WHAT is the NAME of that GAME?! Grrrr.

I am grateful for moments to sit on a patio chair in the driveway and watch the moon show and listen to crickets and katydon’ts.

I am grateful for surprise conversations with Delores when she’s in my Dad’s cell phone.

I am grateful for a text picture of beautiful Parker after her soccer game.

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I am grateful for a new unique tree to watch grow.

I am grateful for the sound of a dog dreaming.

I am grateful for store owners who let their pets be a part. I remember a cell phone store in Weatherford that was home to a pet duck. Funniest pet.

I am grateful for memories of family togetherness with a slide show on the wall. I always wanted to run the projector so we could hurry through the fires/car wrecks/airplane pictures and get to the funny people pictures. And I loved the sound of the clicking to the next picture.

I am grateful for my daughter who never ceases to amaze me at her creativity in taking pictures, learning photography on her own and turning it into a business, and her energy abundance:

I am grateful for memories of a board game we used to have that I want to find again, if only I could remember the name of it. It was like checkers, except that the game pieces were like little white cups and the color you chose was hidden inside the cups, so you moved your pieces across the board like checkers but you couldn’t check to make sure you were moving the right piece until you got to the other side. It’s gonna drive me NUTS until I think of the name of that game.

I am grateful for my niece Rachel. She’s 18 today, and Dad and I get to see her play softball one last time…

I am grateful for Altoids cinnamon curiously strong mints. That description is an understatement.

I am grateful that my happiness does not hinge on a Royals win.

I am grateful that the weekend is going to be crazy full.

And finally, I am grateful for this heart-stirring blog post written by Beth Woolsey that I read this morning. It reminded me once again that I do not know what goes on behind closed doors, that there is more to the story than what I see or what the face shows, that until I have walked in their shoes, I have no place to assume or judge, and that stuffed animals are very important and should be treasured. Take a minute to read and smile, or read and cry, or both.

On the things I don’t tell you.

I am grateful that the veil was torn and I can talk to God anywhere, any time.

Good morning, God –

I know you won’t mind me talking to you in my gratefuls today. I just wanted to spill my feelings about church yesterday – I wanted to write it all down after church, but there wasn’t a time in the day when I could do that, so here I am, some of my thoughts now escaped and gone with the wind. Adam talked about the “resurrection of the body” yesterday from the Apostles Creed, but You already know that. It was good to hear, and it was really nice to think about Mom and heaven and imagine what it will be like. Not having a clue what it is like, would You please give Mom a big hug from me? And tell her that Dad is feeding the birds, and the squirrels. She’ll be so happy about that, I know. And let her know how the Royals are doing, too. And please tell her that Sam is still as wonderful as always, and he treats me like a princess and loves me and takes care of me and of Dad.

And please tell Mom that she has the most beautiful great grandchildren in the history of the world, and I really want her to know that the girls are talking to me again and it’s almost back to normal – Aunt Patsy was right – time does help to heal, along with lots of people praying and You intervening and softening and quietly showering grace and forgiveness.

I want Mom to know that her signature tablecloth will be used again at Thanksgiving, and hopefully, the house will be filled with laughter and family and lots of game-playing, and it won’t be the same without her at the table saying, “DEL-mar!” and “What can I pass you?” but we’ll talk about her and try to keep up the traditions.

You can tell her that if I were in charge of the world, she would have earned more than a few jewels in her crown for the 60+ years she cooked for Dad and his vegetarian extremely limited diet plan. Now I see why she came up with the crazy pear-on-lettuce-with-miracle-whip concoction – she had run out of ideas! She would be so proud of Dad though. He’s doing great here and is staying pretty active, especially when Sam and I put him to work. But let her know I totally get it now – you never know what he’s going to do or say next. He’s a mystery sometimes. Please reassure Mom that we are doing our best, all of us, to take care of him, as if he needs anyone to take care of him. He’s still as independent and stubborn as he always was, but she needs to know we get it now. And we love her for loving Dad, and we love Dad in her place while she’s there and we are here. And he’s not starving, but he’s certainly not getting any pears on lettuce with miracle whip. Oh, and make sure she knows that Dad finally found a place where he can worship with traditional music – she’ll like that, I think.

I really hope that Mom is able to see Judy and her brother and sisters and parents and friends all of the time now. I hope that she is singing in one of your choirs. I hope that she is organizing and alphabetizing to her heart’s content. I hope that she has an abundance of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and cardinals and squirrels and maybe a little dog or cat to sit in her lap, and I hope she gets to go swimming and I hope that she is able to watch her grandchildren in adulthood from there and see her little great grands learning how to live. I hope that her laughter is filling spaces in Heaven. I can only imagine…

I love that my pastor grew up with the same kinds of thoughts and feelings that I had. You remember those thoughts and feelings that every once in awhile creep back in. The ones of doubt, of fear, of worrying that I might not have said just the right words in order to get the ticket to Heaven someday. The ones that You might return and I won’t be ready.  The ones that made me feel like I had to check boxes in order to be “saved.” I love that my pastor has taught me to study Your word, to study its history and the back story and the context for which it was written. I love that my pastor shared a common sense message yesterday that was full of hope and anticipation for Heaven and ended his message with one of his signature statements – that he not only believes Your promises, he’s counting on them. Me too, God. Me too.

I would clean my plate if I were a bird that lived at Freddie’s. I’d also be fat.

Fridays.

I am grateful for a day at the office pretty much all by myself. It’s been quiet and I’ve been able to do my work without interruption. I could have gone out at lunchtime to get something to eat or to take a walk or to run errands, but I stayed here and worked and sneaked a peek now and then at Facebook. Wait. I just described every day here at work. I am grateful for my low-stress cushy job.

I am grateful for a surprise text message from Nanette this afternoon that made me smile wide.

I am grateful for new friends Charlie and Hong, one of the most interesting couples and two fascinating people I think we have ever met. And their story is a love story worth hearing.

I am grateful for the end of September excitement in this town, now that the Royals have won their division. What fun to see all the blue today!

I am grateful for crispy tart apples.

I am grateful for the longing to cook, if only I had the time at home to do so.

I am grateful for access to free ice.

I am grateful that Sam tells me every day that he loves me.

I am grateful that my world includes nice people.

And I am grateful for my oldest brother Steve. Monday is his birthday, and I do not remember ever celebrating his birthday with him. I do remember his oldest brother kindness to his littlest sister. I do remember wanting to sit on his lap in the car, because he was the nicest and made me feel very loved. I do remember the excitement in my heart upon seeing him on the front doorstep when he surprised Mom, Dad, and I on a Sunday night when I was in high school. I do remember being so proud of him as I was growing up. He was just so cool. Every time I heard these songs on the radio, I always thought of Steve. They must have been some sort of connection in our growing up…

Happy birthday, Steve. Wish you were here, or I were there. I love you!

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

This morning, I am grateful for little things that restore my hope for the future.

I am grateful for people who refuse to speak negatively. About anything. I don’t always practice this, but I am constantly convicted of it. I am grateful for people who share goodness. I am grateful for people who, when in conversation with others, offer hope when speaking of not-so-wonderful things, who refrain from talking negative just to fill space.

I am grateful for people in this world who are trying to make a better world. Who are trying to do what they can in their corner of the world to make it a better place.

I am grateful for the person walking through the parking lot who sees a piece of trash and picks it up to throw it away. I am grateful for the person in the public restroom who wipes down the counters and makes it less messy for the next person.

I am grateful for the drive-through employee who looks the customer in the eye and acts like they genuinely care that the customer has a great day.

I am grateful for the candidate who refuses to speak negatively but wants to share his/her hope and plans for the betterment of our society.

I am grateful for the religious leader who is not spewing hatred and disgust and dividing his congregation in “us against them” rhetoric.

I am grateful for teachers who send home notes of encouragement with their students instead of reprimand.

I am grateful to be a part of an organization that is making a difference in the lives of foster children.

I am grateful for the conviction to look back at what I have spoken the day before and ask myself if it was positive or negative, did it line up with Ephesians 4:29  and Psalm 19:14 or did it tear another down or bring another down?

I am grateful for this new season of changing colors.

I am grateful for people who greet strangers in the morning with a “hello,” or a “good morning,” or a wave.

I am grateful for my family members who step out of their comfort zone and do something good for this world by volunteering on a weekly basis at church, at school, at a community organization… They are not content to just be complacent and watch the days pass by.

I am grateful that this world is made up of so many different cultures and people and diversity is beautiful, and it should be celebrated that we are not all alike. I am grateful that at this stage of life, I am anxious and interested in learning about those who are different from me rather than sealing myself off. Jesus was the best example, and I want to be more like Him.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who dwells on the negative, who laments about the future of this country, who only talks about how horrible the other party is and offers only words that hurt and tear down. I want to be the kind of person who is optimistic about tomorrow, the kind of person that makes a difference in my little corner. I want to surround myself with others who share goodness and kindness towards ALL men and women, regardless of their views on politics or religion or abortion or homosexuality or immigration or gun control or climate change or genre of music or whether someone deserves mercy or justice or or or or or… I want to surround myself with people who are kindhearted. People who are Jesus to others, in word and in deed.

Okay. I’m done now.

Finally, I am grateful for the simple words and wisdom of this song, for the happy sound it makes. Here is a portion of the lyrics:

No no no no you never know what the world’s gonna show you,
It ain’t up to you.
You always think it’s gonna happen to another person,
And it’s never ever gonna happen to you. 
You got your friends, you got your money,
Got your family, got your honey,
You think you got a million days.
But then life comes along
And it knocks you right down to the ground and that’s why I say,

Everybody oughta hug somebody, at least once a day.
And everybody oughta kiss somebody, at least once a day.
Everybody’s gonna miss somebody, at least once a day. 
And everybody gotta love somebody, every day!

Turn a deaf ear. I katyDID.

I’ve always thought that I had a disability. I lost most of my hearing in my right ear when I was 15 years old. With the loss, I lost the ability to hear a clock ticking, a cell phone alarm when sleeping on my left side, and someone whispering in my ear. I also lost some of my ability to decipher the key of a piece of music. Disability.

I love sleeping with the window open. I love hearing distant crickets and night sounds. I love waking up to the sound of springtime birds welcoming the entrance of a new day and the sunrise.

HOWEVER. There is one sound that makes me want to insulate every crack and crevice and hibernate underneath the mattress.

The sawing-grating-annoying-as-bad-as-fingernails-scraping-on-a-chalkboard sound of…THE KATYDID.

Katy did decide she wanted to park her home just outside our bedroom window. Katy did decide she wanted to saw her song all night, every second of every hour of every day of every week of every month through the summer. Katy did decide that the inhabitants of our home must listen to her orchestrations as we attempt to sleep. Katy did determine that she must have the best voice in all the neighborhood and it is her duty and “calling” to share that voice until her very last breath.

She can’t be the garden variety katydid. OH NO. She has to be the giant Malaysian katydid:

I have watched the illumined digital numbers on the DVR clock change from 12:22 to 1:14 to 3:36 to 4:57. I have stared at the ceiling fan hoping some swooping night bird would decide it was time for a katydid snack. I have driven myself crazy counting her sawing one-two-three-four-five-six-seven rhythm and she makes me mad at 2:51 when she only does a one-two-three-four-five and leaves out six-seven. From one “musician” to another, you don’t mess with the rhythm, KATYDIDN’T.

But last night, and why last night I have no idea, maybe I was at the point of no return, maybe God decided to grant me favor, maybe this 50 year old brain had a moment of clarity, but last night, I was able to find some quiet, glorious peace at last.

I tossed, I turned, I counted sawing rhythm, I tried to recite scripture but was interrupted by katydidn’t mistakes, I attempted to plan Thanksgiving but kept thinking about swooping bird monsters and tubes of caulk. And then, I happened to actually turn on my left side a certain way, and, THE SOUND WAS GONE. The machine magically turned off and I heard NOTHING, but visions of angels mouthing “Hallelujah!” in total silence filled my sleep deprived night sight.

I am so very grateful today for my deaf ear. Not only am I able to block out what someone said to me in secret, I am now able to block out the insect construction site outside the window.

Katy, you did your damage. You done did. And after all these years, my deaf ear conquered.

There is mercy still…

…for me.

This was the message of a song performed by the choir at church yesterday. I needed to hear it. I mess up daily. I fail over and over. Yesterday’s message was one I needed to hear. I am grateful that God seems to have me on His mind when He is telling our pastor what the message should be all about. I didn’t think I was that important, that God should specifically mention my name to the pastor and tell him, “Rhonda needs to hear this.” I am grateful that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my trangressions from me…

I am grateful for common courtesy, or more often these days, UNcommon courtesy, for which I have witnessed recently, or in the case of a few of them, WISH I had witnessed recently:

  • Inquiring and listening, rather than dominating the conversation. Asking “How are YOU doing?” and not letting “Fine” be the sole answer.
  • Picking up doggy doodoo from a neighbor’s yard.
  • Offering to help around the house instead of waiting to be asked.
  • Volunteering at church because too few do it all and too many let them.
  • Acknowledging the hard work of others.
  • Sheets washed by a houseguest. (Thank you, Angela.)
  • Allowing a person with just a handful of items to go ahead of you in line at the store.
  • Young man retrieving grocery carts, helping an elderly lady get into her car.
  • Speaking to a general manager or supervisor about something an employee did that was GOOD.
  • Writing a thank you card in addition to a text or a verbal.
  • Helping with clean-up at a tailgate.
  • Folding another’s towels left in the dryer.
  • High-fiving fellow fans unknown after a win.
  • Stopping to hold a door open and allowing a person to pass through ahead of you, rather than swinging it wide for the person behind you, or worse, ignoring them altogether.
  • A man who walks streetside beside a woman.
  • Clipping toenails/fingernails, blowing a nose, using a toothpick to remove food from teeth, AWAY from others and in the privacy of a bathroom.
  • Rinsing a dish and putting it in the dishwasher instead of leaving it for the woman to take care of.
  • Asking what another would like to watch on TV rather than just taking control of the remote and space.

I am grateful for conversation with Delores – I LOVE my second Mom.

I am grateful for my new book, “For the Love,” by Jen Hatmaker. Oh my. This particular chapter is her take on those of us who struggle to know what our “calling” is in this life. Listen to THIS:

To Mama at home with a bunch of littles, [pay attention, Karissa!] you can live a life worthy right now. Your calling is today. God makes you worthy as you desire goodness for your children, meeting needs and nurturing little souls. No future calling is any more important than your current station. Every good, meaningful possibility is yours today. You have access to the kingdom now: the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is every Christian’s calling, and the gospel is perfectly demonstrated through the daily labor of parenting.

Hard worker, punching the clock and paying the bills, you can live a life worthy this day. Your career may not be “Christian-sanctioned” labor, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t walking in your calling. The manner in which you speak to your coworkers, the way you work diligently, your dignity as a laborer worth her wages – this is a worthy life. Every goodness God asked us to display is available to you today. Through ordinary work, people can be set free, valued, and changed, including yourself. God’s kingdom will not come in any more power elsewhere than it will come in your life today…

…Maybe we can exit the self-imposed pressure cooker of “calling” and instead just consider our “gifts.” The former feels like a job description, but the latter is just how God wired us. Certainly we are gifted for specific faith work, but gifts can be ordinary stuff in the middle of real life. Your prayer gift? You can use it on random Thursdays, on the phone with a friend, in the quiet of early morning hours. Your gift of teaching? It may look like a class or career, but it could very well be over lunch, through an email, or in your own home. Your special capacity for encouragement? Sister, that gift is needed everywhere, every day, for every person.

This is your calling…

I wish I had the ability and the time to type the whole chapter. It is INSPIRING. Instead, I will just offer the book to anyone who would like to read it. Jen for the win, and Rhonda for the win, since I’m reading it and loving it.

I am grateful for Parker and Reilly’s school pictures.

I am grateful for a K-State win, even if it took three overtimes.

I am grateful for the relief felt after having expelled 96 ounces of water. That’s a good feeling, friends. At least it is when a clean bathroom is available. It wouldn’t be a good feeling if it were in a van, or a bed.

And finally, I am grateful for the funny grandchild story my daughter shared with me about accidents in the van. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Just tink about it.

I watched the debate last night. Well, the last part of it, since life gets in the way. What I saw was a little of the example above. I saw a few of the candidates at their best, and it was refreshing.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have a whole host of choices this season.

I am grateful for the opportunity to show my best side when it would be so easy to show ugly.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have a conversation with my daughter who struggles and wants to be a shining example but was vulnerable enough to share her weakness with her Mom on the phone.

I am grateful for the opportunity to hear about my only grandson showing maturity and signs of “getting it.”

I am grateful for the opportunity to watch my niece pitch again.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to take care of Natia again for a few days.

I am grateful that my sister has the opportunity this week to make a difference in the lives of young women and children living in detention centers in South Texas, just wanting a better life, a safe life, a life of opportunity and not despair.

I am grateful for Pink Lady apples.

I am grateful for opportunity and anticipation of another weekend with a little fun at a K-State game. I am grateful for a bank who gives a company two free tickets, too. More fun, less work. That’s a great weekend motto.

I am grateful for oversized carts in grocery stores.

I am grateful for two little girls sitting side by side in one of those carts, reminding me of Annistan and Anjalie, or Parker and Reilly, or Anissa and Annistan.

I am grateful for the opportunity to begin planning a family Thanksgiving like it used to be, grateful that our home will be filled with little ones and family members and board games and laughter and Chex Mix and the smell of turkey and fingerprints all over windows and glass tables to be cherished long after they are all gone.

I am grateful for little girls in tutus.

And I am grateful for memories of Robin Williams in “Hook.” What a great movie…

 

tinkerbell 2

When we realize that we are both wretched and beautiful, we are freed up to see others the same way. – Shane Claiborne

Romans 8:35-39:

Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

We are being put to death all day long for your sake.
    We are treated like sheep for slaughter.

But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

I am grateful on this Monday for:

  • Pulling over on a country road when stars are brilliant in the night sky
  • A rare hour at the end of the day to do nothing but watch a mindless tv show
  • Sea lions
  • Katrina’s message that we need to walk the walk and not just talk about it
  • Adult coloring designs
  • The smell of a plastic Twister mat just out of the box

  • Bugles in snack mix
  • Carey Park buffalo, llamas, and multi-colored fountain memories
  • A picture of my grandchildren and not being forgotten on Grandparents Day
  • Geri’s card that was like a warm, furry blanket for a lonely, sad heart
  • Shrubs with haircuts for the fall
  • Being back in church and the conviction that came with the message
  • Taking some time this past weekend to do a few things fun
  • A clean toilet
  • Sam, who doesn’t mind if I mow but also takes over on the hilly back yard
  • A new whimsical piece of art to hang up
  • The constant reminder and conviction to live the Good Samaritan way, without regard of another’s religion or ethnicity or gender identity or sexual preference or political leanings or country of origin or whether they entered legally or otherwise or or or or or…
  • Windows open while sleeping
  • A big, fat steak with melted butter
  • Solitary time to read or just play the piano for no particular reason other than because I want to
  • The constant reminder over the last several days that even when I am sad and/or discouraged, feeling less than, and deem myself unworthy, I must continue to count every. last. thing.

When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don’t conclude that the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?

  • For the lyrics to this song I did not know that were like healing to a deep, deep wound. Thank you, Geri:

YOU ARE LOVED
originally sung by Hope’s Call

Verse 1:
Have you ever felt the Father’s love
As He holds you in His arms
When you start to say I’m sorry
He says you’ve done nothing wrong
Have you failed to meet the standards
That you thought you should attain
Only to hear Him call your name, saying

Chorus:
You are loved beyond your failures
You are loved beyond your past
The hope that you’ve imagined
Is now reality at last
You are loved with no conditions
You are loved with no remorse
The scars of your forgiveness
Are engraved upon the Lord
You are loved

Verse 2:
Have you seen your life be torn apart
By things you could not help
Until you finally reached the point
Where you could only blame yourself
Have you laid your head to sleep
And think you’ll always be alone
Then awaken to His voice calling you home, He says

You are loved beyond your failures
You are loved beyond your past
The hope that you’ve imagined
Is now reality at last
You are loved with no conditions
You are loved with no remorse
The scars of your forgiveness
Are engraved upon the Lord
You are loved

I am grateful for an Oxydol heart.

I am grateful for clean hands after grime and germs.

I am grateful for laundry done and fresh-smelling sheets.

I am grateful for shampoo and conditioner to wash my hair every day.

I am grateful for little pods that go in the container of the dishwasher door.

I am grateful sparkly windows and mirrors and the smell of Windex.

I am grateful for an uncluttered desk.

I am grateful for a kitchen sink empty of dirty dishes.

I am grateful for good vacuum suction.

I am grateful for memories of washing dishes next to Angela while the big console tv entertained us with The Big Valley or Mannix or Emergency.

I am grateful for pillowcases with creases, evidence that someone took the time to fold correctly.

I am grateful for glasses cleaner that works on cell phone screens and ipad screens.

I am grateful for the times when Mom would let me clean the toilet with Vanish or Sani-Flush crystals that looked so pretty and foamed.

I am grateful for the pretty green and the smell of Palmolive dish soap.

And I am grateful for conviction that leads to repentance which leads to forgiveness which results in a clean conscience and makes me even more grateful for His grace that continually covers a multitude of sins.

The pessimist keeps blowing out the light so he can see how dark it is.

I am grateful for the privilege of watching my brother work so hard on the tiling and grouting, and not once did he complain. His positive attitude is so refreshing.

I am grateful for the privilege of watching my Dad clean a huge house of carpeting and assist with the tile job and the painting and the clean-up in the garage and the reinstallation of the wall plates and floor registers and not once did he complain. He taught my brother well…

I am grateful for Melissa’s message last night on Facebook. She is a beautiful follower of Jesus, and she shared my thoughts exactly. I just didn’t know how to express them so eloquently:  


Feeling like I may be accidentally associated with [the Kentucky county clerk] makes me embarrassed. I just don’t understand why people can’t step back and realize that they don’t REALLY support what she’s doing. If a Muslim clerk refused to give me my drivers license at the DMV because he doesn’t believe women should drive, these same people would not cheer him on for denying me service based on his religion. They would call for him to be put in jail. Or fired. 

If Jesus was a clerk, He would issue the license with such a love that it would draw that couple to want to know Him more. OR, He would get another job, grateful that He lives in a country that gives Him the opportunity to do so, trusting that God is faithful enough to provide Him one.

I am grateful for Geri’s email that made my morning.

I am grateful for a phone call with Ann to catch up on life.

I am grateful for an email from Lisa, so close but so far away.

I am grateful for friends who stay in touch.

I am grateful that I am not in charge of the world and all of its problems.

I am grateful for a tiny Muslim woman named Sally who checks receipts at Sam’s Club. She is a beautiful soul, and I always love seeing her and visiting with her.

I am grateful for the people in my life who are like candles in the darkness.

I am grateful for a new opportunity to be the accompanist for one of the choirs at church again!

And I am grateful for fresh green beans and green grapes. Just not together. But both are in my refrigerator and they aren’t even withered or bendy or brown and wrinkled. Yay me. Yay Dad and Sam.