Very entertaining, these people in this town.

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I am grateful for a city employee, most likely a teenage boy but wouldn’t it be oh so funny if it were a grown man, who was mowing the city park across the street while Sam and I sat on the porch today and ate our sandwiches. He was a dancing fool on a John Deere.

I am grateful for an old guy I shall name “AJ Foyt,” who loves his blue truck and drives all around the town all the day long…because he can. He has places to go and people to see, I suppose, but he is the subject of our entertainment after we see him drive by for the 7th time in a day.

I am grateful for the white trucks that drive by, with signs like “City of Small Town USA” on the sides. Every time they drive by, I hear Barney Fife music in my head, thanks to Sam’s wisecrack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRV-HXmeR28

I am grateful for 12:56 pm every day, when the street in front of our house lines the way for swimsuit-clad kids on bicycles, beach towels draped around their shoulders, headed to the city pool around the corner.

I am grateful for neighbors we barely know who check our basement for flooding when we are out of town, because they worry about us.

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I am grateful for our friend the policeman, who bought our dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town. “It’s your welcome home meal!”

I am grateful for a random visitor, the flooring guy from the big city an hour and a half away, who “re-sanded these floors 10-15 years ago” and heard the home had new owners. Why yes, we would love to have our wood floors re-sanded. And get THIS: He told us where the key is located at the building in which he is currently re-sanding a floor down the street. “Go ahead and help yourself to take a look!”

How convenient is THAT?!

I am grateful for the guy at the Dollar Store, tatted and pony-tailed and small town friendly.

I am grateful for one finger waves behind a steering wheel.

And I am grateful for a robe-wearing neighbor who comes outside at early o’clock in the morning when Max the horse dog decides to be-friend us but needs to go back inside. Thanks, Max the horse dog – because of you, we just met another really nice neighbor.

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A full day of work and belly laughs…

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…just doesn’t get much better than that.

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Sitting next to the house in boxes, approximately 60 plants have been waiting on their horticultural transplant for several weeks. I am sure they had decided it was never going to happen. They were destined to live the remainder of their days in their little square temporary containers because the homeowners in this fine small town USA were forgetful or plant haters.

When company decided to leave a day early, however, homeowners Sam and Rhonda determined to make Memorial Day memorable.

  • I am grateful to have slept in until 7:30 am.
  • I am grateful for breakfast on the porch.
  • I am grateful for a long walk in the quiet of a lazy holiday morning, before the cars headed to the cemetery, before the barbecues were fired up, before the class reunions commenced.
  • I am grateful our plants didn’t die while waiting.

We decided to quickly get these little guys into the ground so that we could have part of a day to enjoy the beautiful.

The lucky firsts were three rose bushes to be planted at the corner of the yard. Since the ground was so soft from much rain, I didn’t put up too much dissent when Sam insisted he could easily dig the hole with the spade. Surgeon: “No lifting over 10 pounds for 10 weeks post-surgery.”

It wasn’t hard ground, and technically, he wasn’t “lifting.”

We were both enjoying the cool morning and the quietness, when all of a sudden, a car came to a very sudden stop at the stop sign on our corner. We looked over to see a young lady, with window down, nonchalantly look to her right and her left.

Sam is kind of known for his wisecracks, and he didn’t disappoint.

“Brakes work!”

The poor kid was immediately embarrassed and giggled nervously, when her adult male passenger leaned forward laughing, and said, “Thanks! Yes, they DO!”

As the car turned the corner, we both noticed the big yellow magnetized sign plastered across the trunk:

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  • I am grateful for belly laughing while working.
  • I am grateful for many water breaks on the kitchen porch, with a cool breeze blowing and birds entertaining.
  • I am grateful for a lunch break, too – and a new Casey’s convenience store with a great deal for two slices of pizza.

We continued planting – wisteria, 5-6 different kinds of multiple grasses, azalea, lavender, hibiscus, hostas, wedding flowers, etc. And all through the day, we both remarked, “This is the best day.”

Sam dug, Rhonda planted. All around the house we went, removing the over-abundant day lilies and iris and liriope, transplanting the sad and neglected, belly laughing at the stares and the silly kids across the street playing in the muddy ditch water, using muscles we I hadn’t used for a long time.

  • I am grateful we didn’t have 70 plants in little square boxes.
  • I am grateful for a full day of complete enjoyment with my husband, just the two of us, together, making our home beautiful.
  • I am grateful for dirty clothes.
  • I am grateful for empty bags of mulch.
  • I am grateful for aspen trees that MIGHT not be dead after all.
  • I am grateful for bunnies who have made their home in our yard, unafraid and chomping away at an abundance of green grass.

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Just when we were completely exhausted and calling it quits, Angela and Pete pulled up, on their way home from a weekend in Colorado.

  • I am grateful for a sister who took the time to come see where we live in small town USA.
  • I am grateful for a peaceful evening on our front porch, sandwiches and watermelon with family.
  • I am grateful for the end of the sunny day, on a motorcycle with my husband, enjoying our little town as we rested our weary muscles.
  • I am grateful for a shower.
  • I am grateful for a bonfire in our front yard and the satisfying feeling that Sam was sitting on the front porch in the dusk, watching his fire and admiring his hard work.
  • I am grateful that the police chief is our friend, and I am pretty sure we won’t get in trouble for having a bonfire in our front yard.
  • And I am grateful that we both decided, “THIS has been the best day.”

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Don’t mess it up.

 

 

Before Mom passed away, we went through her things and began to get rid of stuff. She gave back to me a “thing” I had given her several years earlier. A knick knack. It said,

This is the day the Lord has made.
Don’t mess it up.

This morning, I went for a walk with Sam. He was five hours away, but he was in my ear. We talked almost the whole time. As we walked, I noticed the sun coming up over the trees, no cotton fluffs this time. I noticed the dew all over the green lush. I noticed the sounds of the birds getting ready for the day. I noticed the petals of a flower, fallen and smushed onto the pavement. I noticed the fresh air to breathe. I noticed when Sam said, “I am the luckiest man in the world to have such a beautiful wife.” I noticed the early riser squirrels chasing each other across the yard. I noticed the neighbor in robe, out for her early morning smoke, always ready with a big smile and a wave. I noticed the quiet of the city before the busy begins another day.

This morning, as I walked from my car to the building, I noticed the sunshine that peeks through the breaks in the trees here in the woods, casting beautiful art pictures across the sidewalk and flower beds. I noticed the smell of earth. I noticed the intricacies of bark on the trees, beautiful and stately masterpieces from the Master. I noticed the holes in the mulch, created by creatures trying to bury or trying to find. I noticed the new floral beauty that lines the way, a gift every morning and every evening that I take for granted and rarely appreciate.

I noticed the papers on the sidewalk, delivered by someone in the darkness of the new day for offices nearby, such convenience and luxury we too often take for granted. I walked into the office, greeted by my boss who started the day ahead of me, and I noticed how easy it is to talk to him and share experiences of the previous evening. I noticed how good an egg from the microwave tastes with just a hint of salt, since I am cutting back on salt. I noticed how quickly I realized I do not have my cell phone with me, leaving it on the counter to charge at home – and I noticed how that doesn’t really bother me these days. I noticed how good it feels to have a space heater at my feet for a few hours in the mornings. I noticed how nice it is to work in a place where I enjoy each of my co-workers, my employers, my job.

We were created to draw life and nourishment from one another the way the roots of an oak tree draw life from the soil. Community – living in vital connectedness with others – is essential to human life. – John Ortberg

I noticed how nice it is that the building maintenance man hollers at me through the glass wall with a big wave and a smile. Hollers, not yells. Hollers is pleasant – yells is not so much. I noticed how nice it is to hear someone enter the building whistling a happy tune. I noticed how nice it is to be around people who do not complain but only speak encouragement. I noticed the satisfied feeling of productivity. I noticed the fun of a co-worker who bought red noses for each of us on this day.

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I noticed the emails in my inbox, beautiful messages from those who love me, and one in particular:

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This is THE day that God has given to me, so I’m going to do my best to not mess it up.

O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing! – Psalm 103:1-2 (The Message)

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The gift of a window.

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There’s always another way of looking at an overwhelming and formidable situation.

Yesterday, Karen and I were visiting about this current situation in which Sam and I find ourselves. I was wearing blinders and seeing the black and the white. She noticed.

However, I count myself pretty adept at looking on the bright side of things, and already there have been some very positive moments. Clearly God is working in and around us in ways that we would have to wear blinders in order to miss.

I was wearing blinders.

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Karen is this wise soul and one of those I thank God for each day. She saw my blinders, and she said, “Rhonda, you and Sam have been given a gift.”

She went on to say that everyone has a clock. Everyone has a set amount of time on this earth. However, not everyone is given a window with which to gaze at their clock.

Not everyone is given the opportunity to come to terms with the fact that LIFE IS SHORT, a reminder that we must live each day with gratitude and with urgency to experience the best that life offers, to make each moment count.

We’ve been given the gift of a window.

Thank you, Lord.

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Chris texted me on Sunday evening. She described a cottonwood tree that was shedding while she enjoyed the view across the street from her home. And then yesterday, she texted me again with a suggestion to listen to this song and message that followed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY

And then this morning, she texted me once again, just to let me know that when I am weary of talking about it all, she would be my sitting-in-silence friend.

Thank you, Lord.

I walked the morning of my surgery one last time. It was a still, chill-in-the-air morning, and the sun was just beginning to shine over the treeline. At the end of our street, a tall cottonwood stands proud among the more desired maples and oaks and dainty flowering dogwoods. On this Monday morning, Cottonwood released a theater full of sparkling cotton fluffs hanging in space, glistening in the sunlight. It was a magical scene that took my breath away.

Thank you, Lord.

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Last night, I sat down to eat a plate of leftover green beans and the last grilled hamburger, when my phone rang a funny ring, and I received my first ever Facetime call from Julie. Even at 52, I can learn something new besides the fact that salmon will not kill me. What an experience to receive a call that was also live video on a screen. And, while we were talking, her two daughters entered the picture and joined us in conversation about all things healthy to eat. It was so fun, and it topped off my evening. I would post the picture I took of the occasion, but I realized after looking at it how much weight I have gained, and I will eat salad instead of posting a picture.

Thank you, Lord.

Author-to-be Linda emailed yesterday, offering to take flowers to lay on my Mom’s grave next week. She also emails almost daily with silly pictures and stories and inspiring quotes and devotions that she knows will hit home. What a thoughtful friend…

Thank you, Lord.

Another thoughtful friend named Linda friend sent a message to us, asking to be put at the top of the list for chemo treatment transportation when we have our schedule. It must be the name…

Thank you, Lord.

May I seek to see the lovely in every situation, recognize the gift of a window, and always say “thank you.”

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You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.

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My shoe squeaks with every step, plastic forks are dumb, my eyes leak water too much these days, a pinched nerve is not my friend, and I am already tired of talking about cancer.

Sam has returned to his desk, five hours away.

That’s how this Tuesday is for me, IF I allow these things to affect my view.

*****

I am grateful for the soft jazz music in the hallway that greets me when I open the office door to walk to the bathroom during a break.

I am grateful for a quiet few moments this morning with Sam before he began his drive back to his desired reality, reading our devotions and praying that God will protect him in our absence from one another.

I am grateful for grilled chicken on a salad.

I am grateful that Sam has returned to his desk, five hours away, and that he is not just coming home from the hospital today as we had expected. He’s pretty much a rock star patient.

I am grateful that I consider my boss a very close friend.

I am grateful that I am no longer wearing a surgical shoe and that squeak reminds me that I am walking on my own two feet.

I am grateful for a beautiful green lawn that is mowed, for beautiful trees that are trimmed, and for cool weather in late May. Thank you, Paul, thank you, Paul, and thank you, God.

I am grateful that when all real forks are dirty and in the office dishwasher, someone decided to save the plastic forks from Chinese take-out so that I would not have to eat my salad with grilled chicken one piece at a time by fingers and thumb even though it took twice as long to eat with flimsy fork.

I am grateful to have been inundated with phone calls, text messages, and emails for the last many days. Our circle is huge with friends and family who use words to comfort when a hug is not possible. It is so very wonderful to be “checked on” in the midst of the hard things.

I am grateful for Resurrection Singers who were the voice of the Holy Spirit on Sunday morning and ministered to our deepest place, allowing us to let go and cry in the most sacred of moments.

I am grateful for a gift card to get a massage.

I am usually not grateful for people who stop by without warning, but right now, I am grateful for our circle of friends who have stopped by without warning, just to deliver some TLC.

And I am grateful that my sister was the first car on the meal train and delivered salmon to our table. It was a new experience for me and one I survived. I’m kind of grateful for the first taste of salmon and that I didn’t throw up or gag. Life as we have known is forever changed.

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Life is short. One day you will say, “I wish I had,” or “I’m glad I did.”

 

 

I’m a little behind on planning a family reunion next summer.

I have been thinking about all of the things – ALL of the things – and my mind has focused today on family reunions again. Maybe the Holy Spirit is telling me something here. Maybe I am just feeling sentimental. Maybe I am realizing there are some things in this life that are more important and life is too short…

My sister and I have Mom guilt, bequested to us by our own, so we take it upon ourselves to keep the get-togethers going. Mom used to send a birthday card to every last person on the tree of families – sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews, including greats. After Mom passed away, my sister had this noble idea that she would continue the tradition. I think Angela soon realized it was an organizational and planning ahead kind of thing – and unless the aunts and uncles and cousins were part of an immigration rally she was leading, organization and planning ahead were at the bottom of her to-do list. Still, whenever there is a calendar reminder of an Aunt’s birthday, the twinge returns.

A few years ago, when Sam became a part of our clan, he was amazed at how many family reunions we seemed to attend – how many aunts and uncles and cousins we actually corresponded with on a regular basis. It didn’t seem unusual to me, but apparently, not all families have reunions and directories like ours.

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Maybe it’s just this little corner of my world these days, but I am noticing a sad but new trend.

My age group seems to be the last generation of family who really “know” extended family, who think it is important to keep in contact. I think about the offspring of my age group – they are sporadic in attending get-togethers, if at all. And their children are not growing up playing with cousins at the Christmas reunions or at the lake in the summertime.

Family reunions and get-togethers are becoming something of the past, and this makes me sad.

20-somethings and even 30-somethings do not view extended family as a priority, are too busy to make the time, so therefore, they, and their children will not know of the joys…

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So, I want to be mindful and grateful for the joys of:

  • the anticipation of company coming over, aunts and uncles who showed interest in me, and lots of cousins for Freeze Tag and Hide and Seek
  • hours of board games and laughter
  • catching minnows in the creek with my cousins Debbie and Brian and Susie and Dawnita
  • jumping on the ultra-soft bed at Grandpa and Grandma Johnson’s with Mark and David
  • pot luck meals
  • Aunt kisses
  • airplane rides with Uncle Floyd
  • watching with delight as the prank gifts were opened during the gift exchanges at Christmas
  • Sunday morning church in a hotel conference room with all the family
  • Uncle Tommy and Aunt Arlene’s comic books
  • catching up with everyone and seeing how my cousins had grown, either up or around, or both
  • a houseful of company, all related and noisy and carrying in food
  • traditions of Uncle Lloyd surprises and popcorn balls and hymn-singing with the Aunts and walking the streets of Haviland while the adults visited and all afternoon dominoes in a corner
  • plates full of snacks with parents who were too busy visiting to care how high I piled
  • the hideout for kids – Grandmommy and Granddaddy’s attic
  • evenings around the campfire at Cheney
  • ice cream and slide projector shows of the good ‘ol days
  • being forced to play my recital piece because “everyone” (i.e. MOM and maybe Aunt Patsy) wanted to hear it
  • feeling the love of family, lots of family

Sometimes those get-togethers were inconvenient and took too much time out of the schedule, but we went anyway, because it was important. It was family.

I’m glad we did.

*****

I remember going to a funeral of a family member once upon a time not very long ago, and after several people who knew this man shared recent memories and reminisced about him and his life, the son, who had been so busy living life in another state stood up and quietly said, “I didn’t realize what an impact my dad had on so many people.”

*****

It is the purest sign that we love someone if we choose to spend time idly in their presence when we could be doing something more constructive. – S. Cassidy

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Being an adult is like folding a fitted sheet.

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My back hurts from reclining in this bed all day with a laptop on my leg desk. I have stared at the black blank tv screen trying to think of something worthwhile for which to be grateful today.

Inspiration has flown the coop.

So, I am going to sit here and count each and every mundane.

I am grateful that on this muggy 80 degree day when the window is open and I am not supposed to be up, the ceiling fan is providing a breeze.

I am grateful for an abundance of pillows.

I am grateful that I live in the 21st century when remotes are standard and I do not have to get out of bed to go to the tv and turn it on or off.

I am grateful that the ice packs don’t leak.

I am grateful for work and for the ability to work from my leg desk.

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I am grateful for the smell of grass just cut and the noise of the mowing crew to break the quiet of the afternoon.

I am grateful for a quick thunderstorm and the sound of the wind and the downpour and the thunder.

I am grateful for bills to remind me that I am an adult now.

I am grateful for washed hair.

I am grateful for peppermint hand soap.

And I am grateful for blue jays, wrens, gold finches, and nests around the patio.

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