Bullwinkle, Elwood, and all their friends

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageI am grateful for free entry into Rocky Mountain National Park so that we could enjoy it three times in less than 24 hours.

I am grateful for a grocery store sub sandwich, a bag of Halo oranges, a bag of potato chips, and a package of Oreos to enjoy at our picnic for two in the park yesterday afternoon.

I am grateful for 75 degree weather with a slight breeze and a Rocky Mountain backdrop.

I am grateful for the safety of our vehicle, but also for the guts to get out and get close enough to see Mama Elwina and all of her friends and their children grazing all around us last night.

I am grateful that Sam likes to get up with the sun to go and search for more wildlife, rather than sleeping in on vacation and missing out on Enormous Elwood and the magnificent beauty at 12,000 feet.

I am grateful for ice cream that can be found just about everywhere, and I am grateful for late night ice cream walks with friends.

I am grateful for simple motels with just what is needed and nothing fancy.

I am grateful for less cell phone and Internet reception and kind of unplugging from the world.

I am grateful for kind strangers who are friendly right back.

I am grateful for a new piece of art that I am in love with and can’t wait to get it framed and hung, and I am grateful to have met an artist who made my new outfit that I will wear for our grateful breakfast.

I am grateful that this artist and her husband have invited us to their home this evening, all because Sam asked where we might find some aspen wood.

I am grateful for time spent with Julie again.

I am grateful for a very sore backside, because that means the four mile hike down Beaver Creek mountain was worthwhile for my muscles.

I am grateful for a babbling brook this morning, and “He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul,” playing out in real life.

And I am grateful for the glorious peace and quiet of nature…

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Gratitude is the heart’s memory. – French Proverb

 

A few things for which I am grateful this morning:

Fresh, cool, mountain air.

An audio book of The Notebook.

Finding a really great song to listen to with the windows down.

Pleasant conversation for all of the ten hours of driving.

A good squee-gee at a gas station, along with fresh soapy water.

Hand-holding.

Seeing friends again, one year later.

Getting up very early after very little sleep, just to attend a church service in Vail that we had attended with the youth choir two years ago.

Meeting some very nice young people who work in retail just so they can snowboard all winter.

A brisk walk at dusk to find the ice cream shop.

Seeing our “grateful” artist friend, Jane Hamlin, at her booth in Breckenridge – she hadn’t forgotten us!

http://www.mcssl.com/store/0d0f1d0facd5471fb658c79d5581a9/ir13

Soaking in the beauty of creation before the church service.

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Watching a mule deer and her fawn in the same creek just after the service.

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Breathing deep.

Feeling relaxed.

Andrae, my first grandson – he’s five years old today!

Andrae fishing

I’m ready to not waste time, but enjoy it.

I’m trying to be grateful for things I am not very grateful for, but it is hard. Here’s a few:

I am grateful for diversity in America. We all have the right to our own opinions and have the right to share those opinions.

I am grateful to be left out. It makes it that much better when I am included.

I am grateful for mosquito bites. No. I’m not.

I am grateful for extremely high utility bills in the summer. It just means we have AC and are so very privileged.

I am grateful for a large vet bill. It means that Natia lives with us, and she is a blessing.

 

Okay, here are some easy ones:

I am very grateful for my CASA girl’s updated story – she should have a new nickname: Dory. Because she found her way back home.

I am grateful for my sister’s phone calls when she lets me know good news. I am grateful for her phone calls when it’s not so good news, too. She includes me, and I love that.

I am grateful for my brother who indulged in a dumb Facebook activity for me and shared a little insight into his life in the form of 40 silly questions.

I am grateful for the experience of taking my Dad to the vet…for Natia. Dad’s first time to visit a veterinarian’s office.

I am grateful for really sweet watermelon.

I am grateful for shrubs pruned, trees trimmed, weeds hoed, Natia walked, dishes in the dishwasher put away – all thanks to Rachel and her grandpa.

I am grateful for a vacation that starts tomorrow.

And I am grateful for this:

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

coun·sel = advice, especially that given formally.

My pants are no longer missing. How do I know? I found them. It’s a good thing when you decide to actually clean a closet. I am grateful for the desire to do something productive.

I am grateful for my Dad. He helped clean the house on Saturday and took a few things off my list.

I am grateful for Rachel’s kindness and offers to help. Sam and I were finishing hauling branches from a tree that had split in the storm last week next door, and of course we decided to help out in the heat of the morning on Sunday, and it was such a pleasant surprise to see our niece walk outside and ask one question. “What can I do to help?” And then she did. I know very few 18-year-olds who just offer like that. Actually, I think I only know one, and he’s former 18-year-old, and he happens to be Rachel’s brother. John came over one afternoon a few years ago and just started helping Sam and I paint the house. He told us he just thought it would be nice to help us out. Their parents should be very proud.

I am grateful for a cold shower when covered in sweat. I am not really very grateful, actually not at all grateful, for this heat and humidity.

I am grateful for counseling and my counselor who counsels me so well.

I am grateful that my CASA girl is finally home and grateful that her parents have such huge hearts.

I am grateful for bike rides with Sam on the weekends and a back rest and the joy I see in his eyes when he hears the Harley.

I am grateful for late night Freddy’s custard on a park bench, breeze blowing, moon shining, and good relaxed conversation with my husband.

I am grateful for the privilege of watching our neighbors and their little girl at the pool. Our kitchen window is like a movie screen and the show is all about summer fun right now.

And I am grateful for cinnamon and sugar mixed together and sprinkled on buttered toast.

 

A strand that turns into a necklace that turns into a chain that turns into a noose.

 

 

Our pastor stood last night with a 35-pound chain wrapped around his chest to demonstrate a bitter heart. He was finishing his message on Joseph’s life, a life born into dysfunction, a life filled with ups and downs of his own doing, pits of despair caused by others, and timeless lessons for the world. He closed with a challenge to forgive.

I’ve seen the chain visual aid countless times. And I’ve rid my heart of bitterness and anger and an unforgiving spirit countless times, depending on the Holy Spirit to free me from its weight and hold.

But, careless as I am, I become complacent. One comment here, one incident there, one snub here, one hyper-sensitive emotion there, and the bitterness begins to seep back in.

Three words were all it took last night to bring my heart front and center.

Let it go.

 

But their self-righteous attitudes hurt deeply and continue to sting.

But I try so hard to not just hear but listen, too, AND make eye contact – is it too much to ask for in return?

But I feel like a third wheel and they always leave me out.

But I haven’t done anything wrong and emotional drama is held against me.

 

Let it go.

But they don’t know MY side of the story!

But isn’t it obvious to offer to help since we’re doing all the work?

But it isn’t fair that I’m here early and stay late and accomplish more than everyone else, and they still treat me like I’m the low man on the totem pole.

But untruths and rumors are still being spread and I am unable to stop them.

 

Let it go.

But I went out of my way to have a great attitude and do something nice for them, and they didn’t even say “thank you.”

But I still have PTSD.

But he has done so much for them and has been so forgiving, and he is treated so badly, or not even acknowledged.

But I’ve tried and tried to make myself known and available, and they still have no idea who I am. I feel invisible.

But I do one thing wrong and that negates all of the wrong done to me?

But they’re growing up without me.

 

Let. It. Go.

But they make more money and I do the same job.

But they only think of themselves!

But it’s been five years – how much longer do I have to be punished?

But they’re in ministry and still treat us as outcasts.

But some of those whom I thought were my friends went silent when I needed them most.

 

Let. It. Go.

But my heart is genuine and my motives mostly pure.

But they never ask how I’m doing or what is happening in my life.

But we give and give and give and never receive anything in return.

But I was left with almost nothing.

But I don’t fit in.

 

LET. IT. GO.

But they won’t give us a chance.

But we weren’t invited.

But I’ve tried so hard and it doesn’t matter how hard I try, she won’t let me back in.  All I have are the memories and they are beginning to fade.

But he lost almost everything in order to help rescue me.

But they are missing out on two people who love them so much it hurts and would do anything for them, two people who have learned from the drama and the dysfunction, two people who have vowed to do things different and be grateful for every. last. thing.

 

Rhonda. Let it go.

But it’s just not fair.  I’ve done all I know to do to mend and repair and live with gratitude and humility and show kindness and mercy to others and open my heart to giving and. and. and.

 

RHONDA.

The bitterness and unforgiving spirit does nothing but drag me down into a pit of unhappiness and despair. It causes me to cease counting my blessings. It makes me critical and judgmental. I’ve humbled myself and laid myself bare, asking forgiveness of others, but it isn’t as easy to forgive the hurt and the pain directed towards me. It’s a daily need, sometimes hourly. Like hand-washing.

Let it go. Choose today, this moment, to forgive.

And remember what Max Lucado wrote:

You will get through this.
It won’t be painless.
It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
Don’t be foolish or naïve.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, you’ll get through this. – Max Lucado

 

Today, I am grateful for a powerful message that hit home last night.

I am grateful for heartfelt, passionate prayer, prayer that opened the door last night to my soul-stirring.

I am grateful that I have a husband who communicates so well and takes the time to listen.

I am grateful for conviction and repentance and the opportunity to start all over again every day, grace freely given to this soul who needs it like soap and water.

And I am grateful for my prayer in song:

 

 

But I doh’ wanna.

 

If you know you have to swallow a frog, swallow it first thing in the morning. If there are two frogs, swallow the big one first. –Mark Twain

I am THE. WORLD’S. GREATEST. PROCRASTINATOR.  I have things to do, things that require actual work. Things that require actual brain. Things that require perspiration. Things that require actual brain, in case you bypassed that one.

Sometimes, the things that would be accomplished so easily if I were to just take a little action, end up becoming these massive icebergs in my mind and heart because they are HARD. Wah, wah, wah.

My boss loves to tell us to “swallow the big frog.” And she is right. Mark Twain was right.

My niece, Rachel, opened her fortune cookie on Monday night, and this is what it said:

Ugh. I hate it when I’m wrong and even the fortune in the little cookie is right.

So, I am grateful for wisdom via Mark Twain and boss and Rachel’s fortune and the multitude of scriptures about procrastination. Apparently, I am not the solo offender that God had to hammer the point home in His Word.

I am grateful that friends ask for help well in advance when our calendar is blank and it’s easy to say, “Sure, I’d LOVE to help!”, so that when the day arrives, it is not so easily dismissed with other busy-ness…er, laziness.

I am grateful that in the midst of serving, as Roxanne put it last night, God winks. The Holy Spirit nudges. Opportunities are endless to be kind, to serve others, to share grace and generosity.

I am grateful for the reminder from Dad this morning about the Johnson Family letter,  a medium-sized frog that just needed to be swallowed. Swallowed and done.

And I am grateful for Angela’s voicemail shortly before noon, after she swallowed a very large TOAD. And I quote, word for word in completion:

“Ribbit!      Ribbit!      Ribbit!”

I got nuthin’.

 

You know those times when your brain world is swirling so much that the important work of detailing every. last. grateful. thing. goes by the wayside in order to make room for the swirling lists and appointments and work and agendas and meetings and phone calls and as the days go on, every. last. grateful. thing. becomes a blur and just another thing to cross off the list?

Yeah, I know those times, too.

So when I DO have moments that I could name something for which I am profoundly grateful, I instead close my eyes and try to think of nothing. I instead close my eyes and wish the swirling away. I instead close my eyes and think of a vacation to come. I instead close my eyes and sing in my head:

 

From the top of the swirl, this is all I can muster out of the grateful lobe of brain:

  • Time with family
  • Insight and stories from Ron and Pam
  • Natia’s snore
  • The sound of rain at 5 am
  • Understanding and acceptance
  • Being included in picture sharing of grandchildren
  • Always happy Sam when he calls
  • Hope for my CASA girl
  • Fresh-baked bread
  • Louene’s 101st birthday to celebrate tonight
  • 5-year-old Evens, our newest grandson, courtesy of Compassion International
  • Chick-Fil-A cows