family, the friends

Gratitude

I am not hosting my large family for Thanksgiving dinner this year and I am grateful.

Grateful to relax, drink coffee, watch the parade and eat cinnamon rolls. The parade – which I’ve been too busy in the kitchen to watch for the last several years – and the cinnamon rolls are Thanksgiving traditions.

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Grateful that I only have to bake my sweet potato rolls – made the dough yesterday – and roast a turkey breast – just in case.

Just in case because my 86 year old mother is a spaz. (No offense, mom.) And after 65 adult years of preparing, planning and eating Thanksgiving dinner she still worries that there won’t be enough.

As a result there is always waay too much.

We’ll call that another Thanksgiving tradition. And I’ll be grateful for the abundance. And for my mom – who is baking pies, making stuffing and roasting yet another extra (8 pound) breast in her own kitchen this morning. God love her.

In addition to the 26 pound bird my sister, the hostess, is roasting.

Like I said, abundance.

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But the thing for which I am giving the most thanks this morning is the good report the beagle and I received.

I took her to the oncologist yesterday afternoon for an acupuncture treatment and a six week follow-up x-ray.

After the x-ray the doc came in with Good News: The tumor has not grown! It is exactly the same size.

That’s a good start. Praying her next x-ray, in 3 months, shows shrinkage.

Considering she was only given 1 – 2 months to live 6 weeks ago, I’m grateful for the hope a 3-month follow-up appointment gives.

Hug your beagle and have a very Happy Thanksgiving all you Americans.

And just a plain great day everyone else.

#foroncemyThanksgivingmorningisnotchaotic

 

 

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faith

Beneath the empty/full glass is God.

They say the fullness of the glass has to do with optimism and pessimism. Maybe.

But I think there’s more to it.

Competition and camaraderie.

When one of my sisters is blessed with, say, a huge, beautiful new house, I am delighted.

I am delighted because a) huge, beautiful, shiny new houses are possible, and b) because her blessing is also my blessing.  For an hour or two here and there, I get to enjoy her big, beautiful house, too.

Bent toward camaraderie, the blessings bestowed upon others are my blessings, too. When my sister’s glass gets a little fuller, so does mine.

If I were bent toward competition, I would see it differently. The blessing bestowed on my sister would deplete mine. I would compare our glasses and see only the gap between the levels. The empty gap.

Suddenly I have nothing.

Beneath the empty/full glass is God.

When we don’t know God very well, our logic goes like this:

Our glasses are the same full therefore God likes us the same. All is well.

Pour a little more into another glass and suddenly God does not like us all the same. All is not well. Now it’s all:

He likes her more than me.

She going to pull so far ahead that I’ll never catch up.

HE IS GOING TO LEAVE ME IN HER DUST.

Shattered.

When our hearts are nestled closely against His our logic goes like this:

Our glasses are the same full. We all have enough. God is good.

Pour a little more into her glass and God is even more generous. Maybe He’ll pour a little more into my glass, too. God is really good.

Confident in His love for us, we happily wait our turn.

While we wait we start thinking about all the ways He has already been generous to us, too. We realize that our glass is fuller than we thought it was. Just as full as others’. Fuller, even, in levels unseen.

Someone, I don’t remember who, said, “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, it is the realization of how much we already have.”

Camaraderie toasts Generosity with an acrylic glass of gratitude.

Competition guzzles it with a crystal goblet of greed.

#shatterproof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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life

Little Things

It’s the little things that thrill me and it’s the little things that sometimes bug me.

Yesterday, while making a brine for the turkey, I went out to my garden, brushed aside six inches of snow and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary and a tangled swirl of thyme.

I brushed aside more snow and peaked into the little pop up tent that is protecting the parsley. It is doing just fine. I climbed over a drift and unzipped the cover on the lettuce trug. The lettuce is happy and healthy.

Walking back into the house with my handful of herbs, two rosy cheeks, joy in my heart and a smile on my face, I felt kinda’ like a pioneer woman braving the cold and snow to collect Thanksgiving herbs from the good earth.

Instead of the suburbanite that I am.

It just doesn’t seem right when EVERY ingredient comes from the supermarket.

So that little thing made me happy.

Knowing that there is a whole turkey and a turkey breast brining in the downstairs refrigerator makes me happy, too.

The hub is cleaning the whole house today while I cook. That’s a BIG thing.

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The little beagle woke me up at 6:45 am. “Where’s dad,” I asked. Her harness was on so I knew she had already been outside. I followed her downstairs. The friends had been fed, the percolator was plugged in but there was no sign of the hub.

A smile dawned on me.

I settled onto the sofa with my good friend Joe, the little beagle pressed against me, and took the first glorious sip. Soon the back door opened and in came the hub.

“That’s a beautiful box you’re carrying.”

It was a plain white cardboard box. One that I recognized fondly.

Anyone who knows anything about me and doughnuts knows that the little things in that box made me very happy.

But sometimes little things bug me, too.

As I was doing the dishes this morning, I was thinking, for about the fourth time this week, about a little thing that happened in Bible study last Thursday. As I was saying goodbye to the ladies I said, “I have to get home and clean out my refrigerator to make room for my Thanksgiving groceries.”

One of the women said, under her breath, “I wish I had that problem.”

I walked to my car puzzled. She wishes she had what problem? A fridge full of half empty jars of expired condiments?

I really don’t think she was lamenting an empty fridge. There are a couple of ladies in that class who are on a tight budget, but she is not one of them.  Most of the women in that group have a second home in Naples and a third home up North, I’m not one of them. She might be. She comes every Thursday perfectly coiffed in expensive clothes. I usually show up in jeans and a sweatshirt.

Was she trying to tell me that she hates me? I shrugged it off.

But it kept coming up like cud. And then this morning it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a lack of food she was lamenting, perhaps it was a lack of company.

And I wished that I had asked her what she meant. So she could share her tale of woe and I could sympathize.

I don’t know whether she hates me or whether she was just trying to unload her heart, but I’m going with door number two.

Because little adjustments in my perspective always make me happy.

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life

Legacy

“I am so much like my mother in so many ways” she said, “that I expect I’ll suffer dementia as she did. And I expect I will say very horrible and angry things.”

We were talking about gratitude journals and prayer journals and how they can serve as a sort of family history.  And the thoroughly lovely, soft-spoken, most-considerate-woman-I-have-ever-met sitting next to me thought she ought to start one. To balance the inevitable ugly.

I couldn’t imagine a single angry, ugly word ever coming from her mouth, but, if she is a lot like her mother was, then I’m sure no one had been able to imagine horrible things coming from her mother, either.

“When the filters go,” she said.

And that got me thinking about filters.

And about what a brilliant woman I was privileged to sit beside. A woman who is taking steps to make sure future generations of her family know how much she loved them. How she prayed for them. How grateful she was for them.

No matter what dementia says to the contrary.

What remarkable foresight to see that love has the last word.

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It’s Not To Me, It’s From Me

“When people come up and give me a compliment–‘Corrie, that was a good talk,’ or ‘Corrie, you were so brave,’ I gather each remark as if it were a flower. At the end of each day I lift up the bouquet of flowers I have gathered throughout the day and say, ‘Here you are, Lord, it is all Yours.’” – Corrie ten Boom

When I was young, I felt shy and uncomfortable receiving compliments.

But now, when people come up to praise me after a talk, like Corrie I just gather their kind words up like flowers into a bouquet. I put my focus on the kindness of the giver of the compliment rather than on my self-conscious self.  I pause a moment to breathe the sweet aroma and I offer back a warm and grateful smile.

This morning The Daily Post’s writing prompt asked: “You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you?”

That bouquet is not to me, it’s from me.  It’s all the praise I’ve received and all the joyful exhilaration I’ve experienced, arranged in a turkey basket of Thanksgiving, waiting to be offered up to the Author and Perfecter of everything.

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life

A Simple Please & Thank You

Last Saturday morning I re-entered the pain and privilege of BSF leadership.  Or, as the hub and I used to call it back when we were BOTH leaders, “Brutality.”

Brutality?

Yep, because you have to drag yourself out of bed at 5:15 every Saturday morning in order to be in your seat at the leaders’ meeting by 6:40, ready and raring to go.  It’s not so hard now, while global warming is making its brief visit to Michigan and the temperatures are unseasonably warm, but it will be full on brutal in January and February and March.  Especially this time around because we won’t both have to get up.  Seeing the hub all slumbering and warm under our down comforter Saturday after Saturday – though I will be truly be happy for him – is gonna’ make me wanna’ smack him every time I feel that first assault of not-under-the-comforter winter air.

Brutality aside, it really is a privilege to be in the leaders’ circle discussing what we studied with those who take studying seriously; serving alongside those who are committed to excellence.

One of the first things we do in leaders’ meeting each week is get on our knees and pray.  We cover every aspect of the upcoming Monday night class, which means we are on our knees for a long while.  Provisions are made for those who have back and knee problems – they can stay in their chairs. I thought about staying in my chair, because of my still-healing foot, but, since it was my first meeting back after an eight year absence, I didn’t want to appear high-maintenance. So down on the floor I went.

That was a mistake.

Get off your chair or sofa for a second and get on your knees, all the way down so your butt is on your heels.  See how the top of your feet flatten out? If you have a frayed peroneal tendon, putting your foot in that position, as I discovered that fateful morning, is a big, BIG mistake.

About three quarters of the way through prayer time I couldn’t take the pain any longer and I rolled unto my hip into a semi-sitting position, knocking into the woman on my left.  (It’s a tight circle.)

It’s been six days and my foot still hurts.  A lot.  And I’m limping again.

So as I pulled into Costco this morning, rounded the parking lot to the top of an aisle and surveyed the long line of parked cars before me, I thought, Crap, I’m going to have to walk.  And it was going to hurt.

Which brings me to my final quote of this Three Day Quote Challenge:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  – Jesus (There’s no one better to quote than Jesus.)

In the same split second that I surveyed the sea of cars and thought, Crap!, I also asked, Father, will you please open up a spot for me?

And just like that the back-up lights lit on the car parked in the space right in front of me. The space right next to the handicapped space, The CLOSEST space I could possibly get without a handicapped sticker.

Hey! Thank you!

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And thanks for leftovers for lunch.

Now I’m passing the Three Day Quote Challenge to the following bloggers because I’d like to read what they have to say:

  1. Marie Griffith of Full-Time
  2. BJ of Between Two Seas
  3. James Radcliffe of jamesradcliffe.com
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life

November 1

Today ushers in the season of gratitude, and I am grateful for you dear bloggers.  As an introvert, I really don’t like to talk on the phone. A ringing phone disturbs my peace, even when I really like the person on the other end.  Probably because it usually rings when I’m in the middle of doing something or thinking something.

But you, dear bloggers, never disturb my peace.  You just wait silently until I have a minute. Until I’ve poured my morning coffee or my evening tea and settled in – cozily curled up in the corner of the couch under an afghan.

Even if I’m too busy to check in for a few days, I know you will still be there. Tonight I have some catching up to do, and I’m grateful that I can.

So, thank you God for inventing blogging.

Oh, and the hub and I visited a new church today.  We were surprised to run into a variety of old friends and acquaintances there – people I worked with years ago at the pregnancy center, or attended BSF with here and there.  I even ran into a woman I knew 30 years ago, when we were both young and single.  She said I was still beautiful, God bless her.  She hasn’t changed a  bit.

The hub ran into a ormer co-worker and a couple of men from his BSF past.   It was a little taste of the massive heavenly reunions that awaits.

Blessed are the ties that bind…

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