Au naturel.

I sat at lunch and had a conversation with a co-worker who happens to be a makeup artist. Serious. This is just one of her examples from a college course.

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We talked about concealer and nose bridges and eye lash extensions and minerals and hoods on eyes and liner length for small eyes…

We talked about the most beautiful woman in the world (in my books), a woman who has had MAJOR plastic surgery done on her face to make her look NOTHING like she looked as God made her.

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This afternoon, we had our weekly conference room meeting that has, in the past six months, gone from using a polycom in the center of the table for communicating with remote attendees, to video conferencing, allowing remote attendees to feel like they are in the room so that everyone can see everyone.

What I have noticed, however, is that when I am sitting in the office conference room and look on the TV screen at the dual screens showing our New York recruiter on the right and all of us sitting at the conference table on the left, there is a familiar face staring back at me who has become OLD and always has this FROWN, even though the familiar face is attempting to smile.

I am TRYING to smile, and what I see, is me sitting there in all my vain glory, with these HORRID frown lines. Bigger than Dallas.

WHAT HAPPENED.

I’ll tell you what happened. This computer happened. In my line of work these days, I no longer have to force myself to wear a smile while I work. How ridiculous would it be for me to stare at a computer screen all day long and smile big! for hours. I don’t greet customers any longer. I don’t teach kids in class any longer. I make no presentations any longer. I research and study and type. And that doesn’t require a smile uniform.

I’m a happy person, generally. I love my job. I love what I do. I am satisfied in this season. I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart.

Just not on my face, apparently.

I suppose on this day in particular, I could scare little kids with my scowl.

So today, I am grateful for video conferencing detectors, revealing the ugly truth of aging.

I am grateful for cubicles in the back of an office to hide away Broom-Hilda.

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And I am grateful, even though I have discovered my vanity today, that I have not spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery or on boat loads of makeup.

Mostly au naturel, I say, just as God made me.

 

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How many gratefuls fit in a bunker?

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That’s how many gratefuls I aspire to share…

I am grateful that Sam is doing what he loves and I am grateful for kernels of corn in his pockets at the end of a long day.

I am grateful for the crisp on fried chicken.

I am grateful for progress.

 

I am grateful for a small town USA grocery store that still believes in carrying groceries to the car for its customers.

I am grateful for Lurch and Morticia, our creepy grasses and only Halloween decorations this year.

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I am also grateful that the grandchildren evidence is still on that cracked sidewalk, black holes from Independence Day snakes.

And I am grateful for that beautiful chime that hangs above the steps on the porch, a gift from Karen and Ken when Sam’s Dad passed away.

I am grateful for tears of remorse and forgiveness and grateful for a soft heart.

I am grateful for an artful gift from my sister that hangs in our entry.

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I am grateful that my brother’s thumb is still attached today.

I am grateful for the writers of “This is Us.” The world is a better place because of your talent.

I am grateful for a late October warm day before the cold arrives tomorrow.

I am grateful that the cold arrives tomorrow and the box elders will hibernate.

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I am grateful for small town USA plumbers and painters and remodelers who just open our door and say, “Hello???”

I am grateful for a quiet drive in the country at lunch time.

I am grateful for my new laundry room.

 

I am grateful for clean socks.

I am grateful that I can hear the sounds of a group of kids playing in the city park across the street on this late Wednesday afternoon. It is a glorious sound.

I am grateful for boilers that work and 100-year-old house radiators that are radiating.

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I am grateful for connection to my grandchildren and the ache in my heart as I miss them.

 

I am grateful for quiet moments this morning in prayer.

I am still grateful for the musical “Singing in the Rain.” When there are not enough smiles, this one will inspire.

I am grateful that I can follow instructions and set up a new printer without having to call my brother or an 800 number.

And I am grateful for new pillows.

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Easy like Sunday morning. – Lionel Richie

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Yesterday, so many things made the day one of my favorite days. I was able to get that husband of mine to sleep in past 5:30 am for a change, and we made it a leisurely start to the day with sunshine and CBS Sunday morning. When he realized the time and he was 3 ½ hours past normal project pace, he exclaimed in his classic farmer accent, “It’s Sunday mornin’! THIS is a SIN!”

Hearty har har har.

My norm these days involves daily affirmations from that husband of mine, like:

“Life is wonderful with you.”

“Darlin’, you are the best.”

“How’s my beautiful wife?”

DAILY. I am blessed. But I digress…

As we were enjoying the morning, temporarily free from obligations and projects, that husband of mine verbally and romantically dreamed his dreams that he dreams…

“This is like a quiet winter morning, snow falling, just the two of us here at home, a good time to cuddle up on the couch with blankets, all cozy in front of a fire in the fireplace, and cornbread…”

HUH.

CORNBREAD?!

I began giggling that turned into hearty laughter that turned into tears running down my cheeks funny. Here he was, trying to be all sweet and romantic. WHAT IN THE WORLD. Cornbread?!

I will never eat cornbread without thinking of me splitting a gut and that husband of mine sheepishly saying, “I guess cornbread was the wrong thing to say…so much for being romantic…I’ll never be able to eat cornbread ever again…”

After I composed myself once again, we headed over to our newest acquisition to finish the demo project that my Dad had started, pulling smelly old carpet out of a house that is catty-corner to a Lutheran church here in small town USA. The church parking lot was full and as we walked into the house, their church bells began ringing, a reminder that we were not in church but also a reminder that we were experiencing a day of rest and worship in an alternative way. Even in our pew absence, I sensed a good feeling of worship as we worked, and it was so good. It was one of those Holy Spirit moments in the ordinary of life…

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We didn’t stay long, and that husband of mine went off to do what he loves – fall harvest. That left me at home, by myself, on a weekend day, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN I CANNOT REMEMBER.

When that husband of mine got home on Sunday evening, his first question, bless his heart, was,

“Did you MISS me?!”

And I had to answer truthfully.

“No. No, I did not miss you, Sam I am.”

I enjoyed this quiet house with no construction and no other humans. I enjoyed going outside and planting some seeds in the flower beds. I enjoyed doing laundry and ironing without having to stop to contemplate paint color and measurements and what-would-you-thinks-if-we-did-this’s. I enjoyed not having to engage in conversation for a few hours. I enjoyed putting my new laundry room in order just like I want it. I enjoyed sitting on the porch swing, watching the leaves fall, listening to the kids playing in the park across the street. I enjoyed sitting at the computer and watching 5:00 church from home, worshiping with Lance and Cheryl and Adam.

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But by 7:00 pm, I was ready for that husband of mine to come back home. We were going to roast hot-dogs in our front yard, but instead, we stood on ladders and hung a light, we added door hooks in the laundry room, and we ate baked potatoes and watched a little football.

“Husband of mine, life is wonderful with you.”

“You are the best.”

Yesterday was mostly easy. Easy like Sunday morning. It was one of my favorite days.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – Eeyore

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On this Friday, I am grateful.

  • For a message this morning about looking for the flowers instead of the weeds. For example: instead of looking at a counter or sink full of dirty dishes, look at the fact that a meal was shared, there was food for everyone, and there is an opportunity to put forth effort to make the sink empty and the counter clean, another item crossed off the list.

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  • For a yard speckled with autumn yellow leaves.
  • For the sound of breeze whistling through the upstairs window screens.
  • For the sweet, sweet sounds of little Natia having a dream while she sleeps at my feet.
  • For a dusty shirt worn by Sam, evidence that he is working hard during this fall harvest.
  • For the satisfying feeling of an Ama package on its way to Washington for two little girls.
  • For new stamps, ready for cards to write.

 

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Random pet peeviness and reasons to count a blessing.

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When you eat a Subway sandwich and don’t order any chips, it takes away the goodness of the sandwich. Might as well have stayed home and eaten a leathery orange and a piece of cold toast.

Blessing #1: Small town USA actually HAS a Subway sandwich shop.

 

When the neighbor decides it is such a beautiful October afternoon, it’s a great day to cut BEDROCK for all the neighborhood to enjoy, too.

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Blessing #2: Said neighbor is finally working on his very neglected yard.

 

When the afternoon shadows on my desk are from the beautiful upstairs sunny window and are actually dozens of box elder bugs creepy crawling all over the window screens.

Blessing #3: While I see black and red creepy crawlies that give me the shivers, I also see beautiful yellowing leaves fluttering to the ground in the front yard, and for a minute or two, it makes me forget about the living shadows that have invaded our exterior.

 

When remodeling requires the doors to be open, allowing Marty McFly and all of his relatives to visit me while I work upstairs.

Blessing #4: Fly swatters.

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When there are not headphones strong enough to block out nail clipper sounds.

Blessing #5: Bedrock cutting sounds – it’s better than nail clipper sounds.

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What’s the dill, pickle?

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There is almost nothing worse for lunch than fixing a Chinet plate of smoked ham sandwich with the soft bread and the smoky ham and the crispy Romaine and the Hellman’s and two big slices of Claussen’s sandwich sliced dill pickles…

…only to discover on the first bite that the dills are not dills at all.

BLECH.

I am not very happy with the person who invented bread and butter nastiness and thought it would be funny to  inflict it on the rest of us unsuspecting dill pickle lovers. Why couldn’t they color those things PINK or something, since they have cotton candy flavor in them?! Then we could all tell that they are unnatural sweet, like PICKLES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE.

Bread and buttah belong in the guttah.

However, I AM grateful for Chinet plates during kitchen remodels.

And I AM grateful for Claussen DILLS, for which I shall be purchasing with a keen eye on the label, the next trip to the grocery store.

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And I AM grateful for soft bread and smoky ham.

And I AM grateful that there was just enough Hellman’s left in the squeeze bottle for my sandwich.

And I AM grateful that because it is box-elder-bug-white-house-loving season again, they are on the other side of the screened windows while I work and eat my de-pickled sandwich.

And I AM grateful that my Dad is here, along with two really great guys who know how to kitchen remodel while Sam and I are at work.

And I AM grateful that Sam can drink things with ice now and that he doesn’t have to wear gloves on cool morning walks or in order to touch cold or metal things. He can handle a COLD dill pickle jar, woo hoo.

And I AM grateful for memories of CBA concession stands when crazy students actually paid money for little cups of frozen DILL pickle juice. Fundraising entrepreneurs, for sure.

And one more thing. I AM grateful for tacos, especially tacos without pickles. Tacos should not have anything to do with pickles.

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In other words, Immanuel.

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I am grateful that in the stillness, God is here.

I am grateful that in the chaos, God is here.

I am grateful that in the warm breezy afternoon, God is here.

I am grateful that even with my distractions, God is here.

I am grateful that through a child’s laughter, God is here.

I am grateful that in a thunderstorm, God is here.

I am grateful that during sheet folding and shirt ironing, God is here.

I am grateful that while sad news is given, God is here.

I am grateful that when I am sleeping, God is here.

I am grateful that during tragedy, God is here.

I am grateful that when I am annoyed and shortsighted and a little irritated, God is here.

I am grateful that through the kindness of our circle of support, God is here.

I am grateful that in the beauty of swirling leaves, God is here.

I am grateful that by a smile and a little reassurance, God is here.

I am grateful that through a song, God is here.

I am grateful that by a doctor’s wisdom, God is here.

And I am grateful that at the start of my day, in the middle of my day, and when my day is done, God is here.

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