Monday, May 31, 2010

Gratitude - 17

Today I am grateful for:
  1. A cool and still day.
  2. Mate' with Mary Lou on the front porch.
  3. A full table at lunch.
  4. A couple of hours alone with Chuck for supper and a walk.
  5. Good relaxed conversation.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gratitude - 16

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Early morning walk where I recognized the calls of cardinals, meadowlarks, dick sissels, red wing black birds, quail, morning doves, pheasant, and all manner of less melodic birdsongs. I flushed a pheasant right next to the road.
  2. Wes. He gave his faith story in church today. I would post the video of it here, but the sound did not pick up well and I am so disappointed about that. His words moved many people.
  3. Aunt Clara. We celebrated her life today and spent hours reminiscing. I learned a lot.
  4. Evening thunderstorm, with rain, exactly when my little plants in the garden needed it.

Gratitude - 15

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Cinnamon rolls baked with Mary Lou.
  2. Long walk/talk this morning.
  3. Pigs went back into their pen without too much trouble.
  4. Nice evening with family from far away.
  5. Warm days, cool nights.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gratitude - 15

Last night as I drove to the airport to pick up Mary Lou, two ambulances passed me on that short stretch of Kellogg in between I 235 and the airport exit. They took the airport exit and I got a bit worried. As I drove down the airport road I passed a lot of other ambulances, maybe 15, maybe more. I was relieved to notice that they were near the UPS hangar, so I relaxed about Mary Lou's flight.

Then I got into the airport and at the waiting area people were talking about the flight that was supposed to arrive at 9:30. The monitors all said that it was supposed to arrive at 9:45, and that it was on time. But 9:45 was really 15 minutes late, because the flight was scheduled to arrive at 9:30. An older man made a phone call. "Are you in Wichita? What is happening?"

He turned to his companion and said, "The Frontier flight had to make an emergency landing because something was wrong with the landing gear or the brakes, but they are here and OK."

So I got the scary and the relief all in one brief message.

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Mary Lou's SAFE arrival!!!
  2. Long conversation that picks up where we left off, no hesitation, sharing lives, figuring out faith, asking the hard questions and understanding each other.
  3. A house full of people all working, enjoying breaks and lunch, hanging out.
  4. A completely empty house for about an hour and a half between supper and the airport.
  5. Andrea spending a rare day here on the farm.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gratitude - 14

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. Time to finish caging the tomatoes.
  2. Basil has sprouted.
  3. Terrere' with the guys on the front porch at morning break time.
  4. High pressure washers.
  5. Boys to paint my house. (some primer today, some color tomorrow!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gratitude - 13

Today I am grateful for:
  1. The fact that time passing can decrease the intensity of emotions.
  2. Wes asked for my help in editing his faith story.
  3. Time to sit quietly and think.
  4. Choosing the main color for the house.
  5. A friend in the sheriff dept checking out the smoke from our trash fires, just because he cares.

Gratitude - 12

Yesterday I was grateful for:
  1. Tim and Christian beginning the scraping of the house.
  2. Brats, oven fries, applesauce, and green beans with the boys and their friends for supper.
  3. Rain.
  4. Sun dried bedding.
  5. Having enough.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gratitude - 11

I'm past 1/3 of the way through a month of gratitude. Today was the first Monday of summer vacation. I spent the greater part of the day in the kitchen getting some things made for the freezer. We now have wheat bread, oatmeal bread, pitas, hummus, yogurt, muesli, and chocolate chip cookies. It won't last long. I'll enjoy it while I have it.

Today I am grateful for:
  1. A day when I could see what I'd accomplished at the end of the day.
  2. Cracker Barrel supper, courtesy of friends of Ben and Andrea---Thanks!
  3. More greens from the garden.
  4. Walking and talking in the dark with Chuck while we watch approaching lightening in the distance.
  5. Enough resolve to finish cleaning the kitchen before relaxing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gratitude - 10

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Waking up wide awake enough and early enough to walk an hour before church.
  2. A thought provoking Sunday School lesson on hermeneutics.
  3. Great worship music at church.
  4. An excellent nap with no guilt for being lazy.
  5. Authentic fried rice feast for supper.
  6. Fun playing games with the kids.

Gratituce - 9

I'm grateful for:
  1. Watching "Dave" in the late evening with Tim and Liz
  2. Good friends from faraway here to visit for both Greg and Laura, and for Andrea and Ben
  3. Back to walking after neglecting it for several days.
  4. The chard and the romaine have sprouted.
  5. Time to read the first chapter of "An Altar in the World", entitled "Waking up to God"
It was late when we finished the movie and I wanted to talk to Chuck a bit, and Tim wanted the computer. I didn't post these until Sunday morning. Sorry. I'll have more tonight.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gratitude - 8

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Sunshine.
  2. Beet leaves.
  3. My small group.
  4. Grace.
  5. free frappucino with Chuck (from McD's)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gratitude - 7

My gratitude for today is:
  1. A pleasant evening with Andrea hanging out here with us.
  2. Cooking for an appreciative group.
  3. How sweet it is to have Luke push up against me while he falls asleep at nap time. (This one will appear again, I'm sure. I never get used to how good it is.)
  4. The smile on Andrea's face when Luke insisted that she snuggle with him after his bath tonight.
  5. Wes grabbing the vacuum and taking over vacuuming the living room for me when he got home from school.
  6. Long phone calls from Vermont.
Today is the 16th year since Rhonda died. During the last year her first grandchild was born. I remember wondering how it was that life could go on after such a horrendous thing as murder. It does, but she is still missed.

It's still early (for me) but I'm too tired to write more tonight. Hoping everyone has a good evening tonight.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gratitude - 6

Spent the morning doing financial records and making laundry soap (which is fun because I watch episodes of Glee while I grate the soap bars). Had late lunch out with Chuck, a nap, and then looked up tents for sale. After supper spent hours exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks on line to prepare for our summer vacation.

Gratitude for today:
  1. The weather cooperated with my energy level so that I could do indoor desk work without feeling bad about missing out on strenuous outdoor work.
  2. I love Long John Silvers, but only go there rarely because of the grease factor. Today was the day.
  3. I managed to finish the 'farm' account while Chuck worked on things inside the house, which meant I could ask all my questions in real time, instead of writing them all down to ask later.
  4. Grace from others when I was kind of grouchy.
  5. Good leftovers for supper.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gratitude - 5

My Gratitude list for today is:
  1. The first salad from the garden---small spinach leaves and small beet leaves---delicious!
  2. A great blue heron and two mallard families on the water while I walked the bike path this morning.
  3. Crazy email banter between my brothers.
  4. Luke is so sweet about taking his nap, and he loves to have a good snuggle when he wakes up.
  5. A wash line with wires that are straight and taut.
In case there is any illusion that this is quick and easy, I will dispel that now. I'm thinking that by the end of the month I will have five things in mind already by the end of the day, because I will have learned to notice things as they happen. Currently I still have to review the day and remind myself about the things that happened.

It reminds me a bit of how Laura would delay bedtime when she was little. We always did "happy's and sad's" as part of the bedtime ritual. Laura wanted to choose her absolute best happy and her absolute worst sad. In order to do that we had to review the entire day in detail. I remember laughing with babysitters about how many details Laura could remember about her day.

Anyway, I was thinking today about the discipline of examen. This discipline asks two questions at the end of each day. The first has something to do with gratitude. It can be worded several ways.

When was I most aware of God today? When did I feel closest to God today? What was I most grateful for today? When was I most at peace today?

The second question is always the inverse of the first. When was I least aware of God today? When did I feel farthest from God today? What was I least grateful for today? When was I least at peace today?

Supposedly, the discipline of writing the answers to the 'happy/sad' question each day can give you insight into your deeper self. I'm not going to start that now, but maybe, once I have the gratitude habit, I can move on to this...probably not publicly though.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gratitude - 4

The second topic at the workshop on Gratitude was "Gratitude Grounded". The main idea was that gratitude has a depth that allows it to be present in all circumstances. The following is from my notes.

Living a life of gratitude does not mean living a life of happiness. Gratitude is deeper than happiness. We often mistake happiness for gratitude and vice versa. We believe we are not full of gratitude if we are not full of happiness. The character of Pollyanna would show us the happiness side of things. The person of Anna, waiting in the temple and eventually recognizing the infant Jesus, shows us gratitude. Widowed while still young, she had lived in the temple until she was old, living a life of worship and praise in spite of her losses. In the crowds at the temple, only she and Simeon recognized this holy child.

Ordinary happiness depends on what is happening to me. Joy is extra-ordinary happiness, which is independent of what happens to us. The root of joy is gratefulness.

We notice that joyful people are grateful and assume that the gratitude comes from the joy. That is false. It is the choice to be grateful that causes the joy. We can't wait for happiness to be grateful.

We must bask in the now. We must find gratitude now. Gratitude lasts long after happiness is gone.

Happiness isn't enough.

But don't scorn happiness. Relish it. We don't cling to it, but we also don't disdain it even though we know it is temporary. Instead we enjoy it fully while it lasts and release it as it leaves.

Gratitude is dependent upon what God has given us---Deep reconciliation in spite of our mistakes. Unconditional love. Reason to live. Reason to die. Wholeness.

Things I am grateful for today:
  1. Corn beginning to sprout in the garden
  2. Chuck reminding me it was time for sunset, and the sun was just at the horizon, clear and red, with no wind. We watched it touch the horizon and then sink until it was just a sliver, and then gone.
  3. A small amount of time to do a writing exercise.
  4. Financial grace---I haven't downloaded our bank records into our financial accounting program for quite a while. I thought it was going to be too late to get it all without doing some hand entering of data. I found a way to get it all to import by setting date ranges a little bit differently than I usually do. Yay!
  5. Ben stayed at work later than expected because of glitches with loading hogs, even though he has big plans for tomorrow and needed to prepare.
  6. Time to talk with Wes. (bonus gratitude)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gratitude - 3

It has been quite a day.

Chuck taught Sunday School (our adult class) this morning. We got to church early, and I did a couple of things before going to our room. Chuck wasn't there yet and I found a place to sit and enjoy my coffee while we gathered.

Eventually it was time to start and our gifted musician classmate led us in some singing. We sang three songs before Chuck entered the room, caught the eye of one of his co-teachers, and nodded. A look of relief spread across the other teacher's face and I realized that I had been the only one present who knew that Chuck was prepared to teach. The other teacher was getting ready to wing it.

Our lesson included the last two chapters of Acts as we close a unit on the Holy Spirit. Chuck wanted to highlight the life of Paul. He spoke of how conversion is a turning around. Most of us turn around in fits and starts. We do a three point turn around, or a five point turn around, or maybe even more points to our turning.

Chuck said that Paul's conversion reminded him of a high speed chase in an action movie. This car is hurtling along at a great rate of speed racing toward certain capture when suddenly the driver puts on the brakes, skids and spins around, and races off in the opposite direction quickly regaining his original speed. All those behind him are left scrambling to do their three and five point turn arounds before they can catch up.

I told him later that I thought that illustration was inspired. He laughed and said that it had been the only inspiration he'd had in the preparation of that lesson.

Today was the Sunday our church had a new pastoral candidate giving the sermon. It has been a week of introductions and discussions and questions and answers. This is the first woman ever called as a full time pastor in this church. As such, there was much for people to think about.

Anita is a people person. I introduced myself to her on her first night with the congregation (Wednesday). Tim and Wes met her on Thursday with the youth group. Andrea met her as part of the search committee. I'm not sure when Ben met her, but Laura met her on Friday evening with her Sunday School class. By Saturday morning when I sat down next to her to eat breakfast with our Sunday School class she remembered all those relationships and details about each person.

This afternoon our church voted to call her. It was an 87% vote. We will hear soon whether she accepts the call. I am excited. I know there is much I can learn from her.

On another note, I started reading "Wild Minds", a book about the practice of writing. The author talks about the value of ten minute writes---ten minutes spent writing continuously starting with a given phrase. Ten minutes isn't too long. I hesitate to start two new disciplines at the same time but.... Maybe I'll just try it now and then. It won't be here because it is important to write with paper and pen.

Today I am grateful for:
  1. the hope I feel from the fact that our church could come to an 87% positive vote for the first woman pastor to candidate for a lead pastor position.
  2. Becca's last item on yesterday's gratitude list :-)
  3. finding out this morning that a conversation with a friend yesterday was very helpful to her---because I was sure I hadn't helped at all
  4. diet Pepsi
  5. warm greetings from friends

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gratitude - 2

I looked at my notes from the conference and found a couple of thoughts about abundant gratitude that seemed important enough to write down at the time.

How do we make gratitude a companion in our lives? Pay attention.

"Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The best we can do is try to be there." Annie Dillard

Attention nurtures gratitude.

Seeing God everywhere is possible because God is everywhere to be seen.

Living a life of gratitude is one of the easiest spiritual disciplines because we always have all that we need with us. We have everything we need within us.

Things I am grateful for today:
  1. a 2 for 1 book sale at pages...and a new book about writing, maybe to get motivated again
  2. someone taking all the collected recycling items in my kitchen, smashing them, and then placing them in the recycling bins behind the house without being asked.
  3. walking into Prairie Harvest to see two teenage friends are working today, and their faces light up when they see me
  4. enjoying 'You've Got Mail" one more time (sorry Ben) on yet another unexpected evening alone with Chuck that included homemade chili and more ice cream
  5. meeting the pastoral candidate this morning and finding myself so impressed with her gifts and clear thinking and her joyful and reverent heart.
Keep on adding your own lists. I'm loving it!


I attended a women's conference on gratitude recently. It was good, and I have been thinking about what I learned. One topic was on abundant gratitude. The observation was made that when we are able to focus ourselves in the present, in the space we are in, in the sounds we are hearing, the things we are seeing, the people we are with, etc., that gratitude becomes more natural.

I know that this is true from my time spent walking. If I am walking while thinking about things that happened yesterday, or what I am worried about tomorrow, my walk still feels good because I am getting the exercise I need, but emotionally I am not in a better frame of mind than I was before I walked.

However, on days when I am able to focus on the walk itself, it is different. I notice which birds are singing. I notice how fast the sun crests the horizon. I'm aware of whether the wheat has a flag leaf, or whether the head is beginning to show. I enjoy the camaraderie of walking next to a dog who enjoys walking next to me. I come home with more of a sense of wonder.

Two of my friends have begun gratitude journals. Every evening they write down five things they are honestly grateful for. They say it is changing them.

So I would like to keep a gratitude journal here. Sometimes I will be cautious about what I write because sometimes writing about my gratitude might compromise other people's privacy. But I think having a public place to be grateful might be a good way to be accountable for me. I will try to write every day for a month, and then re-evaluate.

From yesterday, I am grateful for...
  1. an unexpected evening alone with Chuck with a supper full of flavors I love (salmon steaks, roasted mixed vegetables, ice cream)
  2. the sweetness of a nap with Luke
  3. time spent with a friend in honest and accountable sharing about our lives
  4. fresh whole wheat bread with apricot jam
  5. learning the song of the dick sissel birds which have just returned to Kansas for the summer
If you want to post things you are grateful for in the comments, I'd love the dialog and the encouragement!