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An Attitude of Gratitude – late November, early December 2013

December 9, 2013

I started this post well before Thanksgiving and then didn’t complete it.  Not wanting to waste these thoughts I am finishing it today. 

A lot of my friends are posting the things they are grateful for on their FaceBook pages each day during the month of November.  Seeing that, here in America at least, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November that seems appropriate.  In years past I have joined my friends.  This year I have not.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to be grateful for, I do, I am not able to count all the blessings in my life.  It’s just that I believe that the key to true gratitude is being grateful every day of the year. 

I then looked at how sadly I have neglected this blog the past couple of months.  I’ve neglected even more than I’ve been neglecting my bicycle riding, which has been pretty bad.  The only excuse I have is a reason, not an excuse but a reason.  My life has been pretty busy lately.

I decided that if I had been writing a blog post every day for the month of November I would need to write about 150 things I am grateful for this month.  Since I so often repeat things that I am grateful for I decided that today I would sit down and list as many things as I could think of, in no particular order except for the very first one.  I won’t get to 150, but it will be more than 5.  The number one on my list is the thing I am grateful for above everything else.

  1. God loves me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the redemption of my sins and to bring me into reconciliation with Him.  This will bring me to tears every time I think about it.  There is no greater gift in this life.  Sometimes I act as if I have forgotten this.  Fortunately, I know that God forgives me.  I am blessed.
  2. My oikos. An oikos is the ancient Greek equivalent of a household, house, or family.  In this case I am referring to the people in my life with whom I spend the majority of my time: my parents, the members of my two Bible Study groups and my other close friends.  These people love me, understand me, support me and tell me when I am out of line.  They are not harsh, critical or condemning.  They are my spiritual family.  I love them.  My relationship with them helps me grow.  I am blessed.
  3. My children. My daughter Sara, and her fiancée, Mike.  My son Robert, and his wife, Jennifer.  My daughter Megan, and her fiancée, Cory.  Okay, I must admit, I’m not too thankful for Cory at this point in time but my mother told me a story Sunday evening that gives me hope.  I am blessed.
  4. Lessons that God is using my children to teach me.  Lessons about how I value myself versus how I should be valuing myself.  Lessons about love and respect.  Lessons about trust and integrity.  Lessons about letting go of the things in my life that are toxic for me and causing me pain.  Lessons about when to hang on, even while the going is tough.  I am blessed.
  5. My home.  It may be a humble little apartment but it keeps me warm and dry.  It’s a place to keep all my belongings while I’m out earning my living.  It’s a base of operations for me, my office where I paint, my rooms where I care for myself and my pets, my kitchen where I cook and create meals for myself and friends.  I am exceptionally blessed by having a home.  I am fully cognizant of the fact many people don’t have adequate shelter, living in motor vehicles and/or even tents, boxes or lean-tos.  I am not exposed to the elements, can protect my pets and my belongings and retreat to when I need peace.  I am blessed.
  6. My Job.  I have a place to go where my contribution is valued.  In addition, it allows my to keep my home, feed myself and my pets and keep gas in my car.  It gets me out of my apartment each (week)day.  It allows me to afford gifts, small trips and charitable contributions.  I am blessed.
  7. My furniture.  I am fortunate to have furnishings to make my home comfortable and welcoming.  I remember once, many years ago, moving into a home and all I had was three mattresses and a living room chair.  Some people never have more than that.  I am blessed.
  8. Kitchen furnishings.  I have plates and silverware, pots, pans and other dishes.  I have bakeware.  I have a microwave and a regular oven.  I am able to prepare my own meals as well as meals for family and friends.  I do not have to eat out every night or try to prepare dinners on a little hot plate.  I am blessed.
  9. My car.  I have quick and comfortable transportation to get wherever I need to go.  I have used my bicycle, the bus system and even trains to commute but I much prefer the ease and freedom having a car gives me.  In addition, driving my car saves a lot of time.  There are many people without a car or even a driver’s license.  I am blessed.
  10. Medical, dental and vision insurance.  I currently have medical insurance provided by my employer.  In the last few years I have had broken bones, surgeries and concerns with my vision.  I have obtained contacts and glasses.  I’ve had medical tests and doctors visits.  I’ve been to the dentist for teeth cleanings and to have a plate made.  I would not be able to afford the majority of these except that I have medical, dental and vision coverage.  I am blessed.
  11. My bicycle.  In addition to using my bicycle for fun and recreation it is a tool I can use for socializing and for commuting.  It gives me exercise and transportation.  It has helped me make new friends.  I have also gotten involved with the American Diabetes’ Association’s Tour de Cure through my bicycle, a way to contribute to research for the cure of this terrible disease.  I am blessed.
  12. My artistic talent.  I love to draw and paint and I love that people enjoy my finished product.  I want to use this talent to glorify God since I know it is a gift from Him.  My talent has also opened doors for me, doors to new experiences and new friends.  I am blessed.
  13. My sewing ability.  More than 33 years ago I made a simple dress for my oldest daughter to wear while she was being christened.  Today I am working on her wedding dress.  What a wonderful gift to be able to create something that will bless my daughter on two of the most important days of her life.  I am blessed.
  14. Grace.  I am not a perfect creature.  I am not a perfect human being.  I have made mistakes in the past and will again in the future.  Grace covers all my mistakes.  All of them.  I am blessed.
  15. Lucy and Sid.  I love my pets.  They keep me company.  They keep me amused.  They keep me human.  They are loving and forgiving.  They are always glad to see me.  At night, they keep me warm.  I don’t always deserve their love, I can be forgetful and neglectful, but they don’t care.  I am blessed.
  16. My new glasses.  I picked up my new bifocals this morning.  Contacts were no longer helping my vision the way they should so I am trying bifocal glasses now.  (Yes, I had bifocal contacts.)  There will be an adjustment period but my vision is now nice and sharp and clean.  Well, except for the floatie I still have in my right eye.  I am blessed.
  17. My NutriBullett blender.  A couple of weeks ago I got this new blender and have been drinking green smoothies for breakfast every morning.  I’ve been dropping the weight, feeling healthier, craving much less sugar and even my meat consumption is down.  The real test will be when I go to BloodSource this weekend to donate blood.  I’m curious to see where my iron level is after eating all this kale and spinach.  I am blessed.
  18. My single status.  Okay, this is another one I am having a difficult time appreciating, at least, until I need to go somewhere or do something that a significant other might not be interested in.  I had no one to object when I went to Brazil on a mission trip.  I never had anyone to object to my going to Mexico (I did have a few men I was dating express displeasure).  That’s not to say I expect my future spouse to object.  I don’t know him yet so I can’t even predict that, but for now I don’t have that additional worry to stress over.  I am blessed.
  19. My Thanksgiving Day.  I told a friend of mine that I celebrate Thanksgiving in a little different manner than a lot of people I know.  This Thanksgiving I once again boarded the bus at my church and headed to San Francisco to serve the homeless and poverty-stricken at the rescue mission.  I spent several hours packing turkey, ham and/or beef into styrofoam take out containers and passing them down the line for the rest of the meal.  Those meals were then delivered door to door to people and families living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.  What an honor it was to serve them.  I am blessed.
  20. Friends.  I had friends on that San Francisco trip with me.  One of them insisted I go to his cousin’s house for his family’s Thanksgiving celebration.  Since the alternative was to go home and look at the empty pie shell and avocados in my refrigerator I did not argue too strenuously with him.  I am blessed.
  21. My mother.  In October my aunt and uncle celebrated their 60 year wedding anniversary.  A few days later my uncle turned 60.  My mother opened her house to the family for a celebratory party.  My mother is opening her home and making her sewing machine available to me so that I may sew my oldest daughter’s wedding dress.  (My machine is currently not working properly, plus, a 6 month old kitten and 7 1/2 yards of lace do not mix very well.)  I do not always see eye to eye with my mother, and sometimes we argue and fight, but the bottom line is my mother is loving and generous.  I believe I learned those characteristics at her side.  I am blessed.
  22. My step-dad.  Loving, gentle, self-effacing, the man is flat-out wonderful.  He puts up with my mother when she is off her rocker and enjoys her when she is happy.  Top that with the world’s best chicken on the barbecue and you have a wonderful man.  I love him dearly.  I am blessed.
  23. My art group.  To have the love and support of a group of women who encourage me and enjoy spending time with me is a huge blessing.  To create together, whether individually or collaboratively, is an even larger blessing.  To study the Word of God with them while we are in that process is fantastic and so very fun.  I am blessed.
  24. The American Diabetes Association.  Have I mentioned my parents have diabetes?  So does my uncle, various assorted cousins, and several friends and acquaintances.  My brother and his girlfriend both have pre-diabetes.  If I add them all up I can come to more than 15 people in my immediate circle with diabetes or pre-diabetes.  I fundraise for and ride the Tour de Cure because of all the work this agency does, not only in the areas of diabetes education and research but also in advocacy for those who suffer from this disease.  Due to their educational efforts I may be able to stop myself from contracting the disease.  I am blessed.
  25. Telephones and the Internet. Quick forms of communication and research.  My job is so much easier because of them.  My company actually has offices all over the west coast and I am able to communicate with whoever I need to in order to get my job done quickly and efficiently.  I can also use them to communicate with my family and friends.  I am blessed.
  26. FaceBook.  While there are inevitable problems with having a FaceBook account it is another method of communication with family and friends.  I can communicate with friends in Brazil just as easily as my friends in my immediate neighborhood and/or across the US.  I am blessed.
  27. Christmas trees. A beautiful reminder of a beautiful gift.  I know Christ was not born in December.  I know the manger was probably a cave in the side of a hill or a flat area in a meadow and a stone trough.  I know the wise men numbered anywhere from two on upwards.  The thing I am grateful for is Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity so that He could come live amongst us and share with us the Good News.  I love the sparkle and shine of Christmas decorations.  I love the feelings in my heart this time of year.  No, I’m not speaking of the secular feelings, I am speaking of the joy and goodwill placed there by Jesus.  I am blessed.

Dear Lord,  while this is not a comprehensive list of things I am grateful for, neither is it anywhere near the 150 items I wanted to list, it is a list of blessings that I am very grateful for.  Please help me remember to have a grateful heart every day of every year.  I want to praise you with my every thought and deed.  In Jesus’ precious name.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – September 25, 2013

September 25, 2013

So I have to admit, my recent post about my mother and her refusal to attend my son’s wedding was a whole lot of whining. And it was pretty judgmental as well. Just because my son, daughter and I have been able to forgive my ex-husband does not mean my mother is a bad person because she hasn’t been able to.  In the days following that post a lot of bad feelings flew back and forth and around the family.  My sister got involved.  My daughter dropped out of the wedding.  Tempers flared and name calling ensued.  It wasn’t pretty.

My mother and I finally had a face to face conversation a little over a week ago.  She said a lot of things, made a lot of accusations and even a demand or two.  I sat and listened to her.  I told her how much my son, his fiancée and I all love her.  I told her I would take her demands under consideration.  I remembered through it all that my friends were praying for me, they were praying that I would respond to my mother in a Christ-like manner.  They were praying for emotional protection for me.  They were praying I wouldn’t lose my temper with my mother.  I believe I did a fairly good job, not perfect, but good.

Last Friday my mother contacted my son’s fiancée and told her that she and my step father wish to attend the wedding.  All that drama.  Ugh!

Today’s gratitude list:

  1. A young friend of mine has Type 1 Diabetes.  She has a team in a fundraising walk in early October.  She asked me to design a T-shirt for her team.  So I did and she was excited with the results.
  2. My new apartment is coming together nicely.  I am meeting a few of my neighbors.  Compared to my last apartment complex this one is quiet and peaceful.  I am thankful that I am able to rest and relax and usually sleep through the night in my new home.
  3. Open Art Studio.  I went last weekend and sat and sketched and visited with my artist friends.  They are such a loving and supportive group.  The young woman who heads up the group had some wise words for me.  We sat outside and talked for a few minutes about my mother and the recent goings on.  She helped me see where I was being mean and judgmental.  Well, I had seen it before, she just confirmed it for me. 
  4. Sid and Lucy like the new apartment, too.  It took Lucy a few days.  She sat by the front door waiting for me to take her “home.”  She has adjusted now. 
  5. My car should be back from the shop just any day now.  I really don’t want it back, the thief had been living in it and smoking in it for 10 days but the insurance company says it will be good as new.  The collision center has been repairing it for a month already, I should hope so.

Dear Lord,  I am sorry I disappointed you with my behavior around my mother’s refusal to attend my son’s wedding.  I know You had it all under control and still I was angry with her and had harsh words for her.  I know it is all resolving in the manner You want it resolved.  For that I thank You.  I know it will be better than my puny plans could make it.  Thank You also for my new home.  I feel at home and peaceful there.  I pray that I can be a blessing to my new community and that You will use me there in the manner You see fit.  Thank You for all the little blessings that seem so transparent to me each and every day.  I know I often take them for granted but I understand hat they are really wonderful blessings.  Please guide my steps so that I am not a disappointment to You again.  I pray this in Jesus’s name.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – September 3, 2013

September 3, 2013

I have a confession to make. I’m struggling with gratitude today. I know why it is. I am angry and hurting and in pain. It is hard to be grateful when all you want to do is scream at someone, to throw things and to spend the rest of the day crying out in distress to the Lord.  It’s hard to be grateful when you see someone you love deeply hurting and can do nothing to alleviate the pain they are going through.  And with one word a member of my family deeply hurt more than four other members of my family, most especially my son and his fiancée.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to react to this.  I am struggling to not go off the deep end with this.  Maybe you can help me.  Maybe you have a suggestion. 

In 39 days my son will marry the woman he has been in love with almost from the very first time he set eyes on her 9 years ago.  She and I have had our ups and downs over that time but the bottom line is my son is deeply in love with her and I could not be happier.

The lovebirds

The lovebirds

The bride is beginning to feel the crunch.  Invitations finally went out with hand-lettered envelopes and she’s working on all the other last minute details.  She’s spending most weekends at her parents’ home, working to ensure it all goes smoothly.  I believe we will be getting together soon to work on the favors and seating charts once RSVPs are all in.  If you’ve ever been married you probably know how it is all falling into place.  You would think she’s in a good spot, right?

Let’s back up several years, about 25.  My ex-husband’s behavior had just been brought to light and, after a lot of counseling from my then-pastor, I finally decided to go ahead with the divorce.  I served my ex-husband with the divorce papers along with the restraining order I needed to get him out of my home and to let the children return.  I was bewildered and emotionally devastated.  My children were frightened as CPS had forcibly removed them from my home.  My family and friends were doing everything they could to love and support my children and me.  As the months and years wore on my ex-husband justified his making my life as difficult as he could by informing everyone that my oldest daughter and I made up the charges about him.  It didn’t help that he had frightened her so much that she was terrified to testify against him.  My mother was my rock during all this.  Well, my mother and Jesus.  Without my faith I probably would have ended up in a straight jacket.

However, my mother is a unique individual.  She holds onto grudges forever.  She allows the smallest things to lodge in her soul and fester and fester until she has been poisoned by the hurt and ugliness of it all.  Case in point, she and her older sister have not spoken in at least 45 years.  Granted, it is not completely my mother’s fault, but neither is it completely my aunt’s.  Anyways, when she found out the week before last that my son had asked my ex-husband to be one of his groomsmen my mother went ballistic. 

I know my ex-husband’s behavior affected my mother.  The fact that he refused to pay anything but a small portion of the court ordered child support kept the children and me living in near poverty.  My mother helped us financially.  The court ordered that the children’s visits with their father were to be supervised, one visit by a paid supervisor, the next by me.  I was to supervise every other visit so that my ex could be a “Disneyland Dad.”  Eventually he refused to use a paid supervisor and only visited the children when I supervised.  Wanting to foster a relationship between my children and their father I rarely refused a visit.  After all, they usually only occurred once every 2 months.  My mother and step-dad often accompanied me as emotional support.  I know she had reason to tell me “I told you so” over and over again, but she never did.  About a year ago when my son, his fiancée and I went to my parents house on an address hunting expedition my mother gave me a lecture about how I was to behave myself and not cause trouble at the wedding once she found out my ex was to be one of the guests. 

Sunday afternoon, just prior to the shopping trip my son, his fiancée and I had scheduled together, my mother and step-dad drove up from the town where they live.  They drove approximately 90 minutes to tell my son and his fiancée that they will NOT be attending his wedding.  My mother says she refuses to watch my ex husband walk down the aisle during my son’s wedding.  She refuses to forgive my ex.  Yes, what he did was unforgivable but forgiveness is not for the offender.  Forgiveness is for the person offended.  It releases the offended party from holding onto all the rage and anger and bitterness inside.  It frees them from the offender’s control over their life.  My mother cannot see this.  She refuses to see that her refusal to attend my son’s wedding hurts not only herself, but also my son and his fiancée.  It hurts me.  It hurts her husband who so badly wants to be there.  And it lets my ex continue to have control over her life.  She is destroying her relationship with my son, his fiancée and with me.  She is letting my ex win. 

I know my mother is in pain, too.  But this is not the way to relieve that pain.  It will only make it worse.

My gratitude list for today:

  1. Forgiveness.  It took years but I was able to forgive my ex-husband and release the control he had over my life.  Forgiving him didn’t mean I had to let him back in my life, it just meant I released the anger and the control he had over me.  I know God can grant that same peace to my mother if she seeks it out.
  2. Angel Island.  I went on a hiking trip to Angel Island with my biking group yesterday.  It was perfect weather and a good way to get away from all the current stressors in my life.
  3. My son and his fiancée.  On Sunday, after my mother dropped her bombshell, we went shopping for my mother of the groom dress.  Although our moods were greatly dampened we did have a good time and my son picked out a beautiful dress for me to wear to his wedding.  They even paid for it.
  4. The recent rains.  All the smoke and stuff from the recent wildfires was washed out of the air making it much more pleasant to breathe.
  5. I can recognize a Spiritual Battle when I see it and can step back and away from it for a while to avoid making it worse.  God has a plan in this whole mess with my mother.  I don’t know what it is yet, I can’t see what it could possibly be, but He has plans and He will bring them to fruition.

Dear Lord, please pour Your healing touch over my family.  Please smooth over the divisions and please remind everyone that in 39 days we are to be gathering together to celebrate the love and commitment of two young people.  Please do not let any of the very important people in my son’s life miss out on this day.  Give me the words I will need to say, the actions I will need to take.  Help me use this to further Your Kingdom.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – August 30, 2013

August 30, 2013

I am bone tired. All I want to do is to lay down on the floor next to my desk and go to sleep. I feel as if I could sleep a week, or more. A lot has happened since my last post and I am physically and emotionally drained. I know God is looking out for me and will not give me any more than I can handle. I know this is true. It’s just that sometimes I wish He hadn’t molded me into such a strong person. I need rest, I crave rest. Thank You, Lord, for this upcoming three-day weekend. I do have some good, restful stuff planned for it. And I also know that You can come along and change those plans at any time.

It’s been over two months since my last post.  I looked back at my calendar to see why I’ve been so busy but it really didn’t tell me anything.  My new boss started in mid-July.  So far that’s been a smooth transition.  She’s pretty quiet and lets me work pretty much independently so we’re okay there.  At the end of July I had some very minor surgery done.  That turned out well.  I served at my church during the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit again this year.  That was an awesome experience, refreshing and uplifting.  And I joined the planning committee for the American Diabetes Association’s 2014 Gold Country Tour de Cure, which also means I am already registered for next May’s ride.

At the beginning of August the manager of my apartment building served me with a notice of a rate increase.  Well, I guess that’s where the problems started.  You see, between the rent increase in February and the proposed rate increase it would have meant a 17% increase in my rent.  California law states that if you are raising the rent more than 10% in a 12 month period the tenant must be given a 60 day notice.  I was served with only a 30 day notice.  I did my research and presented the manager with a copy of the California Civil Code.  I received no response.  Meanwhile, I also researched things such as what California considers a habitable unit.  Mine fell far short.  I proposed a compromise to the manager.  Still no response.  I started looking for a new home.

You know of course that as soon as I found a new place to live the manager called me and accepted my compromise.  I gave him my 30 day notice of intent to vacate. 

At my new apartment complex I had 2 choices.  Move into an upstairs unit on August 10th or wait until August 23rd and move into a downstairs unit.  Considering my couches, my arthritis and my mother, waiting for a downstairs unit was a no-brainer.

The morning of August 15th I went out to get in my car and go to work when I realized my parking spot was empty.  My car had been stolen.  Inside my car was a brand new bike rack, my bike helmet and gloves, my work shoes, keys to my office, towels, an umbrella, several CDs and various other small items, some irreplaceable.  I began to second guess my decision to wait two extra weeks prior to moving. 

Several phone calls later I had a police report, an insurance claim number and a rental car.  My boss told me to take the rest of the day off work.  I took the opportunity to pack for a trip I was taking the next day.  I was going with Megan and her fiancée to Vegas where Meg and I would attend a Bridal Spectacular.  We also planned to dine at the restaurant where their reception was booked.

The Bridal Fair was a great deal of fun.  Meg and I had a great time, she found several vendors she wants to use for her wedding.  Dinner at the AquaKnox was out of this world.  Megan’s wedding reception is going to be fabulous!  The rest of the weekend was not quite so fun.  Let’s just say my idea of a good time is not spending my time in smoke-filled casinos.  There’s a lot of stuff in Vegas I would have enjoyed seeing and it wasn’t fun being told that it wasn’t worth the time to go see.  I would have liked to decide that for myself.

I barely slept the two nights we were in Vegas.  I’m not sure why but I have my suspicions.  The flight home was scary for me.  Due to thunderstorms in the area our departure was delayed almost 2 hours.  I finally got home about 2:15 Monday morning and slept until almost 6 Monday evening.  It was a good thing I had the foresight to schedule Monday off work.

Once I caught up with my sleep I began packing for my move.  I was struggling quite a bit with that, fighting the sadness and depression that threatened to overwhelm me.  I was expecting guys with trucks to show up at my house on Saturday and I had very little packed.  I was in a desperate place.

Saturday morning I was jolted awake at 4:30 a.m. by the ring of my telephone.  It was the Sacramento County Sheriff.  They had found my car, with the guy asleep behind the wheel and stuffed full of stolen property.  Did I want to go pick it up?  Per the insurance company’s instructions I had them tow it to the tow yard.

At 6:30 that morning, still wide awake and my head spinning with all I needed to do that day I decided to drive down to the local Home Depot for some more small boxes.  At the end of the driveway to my apartment complex I came across one of my neighbors.  I stopped to have a conversation with him.  I won’t go into details here but the bottom line is he was on his way to commit suicide.  God had sent me to him to interrupt his plans.  In addition to my “running into him” at 6:30 that morning the guys coming to help me move were really strong Christian guys.  That man had several “God appointments” that day.  Plus, I took him to church with me where he made connections with several more guys. 

I’m still not sure why my car was stolen.  And I’m not sure why it is taking so long for the insurance people to check it out and return it to me, or declare it totaled (which I would prefer after seeing it Wednesday evening).  But I do know why I didn’t move until last Saturday.  And I do know I was notified my car was found so early on Saturday so that I would be up and awake and out on the driveway when my friend needed me. 

Today’s list:

  1. My new apartment.  The neighborhood is clean and quiet.  My neighbors do not party all night long.  It is a ground floor apartment which gives my mother easy access.  And it has beautiful hardwood floors.  I just need to get everything unpacked.
  2. My new kitten.  One morning while out on our walk Lucy and I rescued a little feral kitten.  We brought her home, fed her, cleaned her up and made an appointment to have her spayed.  That’s when we found out she is a he.  I named him Sid when he was still a girl and I guess the name still fits.  Sorta, I named him Sid because he thought he was so vicious.  You know, after Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols?  *sigh* Youngens…  Anyways, Sid and Lucy keep each other company while I’m at work and out riding every day.  They like each other.
  3. Car insurance and GAP insurance.  I don’t know how I would have made it through the last 2 weeks without it.
  4. Friends, even ones I didn’t know I had.  I would never have accomplished my move in 2 days without the help of some old and some new friends.  I am grateful they were around and willing to help. 
  5. My joy.  Even in the worst of circumstances, and I know having my car stolen really isn’t the worst, I have joy in the Lord.  Yes, I’ve been crying and depressed but there has been smiles and laughter as well.  Only God makes that possible.

Dear Lord,  these past several weeks have been trying.  Thank You for walking through them with me.  I look forward to more time with You.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013

I have a horribly awful headache this morning. I don’t think it’s a migraine but since I can barely stand or think I really am not sure.  I probably should not have come into work today but I want to save my sick time in case I really need it further down the road.  Therefore, I am taking my medication and drinking massive amounts of caffeine as I am attempting to work.

If I feel better later today I will be posting over on my other blog “Karen’s Reflections.”  If not, I will aim for tomorrow or over the weekend.

Today’s gratitude list:

  1. Prayer.  While at Bible Study last night I got a text message from my daughter asking for prayer.  It was a privilege to turn to my friends and ask them to join me as I prayed for my future son-in-law.  It is a privilege to take our concerns directly to God.
  2. God answers prayers.  My daughters prayer request turned out well.  Her fiancée was not as sick as it was first suspected, he was discharged and is actually at work today.  God is good!
  3. The warm weather.  Now that the rain is gone we are resuming our group bike rides again.  If my headache goes away I will be out on my bike again this afternoon. Wahoo!!!
  4. Leelee has gone home.  I really didn’t mind dog sitting the little girl, no matter what I may have said to anybody.  Lucy seems to miss her but seeing her excitement when her “dad” walked up the stairs to get her yesterday afternoon was precious.
  5. My headache is beginning to go away.

Dear Lord,  You are the God of all things, big and small.  Nothing is beyond Your ability.  Thank You, Lord, for last night’s answered prayers.  Thank You also for all the prayers, spoken and unspoken, that You allow us to bring and place at Your feet.  I ask You to bless me with faith the strength of Daniel’s.  He was an honest and upright young man, full of integrity and of trust in You.  I want Your love for Your creation to shine out through my eyes.  I ask this in Jesus’ precious and Holy Name.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013

First off I want to say “Welcome” and “Thank You” to my new followers. I am completely humbled. I wrote an email to a friend of mine yesterday morning where I told her I believed my blogs were childish but apparently somebody wants to read them because WP tells me that yesterday was my best day for followers, whatever that means.

This morning dawned bright and sunny but still cool.  Thankfully the weather should only get up into the high 80’s today.  The dogs cooperated on their walk and ate their breakfasts with no complaint this morning.  Maybe Leelee knows her family is coming to bring her home this evening.  I think she will be relieved, she doesn’t know what to do when Lucy wants to play.  I don’t know if it’s because Lucy is twice her size or if Leelee is just surly.  I will be happy to have all the snarling and snapping finally come to an end.

I drove to work this morning and I came to an intersection where I had to wait a while at a traffic signal.  As I sat there a man emerged from within some bushes at the edge of the road.  He had apparently spent the night there, or somewhere close by.  He was dressed in jeans and tennis shoes, a t-shirt and a nice corduroy jacket.  His hair was recently groomed but he had a rumpled and dirty look about him, as if he had been wearing the same outfit for several days straight.  He also had a colorful Dora the Explorer beach towel wrapped about his shoulders.  As I watched him he bounced up on the balls of his feet, lifted his chin and surveyed the intersection.  Then, walking confidently, almost regally, he strode over to the AM/PM mini mart on the corner.   I wondered about his story.  Why he was sleeping al fresco and if he wanted/needed help.  What choices he had made to end up where he was.  Then the light changed and I continued on my way to work. 

My gratitude list for today:

  1. My realization that I am fighting a Spiritual Battle.  Yesterday I spoke of how I have a well of joy deep down inside of me.  Yesterday afternoon something happened that hurt me, deeply.  I actually was crying as I drove home from work yesterday evening.  This morning I woke with joy in my heart.  As I walked into my office I felt the pain and hurt of yesterday afternoon rush back.  I realized that I am under attack.  My love, my confidence, my determination to respond in a loving Christ-like manner are all under fire.  The more I lean into Christ the easier it is for me to access that well of joy.  The battle is already won.  I am glad that God has given me the strength I need to fight this battle.
  2. The sunshine.  I am going to get out and walk today, in the warm but not overly warm weather.  I enjoyed the rain yesterday, especially as it wasn’t a freezing cold rain, but I will enjoy being out-of-doors this afternoon.
  3. My job.  Watching that man this morning made me appreciate the fact that I have a home and a car.  I often complain about my finances but the truth of the matter is that I make more money than the majority of the world’s population.  I must keep the right perspective, a perspective of gratitude for the things I have.  I must stop wishing my life away longing for things I don’t have and don’t need.
  4. Friends.  A few months ago I wrote of a woman who hurt me.  We have been friends for a while but we didn’t see eye to eye about a situation that she was involved in.  I removed her as a friend on my FaceBook page but I still care for and pray for her.  She may be angry with me but I still consider her my friend.  I just will not allow her to continue to speak to me in the manner she did.  Today I am wearing the bracelet she gave me as a gift for my birthday.  The scripture engraved upon it is especially relevant for me right now.  Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”  I believe God is working in this situation.
  5. My new bike jersey is on its way!  As a thank you gift for the money I raised for the American Diabetes Association last month I got to choose from a number of gifts.  I chose a bicycle jersey.  I only have one other jersey, also from the ADA, and I’ve been wearing it a lot.  This one is blue and sleeveless.  Bicycle jerseys are more expensive than my budget can afford right now so I am happy and thankful that I have this opportunity to get another one.

Dear Lord,  I just want to thank You for this beautiful day, all of it, the good and the bad.  Lord, I know You are working on my heart, I am having some difficulty shedding a kernel of unforgiveness that I have, I am allowing some fears to crowd in there as well.  Lord, I know that with Your strength and Your help I can and will overcome.  I ask for this help in Jesus’ name so that You can be praised and glorified through me.  AMEN

An Attitude of Gratitude – June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013

My life seems to run in themes.  The last few weeks the theme that has been running through my mind is not the one what you would probably expect.  I am not consumed with the upcoming weddings of my children.  I am not focused on my riding or even my painting.  I have been dwelling in my past.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I have been processing things that I have been trying to deny and/or hide for years.  I’ve been facing personal demons.  I have been learning things about my personal faith and strength.  I have been healing and becoming stronger.  I’m not necessarily ready to talk about some of those things here but I am ready to talk to myself about them and that is a huge step for me.

Sunday morning at church Brad spoke on obstacles.  We all have questions and sometimes those questions become obstacles to faith.  Sometimes, because we don’t fully understand, those questions can prevent us from fulling trusting God.  Sometimes they can keep us from believing in His love, His faithfulness and His promises.  This week Brad spoke of suffering.  Many people don’t believe in God, or don’t trust God, because of all the suffering in the world.  It’s a funny thing, I’ve been through a lot of suffering in my life and I can honestly say that I believe in God because of my suffering.  My perspective may be a little different from Brad’s but the end result is the same.

Brad addressed the fallacy that once a person chooses to follow Christ than their life should be a bed of roses.  After all, isn’t a blessed life full of peace and joy?  Doesn’t it mean that God’s blessing will protect you from heartache and pain?  I don’t know what those people have been smoking but they are waaaaaaaay off base.  My belief is that blessings sometimes come wrapped up in ugly packages.  Sometimes we really don’t want the gifts that God wants to bestow upon us.  Sometimes we go out of our way to refuse God’s blessings.  Are we insane?  No, just misguided.  As Brad pointed out, those who want to refuse God’s blessing of suffering are worshipping at the altar of themselves.  He asked us to consider what event started the Christian faith.  No, it wasn’t the birth of that tiny baby in the stable.  The event that started the Christian faith was when that tiny baby stretched out His arms and allowed them to be nailed to the cross, along with all of our sins.  How does a faith born out of suffering promise it’s followers a pain-free life?  It doesn’t. 

Sunday morning I posted the question, “Is God fair?” as my FaceBook status.  My daughter answered, “Ask Job.”  Later she posted, “If Job can still understand that God is fair, so should everyone.”  There was more to the conversation but I loved my daughter’s answer.  You see, my daughter walked alongside of me through much of the suffering that I’ve gone through in my life.  Her perspective was different, her pain was different, but we walked through them together.  And my daughter, whose sufferings started almost from the moment she was born, understands.  I was brought to tears.

Today’s gratitude list:

  1. My abuse.  This is kind of a repeat from last week but it still holds true.  I am grateful that I have had the life I have had.  I would not have chosen to be physically, mentally or verbally abused but since I was I have grown from it.  My abuse has shaped me into the person I am today.  I often prayed for God to take my trials away but instead He walked with me through them.  He comforted me, He helped me grow.  He is my Heavenly Father.
  2. My past.  My past is my past.  It has shaped me and molded me.  Through my past the Lord has taught me and disciplined me.  He has blessed me with plenty and He has blessed me with lack.  I would prefer a life of rest and peace from here on out but I know that is not likely.  God won’t be done with me until He takes me home.  My past shows me I can do everything I need to do as long as Jesus walks alongside of me.
  3. My strength.  I have had many people tell me that they admired how strong I am.  I don’t know that I am strong.  I know that God, who I lean on and into, is as strong as I need Him to be when I need Him to be.  I’d be nowhere without Him.  He is my strength, my portion, my shield.  He is my Life.
  4. My joy.  With all my posts recently you would think I am a very depressed person, bogged down in self-pity, pain and anguish.  Quite the contrary, due to God’s love for me I have a deep source of joy within me.  I know I am loved and cared for and that causes deep peace and contentment to seep from every pore of my existence.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have my sad moments, I have pain, but I know the source of my life and that brings me great joy.
  5.  The rain.  Yes, this is June.  The first day of summer was last week and it is raining in sunny California.  Later this week it is supposed to reach over 100 degrees and that’s a huge change from today’s 68 degrees.  For this girl from foggy, foggy San Francisco 100 degrees is at least 20 degrees too hot.  I am enjoying the cool weather as much as I can.  I’m taking the dogs for a long walk this evening.  Leelee won’t like it but she hasn’t liked anything I’ve done this week.  Oh, did I not mention I am dog-sitting until Wednesday evening?  Leelee is helping me realize just how much I love my sweet Lucy.

Dear Lord,  You have said, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” –Isaiah 55:8 NLT.  No where is this illustrated as clearly as when we endure suffering.  I know the suffering that I have endured is nothing like the suffering of your martyrs.  I know it is nothing like the suffering endured by Christians in other countries, especially the countries where it is dangerous, foolhardy and even illegal to be Your Follower.  I do know You had plans and reasons for my suffering and I rejoice that You have chosen me to be worthy of suffering for You.  Please continue to walk with me as I travel down the road of self-discovery and healing that is in front of me.  Please place people in my path that will help me along the road You have chosen for me.  I love You, Lord.  I pray all this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN