Annual Thankful Challenge

Nature Friend: Hey, are you okay? It’s November. You haven’t posted any of your thankful messages. Me: (extremely dramatic and serious) I’ve decided to be selfish this year. No gratefulness for me. (diabolical laughter) We both started hysterically laughing at this point. I told my friend that I had been writing them down, but just hadn’t hit submit on the post.   Day 1:  It’s awesome to have a cell phone. I listen to music on it, order stuff of the internet, read books, and track my grocery list. Oh, I also use it to call people. Day 2:  I’m so thankful to have a washing machine and dryer in my house. I’ve had to go the laundromat before so every time I dump my clothes into the washer, I’m thankful for the convenience of being able to do laundry right at home. Day 3: I’m grateful for my wonderful parents. They are good people and have blessed me my entire life.  I love their wedding photos.  This one is my favorite. Parent's wedding photo Day 4: I took a little day trip today to get out of the heat. The sun kept hitting the mountains at various locations bringing out all the beautiful colors. I couldn’t help but sing For the Beauty of the Earth. It was lovely. I’m grateful for the gorgeous diversity of color found in nature. Day 5: I’m thankful for delivery drivers. I got a package today and that made my day. Thank you to all the drivers! Hidden (This picture is a few years old, but it’s still one of my favorites. Yes, I know I’m weird. It’s just too boring to be normal. You’ve got to be silly sometimes.) Day 6: I saw a butterfly today. It was pretty. I’m thankful for butterflies. Day 7: My roommate has a dog, and I love that little dog. I’m thankful I met such a cute dog.  She literally jumps and down every time I come home.  It makes me feel so loved and special. Day 8: I’m thankful I can vote. Day 9:   I have a job. it’s good to be able to pay my bills. Day 10:  I’ve written 107 pages of a novel this year. I’m thankful for the earthly and heavenly angels who are encouraging me to work on my  dream of being a writer. Day 11: I’m thankful for veterans.

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday. The day Jesus entered Jerusalem with the crowd shouting praises and waiving palm leaves. I was thinking about that this morning and imaging what it might have been like. I started to feel a little jealous of the people that saw Christ. I would have liked to have seen Him. As I was feeling jealous, I had a very sweet thought. I can see Jesus every day in my heart. I can see Him when I show love to others. I can see Him when I follow Him. It was a good reminder for this beautiful Holy Week.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).


I was a very romantic 17-year-old and regularly indulged in British literature. I also watched romantic comedies which filled my imagination with all kinds of wild ideas. One day while pondering why I didn’t have a date every weekend, I came to a startling conclusion. I wasn’t walking enough. All of the heroines in the novels met interesting people on walks. The characters in the romantic comedies met their future loves while out on walks. I was thrilled with this realization.

I now had an action plan. If I wanted a date to the dance, I just had to go on a walk. I put on my best dress, smeared red lipstick all over my lips and headed out the door. Full confidence. It was going to be just like the movies. I would walk down the street and casually meet the most eligible bachelor in the entire high school. I’d say something witty and then he’d ask me to Prom. It was all perfect until I stepped outside.

Now, let me tell you something about my neighborhood. It was not a pristine countryside. My family lived in a struggling neighborhood. The police helicopter flew over our street every evening at 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. waking me up. It was probably foolish to go on such a walking venture alone, but I was a romantic with a heart full of hope. Walking worked in the movies so it would work for me. I walked past the drug dealer’s house, the homes where the owners mowed the lawns and the ones that didn’t. I walked fast by the couple yelling at each other and a little slower by the couple kissing. I walked past a few kids riding their bikes in a church parking lot. I walked past the elementary school and the grocery store. No one paid any attention to me. The cars swished by and I didn’t have a date. It was nothing like the movies. I kept walking hoping for my romantic encounter but then my feet started hurting from my heels. It was time to go home.

I still enjoy walking around my neighborhood although I’m wiser now. I wear flats and don’t expect to meet Mr. Darcy along the way. I do occasionally find other interesting things on my walk. Today I found a beautiful leaf. It looks like a heart so I took it home with me.

I guess I’m still a little bit romantic.

Joyful Moments #614

I went for a walk yesterday around the neighborhood. The flowers growing in the sidewalk cracks were so pretty that l took some pictures. Yes, l know Lanta growing in sidewalk cracks are technically weeds. I had two people stop and tell me that. Even weeds can be beautiful! It’s the power of a joyful moment.

My Easter Message

A few weeks ago, I hurt my left knee. It’s taking longer than I think it should take to get better. It’s been an uncomfortable time of bandages, physical therapy and ups and down as my knee progresses toward full healing. There is light at the end of the knee tunnel, and it hurt really bad yesterday. Work is good and it has also been very difficult this year. Last night, I felt sorry for myself. I have a tradition to pray before I sleep. I didn’t feel like praying though. My knee hurt. I was tired. I felt some anxiety about work. The students are starting their standardized tests this week. Testing always adds additional stress to a teacher’s life. I honestly couldn’t think of anything useful to say to God and I didn’t feel like praying. After a long time of debating the merits of prayer, I decided just to tell Father how I really felt. My short prayer basically consisted of telling the God of the universe that I didn’t want to pray to Him because of how miserable I felt. I wish I could tell you I had some powerful, spiritual experience the moment I said Amen on my little prayer. I wish I could tell you that I instantly fell into a peaceful sleep and jumped out of bed this morning with a completely healed knee. Nope. That didn’t happen. I still felt miserable after my prayer. It took another hour (and some ibuprofen) to finally get comfortable enough to fall asleep. My knee is still injured today. I have to do the patience thing while my body heals. This patience thing is hard.

Today is Easter. You might wonder what my prayer experience has to do with the Easter message of a risen Lord. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes your knee hurts. Sometimes the only prayer you can muster is the one telling God you don’t really feel like praying. And the message of Easter is that God understands. That’s why he sent his Son to Earth. And Glory be to God forever for that gift.

Happy Easter, Everyone.

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations”(Deuteronomy 7: 9).

Gratitude Challenge Days# 16-30

My annual gratitude challenge is over. I can now be selfish for the rest of the year. Just kidding. I won’t be writing thankful notes every day, but I will keep trying to be thankful in my heart.

Day 16: I’m thankful I can cry. Life would be harder if there wasn’t a way to release sadness.

Day 17: Second chances. I’m thankful for the second chances we get in life.

Day #18: My car is running. Huge blessing!

Day #19: Bowling. I love my bowling family.

Day #20: I’m thankful for my parents. They have taught me so much.

Day #21: I’m thankful you don’t always have to be thankful. I normally do a gratitude challenge every November so I’m 100% behind being thankful. And I’ve experienced the sorrowful wilderness of feeling alone. It’s okay to be where you are and to feel what you feel. I’m so grateful for that knowledge.

Day #22: I am thankful for the beautiful Earth. I feel refreshed when I spend time outside. I feel closer to the Creator.

Day #23: I’m thankful for my sister. I always wanted a sister. I was so happy when she showed up after my 3 awesome brothers. (This adventure was last year. We dressed up to see Downton Abbey. Movies are 100% better when you wear costumes.)

Day #24: I’m thankful for clean water. I take it for granted that I have access to water.

Day #25: I forgot to write down my gratitude note for the day. I was too busy eating. It’s a good thing I believe in second chances.

Day #26: I’m thankful for inventors. There are so many things I use every day that someone had to invent.

Day #27: I’m thankful for books. Books have been a great blessing in my life.

Days #28 I’m thankful for parks and the people who maintain them. It’s so nice to have a safe and beautiful place to walk.

Day #29: I forgot to be thankful again. I may have been thinking about all of the work that would be greeting me after the Thanksgiving break.

Day #30: I’m thankful for music.

Sure Love Ya

My Mom’s family has a traditional goodbye saying. Sure Love Ya. It means goodbye, see you soon and you might drive me crazy sometimes but we’re still family.  I have no idea how many times I’ve said that expression in my life. It’s probably been at least a million times. There is another tradition.  Before ending a family gathering, we all huddle in a circle like a sports team and shout the saying. “Sure love ya.” The circle keeps getting bigger as more and more people join the family. 

It’s confession time.  The teenage me thought it was an embarrassing tradition. I hated it!  I only did it because my mother said I had to do it.  I was confident that we were the only family in the entire universe that would do something like that. 

My Grandma died this year. She was my last remaining grandparent Earth-side. We couldn’t meet with Grandma as a large family group to celebrate her birthday like we’ve done in the past. This year we meet on Zoom. It was fun to see various relatives as little Zoom boxes on the screen. We ended our short party with “Sure Love Ya”.  It was both sad and beautiful at the same time. 

I think I finally understand why Grandma liked us to huddle up and express love. I think she was trying to ensure that we still loved each other even after she left us. 

That is what I will remember most about my grandmother Marjorie Hill Smith. She loved. 

I loved my Grandma very much. I will miss her. I know I’m not the only person on Earth who has lost someone they loved this year. There are many souls who are grieving right now. 2020. It’s been a crazy year. I haven’t really liked this year. It’s been hard. REALLY HARD! I’m ready for 2020 to be over and just a chapter in a history textbook.

I have learned something this year though. I’ve learned that love is one of the few constants in our crazy, ever-changing world.

Sure Love Ya to all my dear family and friends.

(My Grandma and I enjoyed baking bread together. )

Gratitude Challenge Days #8-14

Day #8: I’m thankful for my sister-in-laws. They are all incredible, intelligent, strong woman. Love you Kim, Sonya, Melissa and Amber.

Day #9: I’m thankful for a working car.

Day #10: Butterflies.

Day #11: I’m thankful for veterans and their families.

Day #12: Shoes.

Day #13: I’m thankful for the beautiful Earth. It’s lovely this time of year in AZ.

Day #14: I’m thankful that Christmas came early this year. Yes, I am one those people who watch fireplace videos on YouTube. It really was fun to listen to Christmas music and watch my fake fireplace last night.

Day #15: I’m thankful I could continue the holiday celebrations by putting on my Thanksgiving socks. They are so cute!

Gratitude Challenge Days 1-4

I have a tradition. I think of one thing I’m thankful for every day in November. It’s a good tradition and it makes the month special for me. I usually post those thankful notes on social media as a way to encourage others to pause and remember the good. I went back and forth this year about it. Do I post or just keep my thankfulness to myself? I’ve mostly been staying off of social media in order to preserve my sanity from this election. After a ton of debate, I decided to do it. I will be writing my gratitutes every day but only posting them once a week. It’s a good compromise between encouraging others and recognizing my own boundary of needing space from the crazy. I may have been singing that Tradition song from Fiddler on the Roof after making the decision.

November 1 I’m thankful for my family and friends.

November 2 I’m so glad we have music. Music speaks what words can’t express.

November 3 I’m thankful for God.

November 4 I love those wonderful green turn signal arrows at busy intersections. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shouted ‘thank you’ to the person who invented green turn signals.

Joyful Moment #612

I collect joyful moments like some people collect stamps. I put most joyful moments in a small book. Some of my joyful moments are also written on this blog. I had another joyful moment today. It was #612. It happened as I wrote in my journal.

I have been a journal writer since I was a child.  I’m not perfect at it, but I try to write once a month. As I was writing today, I felt joy on reflecting  why 7-year-old me set the goal to record the events of my life once a month.  I set the goal, because of a conversation I had with my father’s step-dad.

Grandpa Adams picture

Grandpa Adams was sick and his health was deteriorating.  This is how most visits to the grandparents worked at that age. I would say hi and then run as fast as I could past Grandma and Grandpa to play outside. This time was different though.  Grandpa asked me to sit by him for a minute. He shared that he kept a journal. He asked me if I kept a journal. I told him no. Grandpa looked at me and then solemnly gave me two promises. He told me that if I kept a journal I would remember my childhood. Grandpa also said that if I kept a journal that I would have a happy life even if sometimes I had bad experiences.

It was a deep conversation to have with a little kid. It made an impact on me. That night I asked my parents to get me a journal from the store. The brown book with the brown flowers is the journal my parents bought me.

My journals

As I was writing in my journal today, I felt joy that I can record my ordinary life. The act of writing it down somehow makes the ordinary turn into “extraordinary”. I get to be the hero (and sometimes the accidental villain) in the great story called my life.

Grandpa Adams’ words came true. I remember many things from my childhood. I also believe that I can have a happy life even if sometimes I have bad experiences.