Today is YOUR day! Your mountain is waiting. So…GET ON YOUR WAY! – Dr. Seuss

I am grateful for the gift of visiting my daughter and her beautiful family.

I am grateful for peace.

I am grateful for the office closing early on a Friday afternoon.

I am grateful for a happy co-worker.

I am grateful that Dad is making friends.

I am grateful for chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes.

Take time to notice all the usually unnoticed, simple things in life. Delight in the never-ending hope that is available every day! – Dayspring Daybrightener

I am grateful for a full tank of gas and a clean car.

I am grateful for the heart pain of not being in Texas or Oregon tomorrow, two places I wish I could be.

I am grateful that I don’t have to eat raisins or mushrooms or big huge broccoli bushes in my food if I don’t want to.

I am grateful for the privilege of seeing Kristi graduate from St. Paul’s School of Theology yesterday.

I am grateful for Sam.

I am grateful that Erin and Jared stopped by to visit last weekend. If it were legal to adopt adults, I would adopt those two.

And I am grateful for the anticipation of a week in the mountains.

Music to my ears = a trio, crying in the back of the van at goodbye.

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I am grateful for hearing: Ama! Ama! Look at this!  Ama! Ama! Ama! Come here, Ama!

I am grateful for five little ones who let me peek into their world for the past four days.

I am grateful for my little superhero who loved my chicken and noodles at lunchtime today.

I am grateful for my daughter, the only person I know who is capable of raising five little superheroes.

I am grateful for sore muscles and exhaustion from scrubbing floors and vacuuming carpets and chasing escape artists and doing loads of laundry and washing dishes and making meals and reading books and responding to a thousand “Ama, look at this!” ‘s.

I am grateful for a sticky arm from a little goofnut who was covered in ice cream this afternoon.

I am grateful that my daughter and the original sickster are feeling better today.

I am grateful for a Princess Tiana tattoo on my tummy, just like the four amigos.

And I am grateful that in one short plane ride, I will be home, but I will be grateful for the tears that will flow while I miss the music to my ears.

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Insert hand, foot, and mouth.

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Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common human syndrome caused by highly contagious intestinal viruses of the picornaviridae family. HFMD is typically characterized by a mild fever followed by a rash of flat discolored spots and bumps that may blister, involving the skin of the hands, feet, mouth, and occasionally the buttocks and genitalia. HFMD mainly affects infants and children, but can occasionally occur in adults. -Wikipedia

I sit in the calm of a house chaotic on a Tuesday afternoon in late July, the only sounds of air conditioner hum, an occasional newborn dreaming coos, and the heated clicks of an oven self-cleaning. Mommy is sound asleep in her room, as are three toddlers who are sleeping so they can wake up to fun with Ama. The 1 1/2 year old is asleep in her crib, fitfully…but asleep, for now.

That crib sleeper began the crisis of HFMD, but apparently it is now spreading, with Mommy now down for the count. It is only a matter of time before the three hyper sillies begin to show fever and then blister.

I am grateful for the time given so that I am able to assist my daughter and son-in-law this week.

I am grateful for less crankiness and more silliness.

I am grateful for “yes, ma’ams” and “no sirs.”

I am grateful for feeling once again the hand of a child in mine.

I am grateful once again for sitting in a play area having conversation with my daughter, before she began to feel the ugly sickness.

I am grateful for people who say, “You have the most beautiful/adorable/well-behaved/pretty children/grandchildren.” It does an Ama heart good.

I am grateful for a granddaughter just five who babysits like a pro, who instinctively holds the elevator door open for a store employee who is pushing a heavy load, who entertains by giving big cardboard box rides to the younger sisters, who fetches and retrieves without complaint.

I am grateful for a grandson who does a pretty mean impression of any superhero ever.

And I am grateful for time to travel in the van with at least three littles in the back, all singing along to Christian music like it was “Wheels on the bus.”

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I am grateful for the sound of baby hiccups.

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I am grateful for a new day.

I am grateful for vitamins.

I am grateful for a phone charger.

I am grateful for air conditioning in the heat of summer.

I am grateful for rest.

I am grateful for Sam who calls me to check in and lets me know he misses me and loves me.

I am grateful for toothpaste.

I am grateful for a clean house and the energy I have to make it so…most of the time.

I am grateful for reading time.

And I am grateful for cheddar cheese.

Back to the drawing board and all the little things.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. – Sir John Lubbock

I am grateful for the sound of summer bugs on a hot afternoon.

I am grateful for Sonic ice.

I am grateful for an ice cream cone for no reason but to enjoy.

I am grateful for whimsy.

I am grateful for people who work in this building who bring their little ones to visit in their offices, so that I can have a glimpse of youthful chatter and fun as they walk by.

I am grateful for cool mountain mornings that we will soon experience.

I am grateful for corn on the cob. I think I could eat 10 in one sitting/setting…whatever it is.

I am grateful for sun tanned skin.

I am grateful for really good coupons.

I am grateful for good hair days.

I am grateful to have my car fixed – thank you Sam and Dad.

I am grateful that Angela and Julie cared enough to email and text.

And I am grateful for late-night-out-loud-laughter-all-by-myself as I watched a recorded Ellen show about her child guests. See what I mean??

Life is not fair.

There are so many things in my life right now that could tear me down and make me crumble into a bitter mess.

It was almost easy when I lost everything, to be grateful for every. last. thing. I lost everything due to my own choices, and although some of the consequences were uncalled for and unjustly bestowed, and were very unfair, I was humbled by the mercy shown to me and the grace freely given. That made it so easy to be incredibly grateful for the tiniest of blessings.

But, right now, I haven’t done anything wrong to deserve the unfair treatment. In fact, I’ve gone above and beyond in most circumstances. And I am still on the bottom of the totem pole. I am still running the race and finishing in last place, or at least in 2nd place.

Life is not fair.

And I am the older brother.

I am awakened to the reality that I have been caught stomping my feet on the sidelines. I say internally, “But I have served over and over, given over and over, I have loved and adored, I’ve worked hard, I’ve kept my mouth shut when I could have screamed!” And the ugly grows.

And life is not fair.

The snide, biting comments said through self-righteous eyes. The attitude towards selfish younger generation that makes me want to disappear into hermitville. The pout because I don’t have this or that. The thoughts that creep into the crevices about her irresponsibility, their marriage, his lack of gratitude and helpfulness, those who are less-than-fill-in-the-blank. I should be flat on my back from bitterness and crabby and pharisaical self-righteousness.

But no. I am blessed. I have a great job. I have some family members who care about me. I have a husband who loves me and tells me many times a day and showers me with the affection I so craved for many years. I have opportunities to serve and to give and to spread Jesus through action and attitude. I have a home and nice clothes and a young CASA girl who lets me spend time with her to fill my heart pain with love. I have the most wonderful church that feeds me with hope and challenges me to humble myself, a church that provides weekly opportunities to give and to serve, a church that rescued me and welcomed me as a broken, only to offer acceptance and healing through gentle restoration.

Life is definitely not fair. I do not deserve the blessing.

But God, the Father who loves me as I am, not as I should be, runs to me with open arms, welcoming me and showering me with grace and mercy and continues to bless me abundantly.

Life is not fair. And for that today, I am humbled. I am remorseful. I am human. I am forgiven. And I am grateful.

I am grateful for this today.

I am grateful that this song is a part of my history, that my parents were faithful in attending church, that for all of the times that I sat on the hard pews and drew on bulletins and folded gum wrappers and bugged my sister and slept on my Mom’s lap and got thumped when I was too noisy, God was implanting the voices of Lowell and Josephine and Carolyn at the piano and Roy Quick’s warbles and Mom’s strong alto and Shirley’s “Amen!” and the words of this beautiful hymn.