A manila envelope, a cassette tape, and a good cry.


I sat at the kitchen island last night and had an emotional party by myself. I have been sorting and packing and weeding years of living, and when I brought a green plastic tub downstairs with a polka-dotted shower curtain on top, I had no idea what I would find underneath.

It was a green tub filled with Mom.

A framed Garfield cross-stitch that I spent long hours on and gifted to her many years ago – it hung in her kitchen for so long.

Her wood calendar that will hang in my new home somewhere.

Two cassette tapes, priceless in my eyes, of piano music and two little girls singing sweet little songs.

A large manila envelope stuffed full, with my name on it.

File folders labeled “Katrina and Zak” and “Karissa and Mandrae.”

A file folder labeled, “Corn Bible Academy.”

Inside these folders and my envelope? Years of cards and letters that the girls and I sent to Mom and Dad for which she saved them all. Little valentines in tiny envelopes with “Grandma” and “Grandpa” written on the outside. Mother’s Day cards, birthday cards, handwritten letters I sent when I was a brand new mom and missing my own. I didn’t remember ever writing these letters, but floods of memories came pouring out of the folders and that envelope. She saved programs from my first attempts at directing children’s musicals at the Baptist Church in Eagle Pass, programs from my music teaching days in San Antonio all the way through Elyria and Central Christian and finally, Corn Bible Academy. She clipped every newspaper clipping IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD according to her granddaughters and our schools. She saved graduation announcements, baby shower invitations, wedding announcements and programs from the girls, even a simple post-it note from Katrina.

And inside my envelope was a Christmas card addressed to me at the beginning of my new life alone, sealed and never sent. It included her love and her well-wishes for “the best things to come.”

Oh, Mom. They did. They did, wrapped up in a man who loves me and respects me and pushes me to independence. They did, wrapped up in 10 beautiful grandchildren, five of whom you never got to meet. They did, wrapped up in some years spent getting to know my Daddy like I had not known previously. They did, wrapped up in a wonderful church, a wonderful job, a home in small town USA that you would enjoy, I just know…

I am grateful that my Mom was a saver.

And I am grateful that I am a cry-er.

But I’m also grateful that I am not a hoarder. It’s good to reminisce, but it’s good to let it go, too.




I’ll have a Canadian bacon and beef salad, please.


I am grateful for a happy sunny day to go home this evening and take a walk with Natia before diving into major house cleaning in preparation for weekend company.

I am grateful for a Dad who has rescued not only me, but Natia, this week by going to the house in the middle of the day to let her out, give her some attention, and take her to the mailbox for the exercise and fresh air.

I am grateful for pictures of the sweetest little girl…

I am grateful for an almost empty refrigerator so I don’t snack all night long in my stress.

I am grateful for funny radio hosts while I work.

I am grateful for the gift from God of a beautiful pink sky this morning on my way to work.

I am grateful for a good-looking bracket, at least for one day.

And I am grateful that I don’t have to eat just salad. That would make me cry.

Salad and pizza

Noises are scary.

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I am not sleeping well these days. These days, I am alone in a house. These days, I don’t have the pillow of assurance that Dad is right there, or that Sam is next to me. These days, it’s up to me to make sure the doors are locked, the lights are off, the house is secure. These days, it’s up to me to turn the daily calendar, to make sure Natia goes outside and gets walked. These days, there’s no smell of coffee unless I make a cup and let it waft on the counter, but what’s the sense in that – I don’t drink coffee.

Dad moved away to his new home, and Sam is back in small town USA, working on our new home and taking care of his business.

I spend my days in the office here in the city and spend my evenings shaking my head at all of the stuff we have accumulated over the few short years we’ve been together.  Dad said last weekend, “Everyone needs to move every couple of years, just to get rid of the stuff they don’t need.” I need more boxes and I certainly need more organization skills – if not for the things we are keeping, at least for the mountain of garage sale items that is growing where a car should be parked.

This morning, after a fitful night of sleep, Natia and I got up to the sound of spring, however.

“Yoo hoo! Yoo hoo!” Right outside the window. I love those birds. In small town USA, it will be the “cooh-cooh” of the mourning doves, but here on 109th, it’s the family of chickadees. And when I left for work, God graced me with Mom’s cardinals, singing “good morning,” so happy to be alive on this 13th day of March.

And then, when I walked into work, a gaggle of geese flew right over me in the parking lot, honking their greeting. I smiled big inside, the sound was so silly. A woodpecker was already at work on a tree – he won the early bird gets the worm contest.

I guess not all noises are scary.

I am grateful for the noise of birds singing.

I am grateful for the noise of Natia’s tail thump against the leather couch when she is happy to see me.

I am grateful for the noise of the dryer and the noise of the washer spin that makes me feel like someone is home and is being productive.

I am grateful for the noise of “The Voice” when Gary Edwards sings and makes me cry.


I am grateful for the noise of sniffles as I go through the 21 years of music teaching, reminiscing over favorite programs and musicals, pictures and notes from students, good times and not-so-good times. It is healing to remember and it is healing to let go…

And I am grateful for the noise that swims in my head of John Wesley’s prayer – I’m working on memorization this week.

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, 
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

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My apple tastes funny.

People who laugh hard

It’s been a day.

Between pouring half a shaker of salt on my egg, spilling my very large glass of ice water on myself first thing this morning, taking a bite of a really gross apple that must have been coated in invisible spray paint or something similar, and losing internet which powers my work day, it’s been a day.

But I am grateful for these little things, because if that’s all that makes it a day, I can laugh.

Besides, the ending to my day will be seeing my Dad and my dog. What better way to end a week.

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Peace, peace, wonderful peace.

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This song has played inside of me this afternoon. And I needed it. My jaw aches from clenching because of stress.

I am grateful for 20 minutes on a porch swing in the middle of the day.

I am grateful for not a cloud in the sky as the day ends and I shut down the computer.

I am grateful for frozen bread dough that makes fresh baked bread easy.

I am grateful for new cards to send.

And I am grateful for the way The Message translates Matthew 11:28-30, my scripture for today:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. – The Message
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Happiness is…an abundance of kid giggles.

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Terrible joke Tuesday is a great way to end a work day.

A weasel walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Wow, in all my years of bartending, I’ve never had a weasel for a customer. What can I get you?

“Pop,” goes the weasel.


I am grateful for silly laughter from kids swinging at the park across the street.

I am grateful for lunchtime reading with an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old via Messenger on my phone. I got to watch them read the pages and encourage them, AND, we’re going to make it a daily routine. Ama heart-swell, I have.

And I am grateful for a quick afternoon walk to the post office down the middle of the streets on this 63 degree sunny day.


I can’t feel my face when I’m with you…


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…when it is 19 degrees at 6:30 in the morning and we are back to walking the streets of Small Town USA.

But I am so very grateful to be walking again with my walking partner and best friend.

I am also very grateful today for the most ridiculous hilarity that happened in our front yard at noon that made my jaw ache from the laughter that would not stop as I watched from the 2nd floor. My husband received a water witching lesson…I have pictures and a video, but I will not share without his permission because oh my.

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This is NOT Sam. But Sam struck gold, just like this guy!

I am grateful for a Dad and a good friend who cared enough to spend a very late night with Natia at the ER on Friday night.

I am grateful for new friends and a Sunday evening trek to a small town bowling alley just to have dinner (also known as supper in these parts) at the snack bar.

Dinner is not lunchSEE WHAT I MEAN?!


And I am grateful for a very small slip of paper that appeared on the top shelf of our armoire yesterday, a “fortune” without its cookie:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3

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