Tag Archives: gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude #29

november dogs 2014Attitude of Gratitude #29: Pets. Our extended family got a new pet today, and I am thankful. She is beautiful. A “mix”-match of perfect dogs all rolled into one package. The Grands had a hard time keeping their excitment in check. Then again – they get it naturally. I’m a sucker for any pet as well. Goats, various assorted farm animals,bunnies, Guinea pigs ( had three of them in college), cats (had too many to count – except for Mitten-Kitten who stole my heart for close to 20 years), and an assortment of wonderful dogs – beautiful mutts to purebred labs…tiny to large….silly to opinionated …but mostly – just lovable.

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,a and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Gen 1:26

God mentions that man is to “rule” over “…fish in the sea…birds in the summer 1971 csky…livestock…wild animals…all the creatures that move along the ground…” He didn’t mention love. “Rule” in our society has a more negative connotation attached to it than the word “love”. But animals are lovable especially when you “name” them – with the exception of ticks (a personal bias after this past summer) and other irritating bugs or snakes. Just go to a petting zoo and see the baby animals. Every one there melts with lots of “AWWWW’s”. Which maybe is the whole point of this one verse.

If “ruling” over the animals, mean naming them and loving them…just who else wags mystidoes that? If we hadn’t followed the evil one down that dirty path a few eons ago, you have to wonder what this world would look like. Instead of using their skins for cloths and eating them, we would just be naming all of them and loving them. Oh – wait – we are doing just that more and more. Let me think – who else does that? Caring for the sick – the weak – the young – the elderly -.providing food and water. Hmmmmm….who else does that?

We tend to think we are being “humane” when we care for animals. Maybe that is a misnomer. Maybe we are being like Someone else. Just maybe – maybe – there is an object lesson in Genesis that we were just a little slow on picking up on. Perhaps Christ gave us a hint in the book of Matthew. “…’I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” Matt 25:40 How better to learn the nature of God than to imitate His actions. Love – name – feed – water – heal – Who else does that? Pets have taught me so much and I am so thankful for every pet in my life – past and present and future.


Attitude of Gratitude #28

thankfulAttitude of Gratitude #28: DVD’s. After a couple of very serious Gratitudes, I decided to lighten it up a little because I am thankful for my DVD’s. My kids make fun of me for still buying DVD’s. Can you hear them? “Mom, you can watch it on Netflix/ROKU/VUDO/(substitue whatever movie outlet you know)”.I know, I know. I’m fairly tech savy, so I really do know. We own a ROKU and use it often. However, even with all those choices, they don’t have some of the movies I want to see. Even if I subscribed to all of them, there still wouldn’t be some of my favorite movies.

I love knowing that in times of extreme boredom, sickness, or gotta-watch-something-while-I-cross-stich-Grands’-Christmas-stockings-or-I’ll-go-nuts, I can go to the movie storage bins and find the movie I want to watch instead of something that just happens to be the flavor of the month. Like today – I watched thanksgiving-scripture-2two of my favorites. Newsies and Noel. (Hmmmm…didn’t think about them both starting with “N”). I’ve watched Newsies at least once every year since it came out in 1992. When my children were in love with it, it was probably once a week. Noel I like because it isn’t your typical Christmas movie, but it has a lot more of the Christmas spirit than some of those “typical” Christmas movies they show repetitively on Hallmark or Lifetime. It was bittersweet this year watching Robin Williams play a dying priest who had lost his faith.

Most of the times, I find that being thankful for the silly, mundane things helps me be more thankful for the things that seem beyond my understanding. As this month of Gratitude winds down, I look back over my list and wonder how much I might learn if I did this every day of my life. Whether I am watching movies or on my knees, I can… “…be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col 3:15-17quotes-verses2

Attitude of Gratitude #24

grandma's apronGratitude #24: Grandma Mac’s Apron. It has been one of those days where I had lots to do and little time to accomplish it. Holiday weeks always seem to be like that. Pick up the Grands from school. Come home to eat a little something before rushing back out the door for my tutoring job. Needless to say, didn’t want to drip left-over chicken gravy on my work clothes, so I reached for the best cover-up I know – Grandma Mac’s apron. As I slip it over my head, I smile because I know exactly what I am thankful for today – an old apron.

me grandma 1954That apron has covered me many times and in many ways over the years. When I was little, I buried my face in it while she held me in her lap – usually with some kind of cookie or treat clutched tightly in my fist. She used it to dry my tears when there was a ruckus between me and my cousins. I even remember Grandma’s apron wiping my face after a family meal. Most of all, I remember this apron in her garden, as she taught me to know the difference between a weed and a veggie, birds and bees, spiders and insects, good dirt and bad dirt.

Grandma’s apron is like me. It is no longer the pristine creation it started out being. Stains and a few burned areas have added texture to the red and pink floral img827pattern. The edges are frayed and faded, and there is a hole or two where the almost translucent fabric has finally worn through. Following Grandma’s footsteps, I have worn it while cooking, carrying bounty in from the garden, rocking my babies to sleep, or wiping up messes on tiny faces (can you see it in this old picture?).  It is a touchstone to my past and a legacy that I hope to pass on when the time is right.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and APRONS that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Acts 19:12 NIV (emphasis is mine)

When I touch Grandma Mac’s apron, a miracle does happens. I hear her laugh  me in the middle and Grandma Macagain. I see her smile. This Thursday, I will wear it as I cook our Thanksgiving turkey, and I will remember – once again –  being enfolded in her arms. Today, as I thought back to the Grands crowding onto my lap as we read their “sticker” books or dancing in front of the Christmas tree as I played Christmas hymns on the piano, I smile again. I realized Many things can be a legacy…a prayer shawl, a handkerchief, an apron… Grandma Mac’s apron and a few of her kitchen tools are her tangible legacy to me, but it is the miracle of her life and love that covers me when I wear that old apron that is her real legacy to me. And – oh my –  I am – oh – so very thankful.

Grandma Mac

Attitude of Gratitude #22

Gratitude #22: Contacts. Okay – I know – another weird one. But seriously – I am soooooooo thankful for contacts. Don’t have to worry about them fogging over. Don’t have to worry about raindrops decorating them. Don’t have to push them up my nose every 5 minutes. No line to deal with when I advanced to bi- or tri-focals. What’s not to like? Okay – Okay – believe me, I know there’s the whole dust in the eye stuff to deal with – and the slipping off to the top of the eye – and losing them down the drain…but all-in-all, I wouldn’t go back to glasses voluntarily for anything in the world. They have helped me see things more clearly than I had since fourth grade.

Third/fourth grade was when I decided that one of my classmates looked so cool in her glasses that I would get them as well. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had to have bad eyesight to get them. Not a problem – I believed I could change that easily. All I had to do was do all those things my mom and dad told me not to do (which should have been my first clue that maybe this wasn’t such a great decision) – sit close to the TV – read in darken rooms and tell myself over and over – that my eyes needed glasses. By April of that year, I had glasses. It was my first cognitive lesson in how beliefs are internalized…and that sometimes…what we want aren’t always in our best interest.

Even with contacts, I walked in this world blindly focused with mortal eyes upon temporal things. But in allowing me this free will choice, God also opened up a door that would eventually lead to a step in faith. No longer could I see clearly without my glasses or eventually, contacts. I had to have faith that I could survive when they were broken or lost. Eventually, as I grew wiser, this Bible verse became a personal promise: “…while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Cor 4:18 NIV

I’ve worn contacts now for almost 50 years. And while my free will choice so long ago was not one of the better decisions I ever made – it certainly wasn’t the worst. God gently shook His head, nudged me here and there and waited patiently for me to become a little wiser. So I am – once again – thankful for the technology of contacts because – at least – I don’t have to wear glasses. Monovision contacts may make me a little dizzy (or ditzy) at times, yett they have actually helped me see my “FAITH” a little clearer than I could have without them.

contact lenses

Attitude of Gratitude #15-21

Precious-Moments-ThanksgivingGratitude #15: Quiet evening. A cold blustery night in NC…33 degrees already…burrrrr…a little “shit-on-the-shingle” (as dad used to call it) over toasted muffin. Christmas music. A new (old) book of poetry published in 1933. Quiet evenings remind us of to stop and think. Meditate on the things that are important – truth – honesty – justice – purity – loveliness – good reports – virtue – praiseworthy… Quiet evenings remind me to be truly thankful. A special poem from that new (old) book of poetry called Thanksgiving, from the 1800’s:

For the days when nothing happens,
For the cares that leave no trace,
For the love of little children,
For each sunny dwelling-place,
For the altars of our fathers,
And the closets where we pray,
Take, O gracious God and Father,
Praises this Thanksgiving Day.

For our harvests safe ingathered,
For our golden store of wheat,
For the bowers and the vinelands,
For the flowers up-springing sweet,
For our coasts from want protected,
For each inlet, river, bay,
By the bounty full and flowing,
Take our praise this joyful day.

For the hours when Heaven is nearest
And the earth-mood does not cling,
For the very gloom oft broken
By our looking for the King,
By our thought that He is coming,
For our courage on the way,
Take, O Friend, unseen eternal,
Praises this Thanksgiving Day.
-Margaret E. Sangstermargaret sangster

And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will. -Leviticus 22:29.  (Google images)

Gratitude #16: Trees. My meditation time is always when I go outside and sit in the warm bubbling water of our Elemental spa tub. I try to quiet my mind – not christmas treean easy task in to say the least – and just focus on prayer and listening. I’m getting better at both – I think…but tonight, I kept getting sidetracked by the falling leaves and puppies running through them. The cold weather has turned our grassy backyard into a crunchy field of browns and golds. While most of the hardwood trees have lost their leaves, the oak holds on to her russet leaves longer. and I watched them dance in early evening breeze a little longer. While I love watching the season bring a visual change in our small forest, I’m thankful for the pine trees and holly bushes that continue to guard my backyard from the neighbors’ vistas and create a private prayer garden even during the deep of mid-winter hibernation. As I came in the kitchen door, I glanced up to see the white ceramic tree that my aunt made for mom and dad so long ago. Mom always kept it out, so I do, too. It’s lights reflect onto the ceiling of the great room in snowlike patters that constantly reminds me of all my family that has gone before me. For me, this is a season of the trees. They know when to be quiet, to sleep, to praise, to grow, to blossom, to rest. I think they listen to Our Father much better than I do, and I’m thankful for their example as I try to learn from them. No wonder the Christmas Tree is such an elemental part of our Savior’s birth celebration. (Google images)

Gratitude #17: Promises. Since I almost fell asleep just a second ago, I figured I better write this quickly. Fatigue is writing a lot of “Zzzzzzz’s” across the front of my brain right now, and I’m sure the antibiotics aren’t helping. I keep thinking of standing-on-the-promises_t_nvMark 9 and the father who had watched his son suffer (whether you believe it was sickness or demons) for years. The disciples couldn’t cure him, so he brought him to Rabbi Yeshua to be healed. The first time the father asked the rabbi he said, “But IF YOU CAN DO ANTHING, take pity on us and help us.” (Google images)

I like the NIV version because Rabbi Yeshua replies, ““ ‘IF you can’?” I can almost hear the rabbi’s incredulous voice repeating these words back to the father. It is the only version that translates it this way, and it made me smile. I often think that Rabbi Yeshua to wanted to bang his head against the wall when He dealt with us…hmmmmmm…He probably still does.

But what I love is how he finishes this verse. I can just see Him smiling and shaking His head, love wrapping itself around each word, ““Everything is possible for one who believes.” Smart dad – humbled and broken – rephrased his approach,“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

By that time, I can see Rabbi Yeshua listening but purely focused on the son He crosswas to save. It is those two verses verses – Mk 9:23-24, encircled by all my prayer warriors – both here and in heaven – upon which I’m standing on tonight. “EVERYTHING is possible for one who believes.” “HELP my unbelief.” Even though our faith be small as a mustard seed, His enduring love carries His promise through the years to all of us today. I am thankful for His promises that never fail when we are humble and believe His WORD. (photo by Roma Downey)

Gratitude #18: Roots. I have always been fascinated with trees. There is something about their heighth, breadth and longevity takes my breath away. When I was little, I would dream under their leaves during the summer heat, twist my rope swing into dizzy,erratic rides, and cradle myself in the seat of their roots when reading my favorite book or writing my latest poem or crying over my latest Oak_Tr_328_oakdrama. But…it is the roots that hold the tree to the ground. The roots that carries sustanence. The roots are the strength of the tree. No wonder the tree plays a privotal role in the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. If we become rooted to His WORD and rooted to our FAITH, nothing is impossible. Our Father has promised, and I am thankful my roots have grown stronger seeking Him, deeper through the GRACE of His Son and sustained by the soft voice of the SPIRIT.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” Jer 17:7–8. (Google images)

Gratitude #19: Family. Long ago when I was sick, my mom would tuck me into her big bed, bring me my favorite comic books or library books, and make me potatoe soup with lots of butter floating on the top. Saltine crackers and ginger ale would accompany this meal, but to this day, I can’t look at a bowl of potatoe soup and be excited about it. Sometimes, a chocolate malt from Zimm’s appeared as a special treat. If I wasn’t too sick, I got to ride in the back of the dry cleaning truck on a bed of blankets while Mom made deliveries around town. That was the best since I usually got a Zimmburger and malt on the way home “for being such a trooper”. Not to be out done, I could always count on Dad for a back rub, a guitar song or a bedtime story. Best of all, my big brother had to be nice to me.

These days when I am sick, my husband cooks food when nothing sounds good…and makes me eat healthy when I probably would eat junk. My kids call to check on me. Best of all, my brother is still nice to me, but this time no one makes him, and I love it. God created families. A safety net that He designed just for us, but more than that, a model that draws us closer to Him. Jesus refers to Him as the Father. He refers to Jesus as His son. Somehow, I think there is a Mother in there as well…we just don’t see it yet. I’m thankful for families when we’re sick, when we’re healthy, when things are crazy. It is a little piece of Heaven right here on earth.

feeling blessed.

Gratitude #20: My name. I know – strange topic to be thankful for…maybe kind of self-centered. And yet – one that kept re-surfacing all day today. I’ve always loved my name. In the 50’s, no one else had it. I stood alone in a sea of other baby boomers growing up in a post-war world. I even liked it when Coach Donelson mis-pronounced it during the Jr. Hi Honor Society Assembly in front of the whole world (or it seemed – since all the high school kids and parents were there). When I was little, I asked mom more than once about my name. She said she made up the name, but since she was such a reader, that never made much sense. I figured she heard it, read it, and it stuck in the back of her mind.

Prior to the world of computers, I worked as a page at the Loudonville Library. I found Bryn Marw College listed in a book and then I found a book with names. I still can see that book on the table (Young Adult section, Mrs. Wright sitting at the check-out desk, downtown location) as I found my name in a book. It was Welsh. It meant “hill”. Usually a man’s name. If it had two “n’s”, it was feminine. The sentence they used to clarify the definition was a Biblical one refering to Calgary. Felt like me through and through, so I’ve carried that memory with me ever since.

Jewish tradition says the naming of things is one of the most holy things a parent does. It is one of the first things that God told “man and woman” to do together – name the creatures of the earth. (Gen 2:19) They would then “know” the names of all the other inhabitants of the world. Even from the very beginning, God was modeling exactly what he was doing in Heaven. He told Isaiah: “Behold, I have engraved you upon the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Is 49:16 KJV) I like this translation the best. In other translations, it says “your name”, but I like thinking my whole self is in Our Father’s palm – in Jesus’s scars…then again – prehaps that is why “naming” is so important. Our name reflects the person we are. However, it is…I am thankful. Thankful He knows my name – thankful to be Brynie -Bryn Colette – Ferris Wheel (thanks – Loudonville Class of ’69)- Faerie dust/Ferret (college chums) – Nyrb – MIss Ferris – Mrs. K. – Mrs. Grammie – Mom – Grandma …

Gratitude #21: Magic. This week,Granddaughter asked her mama if magic was real. Brilliant doctoral student mama, stalled. I remember that feeling. How do you answer such a question? Santa? Tooth Fairy? Batman? Elves? Like normal, something like this intriques me, and sends my mind whirling off onto various tangents of thoughts that leads to other thoughts and others… sigh.

Logic tells us that magicdoesn’t really exist. That the only “real” things are what we percieve with our corporeal eyes. It must be written somewhere that “magic” is just a famciful escape from a fatiguing reality. Then we look at our child’s face, and we remember what it felt like to be a child. The “magic” world we saw in our mind was just as real as the world we lived in with adults. Horses could turn into magical people. Fairaes lived in the dark holes at the base of a playground tree. Santa came through non-existent chimneys while his reindeer waited and pawed on the roof. I often think children are smarter than adults are. They see beyond the world that is and into the world that could be —- if they just dreamed and looked for it hard enough. Children – for awhile at least – retain something that adults lose all too quickly. I tend to refer to it in my head as “heavenly magic”. .

Jesus had that heavenly magic even as an adult.. He retained the ability to look beyond this world and into all the worlds that His Father had created. After all, is it so hard to believe that a Creator who coneived of all the wonders that this world holds would not also conceive of worlds upon worlds when reindeer fly – elves make toys – right always wins – and a Son lays down His life for His friend?

Magic is a term we tend to funnel into one narrow tunnel. Maybe – my granddaughter, a budding philosopher, has the answer. As her mama fumbled to form some words into a reply, her daughter answered her own question. “… since God made the trees He must be magic, so magic must be real.” Our world is magical…from towering trees to universes too tiny to be seen with our mortal eyes – and everything in-between. Jesus said: “…Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3 (KIV) I am so thankful that I can still perceive some “magic” in my life everyday. (Artwork by Arkiane)


Lenten Journey #4

Yesterday an ice storm ran amok over our area of NC. Today, the sunshine glistened off our swiftly moving lake and temperatures reached 65. Quite a difference. The difference became even more stark as I drove into town and saw all the downed trees and power lines. As I slowly made my way past yard after yard of mangled trees tangled in wires, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. Our property had not been touched by any of it, and our electric had held steady throughout it all.

If we survive the storm, we tend to find it easier to be thankful. Think of all those news stories and interviews after a storm. Even if people lose everything, they are thankful for the miracle of surviving…for the safety of loved ones…for people who helped…for a few items that they were able to salvage. Thankfulness comes after the storms of life, right?

Today, one of my favorite store’s parking lot was filled with 60+ utility trucks – a couple that had OH license tags. Men everywhere …standing…sitting on the back of the trucks…checking their utility boxes…laughing with each other…awaiting the orders which would start their long day of cleaning, repairing, and connecting things back together. People around me are thankful for that.

8 1 2013 Never Stop Praying“For all of the wondrous moments of our lives we place our gratitude in the spotlight”. (Rabbi Marcia Pager) Jewish wisdom has a way of humbling the thought process. It reminds us that not only should we be thankful after the storms —- we should be thankful over the everyday things – the inconsequential things – the minutia – even those things we can not see. The Jewish Rabbi known as Jesus recognized this in His teachings. I wonder…as He walked through the meadow, heading toward the valleys that would lead him to Jerusalem, what was He thankful for? He knew the storm was coming. He knew this earthquake would shake the world and rip the curtains of what had been. Was it hard for Him to find thankfulness on this path? I fear that it would be for me. Yet – even as I wonder I can almost hear His soft laughter, see His smile and see the answer in my head…

“My heart is ready! O God, my heart is ready!” Ps 57:8