Goodbye, good girl.

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Today was a hard day. It should have been such an exciting day of preparation for our Blessings Breakfast. There was so much to do to get our home ready, and Michelle is here and always makes our home so full of life and energy. Christmas and gratitude are in the air. Shelly was here last night and got the cleaning started with her selfless offer of help. All week long, we have experienced the support of Mike and Cosmo who traveled from Kansas City to help Sam finish up a myriad of projects in time for tomorrow.

There is so much love in this home, put here by those who are closest to us and wanted to lend a hand.

We woke up this morning and noticed Natia having trouble breathing. After an emergency visit to the mobile vet, we learned that she was in congestive heart failure and had a grade five heart murmur. She received a shot and heart meds, and we tentatively took her home, still breathing hard but hopeful it would subside.

It did not.

This afternoon, my companion for over a decade, the little one who walked with me through the darkest of days…passed away in my arms.

My mom had a birthday in heaven yesterday. Today, she received a belated birthday present. I am choosing to believe that mom and Natia are happy tonight, together once again.

Today was our fifth anniversary. Not exactly the way we would have celebrated, but I am grateful for these five years as Sam’s partner, and I am so grateful he was by my side today as we told Natia goodbye together.

 

 

 

 

A blue tree skirt for this house.

Blue blanket 1

It’s a symbol of what is needed in this season.

Linus carries a blue blanket – it’s his safety net. He doesn’t think he can function without it.

I have some blue blankets I hang onto, and I don’t even realize it. Sam is one. Sometimes I think I cannot function without him. My cell phone is another. My memory of bad times in my life, of wrongs committed against me and by me. My need for recognition and gratitude from others. My worries about my grandchildren. My obsession with knowing the news. My fear of many unknowns at the end of this year. I cling to these things and don’t realize how they permeate my life.

But in Linus’ recitation of Luke 2, he drops his blanket as soon as he says, “Fear not.”

It’s the 1965 way to “mic drop.”

Complete sermon with one blue blanket drop.

Mic drop

However, Linus is related to me, because he ends his speech and picks that blanket back up, completely forgetting the point of his own message and God’s call to “fear not.”

But…

At the end of the best Christmas cartoon ever, Linus does the best thing with that blue blanket safety net.

He lets go of it once more, and this time, he wraps it around the tree,  kind of like laying it at the foot of the cross.

Blue blanket

I am grateful for simple lessons that are pretty profound.

I am grateful for Charles Schulz and the way he could weave a sermon into a cartoon.

And I am grateful for our Christmas tree that is now going to remind me to leave it all at the foot of the cross.

Blue blanket tree

Dust Rags and Grace.

Dust 1

My husband has cancer.
My house is a disaster zone.
My dog has something wrong with herself and is pooping in all the corners.
I have forgotten how to cook.
The washing machine is sick and needs a tune-up — not the best time for us.
Alexa is temperamental.
There won’t be a turkey in my oven this year, once again.
My back and shoulders hurt and I can’t just run down the street for a massage.
I miss my mama.
Even after all this time, the sting is still there, the reconciliation is still hanging.
There is so much to do, and I need to clean every last surface in this house, but we live in a disaster zone and the attempt would be futile.

Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! – Psalm 107:21

When you ask God in the morning for His guidance through the day,
Thank Him for the many blessings He in love has sent your way.
When you’re asking aid from Heaven, mingle with your morning prayer,
A word of praise and gratitude for all His kindly care. – Mark Bullock

When you learn to do this, it becomes a very practical habit. When washing the dishes, thank God for hot water. When taking your medicine, thank Him for your doctor and for advanced medical technology. When grabbing a shopping cart at the grocery store, thank Him for the abundance of food in the store. When dressing in the morning, thank Him for providing your clothing. When retiring at night, thank Him for the blessings of darkness and moonlight; upon rising, thank Him for awakening you to a new day. 

Blessings abound, so thank God for scattering them all around you.

Dust 2

I am grateful for the guys and lady who have had a hand in helping Sam’s vision for this 100-year-old structure come to fruition – a project in progress and one that is a little on hyper drive for the next week.

I am grateful that the noisy washing machine still washes, albeit sounding like the floor installer this afternoon with the banging and clanking.

I am grateful that I have an abundance of toilet paper and John Deere carpet cleaner to clean up Natia’s deposits.

I am grateful that small town USA has a terrific grocery store and deli that is providing us with a smoked turkey for two, compliments of a husband with a huge heart.

I am grateful that Alexa knows what to do when I say, “ALEXA, TURN OFF.”

I am grateful that I have a huge stack of dust rags to hand out to all of our guests next Saturday if the disaster zone is still reality.

I am grateful for a HUMONGO circle of friends and family who will walk through our doors next week and won’t see the layer of dust, or if they do, they will just sign in it like a guest book…or use the dust rags.

Dust 3

I am grateful for the relief feeling when I lay my weary back and shoulders on my bed every evening.

And I am grateful that in this precarious season we find ourselves in, we are recipients of God’s grace and our circle’s grace, and my mama’s name reminds me of that fact.

Then neither do I condemn…

Dust

Knots.

Got Knot?

I am grateful tonight for kind nurses who call me on the phone and have such compassion and talk to me like they have known me for years, when we have never met or spoken until now.

I am grateful for the things that take my mind off the knot in my stomach today – the work, the sweet dog, the dinner to be made, the topic on the radio.

I am grateful for a phone call this morning and the sound of Aunt Patsy and Uncle Charlie offering words of encouragement and support, Uncle Charlie quoting from Psalm 12.

I am grateful for friends who show up on a Sunday night to unload our truck after a very long weekend and drive.

I am grateful for my bed. There is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed, and the longer we deal with our current crisis, the more we appreciate that bed and our pillows.

I am grateful for Sam’s hand to hold, for his reassurance, for the knowing smiles between us, for the wink he gives me as he sits in the doctor’s office on that crinkly paper-covered exam bed – he senses my fragile inside and knows how to comfort a weary wife.

I am grateful for a friend who delivers dinner to a hotel room WITHOUT asking, “What can I do to help you guys…”, she just does, and she does it complete with ice cream and a box of Nestle Quik for dessert.

I am grateful for my employers who are so understanding and allow the time needed for countless appointments.

I am grateful tonight for our devotion today on 2 Corinthians 12:9. I love this:

Prior to God’s revelation to Paul of the sufficiency of grace, Paul viewed his problem as an interference in his life. After God’s revelation, Paul viewed his problem as an opportunity to give thanks – not for the problem, but for how the problem allowed him to experience deeper dimensions of Christ’s sufficiency. 

You likely have some kind of problem today – perhaps large, perhaps small. In any case, your problem is a reason for placing your trust and hope in Christ. In Him, there is sufficient help and comfort for any problem.

There are knots in my stomach, knots between my shoulder blades, knots in my tongue. But I am grateful tonight for the knot in our relationship, the one that binds us together and allows us to be a fighting force against this cancer.

celtic knot

 

I triple dog dare you.

Leg Lamp

I am grateful for our first Christmas decoration that arrived today and is in our window, no dare needed. We are proudly displaying for all the town to see.

I am grateful for a dog sleeping in the sunshine.

I am grateful for the sound of progress – drills, hammering, banging, sawing, etc.

I am grateful for the reprieve of anxiety, even if for a few minutes.

I am grateful for happy emails between Michelle and Angela.

I am grateful for a new friend here in small town USA.

I am grateful for the privilege to pray for someone.

I am grateful that I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.

Psalm 16 8

I am grateful for the small heel of a loaf of banana bread, even if it was cheating.

I am grateful for afternoon shadows after the time change.

I am grateful to have opened my eyes this morning to a very bright star blinking at me through the tree branches outside.

I am grateful that packing a bag is getting to be routine.

I am grateful for a new pair of earrings.

And I am grateful a bunny suit and a BB gun will not be a Christmas decoration…at least not for me.

Bunny suit

 

Orange is the new black, but I digress.

Orange-Hunting-Hat

We went to the pizza place on Main last night, unsure whether they would still be open at 8:00 on a Monday night. This place is so good, they are only open four days a week, and on Mondays, they are only open until their dough runs out. So we were chancing it, and we were in luck.

Mark is the pizza master and mans his place in front of the wood fired pizza oven, designing the best craft Neapolitan pizza on 36 Highway, coast to coast. Seriously. Susan runs the show and creates the best salads in the history of salads.

And we are the benefactors.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/center-fire-pizza-smith-center

Normally, we walk in to this gem of a hideaway and 4 of the 5 tables are open, not because of a lack of business, but because most people around here like to eat pizza in front of their TVs or because most people eat earlier than we do when pizza is on the brain.

But not last night. Last night, the room was full for these parts. Full of camouflage and orange.

It’s hunting season. We live in deer country. And pheasant country. And quail country. And whatever other creature people in orange and camouflage go after, although I haven’t seen any wild pigs around here. Or moose, for that matter. I have no idea what “season” it is – I am not a hunter and most likely never will be. It kind of goes against some of my stances on things, but not enough so that I would ever wear a protest shirt or hold up signs. I digress. I also eat meat, and again, I digress. I am a bundle of contradiction. I digress…again.

For some crazy reason, these hunters like our small town USA countryside. They come from all over the place. Last night, the group was from Indiana and Oklahoma. We’ve been told there are some famous athletes who have “places” out here, whatever that means. I’m thinking the ditch and pasture off of L Road and 177th, but it probably means the log cabin mansion down the winding dirt path just south of Pete’s place that you can’t see from the road. Maybe that’s why I hear a helicopter every once in a while. I digress, again.

Saturday, we were on our way back home from a long weekend in the city, when about 10-15 miles outside of small town USA, Sam pointed out lots of orange dots moving slowly in a field just off the highway. I had never seen hunting actually happening, but I did on Saturday. They hunt in groups! I had always envisioned one lone ranger in a deer stand wearing all green and tan – I had no idea they walk through fields wearing neon orange and make a party of the ordeal.

Sunday night, it was 10:18 pm, the weather had just weathered on the news, and they began a new segment that apparently is another deal out here I had never known…they post picture after picture after picture of kids and their first deer.

Not Bambi.

Not bottle-fed Daisy the deer.

These were big ‘ol deers. And they weren’t leaping across the highway any more.

And THEN, the news guy started giving instructions on how to take your pictures with your first deer: “Use hydrogen peroxide to get all the blood off, because we won’t post pictures with all the blood. Clean ’em up before you field dress your deer.”

Why would you put a dress on a deer?

I follow our local school district Facebook page. The 6th grade classes (6th grade!) take hunter safety course DURING SCHOOL.

I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone. It’s like a foreign country out here. I am 53 years old and never knew such things.

But I am grateful I live in a town where orange is the new black, all stylish and safe.

I am grateful I live in a town where neighbors still bring you soup even if you don’t call them by the right name. (see yesterday’s grateful post).

I am grateful I live in a town where the police chief says to let him know if we need anything, anything at all.

I am grateful I live in a town that produces a friend who comes over and stacks a whole tree of walnut wood in our backyard that he split for our fireplace.

I am grateful I live in a town where you can buy a gallon of paint and order your tux, all at the same counter.

I am grateful I live in a town that has quirks and eccentricity and things that make me shake my head and feel like I am in the Twilight Zone sometimes.

And I am grateful I live in a town that has a wood-fired pizza place on the corner of downtown Main Street.

Center Fire

Center Fire 1

Life is too short. Laugh at yourself.

lightenup

We’re having this “thing” in a few weeks. It’s a big thing that we do every year and our house is full. This year will be the first time we have had this “thing” in small town USA. So this is the first year to invite our friends and neighbors who live right here…

Wouldn’t ya just know it.

Have you ever repeatedly done something that you had no clue you were doing, only to find out later what you were doing was all wrong? And everyone knew it but you?

It’s kind of like having something stuck in your teeth, or a booger hanging out your nose, and the whole world knows…but you have no clue.

Tonight, we had a guest. The guest happened to be related to one of our great neighbors whom we have invited to our “thing.” And when he revealed to us who he just happens to be related to…he called our neighbor, his father-in-law, by the WRONG NAME.

Huh.

How terribly sad it is that a son-in-law has no clue what his father-in-law’s name is.

I just grinned really big and pretended that everything was just fine.

And then I HIGHTAILED it upstairs to change our neighbor’s name on our invitations THAT WE ALREADY SENT OUT.

So, if I happen to call you Sherrie instead of Mary, or Barry instead of Larry, or Alicia instead of Lucretia, or Fred instead of Ted, just grin really big and pretend that everything is just fine.

I am grateful for neighbors who are laughing at me on a continual basis…

I am grateful I have set the bar low.

I am grateful that because of this guest tonight, I will never call my neighbor by his other name ever again.

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