Dirt is my friend.

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I am grateful for an evening at home, a blanket on my lap, texting with Lori, and a beautiful fire to enjoy.

I am grateful for a husband who helps make dinner, helps clean up the kitchen, helps fold the laundry, and makes a nice fire in the fireplace.

I am grateful for memories of my silly Aunt Drula.

I am grateful for a new experience of rock hunting in a dry creek bed. Fossils, thorns, deer evidence, badger holes, brush crunch, gaggles of squawking geese in formation, and a truck bed loaded with our treasures for the fireplace…all added up to a beautiful and very brisk Sunday afternoon.

 

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I am grateful for progress, even if it is slow going. Every day brings positive change.

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And, finally, I am trying to be grateful for dirt. Dirt means progress right now, so I will accept it. Temporarily.

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A lot has happened in 5 years.

Mom

I still want a Peanut Buster Parfait.

I am sitting here at my desk this morning crying like a little girl. Five years is a long time to get over something. And I thought I was over it, but as I looked back in my 2013 emails for the right picture that Dwight had taken back then, I began to read the subject lines of my old gratefuls, and I couldn’t help the tears….

I shall sing like my Mom sang to me.
Sing like Grandma is listening.
Take your seats, everyone.
Just a few more days.
When I am 48, I shall wear purple, and I will remember my Mom.
Silly bird sweaters are no longer silly to me.
  • I miss my Mama.
  • I miss her handwriting.
  • I miss her hugs.
  • I miss her, “DELmar”s.
  • I miss her sticking out her tongue when she was teased.
  • I miss her Sudoku puzzles with erase marks.
  • I miss her pancakes for my little girls.
  • I miss her leftovers in butter tubs.
  • I miss her cardinals everywhere.
  • I miss her potato soup, and her fried chicken, and her chocolate dessert.
  • I miss her worn out slippers.
  • I miss her used kleenexes in coat pockets.
  • I miss her silly crafts for Women’s Missionary Society events and Gideons and baby showers.
  • I miss her alto voice louder than everyone else’s.
  • I miss her handing the phone over and saying, “Here, talk to your brother.”
  • I miss her love of churros at Taco Johns.
  • I miss the day Sam and I knocked on the door to the apartment, and we could hear the “stomp, stomp, stomp” of her feet from the recliner to the door, followed by her gruff “Get in here!” and breathtaking hugs and indescribable joy.
  • I miss her indescribable joy…

 

  • I miss her unconditional love.
  • I miss going with her to Christian Women’s Club.
  • I miss her “Woooo Hoooo”s at every Karissa and Katrina ballgame.
  • I miss her stern face when Jarod or Adam or John or Rachel would say “fart” or laugh about it.
  • I miss watching her hold her great grandchildren.
  • I miss her fridge full of pictures on the outside and things that ought to be in the trash can on the inside.
  • I miss her love of feeding the ducks and bread sacks full.
  • I miss her full filing cabinets of every last piece of paper that needed a file folder.
  • I miss her collection of toilet paper rolls for children’s church.
  • I miss the horrible awful childhood memories of her spankings and yelling and embarrassments that were part of who she was – she was human and she taught me about being awful and being redeemable and being loved without condition.
  • I miss the good and the not-so-good…

 

  • I miss her love of birds and squirrels.
  • I miss the way she loved Natia.
  • I miss our love of Peanut Buster Parfaits.
  • I miss her 22-times-used ZipLoc bags that no longer zipped, washed and hung over the faucet to dry.
  • I miss her tomato sauce substitutions in the form of ketchup.
  • I miss her love of the Royals and “Cheers” and grandchildren.
  • I miss her “Our Daily Bread” readings at the breakfast table.
  • I miss her crooked finger, an injury from helping us on one of our many moving days.
  • I miss her lead foot on the brake.
  • I miss the way she loved Delores and her sisters and Aunt Estalene.
  • I miss her Christmas poems.
  • I miss going to concerts with her.
  • I miss the way she worried about all of us.
  • I miss the way she loved with every ounce of her being.
  • I miss her love that was like no other…

 

I miss telling her every last detail of what has happened in the last 5 years. She is still the first call I want to make. She is still in my address book. She is still so, so missed.

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I am grateful today that I still grieve.
I am grateful today that I still have tears to shed.
I am grateful today that God blessed me with Pearl Grace Johnson Ferguson as my mama.
Mom and Andrae
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Paying attention.

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I am grateful for the change of weather this week, from the beauty and harshness of blowing snow on a gray Monday to the warmth of melting snow sparkles under a clear blue sky this morning.

I am grateful for a sister with a huge heart, always willing to help.

I am grateful for medicine and lots of vitamins to cure me of illness, healing from God in the form of pills and nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

I am grateful for sleepless nights, prompted by worries and flipped into constant prayers.

I am grateful for a nervous stomach that is from conviction and remorse and finally, repentance and forgiveness.

I am grateful for a close circle that confides in us when life is hard. Listening is our gift to give, prayer is our call to arms.

I am grateful for bacon crumbles on baked potatoes, two of my favorite foods. Dad, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am grateful for the privilege of birthday celebrations. It does a soul good to celebrate others.

I am grateful for clean everything. Clean face, clean floors, clean appliances, clean hands, clean living, clean sheets, clean flower beds, clean conscience.

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I am grateful for lessons taught, even when they are subtle, even when they are painful, even when they are uncomfortable. Lessons are not learned when it’s easy. That’s when we think we don’t need to learn anything. My brother Ron taught me many years ago that we can always learn from our circumstances – we just have to be open and willing.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. – Philippians 4:6

I am grateful for so many lessons I am learning. Mostly, that in order to follow Jesus, I must love people, no matter what.

I must love the ones who do not believe the way I believe. I must love the leaders who do not lead the way I think they should lead. I must love the ones who irritate me. I must love the ones who have hurt me or those I dearly love. I must love the ones who can’t seem to say anything nice. I must love the ones who relish in the undoing of another. I must love the ones who seem to be headed down a path that is not going to end well and refuse to listen. I must love, no matter what. I have not done so, and I am dealing.

I am grateful for so many lessons I am learning. Mostly, that in order to follow Jesus, I must speak love, no matter what. Complaining is poison. Negativity is poison. It spreads like a fire and causes destruction. I have allowed this attitude to grow, and I am dealing.

I am grateful for so many lessons I am learning, again. And again. And again.

I am grateful for the reminder this week that my mom must have worried about me and my two little girls A LOT when I was actively parenting. I am grateful that she mostly bit her tongue and let me learn by experience, although I now know the pain of a tongue bite. Parenting is difficult at every stage.

 

I am grateful to be paying attention on several fronts this week. From the message on Sunday, to my conscience, to a refreshed resolve to just love everybody, no matter what.

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‘Til the cows come home.

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We drove west last night as the sun was setting. I had just finished up work for the day and Sam wanted to show me some rock that might be a possibility for our new fireplace. You never know what is out there past the brown winter field, the hedge row, the dilapidated farm buildings. Highway 36 is full of character – you just have to look for it.

We pulled into a gravel driveway that framed an abandoned building, and lo and behold, situated in a yard of brown grass and weeds, there were copious amounts of large containers of beautiful rock in all shapes and sizes, just the desired color to go in our room. We got out of the truck and looked around, choosing sizes and shapes and dreaming Sam’s vision for the new space, bypassing the dog poop and stepping carefully on and over giant slabs of rock. It was just a quick look-see on a cold January Wednesday evening as the sun set and the jet trails bloomed. Our quick trip was just an affirmation that stone is what we want, not brick.

We headed back east, dusk settling, but we were quickly reminded of a phone conversation from earlier in the day when one of Sam’s customers called and mentioned cows were out next to the highway. There, on the side of the road, were those same cows – 20 or more – tasting a bit of freedom while their owner is on vacation.

It was cold. It was almost dark. It was just a quick trip.

Funny thing, though. My husband is Sam. His first thought was to stop and help. “Would you mind if I stopped to help?” And out he went, flagging down the older gentleman who’s task it was to corral the escapees.

I sat in the truck, talking to my daughter and giggling at these cows staring at Sam, looking at him like he was a flailing armed idiot, but he finally got their attention and they all began ga-lumping towards the prison field after a day of independence.

He didn’t think twice. We were hungry and had company coming over for dinner, and Sam didn’t even think twice. He thought of me, yes, and made sure I was okay with his interruption, but then he just parked and he-yawed.

That’s the thing about Sam. He doesn’t think twice about thinking of others and following through. He doesn’t THINK about it, he does. ‘Til the cows come home. Because love does. Love doesn’t just think about it.

I am grateful those funny cows stayed in the brown grass and didn’t choose to play “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

I am grateful for the absurdities of this crazy season, for giggling on the phone with my daughter while my husband is flailing arms and he-yawing a bunch of bovine in the almost darkness.

I am grateful for another Sam lesson.

I am grateful for Sam.

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Loved, we are.

 

We stayed in small town USA this past weekend, and that is a little unusual for us. We are normally on the road, driving five hours east, back to KC, and then returning five hours west at the end of the weekend. But not this time.

This time, we enjoyed a quiet early Sunday morning, walking to pancakes at the local restaurant on the highway. On our walk, we talked about the gift of snow crunch, and of small town quiet with streets untouched after an overnight snow. We talked about the beauty of creature tracks and warm gloves. We talked about the privilege of attending church and how we miss our own.

 

We also enjoyed the experience of 3 1/2 hours at a small town auction. Oh my, the characters. And the stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? As we sat in our chairs, we watched the auctioneer family attempt to peddle a wedding dress, nicely displayed:

“She paid over $500 for this! Let’s start the bidding at $200!”

Mind you, the audience of no more than 30 people were old farmers in coveralls, or local guys and ladies who are past the marryin’ years, or kids hanging out for the chili dogs in the concession area, and there was a whole lot of camouflage.

No bidders.

“Who’ll give me $100?!”

Crickets. No one dared scratch their chin for fear of bidding unknowingly.

“$75. This is going to a good cause for the local grocery store! It’s a beautiful dress…a size 6, altered into a size 2!”

And then, Sam was Sam, and he blurted out, “That rules ME out!”

 

Oh, Sam.

We didn’t purchase that dress, although it was a bargain at $30, and we didn’t purchase a 5 foot tall metal chicken or Campbell’s soup mugs for 50, but we DID buy a duck. And a moose. And some metal signs. And we had a great time.

I THOUGHT my birthday was over, but when we arrived home on Saturday late afternoon, there was a box at the front door with beautiful presents inside from a dear friend, my employer. And then this morning, another box arrived on our kitchen porch – and inside was a new Bible from my baby girl, Katrina! Loved, I feel. And I am grateful.

We spent time working on little things that take lots of time – and when I say “we,” I actually mean “Sam.” He wired outlets, hung a sign, worked on the fireplace, re-calibrated the new grandfather clock I think I will name Mortimer, and I cleaned up the laundry room and began rearranging and arranging dishes in the china cabinet and in the new kitchen cabinets. It was so good to just be, to create in our new home, to work together on the little things.

 

While we wait on a baby to arrive, while we wait on the winter bitter to ease its grip, while we wait on dinner to make itself, we will take long early morning walks in the silent snow and pause to enjoy the characters of small town USA and count our blessings as we count the dishes, one by one. Loved, we are, and we are grateful.

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Donuts and gonuts.

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Yesterday was my birthday, although yesterday was actually Karissa’s birthday. That’s the way birthdays should go when you are this age. They should always be for celebrating someone ELSE’s birthday, so on top of having a baby girl on my birthday as the best gift ever, her birthday is a gift in itself so that the focus is not on me but on her. At least in my mind, it is.

I was oh-so grateful for a surprise return of Sam, 10 minutes after I had told him goodbye for the day – he arrived back home and brought me a caramel long john and a beautiful card with the best handwritten message inside.

I was oh-so grateful when my boss called and sang “Happy Birthday” to me at the top of her lungs.

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I was oh-so grateful to have a box from Karissa and family to open, a small package from Katrina and family to open, a gift from Michelle to open, a card from Roxanne to open, and several text messages from Oklahoma friends wishing me a good day.

I was oh-so grateful for a surprise package delivered to the kitchen porch by the postman, and it was full of happy surprises from Delores.

I was oh-so grateful for memories written and pictures shared by Lori, my forever friend. We’ve thought of each other on our birthdays for 50 years, give or take a few.

I was oh-so grateful for homemade chicken noodles in the crockpot for dinner last night, complete when served over a microwaved potato since I cannot make mashed potatoes very easily without a stovetop.

I was oh-so grateful for a phone call from Angela, text message love and wishes from both of her children, and from screaming-birthday-song-singing grandchildren followed by birthday greeting exchanges and conversation with their mama, Karissa.

I was oh-so grateful for a full day of work, followed by a mostly quiet evening at home with Sam, followed by yawns and a comfortable and warm bed at the end of the day.

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And then…Karissa told me she was headed to the ER.

34 years ago, I was headed to the ER on my birthday. 34 years ago I, too, began spotting.

At the end of my ER trip, I was transported to Wichita and ended up having Karissa six weeks earlier than planned.

I am certain that when we left in an emergency, my mama spent a very restless night in her bed, waiting on any news from her daughter…just as I did last night to end my birthday, and Karissa’s birthday.

It was a night to go nuts. Mamas do that sometimes. They go nuts. I tossed and turned and prayed and texted my smaller circle of people who I knew would pray in the dark.

Karissa is now under the watchful care of a team of specialists in a hospital that has been God-placed in her path, I am certain. Her little baby girl is trying to decide whether to wait or to make a grand entrance. God knows the ansyr…and yes, I spelled that correctly. Because when baby girl arrives, she will be named Ansyr.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. — 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I am oh-so grateful for friends and family who have already put thoughts to words and words to prayers for my daughter.

I am oh-so grateful that she is in the best hands.

I am oh-so grateful for her updates to keep this go-nuts mama from going nuts.

And I am grateful for the snow that is now falling outside, a beautiful blanket on this cold January day.

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Goober House is me.

Irrightional

I know a few of these people.

I am grateful that I am not one of them. As I have grown older, I have gained enough wisdom to know I am rarely right, and if I am, it is best to keep my mouth closed. Advice given is not always welcome when it is unsolicited.

I am grateful that I still have a little bit of patience when an irrightional person is projecting their irrightionality in a conversation, because my inside is screaming with everything that I have.

I am grateful to have the privilege of walking downstairs in the early morning, discovering Sam sitting quietly on the couch, listening to music and looking out the window.

I am grateful for new stamps for new cards and a red flag to put up when those cards are in the mail.

I am grateful for a big bag of Goober House peanuts from Carnegie, Oklahoma. The perfect work snack to keep my hands busy so I cannot type…

And I am grateful that it is Wednesday, the end of the day, and there are a few more hours of mild weather before the wind speaks and the cold blankets our small town USA.

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