465.2247

Image result for random memories

Like homemade egg noodles drying on top of the washing machine in the kitchen.

Or my manila card deck tied with a yellow shoestring containing really hard spelling words from Miss Myers class.

Or bottle rockets in the middle of Wichita Street.

Like Fifi the chihuahua and Sneakers the Siamese.

Or Worlds of Fun trips with the girls and Grandpa and Grandma Ferguson.

Or polyester fabric quilted maxi skirts.

Like singing “Free to Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli  at the top of our lungs with a car full of girls on the way back to Corn USA.

Or dragging Main with Cindy, thinking we were so cool.

Or wishing I could stay up late and play Risk with my older brothers.

Like waking up late and seeing Grandma Ferguson making pancakes for two little girls with bedhead.

Or remembering that feeling of gut-wrenching pain and pride that brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat, watching my girls play volleyball.

Or getting that very first phone call to let me know I was going to be an Ama.

Like side-splitting laughter while playing games with the family.

Like listening to CBS Mystery Theater radio stories that were so scary on a Sunday night dark drive home from church.

Like having a hide-out upstairs at the gas station and hanging out with Meleigh on a Saturday morning.

Or ordering a red basket of curly French-fries and a Coke at Fairmonts.

Like a yellow bike with a flowered banana seat.

Or Snack Haven chicken.

Like the pride I felt for all of my students when we pulled off “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “The Power of His Love,” or “The Sound of Music,” or “Fiddler on the Roof,” or “Oklahoma!”

Like the window air conditioner that felt so good in the summertime – I can still hear the sound it made.

Or the black rotary dial phone with the cord that always got twisted and had that label in the middle of the dial with the typed 465-2247 on it.

Or the easy bake oven that made the best little chocolate cakes.

Like being so excited for solo and ensemble night at school and walking down the ramp in the junior high part of the building to show my mom the art that Mrs. Bohanan hung in the hall.

Like Ruth’s whistle and her game she played with the girls: “Guess what song I’m whistling.”

I am grateful for random happy memories that make me smile…

Jolt: verb \ˈjōlt\- to surprise or shock.

Image result for rumble strip

I was driving last week, driving for hours. My mind wandered from time to time and my eyes and brain betrayed me, wanting to doze and dream. Just when I was comfortable in that transition from wide-eyed and bushy-tailed to Snow White’s sleepy dwarf…

…rumble strips in the centerline of the highway.  B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bd.  What a jolt of reality.

I really dislike those rumble strips.

And accidentally touching my finger to an outlet.

And biting down on my tongue in the middle of a great piece of pizza.

And the shrill surprise of the smoke detector.

Or falling and having the wind knocked out of me.

Or being the beneficiary of some joker who thinks it’s funny to squeeze a clown horn at the back of my head.

And a backseat comedian who pops a balloon in the car while I’m driving.

I am grateful sometimes for rumble strips and other things that I really dislike, except for that balloon popping trauma. Usually, they serve a pretty useful purpose and cause me to correct my complacency and at times, apathy.

Image result for pop a balloon

I am grateful for pleasant jolts, too, though:

Choosing the right door when making a deal with Monty Hall on a game show. Didn’t happen to me, but it’s fun to watch it happen to others.

An envelope in the mail addressed to “Ama” with pictures inside.

A spontaneous conversation with Ann this morning as I was giving blood and hearing her talk about publishing a book, a dream of mine.

Michelle walking through the door with Carriage Crossing cinnamon-rolls-on-steroids.

Opening the garage door to see a “new” car.

A text message that said, “You don’t need an invitation. Just let us know when you are coming…”

Watching a glorious sunrise.

Thinking I heard Mom’s voice, and then wishing for that sound once more.

Image result for memories

I am grateful for another opportunity tonight to see my Bingo moms – they will assuage that dull pain I’ve felt since hearing Mom’s voice.

And I am grateful for the Big Red gum, the handy dandy band-aid purse containers, the Reese’s peanut butter cups, and the travel size Gold Bond medicated powders that will be their prizes, all things that remind me of my mama.

Happiness is…
all the treasures found in the bottom of Mom’s purse.
She would definitely win some money on Let’s Make a Deal.

I have arrived.

 

I’m spending part of the week in small town America these days, beginning the transition of living in two places on this new adventure for which we’ve embarked.

Last night, reality was in full force when our young-something waitress was in a lively conversation with her supervisor and lo! and behold, she used the word, “hootenanny” in a sentence and thought nothing of it.

Well, I’ll be durned and geewhillikers.

Pretty soon, I’ll be sayin’ “I seen this,” and “I seen them” and “Ain’t that purty.”

Speaking of “ain’t that purty,” yes, it sure-as-shootin’ was, that there sunset last night.
Driving back to the hotel from the restaurant, it kind of looked like this:

And yesterday morning when the curtain was opened at 6 am, this was our experience:

I love the city. I love the busy-ness and the plethora of things to do and the sights and the sounds and the fun of rooting for the hometown Royals and the ease of going through a drive-thru and running a quick errand to go and get the smallest of items. I love that our church is so big and offers just about every kind of ministry there is and the services are always perfectly done and the message is rarely spot-OFF. I love the walking trails and the manicured lawns everywhere and the hustle and bustle of the landscapers who make all things beautiful. I love the convenience of convenience, the car wash just down the street that doesn’t require a person to exit the vehicle and offers free vacuuming and oil change/tire shops and local dentists and doctors and fresh gorgeous fruits and vegetables that are piled high in the grocery store less than two minutes from our driveway.

All of these things are goodness. And all of these things are not here in small town America.

But there is another kind of goodness here, and I’ve already begun to appreciate. Like the town festival that included the silliest, sweetest parade of children dressed in costumes and riding their tricycles and bicycles and motorized Barbie cars and one little go-kart, the littlest members being pulled in red wagons by their daddies or a dolled-up high school dance team girl. The town festival where everybody knows your name. The town festival where children run free in the middle of Main street and the town’s prosperous have food booths next to the youth group selling pop and 4-H and scouts selling homemade ice cream and pies. I’ve seen, I mean “I seen” neighbors helping neighbors, golf carts and riding lawnmowers used as a means of downtown transportation, passers-by waving like they know ya, a new neighbor offering a rototiller, everyone “pitching in” because that’s just what you do, the kindness of an employee who offered to show me where the restroom was located inside the American Legion building, the boy Nicholas who appeared in bare feet and sopping wet from being in the dunk tank with two pieces of pie just for us “because you were nice to me,” and the large group of people from adults down to little 3-year-old Dani, dancing to the Cupid Shuffle in the middle of Main Street under the streetlights after dark on a Saturday night, while a proud veteran sat in his motorized scooter and watched the fun.

I’ll have to drive over an hour to get the beautiful almost yellow bananas with no brown spots and my Pink Lady or Honey Crisp apples with no bruises. I’ll have to watch online if I want that message from home church. I’ll have to break down and buy a car wash mitt and do it myself. I’ll have to plan ahead for last minute items that the local dollar store does not carry. I’ll have to postpone my “need” for a quick drive-thru burger or iced tea. I’ll have to learn how to cook again. I’ll have to step out of my comfortable and get to know the neighbors for real. I’ll have to drag a vacuum on wheels out of the house if I want a clean car on the inside.

I’ll have to sit on the front porch and watch the world go by with an iced tea in hand, or walk into church on a Sunday morning and sit down at the piano because it’s my Sunday, or take an early morning or evening walk to catch the brilliance of the rising and setting sun, or be on a first name basis with Buzz or Doc or Newt, names that just fit in small town America.

Yes, I have arrived, kind of. And I am grateful.

The bathroom smells like fries.

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I am grateful for self-care. I guess it comes after self-discovery. It would be so much easier to have someone else fix me, but I can, and should, take care of myself. And when I cannot, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you –

 

I am grateful that Dwight is taking care of my computer so that when my new office space is ready, it will be ready, as well.

I am grateful for the blessing of knowing John and Linda, for the time spent with them yesterday, for their beautiful story, and for their friendship that enriches our home.

I am grateful that their grandson is doing well after facing a mountain.

I am grateful for the joy of seeing Sam walk through the door.

I am grateful for my sister’s email this morning that made me laugh loud.

I am grateful for a woman who works across the hall from me. We have seen each other for two years now and never speak to each other. Smiles. That’s all. But two days ago, I asked a simple question as we were in the restroom washing our hands, and now I know her name and what she does and she came to my office and was a notary for me, free of charge, because we “work together.”

I am grateful for Royals baseball and popcorn, especially when they win and it’s salty buttery.

I am grateful for a card from Delores, an email from Ginger, and pictures from Shirley.

I am grateful for a new reminder to always be gracious and reach out to those who are gracious to me.

 

I am grateful that I have the opportunity this weekend to meet new friends in our new community.

I am grateful that someone went fast fooding for an early lunch today and decided to stop in the restroom with their glorious food, because when they did, their french fries scented the whole place and it was a heavenly surprise when I walked in.

I am grateful for Natia in the morning. She is ALWAYS happy and is my reminder to be the same for those around me.

And I am grateful for my Dad’s dad-isms. He has a list of them. Here’s his latest, borrowed from Steuart Henderson Britt:

 

If only I were a swimmer.

I have had some self-discovery recently. Self-discovery is a good thing. Everyone around the person who has yet to self-discover wishes the person would hurry up and self-discover.

Well, I have self-discovered. My eyes have been opened to a very real factoid about myself. It took 51 years, but I am no longer blind to the truth. I am more and more Ferguson/Johnson than I wanted to believe.

I am long-winded. 

 

So today, I am grateful for all of the friends and family and acquaintances and those who do not know me at all – see??? – who put up with my stories and re-telling of events that most often look like this:

 

That’s all. Short and to the point.

One day at a time.

 

 

I am grateful for the Matthew 25:35-40. I have seen this passage of scripture in real time over the past several days.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my Dad who should never have to witness the heartbreak but loves unconditionally, my brother who has a plate full but took the weekend to serve and rescue, and my sister who has endured hardship and emotional pain to be the Good Samaritan.

I am grateful for nurses and doctors and case managers and hospital staff who have been kind and have shown respect and kindness.

I am grateful for anything positive to hang our hat on.

And I am grateful for a very sweet girl in a drive-through window who put on her Panera name tag that her passion is “finding joy.” It was a bright spot in my day.

 

 

 

The door to happiness opens from the inside.

 

I’m sitting across from Sam at his desk in his office. He is dealing with an issue at the moment. Actually, he is dealing with multiple issues that would cause me much stress and heated blood. These aren’t even my issues, yet I sit across from Sam at his desk in his office and my heart speeds up and my stomach turns a somersault just thinking about having to deal with just one of the issues, let alone a multitude.

I should be working, but I think it is okay for the moment or ten to take an afternoon break. So, as Sam deals with the issue of the hour, I type personal. He enters numbers on an adding machine. I look over the top of the monitor at him and on occasion, our eyes meet, knowing. He has conversation with one person after another, a steady stream of issues entering his office. I bite my lip and put the ear bud back in, trying not to listen in on his world.

I try to keep from listening to Sam dealing with his issues, try to not interfere in his business world, try to look as invisible as possible in the corner of his desk behind his monitor, and as I sit here, I am counting why it is that I am so grateful today.

  • My husband is wise.
  • I am able to work five hours away from my desk.
  • Internet makes that possible. My employers make that possible. A laptop makes that possible. A conference call-in number makes that possible. Skype makes instant communication with fellow employees possible. A new home makes that necessary.
  • Natia is well-cared-for because of my Dad.
  • Sam has great employees who are showing him respect and admiration.
  • We have a new home that is going to be so much fun to grow into and might be our address for living into the sunset years.
  • I’ve had phone calls from Steve and Angela and Dad and Karissa and Karen. A phone call is a great way to make someone feel very loved, even if it is a phone call for simple advice or small news to share or a phone call just because you want someone to talk to. It doesn’t have to be important or stellar – just the fact that you dial the number means you intentionally wanted to talk to the person on the other end, and THAT shows love. I feel loved.
  • Our new town has a church on about every corner – many to choose from.
  • I have a well-established herb garden and as many irises as I could possibly want next spring.
  • The message from Sunday was a sticker. That means it stuck. That means I can still remember it three days later. “Your front door should be the side door to the church.”
  • We have the potential for a wonderful front door and side door, too.
  • My husband wants to know his neighbors and open our home to all.
  • Opening that front door will also open issues, but sitting here observing my husband and knowing the God we serve, those issues are handled.

 

There’s almost nothing better…

…than pictures of those little ones that warm this Ama’s heart and brings tears to her eyes.

…than hearing little ones squealing and laughing and crying and talking excitedly and interrupting their Mama while she talks on the phone to their Ama.

…than remembering moments of tucking into bed and goodnights and “Now I lay me down to sleeps” and “I love yous” and smells of little ones when this Ama leans down to kiss each one on the forehead.

…than the feeling of a little one tucked into this Ama’s lap as we read a bedtime story.

…than holding little hands.

…than seeing sparkles in the eyes and smiles on the faces of little ones.

…than wiping a slow tear that escaped from sparkle eyes.

…than pieces of paper folded several times into little squares, tucked inside a handpainted box that says “Ama” on the top, and when opened and unfolded, reveals beautiful pictures created by little ones, saying “thank you.”

For these, I am grateful.

 

‘Sup. Supps. Whatev.

I am grateful for belts that hold pants up.

I am grateful for dusted mini blinds.

I am grateful for laughter around a kitchen table with my CASA girl and her family.

I am grateful for Chinese food delivery on a 100 degree day.

I am grateful for beautiful flowers that greet me when I arrive at work.

I am grateful for ceiling fan on high.

I am grateful for silly messages from Cindy and Pam and grateful that we think alike and they love watching Braindead, too.

I am grateful for the time we had with Rachel this summer and grateful that she is headed off to start a new chapter of life today with her Mom by her side. I remember that feeling of sadness and loss when leaving my girl at college for the first time…

I am grateful for a little bit of silliness to laugh at, I mean, WITH people who shorten words:

She is adorbs.
Which also means: What a bratty child.

Whatev, I don’t care.
Which also means: I would like for you to slap the apathy off my attitude.

That lady has gone cray cray.
Which also means: She is driving ME crazy. 

Bro, whassup.
Which also means: Hello there, family member, I’d hug you, but someone might be watching.

Let’s order some apps.
Which also means: I’m so hungry I need to eat fried green beans and chips and salsa and spinach artichoke dip and hot wings before that big pork chop arrives.

He takes supps.
Which also means: Rachel made her aunt laugh when saying the semi-word “supps” instead of vitamins.
And it also means: Her aunt will miss her A LOT.

I am grateful that my happiness does not depend on a Royals win this season.

And I am grateful for this song:

Oh, the aroma.

image

Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:13-14

We avoid sickness. When an item at the grocery store is recalled or we hear of a friend getting food poisoning from a local restaurant, we avoid the culprits of the disease. If only we were this cautious when it comes to our words. Words may seem fragile and weightless, but the truth is they can harm both the speaker and the listener. Two of the greatest culprits are flattery and gossip.

Flattery is lying: we create empty words that contain only a kernel of truth; we delude the person being flattered, blinding them to reality. We also delude ourselves, hiding our real thoughts and beliefs behind a mask. Gossip may seem harmless because it’s done in secret, but the ideas spread about another person can damage their reputation, opportunities and relationships.

The person we influence most with our negative words is ourselves. If we are not careful, these thoughts and words create a well-worn path in our hearts that lead us to have a bitter and judgmental spirit. The only antidote is God and His Love. It is only as we remember and embrace His generous grace toward us that we can extend it to others. – The Antidote, August 3, from David Jeremiah’s Quest, 2015

Nom, nom, nom. I am grateful for popcorn. It’s amazing how that one extremely hard kernel can become something so addictive, so amazing, so goooooood.

I can walk into a room/theatre/ballpark/carnival/fair/hardware store (thank you, Nuts and Bolts)/plant nursery (thank you Family Tree) and smell popcorn and I pretty much don’t care about anything except getting a large bowl or bag or box and devouring. I don’t care if I’ve just cleaned out a pan full of macaroni and cheese or finished off a quart of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I don’t care if I am so bloated from overeating at the Chinese buffet. If popcorn smell reaches my nose, my brain says, “Nom, nom, nom…me want popcorn.”

Funny thing how that smell overpowers. Once it enters the nose, there is no stopping. You can’t eat just one piece, you can’t eat just one handful. And in my case, I can’t eat just one small bowl of the addiction.

It’s kind of like what Karissa posted today. “What goes in the mind, lives in the heart.” And I can take that a phrase further tonight. What lives in the heart, comes out of the mouth. You can’t control the urge to unload sadness, or happiness, or anger, or bitterness, or joy, or excitement, or depression. It spreads like that aroma, so that not only the person possessing the “aroma” smells it and is affected, but all in the room have the benefit or the burden of being affected by it, too.

I love how someone very dear to me is always so positive and energetic, no matter the circumstance. They are joyful according to James 1. Their aroma fills a room and changes and affects the atmosphere.

I am not so in love with how someone else very special to me is negative x 5, no matter  the circumstance. There is nothing good about their job, nothing good about this Presidential candidate or that one, nothing good about their church, nothing good about their family members and co-workers, and their words and attitude spread like the smell of burnt popcorn.

image

 

Gossip better left unspoken. Guilty.

Flattery that is inflated and empty. Guilty.

Spreading hatred for Presidential candidates. Guilty.

Unloading negative thoughts about someone and sharing ugly with others who didn’t have a first impression but are now infected with mine. Guilty.

Opinions and beliefs and advice unsolicited and offering judgment. Guilty.

Or…

Love. Joy. Peace. In need of…

Patience. In need of…

Kindness. In need of…

Goodness. Faithfulness. In need of…

Gentleness. Self control. In need of…

And understanding.

And compassion.

 

Jesus…

I am grateful tonight for the conviction I felt today because of words I have spoken. I am grateful that my God loves me anyway and offers generous grace, allowing me to try once again tomorrow, giving me devotions and posts from my daughter and positive people who spur me on and challenge me to be more like Christ.

He opened the doors and windows, let the fresh air in, cleared the burnt popcorn smell out, and tomorrow is a new day to pop a fresh batch of oh, the aroma…

image