Thursday, December 20, 2012

Comfort Books

Whenever something bad happens, I generally respond by re-reading favorite novels...books I know end well, books in which good triumphs over evil,  books that I read as a young person, books that are mass-market paperbacks with yellowing pages falling out of broken spines....

Books that tells stories of characters who become real for a time because my eyes are looking for them on the page.

Often, these comfort books are fantasy fiction. Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Percy Jackson are old friends. Anne with an e of Green Gables fame is a bosom friend, as are Darcy and Lizzie, Claire and Jamie.

Right now, I'm re-reading some of Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, although the paperbacks are in such terrible shape that I did use birthday money to replace a few for my Nook. These books have dragons...nice, life-saving dragons who are big and powerful and kind. I want them to be real in the same way I want owls to deliver the mail, the way a child wants Santa to be a real man living with crafty little people at the North Pole and a reindeer whose nose lights up.

For a time, the worlds of imagination are real, and then we're better able to cope with the real reality out there. Stories help us heal.

What novels do you re-read for comfort? What stories soothe you? What stories transform your funk?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Visits from Family

For Thanksgiving, we had a wonderful visit by George's sister Angela and her husband Mike. For Christmas, my mother is visiting.

Who's visiting you (or whom are you visiting) this holiday?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kid Humor

Kids say the darnedest things. This morning, for instance, I had this exchange with my son.

Jack: My stomach is speaking to me.

Me: What is it saying?

Jack: I don't know. I don't speak Stomach.

Totally transformed my morning!

What funny things have children said that made you laugh?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Small Kindnesses

Has your day been transformed by a kindness? Of course it has. We have all experienced these days of unexpected blessings, but do we pay attention to them? Do we take the time to be grateful for them, cherish them?

Yesterday, I left my wallet at home, and the staff at JumpStart Java gave me my mocha and coffee cake anyway, knowing I was good for it...a kindness I so appreciated!

Minutes later, Pastor Suzanne walked in and shared her story of her coffee pot dying that morning and how it should not have been as frustrating as it was, but boy was it! When I shared my Monday morning bumble--what 46-year-old woman leaves her wallet at home!??--she said, "I'll buy your breakfast!"

And she did.

Yesterday afternoon, I went back and got a gift card to JumpStart Java and will give it to Pastor Suzanne later today, at our last Bible Study of the year. That way, she can treat herself and whomever else she sees in need, having a bad day, and thus she can transform another common day with a small kindness.

Receiving kindness.

Enabling kindness.

Passing it on.

How wonderful!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Cards

The Christmas cards are finally starting to trickle in. I wondered. Usually we get a few a day or two after Thanksgiving, but perhaps Thanksgiving was just so early this year. I love getting Christmas cards. They transform common mail into something special, especially those that are handmade or that include the newsy letters.

Some people hate those letters, but I love them. For military folks, it's a great way to keep up with what's happening with friends far away. So many of our friends are far away!

If you're on the fence about sending cards, I encourage you to go ahead, take the time. Transform someone's common mail into something special for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peppermint Mochas

Hot beverages are so comforting, and this time of year, it's so easy to get a festive pick-me-up of a peppermint mocha...not too pepperminty, not too sweet, just right.

What is your hot beverage of choice to transform your common days?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Candles in the Window

I'm too minimalist to hang lots of icicle lights from the outside of my house. This year, in fact, is the first year I've put lights outside ever...and that consists of three strings of lights on a conifer that's my height right off the front porch. But candle lights in the windows are something I can do. They transform the front of the house into a minimalist Christmas paradise.

How much decorating do you do outside your house or apartment for the holidays? How do you transform your common facade into something uncommonly festive?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sandals in December

We're having a bit of a warm spell in Ohio, and I'm wearing sandals today. All the windows are open, and fresh air is wafting through the house. What a treat!

Is weather transforming your common days right now?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Today, I am grateful for the Elf on the Shelf. My younger son is obsessed with our elf, Chris. Chris doesn't show up until December 1, and it's a good thing he didn't forget this year. Sometimes, he likes one spot for a few days and doesn't move around, but I'm determined he'll enjoy some of the impish poses I've seen on Pinterest, such as burying his head in a bag of M&Ms.

What silly holiday tradition makes you grateful today?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Remember when you were a child? Time moved so slowly, and it seemed Christmas would never get here. Never.

Now that we're adults, time moves so quickly. How did it get to be December 1 already? Seriously? Where did 2012 go? Only 24 more days to Christmas? How will I get it all done? The decorating, the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the sending of cards and packages, the parties, the phone calls? Arrgghh!!!!!


Instead of focusing on the to-do list of December, I choose to be grateful for the anticipation, that child-like wonder and joy and expectation of something amazing that's going to happen. It's not going to happen under the tree or in the kitchen or out of my checkbook.

It's going to happen in my grateful heart. It is happening in my grateful heart.


Jack's leading the way in this month of gratitude. Every day, he asks, "Are we going to church on Christmas Eve to sing carols? Is Grandma going with us?" He's hardly talked about presents at all, but he wants to go to church and sing Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Silent Night. He's practicing singing in the shower in anticipation of that night.

Keep your eye on the prize and be grateful for every moment. Then, the path to the prize isn't a chore. It's an exquisite, excruciatingly slow joy.

Slow down and anticipate.

Anticipate with a grateful heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blue Skies

I am grateful for beautiful blue skies after the storm.

I am grateful for all the professionals who use their training to rescue and care for people during and after storms of all kinds.

I am grateful for private citizens who work with each other with open hands and hearts.

I was once in a car accident, sideswiped by a JMC Jimmy that ran a red light. The car behind me was driven by a nurse, who immediately got out of her own car to help. She held my neck steady and waited with me until the ambulance arrived. I will always remember how calm and comforting she was.

Has there been a time when you've needed professional help in an emergency? Who were you grateful for?

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Today, I feel joy--pure, unadulterated joy. It isn't for myself but for someone I love, and it comes from seeing God moving in her life. So today, I am grateful for joy.

Credit: George Raihala

What joy are you feeling today?

Friday, October 19, 2012


George and I now spend an inordinant amount of time during dinner glancing out the window to see if the deer are visiting again.

What wildlife do you enjoy seeing out your windows? Squirrels and birds count!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Well, our fireplace died again. So I am grateful that we have the warranty to call Repairman Jack back until the problem is solved.

I once read some wonderful advice on warranties. When you're offered the option to buy an extended warranty, ask yourself if the item is new technology (which is prone to problems) or established technology (which isn't). When we bought a very expensive, new technology television years ago, I sprang for the extended warranty, which paid for itself three times over with the one repair the television needed.

Our new house came with a warranty from the builder that includes the fireplace, so we're good with Repairman Jack. But should you buy extended warranties for your car, your refrigerator, or your cell phone?

We haven't for the cars or fridge, but we did for the cell phones, mainly because the warranty included coverage for damage from dropping them or accidentally running them through the washing machine.

What are your feelings about warranties? When do they make sense to you as a blessing and when are they an unnecessary expense?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Repair People

Our gas fireplace was broken. Now it is not. Thank you, Repairman Jack.

I feel gratitude for the competent people of the world, those who fix what is broken, those who work with their hands and heads to solve other people's problems.

We'd be mighty cold without them.

What have you had repaired lately?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Clean Floors

Oh, neglected floors,
You are now clean and shiny
Ready for more fur.

My floors were shockingly neglected during September, largely because I was sick for five weeks. In fact, my whole house was shockingly neglected. But today, I mopped the wood floors. What a blessing to have that job finished!

What thing cleaned is a blessing to you?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Commitment Cancelled

Today, I received an email cancelling a volunteer commitment for tomorrow. While I enjoy this commitment enormously, I also feel about three weeks behind schedule because of being sick for so long. Having an entire day to focus on catching up is such a blessing!

What is your blessing from today?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thankful for Encouragement

People encourage me in so many ways. They comment on my blogs, they send me emails, they call me, they meet with me, they pray for me, they encourage me to write and craft and participate fully in life.

The root of encourage is courage. It takes courage to face each day's trials and uncertainties, challenges and obstacles. For some of us, courage comes fairly easily in most situations as we bounce through life like Tigger, while others feel like Piglet, timid and fearful most of the time.

All of us are more courageous in some areas of our lives than in others.

Not one of us can make it through life without encouragement.

Today, my eye doctor encouraged me in Stephen Ministry, and I encouraged her in teaching her adult Sunday school class. Neither of us can or is called to participate in each other's ministry, but we are so grateful for the way each adds to the life of our church.

How wonderful encouragement is!

In what ways do you feel encouraged this day? How can you encourage someone else?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mourning Doves and Healing

Our dove flew free on Friday. He hopped along the ground and gave me a photo op, then flew off for the safety of the trees.

What a blessing to be able to give an injured creature--even something as common as a dove--time to heal. I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Talk about transforming common days.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


surcee (sur'-see) n. [orig. Scottish or Irish] a small gift given for no particular reason

What surcees have you been given that touched you? What surcees have you given? Can you give someone a surcee today?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


What a blessing it is to wait. I sat at the base pharmacy today, waiting for my antibiotics and reveled in the excuse to sit and read a magazine, with no other obligations or demands on my attention. Waiting has such a bad reputation. People get so impatient waiting for service, waiting for a light to change, waiting for a cautious driver to turn ahead of them, waiting for class to end, waiting for water to boil, waiting, waiting, waiting.






It all gets done. Eventually.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Today's blessing is surrendering to The Slow.

The Slow envelopes us when we're sick, and reminds us that all the rushing and hurrying we do when we feel well is just silly.

Why do I have to get sick to appreciate The Slow?

How can you slow down to appreciate life more?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cool Washcloths

No haiku today, but I am grateful for cool, damp washcloths on a sick face.

This weekend has not been fun so far, but those wet washcloths were so comforting, and with gratitude on my mind, I also thought how being sick was jumpstarting weight loss.

Oh, the things we will do to turn a yucky situation into a positive!

Friday, September 14, 2012


In the beginning
God spoke the light in darkness,
waves and particles.

My boys, my golden girl, and I went for a walk this week. The quality of the evening sun's light made the world glow.

And it was good.

When have you noticed the light, lately?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Running Smile

You're late leaving school,
I pull forward and brake,
wait for the running smile.

Jack was held in the building a bit late this afternoon, and he knew he was late. He left the building running, with a smile, to my car and climbed in. Then he surprised me. "I'm sorry I'm late! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" As he entered the car, the running smile was somehow replaced by panic, worry that he was in trouble. I have no idea where that panic came from; perhaps his teacher had urged him to hurry.

But I just wanted the running smile back.

The running smile is such a blessing.

Whose running smile thrills you? Whom can you bless with a running smile today?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Easy Conversation

Is three hours enough
to catch up on a summer
apart? For friends, yes.

With the return of kids to school, I've been able to catch up with some friends lately over coffee, lunch, tedious volunteer work. How precious are those times when people who've barely said hello or seen each other enough to wave across a crowded fellowship hall or grocery store reconnect, pick up where they left off, listen and talk, hug and encourage! The easy conversation flows so naturally, randomly, and comfortably.

When did you last have an easy conversation of reconnection with a friend?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hair Shirt

I wear a hair shirt
made of black cotton fiber
swirled with gold dog fur.

Daisy's fur goes with us everywhere we go, clinging to us like hugs or kisses, clear evidence of her enthusiastic, loving presence in our lives.

What nuisance in your life can you embrace as a gift, a blessing, just by being thankful for it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Involuntary Breath

I breathe in and out,
over and over without
a thought. Glorious!

Just think of all that our bodies do without our conscious direction. Our hearts beat, blood flows, muscles keep us sitting up, we walk upright. We are breathing, pumping, flowing, sitting, walking miracles.

What are you grateful for in this moment?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Radical Gratitude

Please read the About tab for details.

I'm not a radical, but the concept of radical gratitude seems right to me. How can we be radically grateful for the many blessings in our lives? What would happen if we embraced an attitude of radical gratitude daily, hourly, by the minute?

Let's find out. Together.

I'm going to list things I'm grateful for...big things and small things, urgent things and prayerful things, insignificant things and mundane things, natural things and man-made things. Things that are important. That I notice. That beckon. That are broken. That work.

Things I am grateful for.

I might use poetry or prose, haiku or one word. There's no right way to be grateful.

Except to be radical.

Radically grateful.

1. The sound of insects at night.

A sound engineer
Can parse the sounds of insects
at night. I can not.

To me, they sound like
the background radiation
of God's first deep breath.

Now it is your turn. What are you grateful for, right now, in this very moment, as you read this for the first time.