Hi Gene, thank you, crinkly paper, churros, and my dream-come-true.

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I know I’ve written about this before, but it is something that Mom taught me many many years ago, and I feel like I learned it well. I don’t always succeed, but for the most part, I try my very best to follow her wise teaching.

I was reminded last week how yucky it makes me feel inside when a kind deed or a gift given is not met with sincere thanks and appreciation.

Granted, a kind deed and gift given with expectation is not a kind deed or a gift at all.

However, I remember Mom commenting countless times about the lack of a simple “thank you,” and how very important it is to return to the giver enthusiastic appreciation for their thoughtfulness.

The joy of receiving is in far more than the gifts – that when we receive graciously and gladly, we reciprocate the gift with joy and gratitude; and in that moment of shared happiness and understanding, giver and receiver “connect.” – Jenny Walton

I LOVE that quote. You gotta read it a couple of times to grasp the deeper.

Mom taught me that even if I receive a box of rocks sincerely given, I should say or write thank you very enthusiastically and with much appreciation, because the giver thought enough of me to give the gift/show kindness.

*****

I used to love when Mom would take me to the store with her and she needed to pick out a pattern. We’d sit on those swivel stools parked in front of the enormous McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue and Butterick books, and I always migrated in the books towards the costumes and the fancy dresses with fur collars and hems. Or the pet costumes. And then, it was SO MUCH FUN to open the big file drawers and locate that pattern based on the number and pull out those fat envelopes with the crinkly pattern paper stuffed inside.

I also enjoyed helping her pin the pattern pieces to the fabric and hearing the cutting and grinding sound of those big heavy shears as she cut each piece so carefully.

And…that’s about as far as my love of sewing goes.

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*****

As I wrote some of the things I remembered about Mom yesterday, that fingernail clipping thing hit home. Because, in the office down the hall, I heard the familiar nasty sound of a fellow employee clipping nails.

Which reminded me of dirty kleenex left on an end table.

Which reminded me of people who groom their hair, their skin, their faces, their feet, their hands – you get the picture – in front of other people outside of a bathroom.

It’s an issue. I have the issue.

Your DNA belongs in the trash can, please. The trash can in the bathroom, please. Hygiene, people. I am grateful when you abide by good and thoughtful hygiene.

*****

I had a Taco Johns taco and potato ole’s, (the next best thing to french fries) last night, in memory of Mom. Couldn’t do the churro. Never liked churros. But she loved churros and always got an extra for me.

*****

Because it was Mom’s birthday yesterday as well as Bingo night, I gave each of my Bingo moms and one Bingo dad an amaryllis, something that Mom and Delores always had/have this time of year. They loved their new flowers to plant in their apartments and they enthusiastically said, “Thank you.” We shared happiness and understanding as we remembered Mom, and we connected.

*****

As I continue to remember Mom today WITHOUT any tears, I am grateful that she lived long enough to see her daughter happy and free. I am grateful that she was able to know Sam. She knew we were going to get married, and she gave her resounding blessing. I am grateful that Sam was able to know my Mom, too. They shared many good times in the short time they had together.

Thank you, Lord, for my Mom. She was a wonderful Mom and friend.

Thank you, Lord, for Sam. He’s been a dream-come-true these last three years.

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Happy birthday, Helen.

 

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HELEN.

 

 

My Dad used to tease my Mom. Her name was Grace. Well, her name was Pearl Grace, but she didn’t want anyone to know that.

One of my favorite memories is Dad’s perpetual joke to Mom:

At least we still have our minds, Helen. – Dad

And she typically responded with a playful, “DELMAR!”

*****

Another favorite memory:

Mom and Dad were taking care of my dog, Natia. Natia always gets a treat when she goes out to “do her business.” So one evening when I was visiting, Mom had to go “do her business” and excused herself from the table. As soon as she left the room, Dad got up from the table and retrieved something from the top of the fridge, if I remember correctly.

When Mom returned to the table, in the middle of her plate was a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, her favorite. Again…

“DELMAR!”

Dad said she needed a treat.

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*****

Memories for which I am grateful. Here are more from the middle of my head, the bottom of my heart, and the recesses of my soul:

  • Taco Johns and Taco Bueno, her favorite fast food, and our random meet-ups, just the two of us
  • Worsh, worshrags, and Worshington
  • Her original Christmas poems that included every member of the family
  • Saving and always worshing plastic zipper bags, even when they no longer zippered
  • Cardinal sweaters
  • Estee Lauder Beautiful, her favorite perfume, and my LEAST favorite perfume
  • Homemade noodles drying on the worshing machine
  • Cheers and Becker and The Gods Must Be Crazy
  • Sudoku puzzles everywhere
  • Her penchant for licking her fingers when she was cooking or baking
  • Gideons Auxiliary Member
  • Miniatures with Delores for their shadow boxes
  • File cabinets full of every possible written/typed article/clipping/card/letter in the history of the world, all categorized and alphabetized
  • Plants and flowers in every kind of pot
  • Big purses
  • Watching her hold her two oldest great-granddaughters for the first time
  • Our shared love of Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfaits
  • Children’s church crafts made out of things normally put in the garbage
  •  Neighborhood organizer for annual weiny roasts
  • Feeding the ducks with day-old bread at Carey Park
  • Member of the Haviland sextet
  • Accompanying her as she sang “Grandma’s Feather Bed”
  • Surprising her with surprise visits
  • Yahoo!s louder than the entire crowd at every grandchild ballgame
  • Mom’s chocolate dessert, a staple when company was coming for dinner
  • Alto for many years that would slide down into the tenor part during hymn-singing
  • Love for her Johnson and Ferguson families and insistence on attending every get-together
  • That signature tablecloth
  • Lack of self-control in holding her tongue
  • Being her “date” to the concerts and shows at Convention Hall when Dad didn’t want to go
  • Wadded-up kleenex in her purse or in the pockets of her coats
  • Cinnamon rings in a mason jar
  • Making sure every phone in every room was used and every possible family member was on the line when Steve or Ron or Pam called during holidays
  • Her hugs
  • A refrigerator COVERED in grandchildren everything, and gaps were filled in with magnets of every sort
  • Helping Aunt Arlene, Bill, Alta Rice…
  • Clipping her fingernails in public – oh, Helen.
  • Board games, everywhere and always
  • Women’s Missionary Society Mother Daughter Teas and Christmas programs
  • A cardstock sign that always hung in her bathroom by a straight pin, now in the middle of my Bible:

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Happy birthday, Mom. Thanks for a lifetime of memories.

Hold everything in your hands lightly…

…otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open. – Corrie Ten Boom

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Tonight, I am grateful for a return to routine.

I am grateful for the cardinal that was in the front yard this morning when I pulled out of the garage. Out loud, I remarked, “Hi, Mom.”

I am grateful that I can name things for which to be grateful and it doesn’t have to be eloquent, have a flow, or be anything profound. Just counting. Counting whatever comes to mind.

I am grateful for the reminder that there is very little I need, and I am very very blessed with an abundance.

I am grateful for burritos.

I am grateful for Thanksgiving at my sister’s kitchen table.

I am grateful for her two children who helped their Mom cook the meal and get everything ready and then helped with clean up, too. That isn’t a gift. That is taught. They had great teachers.

I am grateful for a surprise package in the mail from Uncle Charlie and Aunt Patsy – a Love Does calendar that will sit on our kitchen table to be used EVERY DAY!

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I am grateful for my husband who is so unlike me, because when he is exhausted, he is still kind. When I am exhausted, I am cranky, and he recognizes that fact and tells me to quit working. He knows when I’m done. And I’m grateful for that, too.

I am grateful for locks on bathroom stalls.

I am grateful for car windows that are not broken and are rolled up when it is windy and cold, for lots of paper towels to clean up spilled cake and frosting in the car, and for good reception so that we could listen to the Chiefs game on the way home.

I am grateful for friends who took time to come and see our remodel project and made us feel like we had done a good job.

I am grateful for the wisdom of Corrie Ten Boom.

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I am grateful for a brother who helped care for our Aunt and treated her with extra tender loving care.

I am grateful for time in the car with Dad and for discussions that we can have together.

And I am grateful for the time spent yesterday seeing friends and family.

 

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At least we’ll have Chex Mix.

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I am grateful for the smell of Chex Mix baking in the oven.

I am grateful for the sound of Christmas music as I walk the aisles of the grocery store.

I am grateful for the way I have to layer because of the chill in the air this time of year.

I am grateful for the dark at 5:30, another sign that it is time for fireplaces and holiday parties and calendars full.

I am grateful for “THAT’S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

I am grateful for a few pine cone turkeys made by the Texas grandchildren last year to warm this Ama heart and make her miss them even more.

I am grateful for memories of Thanksgiving break from school, traveling many hours to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and spending the week anticipating a big meal, lots of family and noisy chatter, a card table with a puzzle in play, and games, games, games.

I am grateful. I hope it’s also okay to be a little bummed.

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A friend shared on Facebook how sad this time of year is for many. Thanksgiving through Christmas has become very bittersweet for me. It is no longer a time of the year I anticipate with joy and excitement, but rather, I dread the quiet and the lonely.

I actually dread the stress of trying to create the “feeling” of holidays and Christmas when it just isn’t there without a house full of family and children and eating and being merry and playing loud laughing games and beds piled high with coats and a tree loaded with gifts and the smells of the season and the giving and serving others and the special programs to attend and the message of our Savior being born acted out in the living room by the grandchildren and their cousins and Mom making everyone say one thing they are thankful for around the table.

I look forward to the quiet of January, because the world goes back to normal and I fit in with my mundane reality, once again.

So, I am working on appreciating what I can. Like that smell of Chex Mix that brings back memories of happy times and makes me “feel” like it’s almost time for the house to fill up with company. It makes me feel like Mom is in the kitchen and is eagerly waiting for the front door to open so she can clomp her feet all the way through the house with a huge grin on her face, arms open wide, and in her most loving way, growl, “Get in here!” followed by her hug that leaves the huggee breathless.

I am grateful that this year, the grocery bill is small and I don’t have to get my fingers all messy trying to save the turkey meat on the bone for turkey noodle soup.

I am grateful that my windows and glass tables won’t have little kid smudge marks all over them.

I am grateful that I don’t have to clean like crazy.

I am grateful that we won’t have to spend hours on the road driving.

I am grateful that I am not obligated to direct or even attend the local school Christmas program and I don’t have to practice practice practice the “Hallelujah Chorus” for the finale.

I am grateful that I won’t have to use Mom’s signature tablecloth that really messes up a beautiful color-coordinated table and doesn’t go with china at all.

I am grateful that there won’t be a crystal dish on the table with green olives to tempt me before the meal.

Who am I kidding.

(sigh)

Time to go stir the Chex Mix. At least we’ll have Chex Mix…

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I know someone who…

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I know someone who complains about their aches and pains on a daily basis.

I know someone who complains about their job and frankly, I cannot remember ever hearing them talk positively about their employer or fellow employees.

I know someone who complains about the right.

I know someone who complains about the left.

I know someone who complains about their children.

I know someone who is very critical of the President and cannot say anything nice about President or Mrs. Obama at all.

I know someone who is very critical about church and compares it to other churches that represent their worship format better.

I know someone who is critical of kids today, and the millennials, and anyone younger than them.

I know someones who spread the negativity disease about bills, about not having enough money, about their rotten neighbors, about healthcare, about the order they placed, about customer service, about unwanted solicitors at the door and on the phone, about their team, about their parents, about their family in general, about having to work, about disappointments, about stepping in dog poop.

Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12 (CEB)

Yesterday was the 3rd in a three week series of sermons about 21 questions we should ask ourselves in order to sharpen our walk with Christ, based on John Wesley’s questions posed to a small group devoted to studying and learning. Our pastor focused on the question,

“Do I thank God that I am not like others?”

He used the passage of scripture from Luke 18 and tied it to Colossians 3:12 and 1 Corinthians 13.

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” – Luke 18:9-14 (The Message)

 

As Adam spoke, my humanness immediately began assessing who in my life needed to hear this message – me, the grateful one so in tune with positive words and focus, unconsciously and inwardly looking down my nose at others and determining who in my life had a critical spirit and complaining attitude. Glass half empties, Negative Nellies, self-righteous Pharisees…

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Conviction set in.

I know someone in need of forgiveness.

I know someone in need of God’s grace.

I know someone in need of a heavy dose of reality check and “heart” medicine.

I know someone who was very convicted and is in need of an attitude adjustment.

I know someone who tries to count every.last.thing. but has fallen short time and time again.

I know someone.

So, for yesterday’s message just for that someone, that someone is very grateful.

 

WHY CAN I NOT PARK STRAIGHT?!

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Random gratefuls on a beautiful spring day in November:

I am grateful for extra wide parking spaces, just for Rhonda-Donda-Cannot-Park-a-Honda. Seriously. I did not get the note in the picture above, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one ever showed up on my windshield. Every single day, I pull in to the parking lot and I pep talk myself into thinking that I did a great job pulling in this time…so straight…good job, girly-poo.

And then I get out of the car.

Nope.

*****

I am grateful for leaf carpet to walk on that is all colors of browns, yellows and reds and a nice change from concrete gray.

I am grateful for popcorn for dinner.

I am grateful for my Bingo moms. I love seeing them on Tuesday nights. Tuesday night, I found out Ruth has gone home to Heaven. In the last four and a half years, five of my moms have gone on ahead of me.

I am grateful for Cool Whip. It’s Cool Whip season. Sam calls it “whip” and that makes me smile.

“This pie needs some whip.” – Sam

The only way to eat pie:

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I am grateful for clean bathroom mirrors and car windows.

I am grateful for errands to run – I need to get away from the desk for a little while, and they are a great excuse.

I am grateful for the show, “This is Us.” Obsessed I am.

I am grateful for sprinkles, the kind you find on cakes and cookies and cupcakes and donuts.

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Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive,
is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise
of the goodness of God. – Thomas Merton

 

Like Father, Like Son

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This morning, Sam was Max.

His dad has a habit of leaving the new shirt on the hanger in his closet, or the new pair of shoes in the box, or the new pair of glasses on the dresser – the old ones are just fine.

I gave Sam a much-needed wallet two years ago that still finds itself in the box.

I also replaced his old work shoes with a new pair, but (sigh), they are still squeaky clean in the bottom of the closet, while this morning he sat on the porch and scraped and scraped and scraped dried mud from the old ones so he could wear them to work.

Like father, like son.

*****

This morning, Sam was Max.

His dad, a WWII veteran, has a habit of singing to himself. One of my favorite memories of Max was created when we took him to Colorado two summers ago, and as we were driving in the mountains, Max sat in the front passenger seat and in his 94-year-old voice, he sang, “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties, across the fluted plain…”

I got ready for the day this morning to Sam’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” all through our home.

Like father, like son.

*****

This morning, Sam was Max.

Max doesn’t like to waste dish detergent. He rinses, if that, and puts the coffee cup back in its place, ready for the next cup.

In unison:

Like father, like son.

*****

Sam carries on so many of the characteristics of his Dad – the quirks as well as character qualities. Max is so generous, loves to visit with just about anyone who is willing to carry on a conversation, can fix anything, and from what I have heard, until just a few years ago, Max worked from sun-up to sun-down and then some.

On this Veterans Day, I am grateful for Max and his influence on Sam, even if it means re-washing coffee cups.

I am grateful to know this wonderful man who, along with his wife, raised a pretty terrific family.

I am grateful that Max defines himself as a son, husband, father, and a Grampy and Great-Grampy who served his country in WWII.

And I am grateful that as a 96-year-old, he still sings a beautiful song…

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