Where everyone waves, every step of the way.

My daughter took my picture this past weekend. This morning, as I sat on the front porch steps under the stars, I saw her work glowing up at me from the ipad.

My first thought upon seeing my image from somewhere other than the bathroom mirror was from a not-so-distant past: ewww.

My second thought upon seeing my image from somewhere other than the bathroom mirror was from a not-so-distant past: what will people think?

And then I looked up.

Orion and his belt were looking down at us, and my thoughts shifted to the days of Jeanine, days of early mornings in the darkness, walking with my friend through the sleepy streets, talking about work and star formations, smelling the hash browns from McDonalds as we walked by, and Jeanine giving me boosts of confidence and being Jesus, living out Colossians 3:17 to a wounded and hurting soul.

And thinking of those days made me come back to the front porch, and I began to reflect on how far I’ve come in five short years.

I looked back down at my picture, and I smiled.

Who woulda thought…

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. – Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

*****

So, after the kitchen screen door closed, Sam walked to his truck and said what he says every morning when he leaves – “Love my wife!” –  and he pulled out of the drive, I grabbed the rubber work gloves that might keep my hands warm, locked the door and headed down the street, pre-sunrise visible over the trees, next block over. Partly because I had pleasant memories in my mind of Orion above and Jeanine by my side, partly because my daughter’s beautiful picture was a reminder that I really should get back to walking…

*****

It was a glorious morning in small town USA. I made sure to notice everything I could along the way, and I appreciated it all in silent grateful prayer, every step of the way.

  • Everyone waves, not just the old guys.
  • Brick streets are becoming a rarity and should be preserved.
  • It’s a privilege to watch the morning sunrise and steam lifting from the grass on a brisk morning.
  • Main street shops are fun to walk by, peering into the windows before shop owners arrive.
  • A little boy, Annistan’s age I suppose, was riding his motorized car up and down his sidewalk, and waved with a big loud, “Hi!”
  • I followed a fairly good-sized group of Moms and their children, and at first, I couldn’t figure out why a fairly good-sized group of Moms and their children would be out walking at the dawn of a new day, and then I saw the signs for “Walk and Roll,” small town USA’s version of a “walking school bus.” What a very cool idea.
  • Meeting a neighbor as my walk ended and my work day started was a highlight – small town USA might know more than we know about ourselves, but it also comes with really nice neighbors.

*****

And as I began my work day here in the upstairs of our grand old home in small town USA, my beautiful daughter emailed me these words:

“We all have things that make us unique and no one will ever be perfect.  Embrace your smile, eyes and head tilt…you will feel much better.  They make you…you.  U don’t notice these things in anyone else and we don’t notice them in you.  They are not imperfect at all…just you.  Everyone points out these things about themselves and they are always things others love about them. 

I think/know u look great!!! I don’t see any extra pounds and it makes me sad that you do! Like for real! U r perfect just the way you are.  – Karissa

I am so blessed.

I am so grateful.

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‘Cause you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile,
you gave me Jesus and you made me your child.
So I just thank you Father for making me, ME.

I am not a fan.

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This morning, I was in the shower in this new home of ours. It’s a shower for which I am not familiar. I was alone in this enormously old home, the only sound being an occasional gurgle in the pipes from an overactive sump pump. As I am scrubbing my hair, suds in my eyes, I feel someone touch my back.

Slight turn of stomach, resist the urge to scream, not able to open my eyes, and then pretend I don’t feel someone touching my back. Nope. Yep. Someone or something is touching my back.

When I rinsed the soap from my eyes and gathered the courage to turn around quick all ready to karate chop the intruder, here was the intruder:

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See his spindly arm all sticking out there refusing to play nice? I am not a fan.

But I am a fan of being clean and of having a shower instead of just a bathtub or a sink or a hose.

*****

Funny how when you are in the middle of city life with Subways and McDonalds and Chipotles and Paneras and Taco Bells and Wendys and Sonics and Pizza Huts, a plain ol’ sandwich just doesn’t sound good at all.

I am not a fan of a plain ‘ol sandwich with nothing but lunch meat and cheese.

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But when you are in the middle of small town life with nothing but the small town grocery store, the local dollar store, and a convenience store, and your husband calls and says he is going to come home for lunch to enjoy a little bit of the beautiful fall day with his wife, there is almost nothing better than a plain ‘ol sandwich with nothing but lunch meat and cheese on a paper plate, eaten on the porch in the peaceful quiet sunshine of a late September day. I am a fan of that kind of sandwich, for sure.

*****

Dirty floors and windows. Not a fan.

But when dirty floors and windows are dirty because of little mouths and fingers, or dirty because of work being done outside for a new yard and dirty comes inside at the end of a long day, I am a fan all the day long.

*****

Not having enough room in the backseat for the youngest sister to sit. Not a fan.

Sitting on my oldest brother’s comfortable and inviting lap because he never minded and never complained, definitely a fan.

Having a birthday and feeling a little forgotten. Not a fan.

Always receiving a birthday card from oldest brother who learned the art from our Mama, plug me in and turn me to full speed because I am a fan.

Today is oldest brother’s birthday. Steve, you are not forgotten, you are loved by me, and you have a fan, brand Rhonda.

I am a fan = I am grateful.

Words kill, words give life…you choose. Proverbs 18:21

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I am grateful for landscapers who know how to make flower beds beautiful and change with the seasons.

I am grateful for my pots and pans and my mixer.

I am grateful for people who know how to have private conversations and are conscious of their louder voices, separating themselves from public.

I am grateful that I have access to and am able to take a shower every day.

I am grateful for the way old hymns come into my thoughts.

“Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

I am grateful for inexpensive gigantic enormous humongoloid mums and grateful for Roxanne who told me where to buy them.

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I am grateful to be a CASA volunteer after wanting to be one for many years.

I am grateful for clean tea towels hanging in the kitchen.

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I am grateful for the ability to get away in the middle of the day and take a break.

I am grateful for a level head.

I am grateful for paper plates and bowls but I am also grateful that I don’t depend on them every day and have nice plates and bowls from which to eat.

I am grateful for moments when my back is not aching.

 

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

 

I am grateful for soft socks.

I am grateful for ideas my boss gives to me for gift-giving.

I am grateful for a freezer cleaned out.

I am grateful for a beautiful email that Sam sent to me this morning, the longest one he’s ever sent to me. Men, words matter. Written words matter. Spoken words matter, too.

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I am grateful for Mary’s pasta e fagioli that she shared with me.

I am grateful to have been invited to a birthday party tomorrow evening.

I am grateful for the anticipation of grandchildren filling our house with noise and fingerprints.

I am grateful that the words that once stung and hurt me deeply are beginning to fade.

I am grateful for the moments when they are front and center, causing me to relive and remember, re-hurt and re-sting, so that I never repeat what was done to me.

And the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

“Good honk.” – Cousins Debbie and Sheri

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I’m not a fan of getting honked at. Yes, that is bad grammar.

But still, I am not a fan.

And I am not a fan of being the one next to the vehicle that is getting honked at because then I think it is me who is getting honked at and it makes me feel like the world is staring.

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And it makes me feel like I must have left my purse on top of the car or I have a flat tire or I didn’t signal when I should have or I have gasoline leaking out of the side because I didn’t put the cap back on or there is a creepy serial killer who is in the backseat and the honk is a warning honk Danger Will Robinson! kind of honk or I drove off with a cat on top of the car and it is freaking out like Sneakers did back in the day or I cut someone off in traffic and now I am going to be the victim of road rage and it will be the end of me as I know myself.

I am not a fan of honks.

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So I am grateful for every time I am driving or am the passenger in a vehicle and experience a honkless trip.

But I am also grateful that I am so acutely aware of honks that I don’t ignore them like car alarms going off in the grocery store parking lot. Because you never know when there might be a serial killer in your backseat or important paperwork that was in that manila folder, now flying all over the neighborhood.

And I guess I am grateful for funny-sounding wimpy honks that are actually saying, “Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but I noticed your seatbelt is hanging out the bottom of your door and I just wanted to help you out so that no one with an annoying honk ruins your day,” or funny-sounding honks that are in the form of a song that are actually saying, “Well HI there! You look AWESOME going down the street and I just wanted to make you smile with my goofy sing-songy honk!”

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Happy Monday, everyone.

I am grateful for parades.

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I am grateful for confetti.

I am grateful for memories of St. George floats and Fiesta time in San Antonio.

I am grateful for the tradition of Mom turning on the Thanksgiving Day parades on TV while the smell of turkey in the oven filled the house.

I am grateful for street sweepers.

I am grateful for lawn chairs to sit in on Main Street in Hutch and for parents who liked to watch parades.

I am grateful for float people who threw candy and made sure ALL kids got some, not just the greedy ones.

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I am grateful for marching bands that stay in straight lines and bands that kind of dance as they go down the street or bands that really dance as they go down the street.

I am grateful for reasons to have a parade.

I am grateful for memories of Katrina on her Aladdin float and Karissa on her Dumbo float and how happy and excited Mrs. Elliott was every year when float time came around.

I am grateful for the guys in the little cars and funny hats. I’ve been grateful for them before, but they can be reasons to be grateful twice.

I am grateful when no one stands in front of me when I am trying to watch a parade.

And I am grateful for happy little dogs.

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It’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself. – Roald Dahl

 

I am grateful today:

  1. For Rain-X that saves windshield wipers.
  2. For laughter and relaxation.
  3. For lights at the end of tunnels.
  4. For pictures that just make me happy.
  5. For quotes in my devotions that make me think long and hard.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. – Pastor Martin Niemöller 

For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.

Esther 4:14
  1. For devotions and sermons that stay inside for days and weeks.
  2. For anticipation of seeing grandchildren soon.
  3. For a few moments this morning to sit in silence and listen to the rain.
  4. For the realization that when I lost everything, life was simple and the little things were so easy to appreciate and enjoy. Now that I’ve gained a new wonderful world, sometimes I feel like I have lost the simplicity.
  5. For the new wonderful world in all its activity and busyness.
  6. For boring days with nothing to do but read books, or watch a movie, or take a leisurely walk, or bake cookies, or sleep a little longer, or play the piano for no reason at all.
  7. For toddler giggles in the next aisle.

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Absolutely, like, I seen that we have went there.

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Like, how does one become an adult and use the two words “have went” like it is appropriate and correct?

And like, how has “Absolutely!” overtaken my #1 pet peeve of young adults and adults who are not considered young adults any longer saying “like” multiple times in a conversation?

It’s even like, replaced my #2 pet peeve of people saying “Hey!” instead of the word “Hello!” or “Hi!”

Absolutely has replaced the word, “okay,” and “yes,” and YES, IT’S NOT OKAY.

May I please have the check?  Absolutely!

I’ll take a #4 combination plate with a side of green beans. Absolutely!

Could you please describe what happened on the night of December 16, 1973? Absolutely!

Like, that word is DRIVING ME BONKERS. I HAVE WENT THERE.

I am not an English teacher – sometimes I absolutely wish I had, like, went there – but oh my goodness good honk geeze louise, people. I seen a lot of adults these days who DON’T KNOW HOW TO TALK AND NEED TO SMARTEN UP.

I seen too many people over 18 who have went to school and even became semi-professional in their like, white collar careers, who talk in this dumbed-down language, and I am so, so, so grateful that I do not subscribe.

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Absolutely. Amen.

I am grateful for conviction, too.

 

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Goood grief.

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In honor of this evening’s presidential race entertainment:

 

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I am grateful for reasons to laugh.

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I am grateful for the instruction of Luke 6:31:

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! – The Message

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I am grateful for reasons to follow Matthew 5:43-48:

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – The Message

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I am grateful for people who avoid political talk because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it all.

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I am grateful for distractions like a long walk, like a Royals game, like a good movie, like a can’t-put-it-down novel, like weeds to pull, like acts of secret kindness to perform.

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I am grateful for this particular wisdom:

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. – Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 

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And I am grateful for songs that speak to my soul.

 

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Looking out the upstairs window.

Today, home office happened.

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In this almost 100 year old home, my space is now mostly complete. With much gratitude for my brother who built my work station, for my husband who acquired an old library table from Marymount College and went to the dollar store this morning for a temporary chair, for the tech guy who hooked us up with internet, for James the IT guy who remoted in and got me connected to the office back in the city, and for a cell phone to use for conference calls, I am official.

With much gratitude.

For a window air conditioner on a hot day in September.

For a phone charger.

For the smell of 100 year old home that is officially ours.

For online radio that keeps me company.

For the view from the second story window.

For time spent with Sam on a walk and working with Dwight and Dad this past weekend.

For Roxanne’s cakes.

For Sunday evening time, glorious time, with our small group.

For sleep.

For the beauty of the Flint Hills on a long drive west.

For a hand to hold in the silence of the hours that pass by.

For a phone call from a van full of grandchildren.

For this library table ripe for the refinishing (but the gum on the underside must remain – it adds character).

For a chair to sit in so that I didn’t have to stand all day or sit on the floor.

For a wireless mouse.

For THREE monitors and fast internet in small town America.

For beautiful desktop background pictures that randomly change.

For the end of a productive first day in home office.

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And for a grateful house for my heart.

In. Out. In. Out. Breathe…

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Roly Poly Rescuer I am.

I’ve begun saving roly poly creatures from their uncertain fate on a bathroom floor. I gently scoop them up in a paper towel and deliver them to the wet earth of the landscaping just outside the office building. It’s gotta be better than watching them crawl around all the day long on cold hard tile, not able to figure out an escape route.  It is the small things in life, people. Do what you can to save the planet.

I am grateful for people who actually save the planet. People who recycle, people who don’t litter their cigarette butts or for that matter, people who don’t smoke and litter the air with their carcinogens. People who work for the National Park system, people who fight against deforestation, people who rescue dolphins and whales and sea turtles from the entanglement of fishing lines.

I am doing my part by saving the roly poly.

And I subscribe to National Geo Kids for grandchildren.

I need to do better about recycling.

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I am grateful for a football game to watch tonight.

I am grateful for Natia’s funny sounds.

I am grateful that my Dad picked up her medicine refills and that she likes the heartworm pill so we didn’t have to cram it or hide it in cheese.

Breathe, Rhonda. Just breathe.

I am grateful for the beginning of choir rehearsals again.

I am grateful for my pastor’s heart and his passion to reach the nominally and nons.

I am grateful for time spent with my CASA girl.

I am grateful for a stack of bills to pay with Sam this weekend.

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I am grateful for the system of traffic lights and roads and a sense of order and grateful that I live in a country where there is traffic light/road order, because I’ve been in Puerto Plata where it’s kind of a joke.

I am grateful for three nights of leftover Chinese.

Slow down, Rhonda. Stop and smell the Pine-Sol.

I am grateful that Sam used his new chainsaw and liked it.

I am grateful for busy busy busy but…

I am grateful that it is Friday and the weekend is three days instead of just two.