter.

The oxygen machine was whirring, the room very warm from the heat that emanated from the noisy box, attached to a long, clear plastic tube that wound its way throughout the apartment. Katherine was resting in her bed, her daughter sharing that she was no longer able to respond but encouraged us to speak to her, that Hospice had informed the family that she could most likely still comprehend and hear us. Her hair had been fixed today, all brushed and pretty. She is at the stage of open mouth, drawn face. When I spoke, she moved her jaw as if she wanted to respond. Grace and I told her we loved her and held her hands. I shared with her that Sam is still battling with the squirrels, that Dad has STP’d the bird feeder pole and is enjoying watching the squirrel show every day, but we don’t have any more skunk stories to tell. And of course, we let her know we miss her at Bingo.

Tears could not be held back. Her beauty in her final hours brought back memories of a January day in an apartment on the 9th floor. Déjà vu.

On a normal Bingo night, Katherine would be the only player to open the box of bunny, unable to resist, enjoying the ears or the tail while she scolded me for talking too much because she was there to play.

Katherine’s chocolate bunny will go uneaten. And her chair will remain empty. But the angels are preparing, and her place at another table is just about ready. I hope she is seated next to Mom, or at least nearby. They would be fast friends, yes they would.

So, I am grateful for Katherine tonight. For the privilege of seeing her one more time, and for déjà vu …

Funny how perspective changes as you age.

I have begun noticing little things and medium issues that were never how it was supposed to be…until I became this age.

I sit at my desk each day and watch a constant stream of young professionals traipse by the windows – these are the younger adults in today’s world that make or break what happens, and in a sense, those happenings will affect my life immediately or in the near future. I used to be in their category.  I used to be in that category, the younger generation, who knew better than the old people, who looked past the older generations as “fuddy-duddies”, the ones who didn’t understand the world today.  I am now the woman who is looked past, not at. I am sandwiched between the young professionals and the seasoned and successful ready-to-retires.

I follow some wonderful writers who have delightful blogs – they are mostly 30-somethings, and it hit me the other day: they are really creative and bright and if they were in charge of the world, I guess it would be okay. Okay to let go and let this next generation of millennials try their hand at running the place, with their passion for social justice and recycling to make the world a cleaner and more pleasant place, their unexplainable intelligence at figuring out social networking and apps and websites and wireless and Instagram and Vine and Pinterest and Flickr and Spotify and…I have a Facebook page and an email address, and I used to be hip & happenin’. The fact that I just typed hip & happenin’ puts me into a whole different category.

As I enter this phase of life – enter, who am I kidding – as I live in this phase of life, it is such an odd feeling to watch young moms deal with the same issues I dealt with as a young mom, although now their issues seem to be magnified with the addition of smart phones and Ipads and gaming systems and creepers who can steal identity and stalk online. But they still struggle to handle correct discipline and appropriate punishment and unity in decision-making with their spouse and communication issues and balancing work and fun and family time and bed time and consumerism and laundry day.

I like this phase of life when I can enjoy the things I enjoy and turn my nose up at the things I don’t. I like the same meals at the same restaurants. I like going to bed earlier. I don’t think it is particularly fun to go out on the town for late night music. At least not unless it’s really GREAT music, but that’s when those young professionals would quietly snicker behind my back and say, “Really?” when my choice for really great music would involve sitting down, not standing up, in a quiet venue rather than raucous.

I see how things are so very important to the younger generation, and so many are concerned with appearances and having the latest and greatest, and I remember those days and wince.  I also see how issues are so very important to some in the younger generation, so concerned with saving the planet and social justice and being a voice for a cause, and I smile.

I see how my Dad has begun to slow down and enjoy life rather than work his way through it. I see how very important family ties become as I begin to age and watch my Bingo friends silently ache for visits or phone calls or letters in the mail. I see how silently making fun of elderly people or overweight people who struggled to walk is not so funny anymore, now that I sometimes struggle myself. I see how the younger generation tends to leave out the older generation when it comes to music preferences in church, and it is much more of an issue for me now that my music preferences are not what the younger generation knows. I see how difficult it can be for an older person to participate in a crowd when the hearing is not what it used to be, now that my hearing doesn’t quite catch everything.

Perspective changes as you age. And the funny thing is, you won’t have this perspective until you live it. You can’t know what you don’t know.

I am grateful today for perspective, for being 50, for the sometimes wisdom to keep my mouth shut and let the younger generation figure it out as they live and experience. I am grateful for my comfort zone. I am grateful for the gift of looking back to see the younger generation try to figure it out, grateful for the example I have of an older generation who can still teach me so much as I live out this season. And I am grateful for the younger generation, the ones who are bright and intelligent and have a passion that is infectious, the ones that inspire me to be grateful, to live life with joy, to add a little whimsy and carry an attitude of “who cares what anyone else thinks?!”

It’s all about what chair you’re sitting in.

My quarter chose a great song today on the internal jukebox.

I am grateful that I grew up with such powerful songs on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings. Train up a child in the way she should go and when she is old, she will not depart from it…

THIS is what begins my day and will stay with me throughout.

How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior’s love for ME.

I’d never seen a sugar glider in a restaurant…until now. Actually, I’d never seen a sugar glider.

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. It has been such a busy week. No excuse for not making the time to write my gratefuls, especially when I am grateful for so many things.

  • Lunch with my Dad, my sister, and my niece, to celebrate Dad’s day
  • Laughter and peace around the table
  • White roses on the counter
  • Silly Andrae stories
  • Being asked to play the piano at church
  • Having my Dad sitting next to me in the car as we drove to church
  • Rain and a little bit of thunder
  • Birds and squirrels entertaining at the feeder
  • Natia found by decent neighbors
  • Productivity at work
  • Sweet moments in the mornings before Sam leaves for the day
  • The privilege of hearing the adult choir sing for almost two hours
  • Not having to wear fancy dressy clothes to work every day
  • Silly grown-ups who put little possum creatures in a pack and bring them out for show & tell at the table in a restaurant for the rest of us to gawk at
  • Hochevar back in the lineup
  • Opportunities for Dad to begin finding his space and place in this town
  • An abundance of tasks to accomplish before the weekend is over
  • A husband who knows how to find German sweet chocolate for my recipe
  • Colby Jack cheese
  • My Dad and the fact that he is HERE now
  • And this:

Every day at work, home, school, and play, God presents us with opportunities to be a blessing to people who may not be as nice to us as we deserve or desire. In the middle of these opportunities, He strengthens us and enables us to pay back good for evil. – Thelma Wells

Can there be anything cuter than a puppy? Nay nay, I say.

It’s National Puppy Day today. I am grateful for puppies and grateful for people who adopt puppies and raise puppies to be decent dogs.

I am grateful for unmelted sugar at the bottom of the tea glass that happens to get sucked up into the straw.

I am grateful for breeze-blown curtains and open windows that allow for that, although we have no curtains. It’s a nice thought, though.

I am grateful for little girl Easter dresses.

I am grateful for walks with my best friend.

I am grateful for little bunny foo foo cookies baked and almost ready to send.

I am grateful for no more grouting.

I am grateful for clean floors, clean stairs, clean fireplace doors, clean shoes, a clean yard, and time after work to just sit and visit with my Dad after he has cleaned all day long. Which makes me very grateful for my Dad.

I am grateful for a bird feeder found and now hanging once again.

I am grateful for a great message at church yesterday.

I am grateful that Mom’s wedding dress is not lost.

I am grateful to be able to watch the Shockers once again this year excite and amaze. Rock, Shock, Jay, Hawk, K, WHO?

I am grateful for Mahogany Chiffon Chocolate Cake from Grandmommy and grateful that Angela requested it for her birthday.

And I am grateful that Sam likes to stop and talk to people and is so witty and quick with fun.

Gratitudes all day will keep the attitude away.

I am grateful for this devotion this morning. I have someone who is challenging in my life, and I needed to be disciplined today about how I handle my attitude. 

We all have people in our lives with whom we struggle. We may not name them “enemies”–we might call them challenging or difficult. And then there are those within and outside our country’s borders who stand against our nation, our way of life, our communities and even the Church, many of whom do not even know us personally.

So how do we handle “enemies”? What do we do? Let us look to the one who was and is the most grace-filled–the one who died to save all, even his enemies. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches us the following law of love.

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you,love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.” (Matthew 5:43-48, Common English Bible)

Praying for our enemies or for those who harass us is powerful. Sometimes, it may help change those for whom we pray; but one thing is for sure–praying for our enemies will always help change us, the ones doing the praying. Through those prayers, God will soften our hearts and show us ways to love those challenging folks in our lives. Through those prayers, God will help us become more loving and caring to all, even to ourselves. Through those prayers, lives will be changed and wisdom will be gained. Through those prayers, we will continue to grow into the more complete, compassionate people God created us to be.

So may we love our enemies and pray for our enemies and show kindness to our enemies–not only to change them, but to change us. – Chris Holliday, Associate Minister, COR

It’s funny, because someone sent this note to me a few minutes ago, one that I also needed to hear:

We talked about his anger this weekend and that I thought watching so much [conservative news] was not healthy for him because it gets him so angry and full of hate for something he has NO CONTROL. He said that is what he prayed for in church, was to help him with his anger. I am trying to get him to see that talking about problems in the world, government, sports… just brings bad [thoughts and attitudes] that aren’t good for him or us. So we will see how he does but he seems to really be working on it.

Good lessons to start the week off right. I am grateful for lessons on Monday mornings.

The earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am grateful for tulips.

I am grateful for a vehicle that has windows that roll down for breeze and pleasure. I am not as grateful for other windows that roll down for inappropriate rap music and cigarette smoke.

I am grateful for memories of Natia enjoying a sunbeam and Topo scratching his back in the grass.

I am grateful for my devotions today that I have read now several times. I need some brain and heart superglue to make this stick:

Thank me for the glorious gift of My Spirit. This is like priming the pump of a well. As you bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving, regardless of your feelings, My Spirit is able to work more freely within you. This produces more thankfulness and more freedom, until you are overflowing with gratitude.

I shower blessings on you daily but sometimes you don’t perceive them. When you mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts. In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind. This will clear the blockage so that you can find Me.

I am grateful for time to get away from the office and just enjoy the sunshine and the birds singing for a little while.

I am grateful for bags of donations to give to the Rescue Mission thrift store.

I am grateful for close basketball games that are fun to watch.

I am grateful for the book of Ephesians.

I am grateful that my daughter has called me a few times this week.

I am grateful for bills paid.

I am grateful to be able to witness the elderly man with the Royals baseball cap who came in the building very slowly in order to visit his financial planner, the young man who pushes his Mom in a wheelchair every day to take her to one of the offices above, the elderly couple who walked past my window holding hands, the Dad who brought his spring break daughters to work with him, the brave window washers who deserve a beautiful first spring day, the group of Asian young men who laugh together as they walk outside during one of their computer breaks, the UPS and FedEx delivery people who have a skip in their step today since it is such a pleasant afternoon, and I am grateful to have witnessed a flower delivery person who just made someone’s day even prettier.

I’m rolling my eyes on the inside. They can’t see me do it, but God can. That counts.

I am grateful for a fork not plastic when the fruit is hard and looking for a utensil to break.

I am grateful for the anticipation of Easter clothes and shoes and baskets and bunny cookies to get ready for sending this weekend.

I am grateful that I do not have to live with people who can easily cause me to be annoyed and bitter.

I am grateful for restrooms with paper towels instead of half-hearted hand dryers or dryers that cause hearing loss.

I am grateful for the rain.

I am grateful that March Madness is bigger than the Big XII and fun to watch but it’s not my attitude killer when my bracket gets ugly.

I am grateful for working wipers and a large umbrella.

I am grateful that my Dad took the dumpster to the curb.

I am grateful for quiet time this morning and grateful that Sam asked me to read to him.

I am grateful for a fleece pullover today.

And I am grateful for quiet time in the car to release the bitter and the annoyance and the overall grumpy before an evening of basketball with my guys.

No rain means no rainbow.

I am grateful for days when I am reminded how important it is to reach out and be genuinely interested, when it is more important to pick up the phone and call to inquire, when it is more important to ask questions rather than answer them, when it is more important to listen than to be heard.

I am grateful for days when I feel loss – when I miss having a Mom to call, when I miss being a Mom who is called, when I am the one left out of holidays and celebrations and visits and invitations to visit, when I no longer have that connection to someone for a random “How are you doing today?” phone call, when I miss being needed and wanted. I am grateful for these days, because these are the days when I am reminded once again that I have all that I need, that I am under His wing, that I can lean on His everlasting arms, that no one understands like Jesus.

I am grateful for days when I am still Mom – when my opinion is sought out, when pictures are shared, when love is shown, when I am still needed and wanted, when I can support and encourage and pray for the best children and grandchildren in the world. These are the days when I am more aware of how much my own Mom loved me and cheered me on and loved me unconditionally and squeezed hard with hugs and made me feel like I was the most important phone call of the day.

Sometimes I understand a woman’s need to adopt, to have another child, to seek out love wherever she can find it, to gather dogs and cats in abundance – that desire to love and be loved, to feel needed, to take care. Those emotions can be so strong.

So, for these feelings, I am grateful for this passage today:

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (The Message)

Happiness is…a regular sized Reese’s peanut butter cup.

I am grateful that it is roly-poly time again. They have arrived in the public restroom on my floor in the building, and that means that spring has sprung. Yay. Now, the anticipation of the first thunderstorm…

I am grateful for rest when my body is less than.

I am grateful for birds singing, and I imagine this is what they are singing: “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free! His eye is on the sparrow over there, and I know He’s watching me…too!”

Happiness is…baby giggles.

I am grateful for my sister who was in a much better place than I on Saturday and was able to help Dad sort and discard. I just don’t want to throw anything away.

I am grateful for a letter from Dean that arrived yesterday, with a magazine article about planning family reunions that my Mom sent to him several years ago with a handwritten note attached. Oh, Mom.  It goes with the file she kept with silly songs to sing at family reunions that Angela found on Saturday. At least Mom was an ORGANIZED article hoarder.

Happiness is…a new pair of fluffy socks.

I am grateful for a cinnamon sugar bagel that made the day better, and a chocolate long john that satisfied this morning. Goodness, you must STOP this, Sam. Fortunately, these were not gifts on the same day.

Happiness is…happy tears when watching a child being interviewed by Ellen.

I am grateful for a solitary evening walk after dark that helped me to conquer a small fear.

I am grateful for funny text messages from my daughter.

Happiness is…a $2 bill left as part of the tip.

I am grateful for this rare find these days for my Bingo prize tonight:

Which makes me grateful for memories of something like this hanging on the tree:

Happiness is…seeing old newspaper articles about my Dad and his full-service gas station.

I am grateful for the beginning signs of tulips and hyacinths and daffodils.

And finally, I am grateful that I am not a shoe person. I have several pairs, but I don’t enjoy shoe shopping, don’t see the need for a pair in every color, like that I am still wearing the same shoes I have had for YEARS, and am mostly content.

I am grateful to be content.