Tag Archive: gratitude


Germination

The memorial service for my maternal grandmother is today. She died a little more than a week ago, and she was my last grandparent. They are all gone now.

The loss hit me harder than I expected. It’s not just that I lost my grandmother. It’s that I’ve lost all my grandparents. An era has ended.

I can’t say I felt terribly close to my grandmother. She was my grandmother. I loved her, I respected her, and I did a lot of chores for her. Unload the dishwasher, organize the pantry, help put up wallpaper, bring in more firewood, feed the birds, weed the garden, water the plants, get the dogs water… The list goes on. Grandma – I also remember her being a bit cranky and fussing. Oh, my, yes – she fussed. I was always being told to brush the rats out of my hair, to hold still while she dug wax out of my ear, to… whatever. She couldn’t just ask. She had to fuss, fuss, fuss about it.

The negative, the things I didn’t like or found frustrating, are all too easy to recall. It’s much too easy to feel superior and think that I’m somehow better than her. After all, I can just ask. I don’t have to fuss. Snark, snark, snark.

But that’s really not fair. My grandmother, however cranky, fussy, and overly fond of the color green she may have been, still gave me a heritage worth remembering. Even those “negative” things have helped shape my perspective. Perhaps I didn’t feel a tight emotional bond with her, and maybe her presentation wasn’t always fantastic, but I did learn a lot from Grandma. Things in myself that I now value highly started with my experiences with her.

I learned that I don’t really care for the color green in all its many splendored shades. Green was Grandma’s favorite color. Her house was a riot of green. Grandma seemed to believe that if it was green, it must match, and so my eyes were assaulted by a painful confusion of lime, kelly, olive, hunter, spring, forest, and all shades of green. All green was good! This was not pleasant, but it was incredibly informative. It helped develop my eye for color and form, and that’s been useful as I’ve shot photos and created stained glass.

Grandma loved a bargain. She’d hit up thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Between her and Grandpa, they’d come home with the most incredible junk. I mean, really, junk. It was stuff that may have been worth recycling, but they were going to fix it up, and it would work just fine for ________. I can’t say I ever thought those were fun presents to receive, but I learned to see possibility, to make good use of scavenged materials. Not everything has to be new.

Coffee, particularly Black Butte Gold, is one of my favorite daily rituals. One of the reasons I drink coffee is because my grandmother did. She was always making a pot of coffee or looking for her (green) coffee mug which she’d set down somewhere. Sometimes she or Grandpa had flavored creamers to put in the coffee. Was their coffee good? My, oh, my, no – they were drinking canned, ground coffee, but I learned from them that a hot cup of coffee shared with friends and family can be a wonderful experience. I later learned, from other sources, what a good cup of coffee tastes like, but I wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t already learned from Grandma the habit of sharing coffee.

Long trips taken with my grandparents were well seasoned with comments from Grandma directing me to look out the window. Fuss, fuss, fuss she would until I turned my head and watched the countryside. I often preferred my current book, but she wasn’t happy until I was looking around me. It so annoyed me as a child, but it certainly helped develop my ability to observe. It also broadened my curiosity. The more I see, the more I wonder. I wouldn’t have that without Grandma.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from Grandma? It’s this recognition of seeds planted, of habit germinated, of gratitude for the beginning she helped to give me. It’s odd. In some ways, I’m the person I am because I didn’t want to be like her, and yet the truth is that I took what she offered and learned invaluable lessons.

Thanks, Grandma. I hope I always made you proud, and that you always knew I loved you.

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Tree Frogs

There’s something about coming home in the dark. It’s not quite warm, but it’s not quite chilly, either. There’s something in the air that heralds the coming of daffodils and grass sprinting for the blue sky. You can almost smell the perfume spring is ready to launch into the air. The birds know it. Courtship rituals abound, robins, hawks, and who knows what all strutting and streaking and singing their hearts out.

And in the darkness, singing a mad chorus of joy for the coming abundance, are the tree frogs. On my way home, I saw at least two little froggies not hopping fast enough across the road. Silly, little frogs – chickens cross the road. Frogs should stay in their ponds and by their trees. When I got home, I climbed out my car and heard the frogs’ chorus of life. It makes me smile, always. Here, the hills are alive with the sound of music. I suppose I wouldn’t be so fond of the sound if the frogs were right outside my window, but they aren’t. There are trees all over these hills, and tree frogs must live in most of them. They sound like such a happy community, twittering and ribbeting and creaking away at each other.

Tree frogs remind me that life is good, the sun comes up, winter passes, food grows, and new life comes. Tree frogs and their chorus are awesome!

Thanksgiving – Already?

It’s hard to believe that another year is nearly gone, Christmas is almost here again, and Thanksgiving is this week. Where does the time go? It went into all kinds of things, for some of which I’m even grateful! Please note: this list is hardly exhaustive.

  • physical therapy – I started the year with appointments, had several months off, and now I’m back with more
  • bathroom floor – mine needed replacing. It was definitely a learning process, but I’m happy with the result!
  • Jacob graduated from college with honors.
  • Jacob and Elizabeth moved to WA. I’m definitely glad to get that stinky brother of mine further away… not, but I am glad he found a job.
  • Shelah got a new job as one of Salon 124’s stylists. She does good work!
  • Stephanie was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa, just like three of her older siblings.
  • We had a tie-dye party!
  • Rach, Shelah, Stephanie, Carey, and I hung out for a day in the Sisters area. That was a lot of fun!
  • Kimbelry and Kalyn won Awana trophies!
  • Mom got new kitties. They are cute, little stinkers who think inside is great, but given that some of us are allergic to cat hair, and that nobody likes the smell of used litter box, they are having to get used to their originally intended, outdoors lifestyle.
  • Carey started grad school, is getting A’s, passed the licensing tests, and is loving student teaching.
  • Kimberly loves her swing that we put up in an oak tree.
  • Kalyn has been learning the 4H market lamb ropes.
  • The chickens are (mostly) staying in their pen, thanks to a lot of hard work.
  • When I look out of my window, rather than seeing a nasty amalgamation of mud, weeds, trash, and chicken mess (it bore a resemblance to a neglected dump – yuck, yuck), I see Kimberly’s swing, Kalyn’s fort, and a lawn coming up. It’s AMAZING! Not only is it looking good, it feels good, especially because it was a group effort. Let me share just a few examples. Mom and I earned blisters getting Kimberly’s swing up; Kalyn, Stephanie, and I had fun times learning about teamwork while trying to lash together a framework of filbert poles to make a fort; Mom, Shelah, and I got facefulls of things we don’t want think about during the chicken run remodel; Carey’s close encounter with a hornet while helping fill the woodshed I built led to a new dance craze, the Weekly Shriekly (j/k! – she did shriek and dance thanks to the pain, but we ran to help rather than imitate); Rach, who came down and spent several days in order to help, was brilliant and built a device we could drag behind the four wheeler to smooth out the lumps left by tilling; Kimberly kept us all entertained by looking up bagpipe videos on YouTube; and Stephanie did some research to find grass that grows well in shade. It was a great team effort and makes me grateful not only for the beautiful space developing, but also for my family!

The Lamb Show

My glasses are all gooky. I didn’t realize it until I sat down to type this up, and the screen helpfully pointed out that there are plenty of smears on my glasses. It’s to be expected, I suppose. I hauled my camera out for the Marion County Lamb and Wool Show today. The pressure of the eyepiece up against my eyeglasses always causes dirty glasses. I also seem to have a bit of poison oak rash on my hand. Rotten lambs!

Still, all the mild complaints aside, it was a lovely day for the show. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather flipped  between overcast and sunny, which meant it never got too hot or too cold for too long. It sprinkled just enough rain to help keep the dust down that the sheep would normally kick up. The shows were good practice for the girls and the lambs before the county fair. The lamb kebabs were delicious! The border collies, tongues hanging out, looked as though they were grinning at the sheep they were herding. The annual parade abounded with candy for the kids and gratitude for the preservation of the town’s residents during the winter flooding. The playground, particularly at lunch time, was fully of children happily playing together. It was a lovely day.

I’ll get back to Isaiah 53 and brokenness soon. 🙂

Back to My Roots

I woke up this morning grumpy. My back hurt, I didn’t want to go to work, and I could hear the rain pouring and the wind howling outside. Grumpy doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, does it? I’ve noticed the last couple of days that I’ve had to watch my attitude. Grumpy is coming easily. A little bit of grumpy is no big deal, but chronically grumpy sours into bitterness, and that’s not how I want to live out my life.

What can make it hard is that I have some legitimate complaints. I’ve been in pain, often a considerable amount of it, almost constantly for about three months. Pain, I’m finding, is a wearing and exhausting thing with which to live. Besides the fact that it hurts, it grinds on me. It makes me feel weaker. I’m always devoting a fair amount of energy to living with it. I also feel guilty about it. It’s been three months, and I’ve been cooperative with my plan of care. Shouldn’t I all better by now? What am I doing wrong? I’m not, by the way. Apparently, some of the damage done can take six months to heal, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make me feel great when I’m feeling down about it. I still hurt. I still feel weak and guilty. I’m still angry over the unfairness. I’m still being disappointed in my desire to be better, and that makes it easy, easy to feel all grumpy, and then to be snarky and sour, and then… You see how this goes, right? Somehow, I need to allow myself room to be in pain and to have reason for complaint without allowing it to eat me alive.

This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve had something hard and unfair. I learned some things from those prior experiences that I’m finding helpful now. One is that I do need to watch my attitude. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that. I didn’t watch it very well which meant that I had some difficult messes to clean up when I started dealing with the reality that I’d suffered childhood abuse. Another is that I need to leave myself room for the legitimate pain and emotional turmoil I’m experiencing. I can’t just tell myself to shutup and ride without doing more damage. Yet another is the realization that I can’t do this on my own. I need God’s help and provision and ear.

In the last couple of days, I’ve noticed that I’ve almost without conscious thought turned myself toward God. If I’m grumpy, I grouch at Him and complain about how unfair it is. If I hurt, I cry out and tell Him that I can’t do this. This morning, I noticed another old lesson popped up. I was lying in bed, grouchy about being awake, and instead of staying there, I started thanking God for stuff. The truth is that I have not only reasons for complaint, but I also have reasons for gratitude. Work may be getting on my nerves sometimes, but I do have a job, one with decent pay and benefits and an employer that I usually appreciate and think appreciates me. My back might hurt, but most everything else is working great, and my back is better. I have a great mom. I like my siblings most of the time. I have some really good, sweet friends. Some time in the near future, there will be silly lambs bouncing all over the place and making me laugh with their antics. I live in an abundantly beautiful place. There are lots of good things in my life for which I am genuinely grateful.

One thing I would like to point out my attitude of gratitude is not a case of, “Cheer up! It could always be worse.” I’m not happy about having a job because I could be one of the poor folk who hasn’t been able to find one, or because I’m not stuck doing something I truly hate. I’m not happy about my back pain because at least that’s the only body part currently misbehaving. I think cheering up because it could be worse is the same thing as telling myself to shutup and ride. It’s not gratitude. It’s another method to deny the legitimacy of my very real pain and genuine struggle. It takes what I feel and tells me that I shouldn’t be feeling it. I’ve done that to myself before, and I found that while denying what I feel can be good in the short term, making it a long term habit means I have a lot of unresolved issues that eventually refuse to be hidden or denied.

Tell you one more thing for which I’m grateful. It would be roots. It would be the experience I’ve already acquired and the habits I’ve already learned that make turning toward God something that I don’t always have to struggle to remember. I’ve got that established, rooted into my life. That doesn’t mean I always remember right away to turn to God to pray and wait and rest and praise and all that, but it’s certainly quicker and easier and more likely to happen in a timely manner. For that, I’m grateful.