Politeness is an inexpensive way of making friends.

Today, I am grateful for sunshine warm enough to go without a coat in late January.

I am grateful for the gift of hearing a cardinal sing at the top of his lungs this morning when I opened the garage door, and then I spotted him in the very top of the tree next to the driveway.

I am grateful that the post office had one last book of Peanuts Christmas stamps. I will save them because I can.

I am grateful for my daughters. All of them. I have many that I have collected over the years. My biological girls, my stepdaughter, my former students, my friends’ daughters, and my CASA girl.


And I am grateful to have walked out of the office building at the same time an older Japanese businessman was leaving, an entourage of seven US/Japanese employees following behind him to wish him well in his travels. They all walked to the limo parked out front, spoke a lot in language I do not know, and then he bowed to them, and they all bowed to him. It looked so respectful and kind and it pretty much made my heart smile to have witnessed this interaction.

Happiness is = Grateful for.

Happiness is a band-aid that sticks.

Happiness is brand new money that still smells good.

Happiness is nephews and a niece who provide never-ending entertainment.

Happiness is shoes with lots of cush.

Happiness is being married to my very best friend.

Happiness is the smell of bacon.

Happiness is Mom’s poems.

Happiness is the relief felt after using the bathroom when you really really needed to go.

Happiness is opening a new bag of potato chips.

Happiness is crossing off items on the to-do list.

Happiness is coming up with goofy slogans and treats and then decorating lockers the night before game day at Elyria and CCHS and CBA.

Happiness is an airplane ride with Daddy.

Happiness is easy peel oranges.

Happiness is a boss who surprises everyone with afternoon Sonic drinks.

Happiness is finding a notepad in your purse and every page has been written on…by a granddaughter.

Happiness is Natia howls. At least for me. Apparently not for her.

Happiness is having Dad around all the time now.

Happiness is a clean car on a sunny day.

Happiness is Cindy and Keith fun.

Happiness is having friends over for dinner.

Happiness is going on a bike ride with Uncle Charlie.

Happiness is the comic section.

Happiness is warm hands.

Happiness is a shaved face to kiss.

Happiness is Angela at dinnertime.

Happiness is fat little nuthatches.

Happiness is watching Foley the amaryllis grow in the kitchen window.

Happiness is sunbathing on the roof.

Happiness is not having to taste nasty children’s Bayer orange aspirin in 45+ years.

Happiness is learning to swallow pills without having to chew them any longer and never having to taste liquid medicine again.


…if only.

Slug bug!


I am grateful for Bingo prizes, bright blue toy Volkswagon Beetle cars, that reminded me of the game that caused bruises on my upper arm growing up. Every time we saw a Volkswagon Bug, the first kid to yell out “SLUG BUG!!” got to punch the other kid in the arm. I must not have been very observant when I was young. Not much has changed…

I am grateful for arm pains that made me concerned about my heart today, which reminded me of my Mom and the struggle she dealt with on a daily basis.

I am grateful for the opportunity to spend this evening with my Bingo moms who filled a large hole in my heart three years ago when I missed my Mom. A few have joined my Mom but Ruth and Avis and Louene and Betty and Barb and Helen and Norma are still with me. I am grateful for these women who have taken up residence in this heart.

I am grateful for the American Heart Association.

And I am grateful that I don’t drive a slug bug and I am not the victim any longer of very observant passengers.


How long is three years in Heaven?

Whoever walks toward God one step, God runs toward him two. – Jewish Proverb

I wonder what three years feels like in Heaven.

I wonder if you know everyone’s name the second you arrive.

I wonder if Heaven has those tourist binocular things that don’t cost a quarter but are available to everyone there so that they can observe all of us here.

I wonder if gardeners are needed in Heaven or if everything grows perfectly and flowers never wilt.

I wonder if three years is just an hour or so and Mom is getting the place ready for when the family arrives tonight for dinner.

I am grateful that God ran to Mom on this day three years ago and I am grateful that she now sings because she’s happy, she sings because she’s free…



One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingys.

  1. I am grateful for the ding dong doorbell on my heart this morning as I read my devotions. Out of the cloudy gray sky since there is no clear blue today, I am now convicted to begin praying about something, a far-out wacky idea that has to be the far-outest, wackiest idea ever and I cannot see how in the world it is fathomable or possible, but I believe it is from God and I must pray about it. I haven’t had that strong of a ding dong doorbell on my heart in a long time. And it had nothing to do with my devotions. I think He just sensed I was in a place to listen.
  2. And on a completely different subject, and I put this one second so that you can X out now if this is of no interest to you but it is to me and I write all of this grateful stuff to keep myself accountable and no one else, so read on at your own risk, because I am grateful for insight, for conviction, for painful growth that requires I look back in order to change going forward.

Something has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it’s the Pharisee book I am re-reading, maybe it is conviction, maybe it is just that I am growing and becoming wise. Most likely, the book and conviction combined.

I used to think I had all the answers to everyone’s issues. And it was my duty, my calling as a Christian, to “help” others see the light. I would do so in kind and empathetic emails and cards and phone calls and more recent, in posts on Facebook. Rarely face-to-face, although I did plenty of face-to-face “come to Jesus” passive-aggressive motivational talks with my students and my daughters. I cringe as I think back…

How righteous of me to think that I had all the answers, that I could possibly “rescue” someone from themselves, that I could draw someone to Jesus through my emails and posts and “I’ll pray for you’s.”

You’re nothing like me. I cannot relate to what you are saying. Your life is perfect. You don’t know my kind of problem.

I remember now, on a few occasions, being told something like that by students who were in the middle of crisis and drama. And all the while, my inside was dark, my own world was in turmoil. And very few knew. The few who had a glimpse and a clue into my world played the part, too, actors on a stage, with me trying to please God and earn my way rather than trust Him with the truth and the ugly.

I see how some of my connections on social media do exactly as I do, intentions genuine, of course. We think it’s our obligation and duty to rescue people from themselves. My pastor once said that those bumper stickers and billboards that promote a candidate or a cause have most likely never caused the reader to say, “Well, I’ve been wrong all along! I must switch my affiliation/belief right now!”

My posts on Facebook, my emails that hit home with me, do nothing to sway another’s beliefs and convictions, but they are fuel for the fire to those who are “righteous” alongside me.

All the while, the ones I really wanted to reach with the “truth” are most likely the ones who are saying, “You’re nothing like me. I cannot relate to what you are saying…”

Funny how something jumps out from the computer at you when you are focused on that very thing. Like this, today:

“Friend of Sinners…” (from CampusNavs.org)

By Rachel Christofel – Jan 12, 2016

friend  (frĕnd) 

  1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
  2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
  3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.

 Jesus is described in Luke 7:34 as the “Friend of Sinners”. This means that Jesus was liked, trusted, acquainted with, and allied in struggles with people who had yet to see him as their savior. Likewise, these things had to have been true of those people from Jesus’ point of view as well. After all, friendship is only friendship if it is mutual between two parties.
So I ask myself, “Am I a friend of sinners? Or am I functioning more like a ‘Rescuer of Sinners’ or ‘Stealthy Gospel Deliverer to Sinners’ or ‘Project Manager of Evangelism Outreach?’”
I’m struck by how quickly I focus on the word ‘sinners’ and far less on the word ‘friend.’ 
In this, I’m tempted to see evangelism as a project and people as the pieces to complete the task. This mindset stems from having amnesia in three areas.

  1. Viewing Myself in Light of the Gospel:

I often forget that I am no different than unbelievers around me. I too am hopeless. I too am fearful. I am inadequate. Only with Jesus do I have life to the full and live in a state of freedom. D.T. Niles describes evangelism as “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” 
Am I remembering who I was without Christ and who I am in Christ when I share with others?

      2.  Viewing People as People:

I forget that people are people. I forget they have hopes, dreams, tragedies, and convictions. I forget that, though open to hearing what I know, they may need time to run my thoughts through their worldview. When I forget this, I am missing the opportunity to converse deeply with them about the Gospel and really wrestle with them over its truth.
Nav Staff Eugene Burell asked something once that resonated with me. “Will you love people, simply because they exist and are created in the Image of God, even if they never come to know Christ?”

  1. Viewing God as God:

He is the forgiver of sins and the knower of hearts. He is the Savior that people need. Only He can woo people into a relationship with him. In light of this, my role in evangelism is not to be these things for people. My role is to be the bridge builder and the remover of barriers to the Savior.
Am I trying to do God’s job or am I clearing barriers for Him to be God?
This mindset shift challenges me to not turn evangelism into a project. I want to share with people because my heart yearns for my friends to be allied with the ‘Friend of Sinners.’ And I want to rejoice with them when Jesus welcomes these friends into the kingdom, not as sinners, but as saints saved by his precious blood. 

I’ve been told that I share WAY TOO MUCH. I am an open book in this season. No secrets. I am who I am.

In this season of my life, I am drawn to people who say, “Me TOO!” I am drawn to people who can relate, who struggle with the same things. I steer WAY CLEAR of people who present themselves with all the answers, who pat my hand and say “I’ll pray for you,” who make me feel “less than.” I want to be around people who say, “I have no clue but I know Who does and that’s all that matters.” I want to be around people who will sit with me in my dark times without preaching their view. I want to be around bridge builders, the ones who will hold my hand in the muck and in silence and ME TOO strength, help me back across to Jesus.

I wish I could go back in time and take back the self-righteousness, be real instead of fake. I want the people of my past and present to know that I would hold their hand in the dark without opening my mouth, and that I would fight FOR them, defend them, and be their ally in the struggle. I want them to know that I fail, that I fall, that I sin, that I love them because they exist just as they are, as He loves me just as I am, in all of my imperfection and weakness.

He rang the doorbell. I opened the door. That simple.

(My apologies to those who made it to the end.)


You were his idea.


I am grateful for cookies and for my kitchen and all of the things to make cookies.

I am grateful for the feeling when I close my eyes at night after a long day, all is quiet, and I breathe deep just before sleep.

I am grateful that I am old. These millennials drive me crazy for several reasons, but today they drive me crazy with their tech stuff. I’m doing good to text and get on the Internet. I don’t need smart watches, smart glasses, smart cars, smart phones, smart TVs, and I certainly don’t need a woman robot in a box/cylinder telling me a joke or turning off the light that I’m too lazy to turn off myself. I’m so grateful to be old.

I am grateful for the smell of new carpet.

I am grateful for someone else who thinks EXACTLY LIKE I DO, because someone else came up with this:

Crescent Rolls

I CRINGE when I have to pull that wrapping off of that tube, and it’s SO STRESSFUL to anticipate the explosion and even more so when it doesn’t explode and I have to use a spoon to MAKE it explode. It’s mostly why those rolls are never on the grocery list and rarely in the fridge. In addition, I HATED that childhood race game of running the balloon to the chair across the room, sitting on it until it popped, and then running back with terror on my face. I love balloons…IN PICTURES ONLY.

I am grateful that there are no balloons in my world right now.

I am grateful for an indoor job. Unless the birds are singing and the air is fresh and attire does not include a parka or a bathing suit.

I am grateful for a ride to work this morning – thank you, Dad.

I am grateful today for this, from my devotion this morning. You can insert “son, brother, husband, father…” and it is the same wisdom. My favorite sentence> You were HIS IDEA.

Before you were a daughter, a sister, a wife, or a mother, you belonged to God. You were his idea. You’ll still be his daughter after your parents and kids are gone. You have a purpose outside of your husband’s. When you stand before Jesus one day, it won’t be as someone’s mom or wife, or as your parents’ daughter. It will just be as you. – taken from Jen Hatmaker’s “Out of the Spin Cycle” – #14, The Cannibalization of Me

Funny thing, Michelle sent this to me last night. I sense a theme and a Holy Spirit nudge:

So I am grateful for the reminder that I am discovering my identity, not hidden under “titles” and obligations and birth order, but my identity is HIS idea and I just need to live as ME, not as who others expect me to be.


Cussing is just not cool.



I am grateful that it stings when I hear a cuss word.

It doesn’t really bother me that people use foul words, at least when they are used appropriately. Okay, that doesn’t sound right. When they are justified, as when someone needs to emphasize a very important point, or when the foot slams into an unseen rock or something and there is just nothing more appropriate to say than, “&*!#%.”  I have lots of friends and family and co-workers who cuss, and it really is okay and I think no less of them and love them dearly and let those words go right past my ding ding monitor. But I have a very hard time when people use ugly words around sensitive ears, ears that belong to children or to adults who have not been around the language.  Ears that are professional and are sensitive in a discerning way. It’s just not cool.

Today, I had to sit in on an interview with a very qualified physician scientist who has an extensive resume and is very well-known in the biotechnology arena. He had never spoken to this particular recruiter who happens to be a woman as if that matters any longer in this era of equality, but throughout the interview, he littered his answers with horrible words. He did this with a woman he had never met. On an interview for a new position. If he speaks this way to a stranger who makes the decision to accept or reject his candidacy, how might he speak to those with whom he works every day? It’s just not cool.

What IS cool is the way a dog’s floppy ear feels, so I am grateful for that.

What IS cool is chocolate peanut butter cake just slightly warmed up in the microwave that makes it fluffy soft and melt-in-the-mouth, so I am grateful for that.

What IS cool is a gentleman who holds a door open for anyone and lets them enter or exit first rather than holding it open after he walked in front of them, so I am grateful for those rare guys. And in this era of equality, I am grateful for those ladies who do the same.

What IS cool is a clean bathroom, so I am grateful that I don’t mind cleaning up after all of the females on this first floor. Thank you Mom for instilling sparkle desire in your daughter.

What IS cool are parents who teach their children to use words other than cuss words to express themselves while also teaching their children to not judge and pre-determine but look past the superficial words that don’t adequately describe another person’s heart, and I am grateful that I have finally latched onto that lesson 51 years in. It’s never too late to learn.

And what IS cool is the smell of Comet and Pine-Sol and bleach and any other bathroom cleaner, so I am grateful for my nose to smell cleanliness in a bottle. Mmmmmm.

It’s a good day for an Icee because it’s a little icy.



Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you JOY (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience – at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

I am grateful for cold fingers. They make me appreciate the warm space heater at my feet.

I am grateful for crisp apple slices.

I am grateful for a few minutes this morning to sit with Natia in the quiet.

I am grateful for snow anticipation.

I am grateful for my Bingo friend, Cindy, who heard “I-23” and immediately recited the 23rd Psalm, twice.

I am grateful for a Cheezit with accidental extra salt on top. Bonus.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn something new tonight at church.

I am grateful my sister is taking her family to the beach.

I am grateful that Sam has good friends who are also really good at remodeling.

I am grateful for luxuries like post-it notes and zipper bags and shopping carts.

I am grateful for my Bingo friend, Cindy, who lamented that there was no “O-91” so she could recite Psalm 91.

I am grateful for Mrs. Olson, my freshman Bible teacher, who made us learn Psalms songs. I still sing, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth…”

“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name togeth-er, I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…”


And I am grateful for spaghetti, macaroni, fettucine, linguine, lasagna, and angel hair.

I’m arguing with myself.

Mom always carried a big purse. She rarely got rid of purses but kept them and changed them out with the seasons. Normally, her purses came from garage sales or clearance racks or hand-me-downs from someone.

Some of us in the family, okay, namely myself, would make fun of her big purses from time to time, but guaranteed, if we ever needed a this or a that, she could come up with something buried deep in the bottomless purse. She ALWAYS had Big Red. ALWAYS had a band-aid. ALWAYS had a sewing kit. ALWAYS had one of those Avon foldup mirrors that had magnifying on one side, regular on the other. ALWAYS had one of Ferguson Standard’s squeeze coin thingys. ALWAYS had kleenex that looked used but wasn’t used – just a little rough around the sheets since they swam in the bottomless. ALWAYS had a little perfume bottle of Estee Lauder Beautiful that she thought smelled so good. ALWAYS had medicine, make-up, that Hallmark calendar book the size of a checkbook with everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries (including her wedding anniversary on January 18) and missionary meetings and Gideon meetings and grandchild ballgames and concerts all handwritten in that famous cursive and and and extra note paper, pens, pencils, address book, billfold, receipts, pictures of every child and grandchild, last week’s Sunday School lesson, a plastic rain scarf that was SO EMBARRASSING to her children when she actually pulled it out of that little tiny plastic container and wore it (but I SO understand now), and ALWAYS had coupons for every fast food place from here to Texas.

I have a co-worker who changes purses with every outfit, almost daily. And her purses ain’t cheap. I’m sure she’s not changing out Mom’s contents…

As I typed out the memories of Mom’s purse contents and size of her satchel, I am stunned. Pretty much described my purse, I did. Except for the sewing kit. I don’t sew. And there’s no Sunday School lesson in there, but there are two devotion books. That counts. I don’t carry Estee Lauder Beautiful because I don’t think it’s so beautiful. AND, I do NOT carry a plastic rain helmet in a teeny tiny bright colored suitcase container. But I do have enough items in my purse to survive as a castaway on Gilligan’s island.


So today I had lunch with my CASA girl and her team of support. One of the gems of support whom I admire, a Jewish woman about my age who is stronger than Samson in wit and wisdom and full of passion and fire for the work she does, shared her insight concerning purses. Her sister-in-law knows that “Samson” carries the same purse she has carried for 15+ years. “Samson” never changes purses. (Like me.) Sister-in-law told her recently that the one item women wear every day, all day, 365 days a year, is their purse. So to spend a little money on a purse that is going to be used and worn every single day is not a bad thing. Instead of going to the easy department store to get a new $30 purse with a coupon she got in her email inbox since her purse was worn to the nubs, “Samson” decided to go to the purse store, the one you see in specialty outdoor malls with the high-end shops, and she bought herself a new purse that cost a lot of money, a purse that has a lifetime guarantee, a purse that she won’t have to replace for at least another THIRTY years now. And she is okay with that.

So. I’m arguing with myself.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to wear a plastic rain bonnet.

I’m grateful I have a humongo bag to carry all of the important things in life.

I’m grateful for a hug from my CASA girl today.

I’m grateful for “Samson” and her stories that make me argue with myself.

I’m grateful for Big Red. Yes, Mom, I’d like a piece, thank you.

And one more thing. Happy anniversary, Dad and Mom.