The rains came down and the floods came up.

T. Matthews Fine Art

I enjoyed a few minutes this morning looking out the window.

I woke up to the peaceful sound of rain and the comfort of gentle thunder, and it was most pleasant. What a gift to receive when the day first begins.

Drops of rain in a brownish grayish puddle on the patio are beautiful. The tiny ripple circles create a picture that cannot be duplicated. At least not exactly duplicated.

I thought of the rain and how welcome it is in my solitary world, but how unwelcome it is to others right now. How the rain is necessary for May flowers and green grass, but how devastating it is when pouring into a basement or pushing cars downstream. A good thing to some can be detrimental to others.

And then, I sat down at the table to read. Matthew 7. Two people. Two homes. What to the world looks like stability and beauty, can actually end up looking much different when the foundation is tested and the rains begin to fall.

Rain to the wise man only bolsters his decision to have prepared, to take care of his foundation for the times when the clouds would form and the floods arrived.  He can weather the storm because he did it the right way from the very beginning, even when it meant more work and less fun.

But rain to the foolish man forces him to notice the lack of preparation and absence of care to his home. He had time, lots of time, to do things the right way, to notice the leaks and the weak places. He had gone to school and learned the building trade. But HE chose where to build and how to build. HE chose to make it look pretty on the outside while ignoring the heart of the structure.

For so many years, I lived a life of sweeping things under the rug, of covering up the ugly and unfinished, of putting a wreath on the door and keeping that door closed to the outside world. It was easier to go about the business of smiling and wearing the mask, hanging the wreath that said, “All is well, I’m good, don’t bother me,” while avoiding the conflict in order to not deal with the crap.

And my foundation crumbled when I least expected.

I am grateful today that I serve the God who created the rainbow. Because I needed a rainbow after the storm came, the flood swept away the foundation, and I was left standing in the muck.

I am grateful that my faulty foundation is gone and I am now building on a rock. THE Rock.

I am grateful that my life is full of “rocks” who lift me up and support me when I’m weak on my own.

And I am grateful to see beauty and promise when the rain falls and I now, most of the time, recognize it as a gift.

Make a new plan, Stan.

I am grateful that my counselor emails me with kindness onscreen.

I am grateful for a co-worker whose response to a crisis was to sing the Doxology and share that with me, because she knew I would “get it.”

I am grateful for another co-worker who gave me a very sweet compliment about oatmeal cookies that I made. I am not skilled at making oatmeal cookies, so it meant that much more for her to tell me they were the best she’s ever had and then added, “They are from the devil.” Because I heard her say it and watched her face as she ate, I will accept that as a compliment.

I am grateful for a surprise visit today here in the office from my Dad and a favorite pastor from my childhood, Keith Ellis. What a treat! I am fairly certain I have not seen him in over 35 years.

I am grateful for loving and helpful advice from Michelle.

Get on the bus, Gus.

I am grateful to have witnessed Louene and Norma reaching out to Dottie last night and helping her play Bingo. Dottie doesn’t understand our versions of the game and gets so confused when a straight line doesn’t win. Louene and Norma were so patient and sweet to constantly explain the game to her without getting grumpy.

I am grateful for a quiet evening last night, Royals game turned off since it was no fun to watch them lose, in order to read multiple chapters of my book and then get the ironing all done.

I am grateful for wide parking spaces.

I am grateful for one hotdog warmed in the microwave for my lunch.

I am grateful for catchy tunes that are pleasant.

Don’t need to be coy, Roy.

I am grateful for another co-worker who left me an email in my inbox this morning that gave me a huge boost of confidence and entrusted me with more responsibility for the next week.

I am grateful for shiny gold dollars and crisp money that smells new.

I am grateful that I am not on my feet all day at work.

I am grateful for really good coupons and stores that take them even after they expire.

And I am grateful for daily pictures from Tymber while the family is on their vacation.

Drop off the key, Lee, and set yourse-e-elf, free.

Some days, it would be nice to have a dog.

person-walking

I am grateful for a breeze.

I am grateful for Sam – without him, I wouldn’t have walked all those miles this past weekend.

I am grateful for the joy that I feel when I see a dog’s head hanging out a car window, taking it all in.

I am grateful for a hug from my Dad today.

I am grateful for a rescued chipmunk.

I am grateful for cards sent to my new list of summer pastors.

And I am grateful for quiet camaraderie and understanding from Mary.

Chocolate comes from cacao, which is a tree. That makes it a plant. Chocolate is salad.

I am grateful for chocolate. Pretty much chocolate anything.

I am grateful for blue sky with one teeny tiny white puff of a cloud when it is about 60 degrees outside.

I am grateful for bacon. Pretty much bacon anything.

I am grateful for sticker stamps that you don’t have to lick. I’m also grateful for stamps that are no longer perforated sheets that caused me more often than not to accidentally rip perfectly good stamps. Young people wouldn’t even have a clue there was ever anything else besides sticker stamps.

I am grateful for conviction that keeps me from judgment. I just need to look at people and imagine they are trees.

I am grateful for right click that quickly shows me if I am spelling judgment correctly. I was. I could have spelled it judgement, too. They are both correct. That would be why little red squiggly line did not appear under the word. Which makes me grateful for little red squiggly line. Dictionary? What is THAT?

And I am grateful for chocolate bacon cupcakes that need to be on my list to make as soon as I possibly can.

Audience of One.

I am grateful for my church devotion today based on Matthew 6:1-15. I’m pretty sure John Ortberg must have some Quaker blood in him. Or maybe he was in Mom’s Sunday School class at one time. This was what got to me:

Here’s a simple way to examine your motives, shared by Pastor John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: “Do something good and try to make sure no one finds out about it” (p. 168). 

Matthew 6:1-15 (CEB)

“Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.”

I am grateful for the reminder today that our kindness, our compassion, our mission, should not be for the recognition we want from others, but for the Audience of One.

I am grateful today for loneliness. It takes me back and is a good reminder of the pain and the heartache that allows me to be even more grateful for where I am now.

I am grateful for funny. It would be a very sad world if there was no such thing as funny.

I am grateful for stain remover.

I am grateful for my daughters’ friends.

I am grateful for ways and means of seeing pictures of my granddaughters even when…

I am grateful that my sister visited my aunt and uncle in Pratt yesterday.

I am grateful for the end of a work day.

I am grateful for a REALLY GOOD BOOK. It makes me so sad I have to read it a couple of chapters at a time, but IT IS SO GOOD. Today would have been a great day to stay home and relax under a blanket and read and cry and read and sigh. Shoulda coulda woulda but there is that work component that doesn’t seem to fit the schedule I want.

And I am grateful that a really terrific family is about to embark on a wonderful adventure vacation to see things they have never seen before. Yay for them! Life is too short to not take fun vacations.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

This morning, I am grateful for the energy to get up and go to work an hour and a half earlier than usual.

I am grateful for cheerios in a zipper bag.

I am grateful to have watched Macey Hensley before turning off the TV last night.

Macey for President in 2016.

I am grateful for Avis’ grumpy muttering during Bingo that makes me smile. “Well, doesn’t that just bust yer buttons…”

I am grateful for memories of childhood games that I played in music with my elementary classes.

I am grateful for a tupperware orange peeler, one of the best inventions of all time.

I am grateful for Tymber and her sweetest heart.

I am grateful for Jared’s letter to my daughter.

I am grateful that our home does not smell old and musty, even after the flood of 2015.

I am grateful for urgency to get things done. There’s nothing like urgency in order to motivate.

And I am grateful for the wisdom of Barbara Johnson:

We can never untangle all the woes in other people’s lives. We can’t produce miracles overnight. But we can bring a cup of cool water to a thirsty soul, or a scoop of laughter to a lonely heart.

Cinnamon toothpicks.

I am grateful for moments when I can walk outside and reach my face to the sunshine on a cool day. It is a wonderful feeling.

I am grateful for people who use toothpicks in the privacy of their own space, behind closed doors and certainly not at the table with others present. I am also grateful for those bonus toothpicks from my history that were coated with cinnamon oil. Mmmmmm.

I am grateful for memories of summer camp crafts, the hilly dirt road, and the big slide at Camp Quaker Haven.

I am grateful for clothes pins.

I am grateful that the basement flood of 2015 1) happened  when we were home for the weekend, 2) did not happen on a weekday when we would have needed to be at work, 3) gave us a clean-up day that was sunny and breezy but not hot, 4) allowed us to save the carpet, 5) did not involve mud and ruined belongings.

I am grateful for friends, nice neighbors, and family who help out when needed.

I am grateful for graduation announcements addressed to us.

I am grateful for memories of vacations that involved going someplace never-seen-before-new.

I am grateful for rainbow sherbet.

And I am grateful for this today that happened to show up on my computer screen:

Do it again.

I am grateful for the beauty of cottonwood tree fluff that floats through a sunbeam.

I am grateful for memories of end of the day television programming sign off indicated by the Star Spangled Banner and that furling flag.

I am grateful for a good doctor appointment today for Karissa.

I am grateful again for this quote from G.K. Chesterton:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.

For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.

It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.

It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

 

I am grateful for moist and flavorful chicken tenders from Culvers, and if I have enough change in the car, two of them will be my dinner tonight after choir.

I am grateful that the Royals win more than they lose.

I am grateful for the one bottle of men’s cologne that I spray on myself most mornings just because I like the smell and I don’t care that I smell like men’s cologne. Thank you, Angela and Rachel, for giving that bottle to Sam two years ago so that I could enjoy it.

I am grateful for Julie today. Your email made me cry and made me realize I am not alone.

And I am grateful for internal hearing memories, so that I can replay in my mind Parker quietly saying with a sweet grin, “Again? Again? Again, Ama! Again!”

Simpleton redefined.

sim·ple·ton – a foolish or gullible person.

sim·ple·ton, redefined – unadorned and invisible, but valuable and loved by One.

I am grateful for the beauty of the simpleton. It’s what I named him. Simpleton. He’s my sparrow friend who teases me almost every morning with a visit just inside the open garage. A little hop, hop, hop to check things out, his cute little head turning to keep an eye on me as I peek at him.  I watch this little guy that might be a little girl but how would I ever know, and I am immediately drawn to him because of his simplicity. He isn’t crimson red attractive or head turning blue.  He wears brown just fine.  He is the nobody, the one no one notices.  He makes noise. He sings his song. He goes about his business exactly like the prettier birds. And he sometimes makes his nest where he is uninvited.  More often than not, he is dismissed and rejected.

I’m wearing brown today. I can relate in many areas of my life. There are some days when I feel very invisible, very blah, very annoying to everyone around me. There are days when I wish I could be red or purple or royal blue. I’m just a brown simpleton. But, several times in the Bible, God speaks of the “sparrow” and assures us that His care knows no prejudice.

In 1904, a songwriter, Mrs. Civilla Martin, went to visit a bedridden friend in Elmira, New York. Mrs. Martin asked the woman if she ever got discouraged because of her physical condition. Her friend quickly responded: “Mrs. Martin, how can I be discouraged when my heavenly Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me?”

On her journey back home, Mrs. Martin completed the writing of her new text, which has since been a source of much encouragement to many of God’s people:

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, why should my heart be lonely and long for Heaven and home, when Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me…

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me…

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me…

I am grateful for the color brown, and I am grateful for my friend, Simpleton, who reminded me, because my simpleton-ness sometimes forgets, that I am loved today.

Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul.

I am grateful for the promise of a new day. Forget yesterday and the day before. Focus on today. A co-worker told me yesterday that her daughter deserves to have a Mom who lives in the present, not the past. I like that. I want to be a person who lives in the present, not the past.

I am grateful for growing tomato plants.

I am grateful for those sparrows again. They make me smile.

I am grateful for a clean kitchen floor.

I am grateful for soft almost melted chocolate chips.

I am grateful for happy hosta plants.

I am grateful for shopping carts, especially the ones that have a child in the seat and a child in the bin.

I am grateful for books that I don’t want to put down. If I could spend an entire day at home by myself, I would read. I love that world of peeking in on a different story than my own, of learning another perspective.

I am grateful for the smell of fresh cut lawn.

I am grateful for the simplicity of a Bingo game, for gold dollar coins, for $2 bills, for grumpy friends who wear Royals t-shirts and smell of 5:00 dinner, and for ladies who dress with their pretty earrings and necklaces to step out of their apartments in order to play Bingo with Rhonda on Tuesday evenings.

And I am grateful for a pleasant song playing on my internal jukebox. Hopefully, it will still be playing and I will still be singing when the evening comes.