The sounds of Sunday early morning.

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As I sit in the courtyard this morning, I am grateful for:

early quiet mornings of solitude.

cricket songs.

Kansas Public Radio and the hauntingly beautiful liturgical choral music accompanying the sunrise.

a hot shower.

good memories.

a cinnamon roll waiting for breakfast.

thoughts of Mom in heaven.

the Shaban family.

my brother’s help and joyful spirit.

my Dad.

time with Michelle.

hair done.

Sam’s sweet words always and constant.

a new tile floor, almost done.

Awesomesauce?

I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and discovered that the Oxford Dictionary brilliants have added some words to the official anthology. Awesomesauce being one of them. Huh.  In addition, they put their craniums together and determined that BUTT DIAL and MANSPREADING should also be included.

This is not right. I feel ancient Chinese secret old.

I’m still smiling on the inside when my sister-in-law uses the word “vivid” in regular everyday conversation. It’s the simple things in life, people.

Words are funny sometimes. But even funnier is hearing certain people say certain words. You know, when someone unknowingly mispronounces tortilla, (correctly spoken TOR TEE YA) and says tor-till-ya. Or don’t even get me started on nuclear (correctly spoken NEW CLEE ER) when an unnamed family member says new-kya-ler. And the topper for today is accompanist, (correctly spoken UH-COME-PAN-IST) but silly spoken uh-cump-nee-ist. Seriously? Oh. And one more. Chiropractor. KYE-RO-PRAC-TER. Not quire-pack-ter.

I am grateful for these moments that make me smile.

I am grateful for the English language that cracks me up.

I am grateful for an hour last night to sit at a kitchen table with four awesomesauce kids and talk about school and music and issues and Adam Levine.

I am grateful for an evening spent with Sam’s daughter, making cupcakes and having nice conversation.

I am grateful for 30 minutes of phone call with Katrina, hearing details of life in Oregon.

I am grateful for thunder.

I am grateful for a little bowl to microwave my egg every morning at work.

I am grateful for goldfish crackers and especially the bonus one that has extra saltiness.

And I am grateful for Friday and a weekend to go see Michelle and work on a house for sale.

Unshackled.

I am free

  • From condemnation.
  • To drive when and where I want to go.
  • To write what I want to write.
  • From feeling less than.
  • To eat what I want to eat.
  • From control.
  • To spend how I see fit.
  • From sarcasm and put downs.
  • To enjoy every little thing.
  • To complain to someone who will listen and care.
  • To look forward and not backward.
  • From worry about tomorrow.
  • To enjoy life as it has been given to me.
  • To suffer or benefit the consequences of my actions and words.

I see the limitations of his eyesight, his decline into old man, his dependence on his children to help him walk and balance. He sometimes needs others to explain exactly what he is trying to see, or where he is going, or where he is.

I recollect now the feelings I had as I watched my own Mom decline into old woman in a span of just a few short weeks. Her skin tone changed, her eyes clouded over, her confusion more apparent as she slipped from this world and prepared for the next. It was the beginning of her physical unshackling, her journey to freedom.

He is on his way.

As we all are, in our own journey.

It may be a physical unshackling of this life. It may be a mental unshackling as we break free of the chains that bind our thoughts that weigh. It may be an emotional unshackling as we let go of the hurts and pain of our past. It may be a deliberate unshackling of the present mess and chaos that envelopes us daily.

It is a journey and a process to unshackle and grasp the words and grace of John 8:36.

I walked out of the assisted living facility on Tuesday evening after calling Bingo for my old man and old woman friends. Cindy, one of my friends who is not so old but can no longer physically care for her body breaking down, had already made her way out to the front porch to smoke and enjoy the end of day in the cool evening. I looked out towards the parking lot, and there in the distance, was a familiar and welcome sight in the Kansas City skyline. Two hot air balloons suspended against a brilliant blue sky…

“They are so beautiful and peaceful to watch. That would be the ultimate freedom,” she said.

Ahhhhh. What an image.

I am so very grateful today that I am no longer shackled and labeling myself as

  • unforgiven
  • the one who sinned.
  • rejected.
  • unworthy.
  • unloved.
  • not good enough.
  • not smart enough.
  • one of “those” people.
  • the one with no degree.
  • the ultimate martyr.
  • seeking revenge.
  • a failure.

I am forgiven. And even though I am one who sins and sometimes slips back into my limitations and chooses to wear the shackles of guilt and shame, I am not rejected, I am worthy, I am loved, I am good enough, smart enough, and doggone-it, I like me.

And so does Jesus. I am not a failure. I am on my journey, un-tethering daily from the ropes and chains that have held me down. Unshackled and free.

I am grateful.

Fence, train, it’s all the same.

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I am grateful for a crisp, cool evening walk. This picture was taken last night on my phone, as we walked back to our hotel room. I am grateful for the smell of mountain air. I am grateful for the gift of breathtaking beauty that was so simple but so magnificent,

I am grateful for air conditioning in the truck that allows the windows to be up as we drive 75 mph across western Kansas today.

I am grateful for an audio cd of “Same Kind of Different As Me” to listen to while we drive home.

I am grateful for a field of sunflowers all pointing their gaze toward the light.

I am grateful for memories made this past weekend.

I am grateful for a picnic lunch in Rocky Mountain National Park accompanied by a cool breeze and a warm sun.

I am grateful for the unexpected pleasure of seeing a majestic elk, and then another, and then another and another and another…over 20, but I lost count.

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I am grateful for my Private Quarters bag that holds lots.

I am grateful for silly moments that have been non-stop:

Max: That train sure is moving slow, isn’t it.

Sam: That’s a fence, Dad.

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I am grateful for a good driver who doesn’t swerve and brake a lot.

I am grateful for back-to-school clothes ready to send to Oregon.

I am grateful for the challenge on a Saturday night to read text messages in German as we drove through the mountains in the darkness.

I am grateful for thick towels and a clean hotel with beautiful landscaping.

And I am grateful for a back end full of tile, a new project ready to begin.

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McDonalds is not a ladies ready-to-wear shop.

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I am grateful for a nap on a road trip.

I am grateful for a good driver who allows me to relax and not tense up.

I am grateful for an Icy Hot patch on a shoulder.

I am grateful for 95-year-old Max, who says the funniest things on this trip. He is losing his eyesight, and apparently he thought we were going to buy some lady clothes when we stopped for a bathroom break. “Are we at a ladies ready to wear?”

“I said LADIES READY TO WEAR not ladies UNDERWEAR!”

I am grateful for a friendly couple who liked to visit as we took a break at McDonalds.

I am grateful for anticipation of a full night’s sleep.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have a relaxing weekend in Colorado.

I am grateful for my Private Quarters plush pillow case.

I am grateful for potato chips.

I am grateful for a precious moment of hearing Max sing “America the Beautiful.”

I am grateful that Sam is not sarcastic in his speech.

I am grateful for Anjalie’s giggle.

And I am grateful when a windshield is “Delmar clean.”

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Does this outfit make my heart look big?

Eating lunch with a friend. Trying to do a decent day’s hard work. Hearing the rain patter against the window. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize Him. – Frederick Buechner

 

I am grateful for the little gifts from God that really are the big gifts from God.

I am grateful for a free ice cream social at lunch time today, even though I did not partake.

I am grateful that I refrained from partaking in the ice cream social right outside our office door.

I am grateful for a WalMart associate named Ria. She had the prettiest, sweetest smile today and her parents taught her to make eye contact when speaking kindly to anyone and everyone. I witnessed it, and I was the recipient.

 

I am grateful for the delight in seeing a cat’s paw bat at a string.

I am grateful for the pleasant memories of Sneakers waking the family up in the middle of the night as he hopped up onto the piano keys.

I am grateful for the laughter generated when Ruska chased Panther and then Panther chased Ruska. And when Fifi chased Sneakers and then Sneakers chased Fifi.

I am grateful for hilarious dog and cat names.

I am grateful for the beautiful big feelings of hearing a cat purr.

I am grateful for cats who find empty boxes and brown paper bags and beams from a flashlight or a red laser pointer and know how to use them for fun.

 

I am grateful for cats who fall asleep on laps and create a warm living blanket.

I am grateful for a chauffeur driver who stood outside the office door waiting on his passenger, because this man knows how to dress. Crisp suit, tie, and a sharp silver fedora. He was a great distraction this afternoon from a monotonous day.

Image result for shiny grey fedora

 

And I am grateful for this devotion from Dad’s book today:

 

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. – Colossians 3:14

In his book on auditioning for Broadway, director Michael Shurtleff tells actors to consider every scene in a play “a love scene.” It’s not that every scene is romantic. But every scene has emotion, and our core emotion is love. “The desire for love, to give it or receive it…is the chief propellant in human beings,” wrote Shurtleff. “An actor had best learn that.”

We’d best all learn that. Every experience in life is a love scene, and Christians are to love as Jesus loves. The Bible speaks of putting on love like a garment. Colossians 3:14 (NLT) says, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love.” It’s a cloak we never remove. Since the Bible uses this symbol, why not take a moment and visualize it. Look at the clothes you’re wearing today. Think of them as radiating love. Think of yourself as wearing the invisible threads of love, doing good, meeting needs, shedding offenses, showing compassion, projecting friendliness. That’s the uniform of the Christian.

Gold shag.

 

I am grateful for memories of raking the gold shag carpet on Saturdays and making it look perfect.

 

 

I am grateful for memories of getting a shot at the doctor which led to Mom taking me to the fish store to get a new angelfish for the aquarium since I didn’t cry.

I am grateful for weeds to pull which takes me outside and offers me a little exercise.

I am grateful for early mornings at work to get a head start on the day.

I am grateful for memories of chapel videos at CBA. This had to be one of my favorites. It’s long, but if you can play it while you do something else this morning and just listen…wow.  Wow. Wow. Wow.

 

 

And I am grateful for quiet early mornings at work when I am all alone and can listen to Louie Giglio while I work and be brought to tears at the majesty and magnificence of God and His attention to detail in creation and the brilliance and awe of laminin.