Never choose light colored grout.

Our bathroom is not this bathroom, but the floor is similar. I’m just gonna leave this right here, so everyone is warned: never choose white grout in a bathroom. If you know our situation, now you understand the warning.

I am grateful for toilet bowl cleaner and the ability to order it online, AND the feeling that is evoked when it arrives at my front door and I can sense my toilet bowls are about to be clean again!

I am grateful for teeny tiny little leaves that are beginning to show up on what I thought was dead.

I am grateful for clean white rugs. In the bathroom.

I am grateful for no splash bleach, too.

I am grateful for fried chicken. That has NOTHING to do with the rest of this. I am just grateful for fried chicken.

Which reminds me…I learned something about farm chicken eggs today. It’s a little gross. Has to do with some yolks that have something yucky in them, caused by a Foghorn Leghorn rooster species. I thought I wanted a little chicken coop so we could have our own eggs right outside our door. Now I am not so sure.

And I am grateful for more pillows than I need. One pillow would be wonderful, but an abundance of pillows on beds and couches almost makes me feel guilty. Okay, now I feel guilty.

Independence and strength come at a price.

I am grateful for piano music all throughout the house, all day long.

I am grateful for time on the front porch.

I am grateful for the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.”

I am grateful for a painful and slow realization that I am more independent and stronger than I thought. I can do this.

I am grateful for activity at the bird feeder, even if it is more black birds and mourning doves than cardinals and pretty songbirds.

I am grateful for new plants to plant, for signs of life on my butterfly bush and wisteria and purple pearls and flowering plum trees.

I am grateful for a surprise visit from our two neighbor girls with a popcorn order form.

I am grateful that it is not difficult to take out the trash and not an assigned duty for the man of the house. I am capable.

I am grateful that I have a washing machine and dryer to do laundry.

I am grateful for an inner circle today who allowed me to unload and lean.

I am grateful for silent sobs that hurt and make life real.

Into Your hands, I entrust my life.

Now, for some plant therapy.

No Plan Stan.

“Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” Psalm 31:5

On Sunday, our pastor spoke on the last words of Jesus, and he challenged us to model our prayer perspective after this particular scripture that Jesus uttered as he hung on the cross.

When I awake from the night and open my eyes every morning, “Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.”

When I stop myself during the day from thinking negatively, from going “there,” from dwelling on that which I cannot change, “Father, into YOUR hands I entrust my life.”

When I fall into bed at night and stare into the darkness while my mind swims, “FATHER, into Your hands I ENTRUST my LIFE.”

This particular scripture has tattooed itself to me all week. Not only this one, but another: Thou wilt keep him perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee…

This Easter is a difficult one. Not that I haven’t had a few difficult Easters in the past 10 years… Learning to let go of the traditions, celebrating such a glorious day without grandchildren hunting for eggs, missing lunch with Dad AND Mom, not having a set plan that involves the pretty decorations and meal planning and prep, no hiding of eggs and putting together baskets of fun for my girls. I look at all of that and see that it all revolves around what has always been a tradition in my mind. After 50+ years, it’s understandable. It’s also very painful to a daughter/mama/Ama heart. So I say under my breath,

Father, my expectations sometimes overtake reality. I have so much for which to be grateful. Please calm my heart, bandaid my hurt, and hold my life tight in Your hands this weekend and always.”

We are spending this weekend with a friend. This friend wraps around Sam’s waist and makes a funny little “click-push” sound as healing poison goes into his port, and it is one reason this Easter has no ham on the table, no celebration lunch planned, and no weekend schedule mapped out.

No plan, Dan.

On top of hosting Sam’s waisted friend, he also has the joy of losing two of his chompers tomorrow, two big guys in the back of his mouth who have overstayed their welcome. So our Easter weekend modus operandi is:

No plan-istan.

We don’t know if we’ll be here or there. Wherever the patient wants to be, we will be. We may have a bowl of cereal in place of colorful deviled eggs. We may go to church at sunrise or watch on an iPad. We may enjoy being at home in small town USA or we may be taking up space in Kansas City. Who knows.

No plan, man.

What I DO know?

I am grateful that Sam is able to work.

I am grateful that Sam was worried our grass wasn’t going to be mowed for Easter – I know, right? – so he mowed it last night as the sun was going down and the wind blew chills down his spine.

I am grateful for a front porch that is calling for a guy on chemo to sit and relax.

I am grateful for green, for life, for a silent pain of wishfulness, for Easter happy for others.

I am grateful for a new app on my phone that has renewed my motivation, along with an obsessive-compulsive boss and sister…to walk walk walk.

I am grateful for a few minutes this week to watch and listen to Andrae read his chapter book, for silliness as Andersyn rode her training wheels down the street, for pride as I watched my oldest Collins girl look so grown up, for heart burst as I adored the youngest ones smile big and wave and hear several times over and over, “Ama, I’m YOUR kid.”

I am grateful for a message on Sunday that reverberates all week long.

I am grateful for a constant reminder in all kinds of little things of where I have been, what kind of treatment I was rescued from, who I was, but also…where I am now, HOW I am treated now, WHO I am now. Life is not perfect at all. Those who care, ask. They want to know the story. Those who don’t care so much, they live their own life without us. It can be pretty emotional and painful. But as I was also reminded this morning by scholar William Barclay in my devotion, this is a wonderful Easter message to ponder all weekend:

We see Jesus plumbing the uttermost depths of the human situation, so that there might be no place we might go where he has not been before.

Into His hands, we commit our spirits. There is no place He has not been, no pain He has not felt, no emptiness He has not experienced, no rejection He has not known.

Sam’ll take a little chemo and an internal cancer egg hunt with a side of ham, thank you. THAT is our Easter plan, Fran.

And the fullness thereof…

It has been a full week, like a suitcase stuffed.

My brain feels like I feel when I open the lid of this suitcase and see two piles, one side clean, one side ready for laundry, but maybe those are two piles. Wait, did I already wear that? Where are the clean socks? What’s the weather going to be like? Why didn’t I pack warmer clothes? Oh no, I forgot to bring that undershirt.

Yeah, that is what my brain feels like.

While my brain has been a stuffed suitcase of work and being away from the peace and quiet of home, Sam has been in beautiful Palm Beach…not to visit the president at the southern white house, but to enjoy some pretty cars, time with a couple of great friends, and do something he’s always wanted to do.

I am grateful for friends who create special memories.

I am grateful for the regularity now of packing and living out of a suitcase.

I am grateful for a reprieve from cancer.

I am grateful for access to online devotions and bible reading.

I am grateful for a corner office with a big window that awaits my arrival every month.

I am grateful for very sore legs after climbing lots and lots and lots and lots of office building stairs with an exercise-obsessed boss.

I am grateful for a break from social media and texting.

I am grateful for a clean pickup.

I am grateful for a Saturday to just do whatever I wanted to do, for a pickup full of plants, for a beautiful sky when I walked out of the store tonight, and for the anticipation of my husband returning “home” tonight.

And I am grateful the suitcase will be put away for 5 days tomorrow before it is needed again. My brain is ready to go home.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
    The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
    and built it on the ocean depths. Psalm 24:1-2

The sounds of silence.

I have three screens in front of me. The blue glow of work is ever before me, but my eyes are drawn quite often to the scene and the sound just outside my window.

On this particular Friday morning, Sam has gone to work. The morning TV news has been turned off. Alexa has been told to “turn off.” My long checklist of devotions have been read. Breakfast of two eggs in a cup, done. Blue glow is in front of me and a needle in a haystack somewhere in Europe awaits an email enticement of a new job possibility.

But.

Somewhere in the distance there is a mourning dove cooing. In the neighbor’s yard, there is a spat between a squirrel and a blackbird. Downstairs, grandfather clock reminds me it is 45 minutes past. Cardinals and robins are in full Top 40 mode as the pinkish orange sky changes to morning white mixed with spring blue sky. From the kitchen, the tumble of ice cubes falling into the ice tray stirs me from my thoughts.

Thoughts.

Thoughts of painful memories. Thoughts of how much we love our home and our small town USA. Thoughts of prayers for a few on my mind. Thoughts of mom. Thoughts of a very long to-do list. Thoughts of scripture…

Be still and know. Know that I am God.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ends. His mercy never comes to an end. It is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, my Lord.

I watch a neighbor’s cat as it meanders and then crouches, hoping to nab whatever moved in the grass.

On this Friday early morning, I am grateful for the sound of silence, for these moments before the blue glow of work encompasses my brain. I am grateful for the beauty just outside my window. I am grateful for the simple comfort of our home. I am grateful for productivity, with work, with home organization, with the building project in our back yard. I am grateful that a rough night for Sam is over and a new day brings a renewed “spring” in his step.

I am grateful for the sounds of morning silence.

And the mourning dove coos.

Drippy drips soothe. Or do they?

The drippy drip sounds outside my 2nd story window as a slow rain falls on our little town.

The drippy drip of a babbling brook. Babbling. That’s a goofy word.

The drippy drip sounds of a percolator or even a K-cup coffee maker, filling the air with that smell of morning wonderful.

The drippy drip of thick chocolate syrup poured over vanilla ice cream.

The drippy drip of little Natia drinking from her water bowl.

I am grateful for those kinds of drippy drips.

The drippy drip of an annoying kitchen sink.

The drippy drip of a UTI.

The drippy drip that is a pre-cursor to an upper floor water leak disaster waiting to happen.

Those drippy drips…not so much gratitude.

ALTHOUGH.

A dripping kitchen sink is an easy fix, and I am grateful to be capable of fixing.

A miserable time sitting on a toilet with a UTI can be less miserable with a gratitude journal, and #1 would be “I am grateful for UTI medication.”

Everyone should be grateful for a pre-cursor drip that is a wonderful warning sign and much, much better than no warning at all.

I have none of those drippy drips, and for that, I am very grateful.

I am grateful for the sound of a woodpecker on a Tuesday evening.

I am grateful for a reconnection with a friend from my previous world.

I am grateful for a peek into the world of my daughters today in a group text and down deep laughter at their silliness.

I am grateful for a Sunday message that still resonates on Tuesday.

I am grateful for trash cans empty.

I am grateful that Sam is napping while dinner is in the oven.

I am grateful for a pastor who makes house calls.

I am grateful for thank you cards written.

I am grateful for devotions that keep me focused.

I am grateful for a few minutes after work tonight to walk among the lilacs waking up to clean up before they fill in and I can no longer see the winter collection.