O be joyful, O, be jubilant…

It has been several years since I last felt classroom anxiety. But I felt it this week as I subbed for junior high and high school music. Everything was fine – I survived.

I officially applied with the state for my certification and I was privileged to see the inside of the sheriff’s office for the mandatory fingerprints.

It feels so strange walking down the hall of a high school again. Fortunately, there are no mean staff members, and they all made me breathe a little easier.

I can only do what I know how to do, so I conducted the class time my way, since I had no lesson plans. But 10 years out of school takes a toll on a memory, and so the anxiety found its way in the door.

I put my foot in my mouth a few times with students, trying to be casual and conversational, not realizing the back stories that might have been helpful to know before I inserted the foot.

It has been so long since I had to remember correct vocal techniques, since I had to corral a group of students who really don’t want to sing, since I had to instruct without a plan for 50 minutes x 3.

My mornings were earlier and fast and furious with my full-time job, trying to work double time to make up for a 2 1/2 hour break. And as soon as the last bell rang, I locked the door and drove the 5 or so blocks back home without speeding, raced upstairs, and got back to my full-time job, putting in extra time at the end of day so I wouldn’t fall behind.

I am tired. But it is a good tired. I do miss kids. I do miss watching them learn something new and harmonize together. I do like the life they inject into a quiet afternoon.

Tonight, I am grateful to have received that phone call.

I am grateful for the teaching experience I have that enabled me to be able to step in at the last moment.

I am grateful for a lenient employer who let me help out and was understanding about a flexible work schedule.

I am grateful for friends and family who knew and prayed for me as I dusted off the rust.

I am grateful that I kind of know some names now, those students who gave me grace and are willing to go with the flow right out of the gate.

And I am grateful that it wasn’t a complete fail.

…come rejoice and sing together this hap-py day!

Wildflowers in my life.

Picture by God, and our new friend, Karen the Texan.

Everyone needs wildflowers in their life.

You know, the beauty that isn’t planned or planted intentionally by anyone but God.

The unexpected breathtaking, the simple joy, the kindness and compassion that just makes you cry.

Today, my wildflowers are Dwight, Karen, Elaine, Geri, Chris, Julie, Joyce. The ones who just knew I needed a boost of beauty, a boost of spirit.

When life gives you dirt, wildflowers can show up anywhere. And for that, I am so, so grateful.

Image result for wildflower

Celebrating you.

Every day with you is my favorite day.

You don’t do birthdays like I do birthdays, I know.

In my world, birthdays are a really big deal – it is the one day to celebrate and highlight and eat cake and give the best and think all the day long about the birthday person.

In your world, birthdays are a day to be kind and show love, be productive and work harder than normal, continue doing what you do because it is who you are, and what better way to be than on your birthday.

I like that about you. I actually love that about you, Sam.

So today, you be kind and show love and be productive and work harder than normal and be among those who are building a company.

And I will think all the day long about you and try not to eat cake in your honor. And when you come home, it will be my favorite day, because I will be with you.

Happy birthday, Sam.

Wait weight.

I am grateful for moments without anxiety.

I am grateful for heartfelt and sincere.

I am grateful for “you and me against the world.”

I am grateful for respite.

“It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to be weak. I understand how difficult things have been. I don’t want to judge you. I just want to wrap you up in My everlasting arms and let you rest. Forget about the world, forget the things you need to do, forget the pressures—just come to Me and rest.” —Jesus Calling for Kids by Sarah Young

“He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.” —Isaiah 42:3 (NLT)

Mourning potatoes.

I am grateful for cat hair. It just means we have an adorable creature to take care of for John.

I am grateful for the means to buy organic certified pasture-raised, free range, non-GMO, antibiotic pesticide free… It just means that we have turned a corner, or at least we have approached the corner, and there will be much more thought that will go into what we put into our mouths, thanks to this book.

I am grateful for the heaviness of humidity. It means we experienced the heavenly dry, cool air of southwest Colorado.

I am grateful for new cards made by a Colorado artist, and new books for my collection, all personalized and signed.

I am grateful for hope.

And I am grateful when God continues to speak through His Word to us. This morning in our anxiety, it was this:

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies…

…I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. – Philippians 4:4-14 THE MESSAGE

God shows up even when we don’t.

I’ve discovered someplace that makes me almost as happy as being home or being with my girls and their families. We were supposed to be in Colorado by Sunday evening, but we decided to go out a day early, and I am grateful we did. After a stop for a full body CT scan for Sam, we kept on driving and made it to our destination on Saturday evening.

Sunday morning, we woke up to a piece of heaven and decided the only place to be was in church. What an experience, attending a packed 100-year-old Congregational church with complete strangers who exhibited love and grace and acceptance and a resolve to worship God together. The message was about the parable of the rich man… As we left the building an hour and a half later, I turned to Sam and said, “I feel like this could be our home.” It was one of those messages and services where the presence of the Holy Spirit was so…present. I was on the verge of tears the entire service. We are very rich, indeed. So, so blessed, and very, very grateful in this season.

For the past three days, God has been right here.

But, during a pre-dawn walk yesterday, Sam and I talked, and such a simple truth dawned on us. God performs this beauty, this gift of a sunrise, this masterpiece of creation, every. single. day. Even when we don’t get up pre-dawn to experience it. Even when we don’t acknowledge His presence, He shows up.

Even when we can’t feel Him and are weighed down with despair, He is carrying the weight for which we are unaware.

Monday, we got off the chair lift and did what we do. We walked. It was a four mile downhill hike, but it was glorious. Nothing to distract us from listening to a random bird and the breeze whistling through the fragrant pines on the mountain. Time passed, the trail seemed longer and longer, and we began to wonder if we would make it to the base before dark. We crunched along as we navigated the rocky trail, and then, God showed up in another gift, through a very Texan couple. Larry and Karen walked with us the rest of the 2 miles, and at the end of the afternoon, we were friends.

I am grateful for a husband who likes to meet new people and strike up conversation.

On Tuesday afternoon, they gave us the ride of our lives, to secret places we would never have discovered on our own. The beauty took my breath. Several times, we remarked that we couldn’t believe we were experiencing such a place as this. These two strangers/friends spent an entire afternoon with us so that we could witness where God also shows up, every day, even when we don’t. And not only does He show up in the wildflowers and the waterfalls and the mountain splendor, God showed up in the form of a Texan couple with hearts big as Dallas.

Today, we are driving back home to our own heaven on earth. It is a bittersweet drive, leaving this newfound happy place, dealing with some scary and unknown news, wanting to go back to where we could forget for a few days, but also wanting to be home where we feel safe from the world.

I am so very grateful that as we drive, God goes before us.

He is with us.

He is already showing up tomorrow. And we plan to watch in wonder and awe…

Grateful to be grateful.

Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to you, Lord, because you are my mighty rock and my protector. – Psalm 19:14 CEV

We are learning, once again, that there are really great people in this world, and there are some not so great people in this world.

We are also learning, once again, that just because someone is one way, does not mean there isn’t another side to them. I don’t like when skepticism seeps in, but it does. It hurts to be hurt, but it sure is a great teacher…

I just read a blog post from a guy in our industry of biotech who passed away last month from cancer and talked about how surprised he was on his journey of those who they thought would walk the road with them but weren’t there for them, and those who he never thought would have anything to do with them as they faced this horrible path but were beside them every step of the way. It almost felt good to say, “Me too.”

I am grateful for True Faced and the re-learning to be transparent.

I am grateful for dinner with Neal and Chris last night and feel-good chicken pot pie.

I am grateful for the satisfaction and pleasure of hearing a cat’s purr.

I am grateful for a neighbor who will take care of Potato when we are absent.

I am grateful for low humidity.

I am grateful for those who are fighting with us and not against us.

I am grateful for anticipation of wonderful experiences.

I am grateful for the quiet of our room with only the sound of a ceiling fan spin.

I am grateful for sweet watermelon.

I am grateful for the opportunity in the next several days to bite my tongue.

I am grateful for a fruity card that made us laugh when we really needed to laugh.

I am grateful for Geri’s text prayers.

And I am grateful for a kind of clean house.