Tag Archives: Gratitude

Calling it good. 

It’s been a good day.  Nothing to warrant a photo or blog post really but as I sit and reflect I am grateful for a mountain of simple pleasures.

My baby is in bed.  I can hear her talking to herself. Little happy noises.  Earlier she dragged out my highest heels and made me practice walking. These are the ones I threatened to get rid of because while they are gorgeous, they are super skinny heels and I tend to trip.  My three year old loves them. She really wants me to wear them. And so tonight I tromped up and down the hall and didn’t fall over once. Maybe all the running and biking and swimming is good for heel training.   Point here is that she makes me grin.

My eldest is at camp.  First overnight camp.  She was nervous.  I didn’t tell her I was nervous too. I told her she’d be great.   I sat tonight and thought about summer camp and growing up and the fact that fourth grade is no little matter.   Love that girl.

My house smells currently smells like a cake baking and bread rising.   My husband is making birthday treats for my dear friend.  He always says yes to my plans.  Currently my plans include a big pre race carb load.  Fresh mozzarella and grated parmasan and sausage and pasta.  Gosh he makes me happy.   

My hands currently  smell like lavender and basil and tomatoes from when I watered my garden.  I hear my cat meowing, ready for dinner and our nightly cuddle. 

Day after tomorrow is my big day. Swim and bike and run.  I’m scarexcited.   My Trisuit fits if you like the look of a black and pink porpoise.  

Ten days out is the 7th annual Scramble for the Kids.  Today I got to talk to several generous local entrepreneurs committed to helping hurting kids. I love that. 

Today I also witnessed a friend climb out of a personal hole today. Miracle. Inspiring. 

Talked to my mama. Planned a belated Father’s Day date with my dad and sister.  Smooched one of my nephews. 

Within striking range of a goal at work.  I love a finish line.

Lots of good stuff.  But Eaier today I got a little overwhelmed and sad.  It’s because I read the news.  Do you do this?  Lions and babies and protests.  Politics and fights and war.   I am a fully engaged citizen. I read and vote and call and write and fundraise.  But Sometimes it feels like the yuck is winning.  I can get stuck there. 

But I decided today to just not. 

Instead.

Counted my blessings.  Said a prayer.  Called it good. 

It was a good day. 

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Welling Up

This is a busy crazy week.   Let me rephrase.   This is one busy crazy life.    I’ve developed a fairly stable system to handle this.   It involves a lot of lists.  I have a joint digital calendar and digital list with my spouse, a hard copy calendar and scheduled review session with my business partner/mother.  I have bits of random lists on my phone and by my bedside.  I have lists that track how many glasses of water I drink and if I made my bed.  I don’t always accomplish everything on my lists and most of the time I have lots of loose ends.   But it generally works. However lately there is one area of my life I’m not controlling all that well.    Tears.   I’ve had a lot of tears.

Before you worry about me and send me off to counseling (been there…done that) know that we’re doing fine.   It’s more that this stuffing all the joy we can handle into our lives has put us very close to people.  People who sometimes hurt.  People who frequently overcome. Plus I have two daughters and a husband.

family

That would do it all by itself.   I’m blessed and I hurt.   And so I cry.

The resident chef and I are about to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and I still adore the guy.   Last night I spent hours of time trying to impress him with a new casserole involving peppers and cheese.  It was okay.  Kinda boring and certainly not worth the work. I really should leave the cooking to him.    For St. Patrick’s tonight he’s making the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage but just for fun he made Irish Brown Bread and Creamy Vegetable soup that are EXACTLY likes the ones we had when we were in Ireland for our tenth anniversary.  I can’t wait! When  I watch the video he made of that trip and I think about the past fifteen years and boom – tears.

One of my dearest friends had some heart ache in the last couple of years.  (Haven’t we all?)  I’ve cheered them on.  They make me proud.   I love watching how God is revealed in their conduct and character.  She sent me this photo from her recent doctor appointment.

sarah2

    Tears.  Lots of tears.

Our church is in the midst of a remodel.   Couple of weeks ago a wall was torn open and this was found.   A message written there years ago by a family friend who lost a terrible fight with cancer.    Psalm 46:1  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ”    I love that this message was placed right where it would be seen again and would testify to us all about the goodness of God and how He carried her through her battle.

joann

  Big tears.

My youngest is almost two and she pats when she gives hugs.  God knew at this stage in my life I’d want hugs and so He sent this sweet loving little miss.    The chef and she Facetimed me earlier today and showed me her new grin.

smile

Tears.   Smiling grinning sloppy tears.

My oldest will be eight in two weeks.   She’s a fierce, loyal, brave and independent kid.  Huge heart.  Last six months she’s proved it through some personal battles.  Most recently, she just raised the most money in her school for the American Heart Association.  Every time someone agreed to donate to her I smiled and felt the tears threatening.    A close friend emailed her with her donation and told her that she could see what kind of person she’d grow up to be…a person like Jesus.   My little fighter said “oh mom. my tears are welling up “.   And that’s where I’ve been living lately.   Tears welling up.

dylan and meg

The things that make me cry are varied and frequent.   My daughters sitting at my grandma’s piano. Holding my nephew.   Kneeling and looking into the huge big eyes of my niece.   My daffodils.   A really good joke.   Every song in Bow The Knee.    (It’s this weekend….go see it!)    Friends who take over when I can’t handle things.   My mother.   Sunshine.   A great book.     As it turns out,  even the painful tears are good.   Doesn’t make them not painful.   But painful isn’t always bad.

So I thought I’d better tell you all.  The true list that holds my crazy world together is all of you.  People who bless me.  People who take my loose ends and tie them together.    It’s a list from God that prove He is good.    All the time.    My list of gratitude to God.   And its all of you.

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Full heart and tummy

Two things motivated me to actually grab my laptop and blog today.  The first and primary reason was that a friend texted me and said I needed to blog.  She’s right.   It’s been awhile.   The second reason is that I had one of those overwhelmed by gratitude moments.    Moments where life is good and joy overflows.

The first trivial but happy event this weekend was we sold our bug.   Gone are the days of swapping the precious spots in the garage.  We both fit again!   I suppose too gone are the summer days zipping around in a convertible but with this rainy and snowy spring I’m not convinced we’ll have any of those summer days anyway.    Someone remind me in July when I’m nine months pregnant, hot and huge, to be grateful for the cool spring.   At any rate, bye bye bug.

Event number two in the weekend was a date night with my spouse.    We’re celebrating our thirteenth wedding anniversary.  We shipped the dog and the kid off to Grandma’s and we went and saw a movie (Hunger Games….as usual, I liked the book better than the movie) and then headed into Portland for a night out.    I redeemed some reward points and got a free night in a hotel.   My husband scoured the internet and found a fun and funky place to eat.     Hot Pot City.    This place had several of the must haves for my perfect type of restaurant.

1.   Its small and funky.     Most of the people in the restaurant spoke Chinese.    I love it when I’m in the minority. 

2.  They gave me lots of utensils and our own pot to cook in right at our table.  I love food that you can mess with.   My spouse said this was why he picked the place.   This is one of the reasons I love my spouse.

3.  Really good food.   Fresh ginger and garlic sauce.   Homemade peanut sauce made with hand pressed sesame seeds and peanut butter.    Steak and noodles.    Thai peppers.   We met the owner.   She said that having people compliment her cooking is her payback for hard work.

We walked back to our hotel, curled up on the couch to watch Drive-ins, Diners and Dives.  What is with the host?  He always talks with his mouth full.    The episode we watched made me crave a good sandwich.    I had just eaten my weight in beef and chinese noodles.  I was working my way though my half of a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tub.   Oatmeal Cookie was the flavor for the record.    My spouse said I can’t believe you can even think about food with as full as we are.   What can I say, I’m pregnant.

Saturday we met up with my parents and my daughter for her early birthday tea party.

My parents are going on vacation and are missing the soon to be six-year olds actual birthday so naturally they decided she had to have a bonus party.    Guess what was served?  A whole variety plate of yummy sandwiches.   Yet another pregnancy craving fulfilled.

A full weekend.   Family.  Fun.  Food.   Grateful heart.  Full tummy.

 

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Chasing a Hearse on a Harley

Our pastor told a story this past Sunday about a funeral procession that is totally unrelated to this blog.   However, I thought his story made a perfect title so I’m stealing it.  Do you think I could get in trouble for plagiarizing part of a sermon?  Seems dangerous.    At any rate, I’m taking my chances.   Aren’t you curious how I’m going to work the title into this blog?

My birthday was over the weekend.  I’m thirty-six.   I had a one of those birthday celebrations that lasted all week, lunches and dinners and even a birthday breakfast.  My spouse spoiled me. My friends and family wrapped gifts and wrote cards.  My daughter got me flowers.   My sister bought me an outfit that I would not have picked.  I loved it.  I got a ton of compliments.  I may make her pick all my clothing from now on.     I ate banana cream cake with white chocolate frosting.   I ate cherry chip cake with lemon frosting.  I ate chocolate caramel cake with toffee frosting.    I really must run more.

Last year on my birthday my mother informed me that I was halfway to seventy.  This year she told me I was closer to seventy than to zero.   I’m not sure if she just likes math games or if she enjoys seeing me stricken.    It did cause me to pause and take stock.    I made a mental list of things to be grateful for in my thirty-sixth year.    Friends and family, health and home, Grace and generosity.   I ran down a painful list of things I’d rather not be a part of next year; arguments and misunderstandings, imbalanced priorities.

So this whole birthday week I couldn’t shake the sermon story or the image of a big ol’ bike following a big’ ol Hearse.  It struck me that frequently in life I do this very thing; put a whole lot of effort and money and time into chasing things that only lead to dead places.    I’m going to focus this year on where I’m headed.  How about you?

 

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August Love

Last week  I was surprised by the joy of August.  I was standing by the sink eating a peach.   The peach had been picked the day before ripe from the tree.    The juice was running down my chin and arm.    It tasted fabulous.    All of a sudden it felt like August was embodied in that peach; summer so packed full of simple pleasures that it was running over.

This August I’ve loved going for a run and grabbing blackberries off the bushes outside our house while I stretch.    The kettle corn at the fair tasted sweeter this year.   I thoroughly enjoyed that darkness doesn’t come until its time for bed.    I loved Portland to Coast; bonding with girlfriends in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.    I loved swimming with my family.   My husband made an incredible saffron shrimp and rice dinner.    We had lettuce wraps again.    A friend made fried green tomatoes.     My daughter went to the dentist and didn’t have any cavities.    Little pleasures.  Running over.

My daughter and I read Black Beauty together.   It took us most of the month to finish.   We both cried at the end.   She said “poor little guy.   I’m so glad he ended up happy”.    I feel a little bit like the horse.  I think partly it’s been such a great month because all the depressant effects of INH medicine have worn off.    I feel like I shook off some lead weights and ended up happy.    Woo Hoo.   Yea for August.

 

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Rwanda, a year later

It’s been a year.   My husband commented that I am still feeling the effects of my trip to Rwanda.    I think he was referring to the fact that I’ve got a month to go on my INH treatment for dormant tuberculosis.   I have a countdown going to a big forbidden feast involving lots of chocolate and cheese.   Avocados too.     My family is counting down too.  One of the side effects of the meds is irritability.    I’m so sorry.   Fun times.

When you drive into the compound in Gisenyi, Rwanda that houses the clinic and school, children smile and run.   They follow the truck down the dirt road yelling and waving.   I’ve never felt so welcomed and humbled and inadequate and loved and overwhelmed all at the same time.

Thoughts of Rwanda still hit me randomly and with full force.  Travel anywhere does that.  The memories pop up at the oddest times. My life is intertwined with visions of Rwanda.  Last night I was scraping leftovers off plates into the garbage.   My inner dialogue kicked in and was reminding me to breathe deep, pray for a good harvest in Rwanda and not yell at anyone who didn’t eat their full portion.   I know it’s not completely rational.    I recognize that you can’t mail leftovers overseas.   It still hurts to think of hungry kids and food in garbage.

When I held a child who had no parents and who could not speak my language, my heart grew.  I hold my own daughter tighter now.

When I sat in a field surrounded by banana trees baking in the sun and sewed buttons on rags it put a perspective on my own clothing budget that didn’t shift quickly when I came home.

When I ate mangos and avocados ripened on the tree it makes me grin at the inferior fruit here.   I miss the tree tomatoes too.

When I hear Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone, I’m instantly transported to a church with a tin roof and loud rain pouring down.   Choir practice in the dark swatting mosquitoes.   My single most embarrassing moment and a personal triumph over pride.   The term fools for Christ takes on new meaning.

When I see someone who traveled with me, I am grateful.   Their eyes have seen what I saw.    When someone agrees to help with a fundraiser I am grateful.    When I get an email from Rwanda and see progress on our projects, I am grateful.    When I take a shower and the water is warm and clean, I am grateful.

My spouse is right.  I’m still feeling the effects.   Some good.  Some painful.   All worth it.

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Hello little one.

I got to meet a friend’s baby over the weekend.   She was born about three months ago.     I really should have gotten myself together to hold this little one sometime sooner.   Sigh.  Life gets too busy sometimes.    

My friend is a gentle person.  She’s also brilliant.   It’s a good combination.    She and her husband used to live very close.   We used to be on each other’s speed dial and you could count on pretty frequent double dates.    Actually, more like large group dates with lots of couples.   We used to go out for Chinese food.   I always ordered the number 9.   Hold the sweet and sour chicken.  Add Pork Fried Rice.     

I remember the day they told us they were moving.  They invited us over because they had news they wanted to share.   I thought for sure they were pregnant and were going to be the first of us to have a baby.    I was wrong. 

 I remember they day they moved.    I cried.   Sobbed more was like it.   We both did.   We stood in a parking lot as they were getting ready to drive away to go to school out-of-state.    We hugged.   We cried.  Neither of us could talk.   Eventually our husbands dragged us away and put us in cars and off they went.   

It was totally right that they moved.   I’m incredibly proud of them both for reaching goals and accomplishing much.  I’m proud of them for doing what they knew was the right thing to do even though it was the hard thing to do.    I still miss them though.  

Saturday was a birthday party.  A whole pile of children merged in the lawn and yelled and ate cake and generally caused  a ruckus.   I enjoyed watching my friend’s kids play together with my child.    It was sunny.   Ah sunshine. 

 I sat in a chair and held my friend’s baby.    Her toes grasped my finger when I tickled her foot.    Her Winnie the Pooh hat had a strap that kept tickling her nose.    She’s old enough to smile.   

I got absolutely nothing accomplished on Saturday.   I watched my child play.   I held my friend’s baby.    It was perfect.

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