A return to gratitude on the long drive home.

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Time alone with God can help us grow,
but so can serving others.
Instead of feeling guilty about how little time alone I get,
I need to look at how I can connect with God in the midst of my chaos.
– Keri Wyatt Kent

 

It was a long drive home.

But to break up that drive home, I made an overnight stop in old stomping grounds. Years ago, in my former life, I had more than two daughters. I’ve had several daughters in my life, former students who became a part of our family and created a much larger heart for this teacher/mom inside of me. Recently, I reconnected through Facebook, yes Facebook, with two of the girls, and we arranged to meet in “the city” for an overnight slumber party.

So as I drove home this past weekend after a very late night of untold stories and laughter and tears, God gave me the quiet of the day to count even more blessings, naming them one by one.

  1. Amanda, Melissa, Meghan, Erin, Nanette, Vangie, Carolyn, Brittney, Skyler, Alica, Desiree…
  2. Oklahoma accents that crack me up and make me love all the more
  3. Goofiness even at 52
  4. Girls who can transition from calling me Mrs. G or Mama G to my name: Rhonda
  5. Heartbreaking stories that could have devastated but instead made us stronger
  6. A common bond, one of many, across the generational divide: our faith
  7. “I have mostly good memories from high school.”  I cannot say that, but I am so grateful they can.
  8. Swiss cake rolls
  9. Long hugs
  10. Freedom to be who we are
  11. Sleep after a very late night
  12. Happy endings
  13. Wonderful husbands
  14. Alfredos chips and salsa
  15. Love that never fails
  16. Understanding, kindness, and a whole lot a’ grrrace

I have been given so many blessings. Here are just two of them. And I am so grateful.

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It was a long drive home.

I am grateful for long drives home that allow for the counting, one by one.

A return to gratitude.

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What we lack is not so much leisure to do,
as time to reflect and time to feel.
What we seldom “take”
is time to experience the things that have happened,
the things that are happening,
the things that are still ahead of us.
– Margaret Mead/Rhoda Metraux

It was a long drive home. There were no ballgames worth listening to on the radio, and I am not a fan of radio preachers, country music, or infomercials about the latest healthkick in a bottle or retirement/real estate/investment seminars.

Since it was a Sunday, the traffic was flowing nicely, and it was such a beautiful sunny day, I found myself enjoying the quiet and the Oklahoma and Kansas landscape without the noise of the radio. I found myself counting as many as I could, those blessings that seem to become blurs and blips if I neglect to count them one by one. The time alone allowed me to reflect on the week I had just experienced…

  1. Returning from small town USA to find a stack of mail that included birthday cards from Linda and Geri and Jeremiah and Alex and two packages, from Delores and Katrina. What a fun welcome home.
  2. Hearing that three of my granddaughters were very ill and headed to the ER in Texas.
  3. Attending the morning session of the US Figure Skating Championships with my sister, her birthday gift to me, and SO. MUCH. FUN. What I enjoyed the most? Walking around the Sprint Center before the session began, just talking to my sister.
  4. Dinner at Panera with Sam and Dad after driving to three other restaurants to find very long wait times.
  5. A new baby boy who arrived on Saturday night to Paul and MJ.
  6. Listening to my pastor once again and feeling so content to be back in my church.
  7. Finding out that my youngest granddaughter, six weeks old, was in the hospital.
  8. Once again having to tell Sam goodbye for the week as he headed back to small town USA and I stayed behind to work.
  9. Dealing with instability and unknowns with my job status on a Monday morning.
  10. Making the heartwrenching decision to drive to Texas to help care for my daughter’s family while she and her husband took turns staying at the hospital.
  11. Having the privilege of talking to a few dear friends on the way to Texas, knowing they would pray for our little Aynjel and her family.
  12. Rocking a very sick child in the quiet of the night.
  13. Getting a running/leaping hug from happy littles when they woke up and discovered I had arrived.
  14. Giggles, arguments, crying, coloring, singing, hugs, laughter, stories, handwashing 101, teeth brushing 202, playing Simon Says, Ama-style homeschool, tears, laundry, cleaning, baking, kissing boo boos, praying, bath time, reading, dancing, pancakes, pretend grocery store and restaurant, bedtime books,  scolding, time outs, candy math, medicine giving, wiping noses, lap time, and more rocking. Ahhhh, it’s so good to be an Ama.
  15. Watching another granddaughter go to the hospital at the same time the youngest was released to come home.
  16.  Experiencing SnapChat with my daughter for the first time ever.
  17. Just being with my daughter, one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world since ever.
  18. Standing by while my daughter and son-in-law had such burden on their shoulders as they took turns holding vigil at the hospital for not one child, but two. So proud this Mom was, watching co-parenting at its finest and most difficult of circumstances.
  19. Dear friends’ text messages asking for updates and offering advice on keeping the sickness at bay.
  20. Being trusted to care for my grandchildren in their parents’ absence.
  21. An email from my friend Linda, who remembered my Mom’s passing date and knew it was an emotional day for me in the midst of busy childcare.
  22. Seeing church friends step up to the plate and deliver meals for the family.
  23. Wishing I could do more for my daughter, wishing I could hold her on my lap and rock her to sleep once again.
  24. The whole family back home again, chaos intact, and all is well, within reason.
  25. Singing our breakfast prayer on my last day, thanks to Curby’s family for teaching it many years ago: “Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me, the things I need, the sun and the rain, and the appleseed, the Lord is good to me – Amen, Amen Amen Amen, Ahhhhh-men.” And then finding an appleseed in the middle of the apple and Anissa insisting it must be planted. Right this very minute.
  26. Having to say goodbye and trying to keep those little voices in my ears for as long as I possibly could…

Yes, it was a long drive home.

To be continued.

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Word of the Year. Humility.

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I am grateful to be filled with all kinds of emotion today.

I am grateful for the reminder today that humility is needed.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
– C.S. Lewis

I am grateful for the privilege of listening to the Inauguration while I work.

I am grateful for uneasiness that keeps me grounded and in continuous prayer.

I am grateful to have watched the town police officer and my husband spend their evening helping the employees at the local Mexican restaurant. My heart was filled with witnessing:

  • The comforting of a young lady who speaks no English as she learned the news of a dear friend who had passed away in Mexico.
  • A cook with free time and no meals to prepare, making silly faces and playing with the infant son of a waitress.
  • Solidarity
  • Kindness that filled a dining room as tools were gathered and a job was done because of an eagerness to work together and help one another.
  • Laughter and fun
  • Sincere appreciation
  • Impromptu Spanish lessons
  • The building of relationships

 

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
– C.S. Lewis

 

I am grateful for a phone call from my son-in-law.

I am grateful for beautiful examples all around me, in my family and friends, in our church, in this little town, of people who are living out Micah 6:8.

I am grateful that the Son still shines, the Light still wipes out the darkness, that I have been reminded today to love my neighbor as much as, if not more than, myself.

And I am grateful that we will be back in our “home church” this weekend.

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Honestly speaking…I am a bunny.

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I am nervous and slightly afraid.

I am nervous and slightly afraid for my sister’s clients and for my new friends whose futures are unknown beginning tomorrow.

I am nervous and slightly afraid about how quickly the world is changing.

I am nervous and slightly afraid about what our new President is going to say, tweet, and do.

I am nervous and slightly afraid that people are going to ignore Mark 12:31 and feel justified in doing so.

I am nervous and slightly afraid, just as I am when I board a plane or sit in the periodontist chair. I don’t know the pilot or the periodontist, but I have to trust them to do their job and do it well.

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And so, I pray.

I pray for this new President. I pray that God will put people in his path who will share wisdom and help him with decision-making. I pray that his heart and his speech will soften and he will be kind and compassionate in his new role.

I pray that God will take away my uneasiness and replace it with gratitude and a peace that goes far beyond understanding.

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Be grateful, Rhonda.

I am grateful for the privilege and the responsibility to pray.

I am grateful for this exciting era that we are experiencing in real time.

I am grateful for a peaceful exchange of power.

I am grateful for President and Mrs. Obama and their sacrificial service to our country. I am especially grateful for their example of family and acceptance and graciousness.

I am grateful for the Trump family and the hope they bring to many Americans.

I am grateful that I am not in Washington D.C. right now.

I am grateful that my family is diverse in their political leaning.

I am grateful I am not on Facebook to see everyone’s opinions this weekend.

I am grateful that I am neither a donkey or an elephant. I shall be a bunny. Ears ready to hear, quiet, soft on the outside, soft on the inside, nervous and slightly afraid.

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And I am grateful for carrots.

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I so hate to admit this…

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…but we need a millennial.

I don’t care if that millennial comes with an untucked shirt or those ridiculous skinny jeans or leggings that show way too much in public. I don’t care if they are rude about opening doors for women or look right through you as if your 50ish and older self does not exist. I don’t care if they only eat kale and drink green smoothies and mocha latte frappe whoppe hooies. I don’t even care if they overuse the words “like” and “absolutely” and “hey” instead of “hi.” In fact, I don’t even care if they have permanently superglued their cell phones to their hands.

Ugh.

Do you have any idea how many times we have had to call tech support in the last three months to figure out why our ONE tv is not working. Do you have any idea how many times I have had to call tech support to figure out why my computer is on the fritz. Do you have any idea how DUMB I feel when I am trying to research switching to DirecTV and have no clue which package is better or what some of the terms even mean. Between Hulu and Sling and Netflix and Vue and Amazon Prime and streaming this or that or Pandora or Rhapsody or Spotify or Apple or I heart whatever, I AM SO OVER THIS NEW WORLD.

 

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I was a music teacher. I was supposed to be able to run a sound board/mixer/whatever that thing is called that is used to make microphones work. Amps and speakers and XLRs and receivers and huh?

Exactly.

I never learned that, and I am NOT about to begin learning this.

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On top of all that, I have a new smart phone that makes me feel stupid.

So, I will get back to knowing what I know. Leave the tech confusion to those who have never used a rotary dial, have no clue what a 33 or 45 is, and never knew the glory days of console tvs.

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I am grateful for stars in the sky and very few “city lights” to dim the view out here.

I am grateful for warm gloves on a brisk evening walk.

I am grateful for an entire evening of fun as we sat in the Mexican restaurant downtown and visited with our neighbor and town police officer sitting at the table next to us, which prompted a couple in another booth to join in the conversation and share that they almost bought our home, and in the meantime, we had the best time interacting with the employees who have become friends.

All of that makes me grateful for Esmerelda and Bennie and Maria and friendly neighbors and the town police officer who has lived here all of his life and shared some great stories and will become a friend, I just know.

I am grateful for millennials, I guess. Even though they drive me bat crazy, they make me even more grateful for my mom and my dad and millennials give me a MUCH GREATER APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING for the headaches my parents had to have felt all the years I thought I knew everything.

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And that leaves me grateful today for Mom and Dad and all the years they were married. Today is their 66th anniversary, and I will always remember this day and the memories of their 40th and their 50th and the stories of their wedding day in Wellsford.

Happy Anniversary, Dad. And Mom.

Thank you for not going bat crazy all those years I thought I knew more than you. And thank you for teaching me how to live a life filled with GRACE and PATIENCE. I don’t know who needs it more right now – tech support, the tv, the millennials, or me.

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Blessed, healed, rescued, delivered, helped, and uplifted.

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I am grateful today for:

  • Our fireplace, alive with a crackling, popping fire
  • The ability to swallow a pill
  • Sunshine on my shoulders, the song, and actual sunshine…on my shoulders
  • A new package of Oreos
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Funny commercials that just make us both laugh – our favorite right now is for Silk Almond Milk:

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/AmBh/silk-almond-milk-silk-man

  • Mud puddles
  • The privilege to pray
  • A good news email
  • New friends
  • A picture of my youngest granddaughter and a picture of her oldest sister playing basketball, sent in a text message
  • The fading of painful memories
  • Sam, singing “His Eye is On the Sparrow”
  • My devotion today, from “The Upward Call” by David Jeremiah, on loan from Dad, gifted from Patsy and Charlie:

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:2

Among the stories connected to the memory of Francis of Assisi is this one:

One day, Francis gathered his friends at a remote monastery in central Italy. When he asked them about their journeys, each brother had an exciting tale to report. One had been riding his mule across a narrow bridge that spanned a deep gorge. When the mule bolted, the man was nearly thrown into the ravine. He praised God he hadn’t been killed. 

Another brother had nearly drowned fording a river but, he said, “God in His grace provided a tree that had fallen across the water. I was able to grasp a branch and pull myself to safety.” Other brothers expressed similar stories of God’s protection. Then someone asked Francis about his trip. “I experienced the greatest miracle of all,” said the famous friar. “I had a smooth, pleasant, and uneventful journey.”

We should always remember to praise God for His miracles in whatever form they come. He blesses, heals, rescues, delivers, helps, and uplifts more times every day than we can count. We should always be saying, “Thank you, Lord!”

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Even though. Even so.

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I am grateful for ice-covered trees in the winter. Even though the ice can be destructive, it definitely is a winter kind of beauty.

I am grateful for a pain in my neck. Even though it hurts, it means I have had lots to do today to keep busy at my desk.

I am grateful for a dull ache of missing out. Even though it is constant, it means I am not checking Facebook to see the latest, and I know the ache will eventually fade.

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I am grateful for a dusty film all over everything. Even though it is driving me slightly crazy, I know it means progress is being made on the addition.

I am grateful for radiators in every room. Even though they take up space and some would consider them ugly, they allow us a very warm home and our heat is silent. I never realized until this home taught me…furnace heat is loud.

I am grateful for dirty clothes. Even though our Friday night looks to be spent at the small town laundromat, we have clothes, they are warm, and very soon they will be clean again, smelling good and all folded. AND, a bonus. I get to spend the evening with Sam at the laundromat.

And I am grateful for very little in the refrigerator. Even though we don’t have many options for dinner, it means I will be able to go to the store after work to find something to go with a potato.

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