Life is short. Live it well. Stay humble and kind.

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Father,

Thank You. I do not say it often enough.

Thank You.

For things too abundant to count. For people too numerous in my life. For experiences both good and bad that cause me to reflect and grow.

Thank You.

Father, today, I say thank You for country music. I know, very much out of my comfort zone. But then I heard this, saw this, and I think You are all over and in this, and I cannot help but cry and kind of wish I could have a do-over in the raising of children:

 

Thank You for friends who enrich our lives and for the ability and the desire to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to them rather than waiting for them to reach out to us.

Thank You for our Dads and the time we still have with them.

Thank You for allowing us, in our middle to late afternoon years, to recognize how important family really is and how quickly time passes.

Thank You for the blessing of Sam’s family and for the sweet and tender moments of hymn singing and tears flowing, your Holy Spirit’s presence felt in the room.

Thank You for our church.

Thank You for a late Sunday afternoon walk followed by dinner in front of the computer to watch our service back in Kansas City.

Thank You for a husband who holds my hand during prayer.

Thank You for tears when we hear music that speaks to our souls.

Thank You for opening our eyes to new experiences and new friends.

Thank You for giving us the desire to step out of our comfort zone and live life rather than watch it go by on a computer screen.

Thank You for great authors who write the best books, and thank You for giving me a partner who lets me read out loud and who wants to discuss this paragraph or that paragraph and appreciates others’ opinions and thoughts, even though he might not share the same beliefs or philosophy.

Thank You for giving us the opportunity to love someone else’s daughters when we miss ours being in our lives and the pain is almost more than we can bear.

Thank You for music that has always been a part of our world – playing the piano and french horn, singing, directing, teaching children in musicals, blaring it loud on the radio as we go down the road, attending concerts, appreciating the art if not the style…

Thank You for Ephesians 4:29-32, again.

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Thank You for three cinnamon rolls this weekend, made by three different bakers, all three, incredibly good – both cinnamon rolls…and bakers.

Thank You for a clean window on a sunny Monday morning.

Thank you for an absence of guns in my world, for an absence of revenge in my world, for an absence of hate and pride and cup-half-empty in my world.

Thank You for sore muscles, evidence of a little more movement and a return to activity which can only help in removing the cinnamon roll weight.

Thank You for the reminder that the absence of words can cut just as deeply. Please help me to always be cognizant of my words, spoken, inferred, or bottled and silenced.

Thank You for giving me a family who loves me, no matter what. Thank You for my family who has accepted Sam with open arms and given him another family to love.

Thank You, Father, for being right here with me, for allowing me to feel You near, to know You are carrying me when I am too weak to walk on my own, for showing me in the every day that You exist. I am Yours, and You are mine. Thank You. I will do my best to live life well and stay humble and kind.

Take the burden from my arms
Take the anchors off my lungs
Take me broken and make me one
Break the silence and make it a song

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken all my soul
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short; I wanna live it well, yeah

I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
‘Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well

 

Some days, it’s a Pandora and hot chocolate kind of day.

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Today is just one of those days.

This is our front yard here in small town USA, and I sit at the window 2nd story and work and watch the snow coming down, John Mayer playing in the background.

I feel like I am in the most beautiful snow globe.

And I feel very blessed that God chooses to shower me with good things.

On this Friday, I am grateful for:

  • pretty snowflakes
  • good music by really great musicians
  • a warm house
  • being told “I love you” many times a day
  • plenty of work to keep me busy
  • Mariah – today is her 17th birthday
  • snow globes
  • a hoodie to wear
  • the sound of a saw downstairs
  • French fries that aren’t called french fries so that technically, I can eat them

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Worship is simply adoring Jesus.

I am grateful for this today:

“I was in the fifth grade when a family friend told me that the church I attended didn’t worship correctly. For one, we read a translation of the Bible other than the King James. Secondly, it was unacceptable to God that we use musical instruments in worship. This was the first time that I ever knew that there were different ways to worship God and that there might be a right and wrong way to worship, or at least a better or worse way.

I carried this right/wrong/better/worse view with me for a long time. I attended services where I thought that more people should be raising their hands and others where the hand-raising/clapping/dancing was a bit much for me. I heard prayers that seemed inauthentic in the way in which they were precisely scripted and others that felt chaotic where the person rambled on and on and on and on. I heard music that I thought could use more life, more passion, more drums! Then I heard music and thought, “They should lose the drummer, or at least find one who could stay in rhythm.” I critiqued every worship experience – too boring, too out there, too loud, too unorganized, too, too, too, too… It’s exhausting being a worship judge (and frankly the pay stinks).

I came to a point where I reflected on the most moving worship experiences I’ve experienced. I realized that they had very little to do with style and content, and more to do with purpose and outcome.

For me, at the very root of worship is the fact that I adore Jesus. I do. From a very tender place in my soul springs a strong current that longs to connect to my Savior. He’s where I find peace, wholeness, life, and joy. I’ve discovered that my ability to connect with Jesus is not bound by style, biblical translation, pastor, music, or anything else. When I put on my judge’s hat and get caught up in these things, I lose sight of why, and sometimes even who I worship. What a shame and wasted opportunity. When we put those distractions aside, we realize that worship can be found in multiple ways. Worship is simply adoring Jesus. No matter the style or setting, our truest moments of worship either spring up from or lead us to this adoration.”  – Written by Janelle Gregory, Human Resource Specialist at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection; emphasis by Rhonda

 

 

The benefits of eating a frog?

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That’s right. Fried chicken. All-you-can-eat fried chicken, which in my case, will be two pieces max.

But I DID it. I ate the big ugly toad today and I am on to funner more fun things.

I am grateful for projects completed, or at least started.

I am grateful for memories of Katrina swallowing a live goldfish without hesitation at her 13-year-old birthday party, following the frog-eating 2nd rule of not looking at it for very long.

I am grateful for the sound of howling dogs when the town siren goes off.

I am grateful for squeaky clean anything.

I am grateful for the sounds of “Thank you, Ama!” when I answer the phone.

I am grateful for early spring bulbs beginning to awaken.

I am grateful for evidence of new grass in our lawn.

I am grateful for thoughts of my Dad this morning as we walked past the Standard sign downtown.

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I am grateful for an email from Linda the author today that made me laugh out loud. I pledged to laugh at least once a day…SCORE.

I am grateful for memories of bunnies all over the front yard of Uncle Tommy and Aunt Arlene’s house when Jane surprised all of the kids (and their parents) with Easter bunnies.

I am grateful for sounds of children playing in the park across the street this late afternoon as I work.

I am grateful to see Orion and his belt every night which reminds me to be grateful for Jeanine and memories of our early morning walks that were so therapeutic.

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I am grateful that the Dollar Store has a freezer with ice cream inside, just waiting for me. Geri, no haters. It’s a weakness.

I am grateful that even though I have not played the piano for awhile, I still know how and can sit down and soothe with a hymn, talk to God through my fingers, and count my gratefuls without words.

I am grateful to see progress every day when I go downstairs and walk into the construction zone. This remodeling thing is a piece of cake.

I am grateful for a restaurant out here that has all-you-can-eat fried chicken on Wednesday nights.

And I am grateful for a good broom.

Now, time to finish up the day and load up on chicken and jayhawks. More chicken, less jayhawks.

 

 

Help! I’m unfocused and I can’t get up.

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I am grateful for quiet streets at 6 am while we walk.

I am grateful for sore muscles that tell me it’s working.

I am grateful for a warm sun and a breeze that blew during my lunch on the front porch today.

I am grateful for that breeze that blew some of my potato chips right off my plate. I imagine God was saying, “Uh, Rhonda, you don’t need THAT many chips on your plate.”

I am grateful for the unmistakable feeling of God’s presence that just makes me all warm inside.

I am grateful for my Tony Evans book, “Detours.”

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I have a writing assignment for work that is THE. LAST. THING. I. WANT. TO. DO. I love writing. I do not love writing about things I know nothing about. I am fighting to focus. I am staring at the computer, unsure of a direction to take. My mind wanders. I tell myself I can’t do it. I jump at any other task, just to avoid this big frog I need to swallow. I am STUCK.

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I am grateful for the correlation I am seeing in reading Detours and in not swallowing the big ugly frog. I am misaligned.

“When you live with your mind and thoughts focused in the wrong direction, you will have a difficult time finding your destiny. You will go on detour after detour after detour. But when you allow the Great Physician to turn you around – to bow your head down, even though the process may feel painful, you become ready to walk with a purpose.” – Tony Evans, Detours

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I am grateful that tomorrow I will swallow the ugly frog and I won’t do anything else until it’s DONE. Well, not true. I will early morning walk. I will eat my egg. I will read my devotions. But when I park myself in front of the computer, I will serve up a big ‘ol plate of cuisses de grenouille and eat.

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I’m so nervous I could pledge.

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Sam surprised me on my return trip to small town USA by arranging for one of our friends to come over today to clean the house.

I am here. In the house.

I have never in the history of Rhonda had someone else to clean my house for pay, let alone when I am HOME and can sense their horrid realization of our dirtiness.

Mind you, our friend speaks no English other than “Okay,” and “Si.”

I wanted to clean the whole house before Maria arrived. I want to get up from the computer and help Maria clean our dirtiness. It’s not really OUR dirtiness, although it is. It’s the sheetrocker’s dirt, a thick coating of whitish gray dust covering every square inch of everything, which is why Sam insisted on hiring Maria for my benefit.

I took a break before she arrived to clean out the Dollar Store of every can of Pledge. I bought the four cans they had, to go with the one full can here in the cupboard.

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It is now the end of the day, hours after I was so nervous. I am still so nervous, and I am fairly certain Maria has used all four cans and is now on #5. I am not exaggerating. Through translation, I told her not to be stingy because there was plenty. She took me serious.

I am grateful for the Dollar Store and plenty of Pledge.

I am grateful for Maria – she has cleaned pretty much every square inch of the house this afternoon, including door frames and window blinds. And 6 ½ hours later, she is still cleaning.

I am grateful that even though we do not speak the same language, she could point to a ladder in the construction zone to tell me she needed a ladder.

I am grateful for Esmerelda, another friend, who has translated back and forth between us today via text messages. What a wonderful world this is with technology that even Rhonda can understand.

I am grateful for my husband who was so kind to me and wanted our home to be clean…for me, and he was so kind to think of Maria, our friend who needs some extra income right now and gave her the opportunity to be kind to Rhonda all at the same time.

I am grateful for my husband who, on a whim, invited a dinner guest tonight because he loves to have company, and so last minute preparation is in progress.

I am grateful for beautiful new dishes from my bosses that are helping entertain our guest this evening, complete with paper towel napkins, red Solo cups and a mishmash of flatware and plasticware, since we are really only set up for Sam and Rhonda at this stage of the transition.

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I am grateful for laughter at the table, laughter so good it brings tears, over the sharing of bloated cow stories, pet goats, and a flowered couch for $20 that someone might just need so it becomes a “must buy,” and words tossed around, words like catawampus and hankerin’.

I am grateful to have just heard Sam’s buddy who lives in the city come inside and remark about the incredible starry sky out here in small town USA.

I pledge to be grateful each day. I pledge to laugh at least once, every day. I pledge to take advantage of looking at the brilliance of the night sky in small town USA every night when I am here. I pledge to put these new dishes to work and make my Mama proud. I pledge to not let my nerves get the better of me and keep me from befriending someone who does not speak the same language.

I am grateful for the end of a long day and grateful that I am no longer nervous. I’m pledged out.

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It’s already done. Thanks, Maria!

I am grateful for Linda. She makes my world brighter.

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The full moon was receding into its next phase, yet still bright enough to show up in the predawn sky. There, just a short distance visually from it, shone a star or perhaps a planet.   The star/planet and moon the only thing visible in the sky. The moon was shining filling the sky with its light, the star/planet twinkling less brilliant than the moon. I can relate to star/planet. My light shines but compared to others it doesn’t shine as brightly. Does that make my light less significant?

That evening the moon still stood out as the brightest object in the sky. With a billion stars in the night sky it was hard to discern the bright star/planet I’d seen that morning from all the other glimmering objects in the sky. And that was okay because the billion sparking orbs were a magnificent sight. Twinkling, not in unison, but randomly erratic. I realized that one single light shining alone is beautiful and it stands out.  But a billion lights glowing together are an awesome spectacle. 

Our lights might not shine as bright as our friends or neighbors. Some of our lights might twinkle more than others. If, however, we all shine our lights of love, positivity, encouragement, and hope at the same time the results are blinding and an awesome display.

As for the moon, I see God. God shines His light brighter than ours, but not so bright as to dull ours. God wants us to shine with Him. When we shine with His love,  no one’s light is better or more significant, just each a little different from the other.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!

Written by my friend, Linda Francis, up-and-coming author