Brushing snow.

There are some things you just have to do. It’s so routine you don’t even think about it. At least, that is the way it is in our home. Brushing teeth every morning. Turning off the light when you are finished in the room. Making the bed. Doing the dishes as you cook so that they don’t pile up and prolong clean up later. Praying before you get out of bed each day, before meals, when you are angry or upset or excited or anxious or sad or depressed or fearful…and as your last thought as your eyes grow heavy in the dark of the night.

Winter brings more routine tasks. Antifreeze. Dripping faucets. New furnace filters. Changing the closet and drawers from summer clothes to sweaters and hoodies and coats and gloves. Treating the sidewalks, shoveling snow, and brushing snow off windshields.

Brushing snow is so easy. The snow is soft, quickly blown into the breeze of the sunshiny morning with each pass of the tool, and it leaves the windshield a sparkly clean, unlike having to use the scraper side when it is icy and gloves are left in the car because I didn’t realize it was icy and would require effort.

I am grateful for Westlake Hardware, their ice scraper, and the fact that I got to brush snow off the windshield yesterday morning.

I am grateful for a small group of friends who are my go-to when we need prayer.

I am grateful for toothpaste and a toothbrush.

I am grateful for a Halloween card from Delores that made me laugh. She sent us two Reese’s wrappers with the explanation that the candy didn’t last long enough to send to us.

I am grateful for lotion as the dry air begins to dry out my hands.

I am grateful for snow in October, even though the mums decided they were not okay with it all.

I am grateful for a message on Sunday about coveting and contentment.

I am grateful for a great friend who painted our home and blessed us with his presence all last week. Sam has a knack for finding the best craftsmen with the best attitudes. This home is filled with their workmanship.

I am grateful for a fireplace to enjoy with Sam this fall and winter, and for his planning and preparation so we would have plenty of wood.

I am grateful for the sound of leaves crunching as I walk through the yard and the fact that in the same week, I could enjoy leaf crunch AND snow quiet.

I am grateful for new Christmas stamps.

I am grateful for the relationships we have with Sam’s doctors.

I am grateful for a simple message given to me because of Tater the cat drinking his water. He meowed and meowed and then I noticed his bowl needed water. He drank and drank and drank and drank, and first, I was taken aback by his thirst. And then I watched him drink. It was consistent, small little “laps” with his tongue in rhythm with the bowl of water. His routine.

Psalm 42.

In this “winter season” of our reality, I want to thirst for God like Tate thirsted for water. I need to. I need to have consistent little “laps” of His Word, constantly crying out to God through my thoughts and my spoken prayers. “I need You. Sam needs You.” As The Message puts it: I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper.

But as verse 11 shows me, it is a season. And God is God. He is our stability. He is our Rock when everything else around us feels like sand:

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s [our = Rhonda and Sam] God.

It’s routine. Like brushing snow.

I need this to last forever.

The hum of the pickup tires on the quiet highway this morning lulls me into deep thought. I glance over at Sam, one hand on the wheel, keeping a watchful eye on the road and the dark ditches, mindful of glowing blue orbs, indicators of deer ready to cross. He is also deep in thought…and dread, I suppose.

As I watch him, he looks over at me, the predawn sky just beyond his profile. He smiles warmly.

As we were gathering the meds and supplies and breakfast and water to make this trip once again, Alexa played, “You are My Hiding Place,” by Selah. It’s kind of our thing on these early mornings, attempting to keep the fears and the realities at bay, putting our focus on our call to trust God in all this.

“You always fill my heart with joy, and deliverance, whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You…”

I am grateful for Sam’s warmth in a simple smile, for his strength in adversity, for answers to prayers unspoken, for grace given freely by my employers who understand all too well this caregiver role and the stress that accompanies it, for early morning quietness as Sam faces yet another treatment, for the incredible gift of predawn colors, for school bus drivers who commit to picking up the farm kids on cold dark October mornings before the rest of the sane world wakes.

I am grateful for eight grandchildren who have increased our heart size and given us laughter and swollen chests and tears and muddy shoes and laundry to do and Amazon shopping carts full and…plans of reasons to live.

Sam: “I would have never had this blessing, Rhonda.”

I need this to last forever.

Days of daze.

I find myself, these days, in a daze.

A lack of focus one day, unable to carry out a simple task, distracted by random thoughts that then morph into an hour gone by with nothing accomplished.

This can be followed by an obsessed focus on cancer research and alternative therapies another day, needing to know all the things right now, because time is fleeting.

And in the middle of it all, I beat myself up internally, because my Savior, my Father, is here with me, in the background, just waiting for me to acknowledge His Presence, His ever present help in times of trouble. And the gifts He continues to give to me are given without thanks, without response, without focused gratitude. I hear others around me verbally express their thanksgiving, the things they are learning from scripture, the insight gained from study and reflection, and the more I hear, the worse I feel, because I am not “measuring up” as a follower of Christ.

This morning, I read from my David Jeremiah/Aunt Patsy Uncle Charlie/Dad devotion: “As we mature in our walk with the Lord, we’ll learn more about His goodness with every step we take. Our faith isn’t a religion, but a relationship. Prayer and Bible study aren’t simply rituals, but conversations. Our God isn’t just a distant force; He’s an ever-present friend. The focus of our faith is getting to know Him better.”

Right now, I guess the Lord is my ever-present friend who is “sitting shiva” with me. I am counting on Him not caring that I do not have all the words, all the scripture quotes, all the insights and revelations. I am counting on Him to just quietly sit with me when I am feeling the weight of the world in my shoulders. I am counting on Him to be okay with my silence.

This old Friends Church hymn is my background noise today. I am just a few years old, but I can hear Mom’s alto while she strokes my hair, my head in her lap, unknowingly learning these words that will stick with me all the days of my life. Roy Quick and Shirley Dunn are singing at the top of their lungs. Lowell is at the pulpit, rocking up and back on the balls of his feet with a heavenly smile on his face. Josephine is looking at him adoringly, and Carolyn is at the piano, leading us all as we sing…

Each step I take my Savior goes before me,
And with His loving hand He leads the way,
And with each breath I whisper “I adore Thee;”
Oh, what joy to walk with Him each day.

Each step I take I know that He will guide me;
To higher ground He ever leads me on.
Until some day the last step will be taken.
Each step I take just leads me closer home.

At times I feel my faith begin to waver,
When up ahead I see a chasm wide.
It’s then I turn and look up to my Savior,
I am strong when He is by my side.

I trust in God, no matter come what may,
For life eternal in His hand,
He holds the key that opens up the way,
That will lead me to the promised land.

Today, I am grateful for days without daze.

I am grateful for a relationship with God.

I am grateful for silence while He is “sitting shiva” with me.

I am grateful that I can just talk to Him without all the flowery stuff and I don’t have to show off to the world that I know scripture and phrases that prove I am a Christian. I can just talk to Him, and that is all I need. That is all He needs, too.

I am grateful that as I listen to the thunder, as I work while the rain falls, as I notice the beauty in a purple hydrangea or the way a spider web is perfection, I also have the knowledge and realization that God, who created it all, isn’t out there beyond the stars.

He is my day.

He is my clear blue sky in the daze.

He is my ever present help in times of trouble.

He gives me these incredible gifts, even when I am silent and do not acknowledge.

For His understanding and unending love, I am grateful.