Category Archive: Gratitude

Restore

Even in the midst of a new variant, Omicron, on the Covid pandemic, our lives during Christmas and New Year’s felt full. While our get-togethers were with smaller family groups, we enjoyed the times we could be together.

This week? I find myself a bit lethargic, tired, unmotivated. Do you? Seems that now that life is quieter again I’m kind of worn out. We’re tired of masking, of conflict within families and friendships, of isolation.

I think that’s normal after the holidays; perhaps more so with the continuing pandemic. Friday afternoon Don and I took a wonderful 3.5 hour nap (very unusual!), then slept a full night. After church and Starbucks this morning, we took a walk with Paigey in her stroller. She seemed very content in the beautiful sunshine and fresh air, while we got some steps in. It was a renewing time for us.

So how do we respond to a bit of a letdown after a busy and uplifting time?

Following are a few things I find restorative:

Music can soothe the soul
  • Naps are helpful but, then, I’m retired. Not everyone has room in their life for naps. I didn’t either when I worked full-time.
  • Walks in the fresh air are renewing.
  • We enjoy our Sunday ritual of church and Starbucks, hearing the Word taught, then hanging out together.
  • Reading–the scriptures or a good book.
  • Listening to a challenging podcast.
  • Listening to, or playing, music. This afternoon we listened to a number of the old hymns we grew up with and felt encouraged. I used to play piano well, but am seriously out of practice. Nevertheless, those times when I sit on the bench of my mother’s piano and play, my soul feels restored.
  • Focus on a specific scripture, like Psalm 23. Close your eyes. What does it mean to you that the Lord is your Shepherd? That he leads you beside quiet waters and refreshes your soul? I used to have a favorite mental picture of a certain valley on the drive from San Jose to Fresno. The grass was lush, trees scattered about, and a lovely, bubbling stream wended its way through the valley. I can picture myself walking with Jesus in that valley, being refreshed in His company.
  • In the same chapter, think of what it means that He walks through the valley of the shadow of death with us? I experienced that with the loss of my first husband. No, He didn’t remove the pain; but He gave purpose and presence during the loss.
  • Last, find someone who needs help, and give it! I’ve found there’s not much sweeter than meeting someone who is lonely, or hungry, whom I can help, sometimes in little ways by giving a packet of non-perishables, sometimes by listening, bringing groceries or a meal, sometimes by praying for the person(s). Giving renews the spirit.
  • Exercise thankfulness. Like a muscle, it grows with use and changes our perspective.
  • Focus on his love–for you.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I John 4:9-11

Did I mention naps? I took a short one before finishing this. Sweet! And I’m challenging myself with this post. These are the things I need to do to renew, to step out of my lethargy and move ahead with those tasks God has given me to do.

What do you do to renew yourself?

Blessings!

Supply Chain Thanks

I looked at the rice shelf in the grocery store. Some empty spots. Same in several other aisles, although not as bad as at the beginning of the pandemic when people bought up all the food and supplies they could.

I walked to the produce aisle to select my bananas. If I don’t eat at least half a banana a day, in addition to taking Potassium supplements, I get severe foot cramps at night. So these are high on my “must have in stock at all times” list. I like them just a bit green, firm, when to me they are most flavorful. Not for me the soft yellow bananas that are best used to make banana bread!

copy space photo of yellow bananas
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

We still had three bananas at home, so I was hoping to find greenish ones. Nope, all yellow. I muttered, “I wanted greener ones.” And then I stopped, ashamed. There were lots of bananas to choose from. They just weren’t exactly what I wanted.

I am spoiled, as are many in America. I’m used to being able to get what I want, pretty much when I want it. How many in this world, even in this country, have the opportunity to do that? What right did I have to complain?

People in Haiti are suffering devastating loss of home, family, goods, and the means to live following a 7.2 earthquake that rocked its southern peninsula on August 14, toppling buildings and killing an estimated 2,200 persons. Approximately 12,000 more were injured and others missing. Think of the agony and hopelessness those families must feel.

Mud, water and debris after Honduran hurricanes
Christmas in makeshift street homes

And in Honduras, two major hurricanes within three weeks last November destroyed infrastructure, left mud, water and debris in the streets, and left many homeless. Yet there was hope as some built makeshift structures along the road, along with Christmas ornaments! My brother and sister-in-law have developed relationships with several Honduran families over the years and established a relief fund through their church, giving significant help to several groups in their rebuilding and clean water efforts.

As of Saturday there were about 170 cargo ships waiting to dock at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These ports account for roughly 40% of U.S. imports. With the labor shortage and some people not returning to work, there is a huge surplus waiting for workers all along the supply chain. How many food products will be rotten before the ships can be unloaded, loaded onto trucks with enough drivers to deliver the supplies to their destinations, and employees to put those items on the shelf–from foods to mattresses to garage doors.

So I will be grateful for those yellow bananas that will begin to spot before we eat them. I will be thankful for what we have, and for the privilege of helping others in great need.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Prayer: Father, help me to have an attitude of thanksgiving for your grace, peace, forgiveness, and salvation. I pray workers will return to offload those cargo ships, and ease the supply chain here in our own country. Help me not to focus on my small needs but to look at the needs of others, to reach out and help where I can, both within and outside our own country. Be with the many who are suffering because of loss of life, home, security, provisions. You don’t tell me to thank you for everything, but in everything, because you are good, and you care for us.

Journeying

I’m enjoying time with Don and dear friends from the other side of our beautiful country.

Friday, on a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky!

Saturday, in Branson, MO watching a marvelous and incredibly well-done performance of a musical of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection. It didn’t hit me emotionally as I anticipated, until the Resurrection – and then I welled up. “That’s my God!”

More to come on all that. Here are a few photos of trip memories so far.

With our friends Fritz and Frank Buschman, their daughter Kim, and her adorable three children aged five, eight, and ten, we took our own boat ride up the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

Roebling Bridge, prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, during the day … and at night.

And, below, the home of Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts.

We have so much history in this beautiful country of ours, and seeing more of it is a joy and privilege.

Do you have a favorite state, or meaningful site, from your travels within America?

post by carolnl | | Closed

Who Influenced your Philosophy of Work?

cheerful expressive woman dancing in beige studio
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

I write, because teachers, both in person and online, taught me the joy of reading and writing. Mrs. Goolsby taught me to love history in the eighth grade. From the South, she often broke into the Charleston right there in class–and received long-stem red roses from another teacher on Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Regardless of your opinions about the Civil War, she transmitted a passion for the human side of history.

Mrs. Goolsby also took time to talk with me after I got a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ on a test (I don’t recall which). She knew that was not my norm and we talked through how I answered the True/False questions. Together we figured out that, instead of ‘x-ing’ the correct answer, I ‘x-ed’ the wrong answer, leaving the right one clean. When she re-graded my test with that understanding, I did well.

text
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

A senior high teacher whose name I can’t recall, taught me to love literature and writing. My favorite was an essay on the psychological background of Lady MacBeth (“out, damn spot!”). There’s actually quite a bit of information on the subject and I enjoyed synthesizing it and putting it into an “A” essay.

In the hospital, both for my own surgeries and with my first husband, I’ve encountered kind, effective doctors and nurses who went beyond just doing their job. They checked on me as well as Jerry. They encouraged me during very difficult days. When they knew they couldn’t restore him to life, one helped me choose the most natural way for him to transition into glory.

person in a construction site
Photo by Aleksey on Pexels.com

My father and my current husband, Don, were both contractors, working hard with their heads and hands to design and build quality homes and structures that would stand.

My parents taught my brothers and me a strong work ethic, which exists to this day.

My brothers–a retired GI physician; a retired Head of a college’s Psychology department; and a police officer and expert on blood spatter analysis–all have worked hard throughout their adult lives, and continue to give to their families, churches and communities.

I’m thankful for each of these who labored in their field, performing quality work with passion and intention.

I’m thankful for colleagues at Intel who worked in the Human Resources field, and for what each brought to their business and to the team.

I’m thankful for fire fighters, gardeners, tradespeople, salespersons (well, not on the phone!), waste disposal technicians, soldiers, veterinarians, and so very many others who toil, day after day. Some love their work. There were seasons in my HR work when I thought “And I get paid to do this!” (Other times, not so much–smile).

men working in a warehouse
Photo by Tiger Lily on Pexels.com

Others work because of their need to be productive and care for their families, and trudge home at the end of a long day, having kept their commitmnets and done their best.

On this Labor Day weekend I am thankful for each of these.

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

Colossians 3:23, MSG

I wish you a happy celebration of Labor Day as you remember and are thankful for these individuals who impacted your view of work.

Family, Majesty, the Faith of a Child, and a Gold Coin

Last week I wrote about the first three days of our road trip.

On Sunday, we left Eagle, ID for Yellowstone, again driving through quite a bit of smoke and watching the topography change around us.

We arrived at our hotel just outside the West Gate of Yellowstone, checked in, and joined Bob and Sheila to drive into the campsite where their sons and families were staying. What a fun evening of reconnecting, of setting out our chairs by the fire, of watching nine cousins (from 5-12) who adore each other and delight in being together.

Following are some highlights of our stay.

FAMILY

Our nieces and nephews took turns cooking for Bob, Sheila, Don and me. What great coordination, what serving love. We ‘older generation’ brought desserts, brownies, s’mores fixin’s, makings for birthday cupcakes, etc. We delighted in seeing different sights in Yellowstone, especially through the eyes of the children! We started at Old Faithful on Monday morning. Each evening we gathered in our circled chairs to talk and enjoy hanging out together. Our oldest grand-niece present, Makenna, was wonderful with the littler ones, always checking whether they needed to go to the bathroom, wanted to walk down to the lake, etc. (where we found leeches–kinda creepy!).

And Don and I felt cared for as some of our nephews and nieces would walk more slowly with us (the altitude was a bit tough on us), or suggest a shorter way that we could walk back to a meeting place while they hiked three times the miles that we did!

One night we had a time of prayer and laying on hands for one of our family who was facing surgery. “Thank you that we can celebrate ‘X’s’ surgery,” one prayed. While we chuckled at her choice of words, we realized we are grateful that the problem was identified so that surgery could be an option! We joined with the little children in asking God’s hand to be on the situation.

MAJESTY

Elk – some resting right off the boardwalk near Old Faithful.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where at a certain time of day the mist reflects rainbow colors at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall.

A large herd of bison crossing a river. We saw one turn back to check on her babies, behind her. How amazing that the God who created us for community also put into these huge beasts a nurturing instinct. Beautiful! And the one that walked within five feet of the car, ignoring us all as he meandered between the cars.

Deer and a stunning buck with a huge rack.

WORSHIP

Nephew Josiah led us in a time of family worship one night. He shared scriptures about the majesty of God’s creation and had chosen several songs for us to sing along with a speaker. As I looked at his six-year-old daughter, I saw the beauty of holiness as she sat, arms on the chair arms, eyes closed, face lifted in praise to God. O for the faith of a little child!

A GOLD COIN

I followed the four littlest girls to a log where they sat huddled together. The “Princess Crew,” they call themselves along with one cousin a bit older–because they all love Disney Princesses. As I snapped pictures, the girls started asking questions. One noticed the coin pendant I wore.

The Princess Crew and MomMom in front of Old Faithful Inn

“Is that real?” she asked.

“It is. It belonged to a dear friend who died about seven years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, honey. She’s with Jesus.”

Our outgoing one jumped in with “But she’s with God. And she’s in your heart.”

“That’s right.”

A younger cousin, five, spoke up.

“I don’t want to die. I just want to live here on this earth.”

“I understand, sweetie. But God will take care of us.”

Just then the older cousin appeared.

“And the best thing about being a Christian is that you know you’ll see here again.”

Moments like these are priceless treasures to be stored in my memory bank for joyous recollection.

I felt expansive, filled up with the majesty of our God, grateful for the beauty of this earth, for these enormous creatures who walk by without incident, for children who are being raised to love God through his Son, Jesus Christ.