Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Itty-Bitty Brain Power

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
- Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

There are days when I just cannot comprehend how complicated God's plan is...
How to conceive of the fact that each of our stories was written long before the world began...
And how all of our lives crisscross and intersect in this unbelievable maze of His goodness.

My poor itty-bitty, teeny-weeny muddled brain.
How to understand?
Take yesterday for example.

I arose and shuffled into the living room to pray in my little white chair.
Opening one of my devotionals, "Your Best Life Begins Each Morning,"
I started to read.
Now this book was published and first printed in December of 2008.
Which means that it was written well before then...maybe as early as 2005? 2006?
There is a Scriptural excerpt and short inspirational paragraph for all 365 days of the year.
The author had to heed a beckoning from Him as to where to place each encouraging passage before publishing.
Yesterday's passage date was May 27.

One year ago, on May 27, 2012, my dad left his earthly vessel to start a new life in Heaven. 
It was a beautiful, sacred, but sorrowful time for our family.
So you can imagine why I mentioned I was "shuffling" to the living room.
The one year anniversary of Daddy's death hit me much harder that morning than I realized it would.

So picture me and my itty-bitty muddled brain when I began to read from the May 27th passage:

"When my father died back in 1999..."

I couldn't read further. 
I put the book down for a moment to stop in wonder, full of awe in His love for me.
In His knowledge that I would need to read something relative to my sorrow on that very morning.
In awareness of the understanding that back in 2005 or 2006, God whispered to the author, "May 27th needs to speak about fathers...about their legacies...about the floundering their children experience once they leave.  About how I am behind them. Yes, start May 27 like this, 'When my father died back in 1999...'  You don't need to know why.  Please just do it.  One of my children will need to hear those words eight years from now."

When I composed myself, I went on to read the rest of the passage.
It was about how the author was expected to take up his father's ministry.
How he didn't feel worthy.
How he tried to talk himself out of it.

"I had to decide whether I was going to shrink back into my comfort zone or step out in faith, knowing that Almighty God was on my side."

His ultimate choice was clear or else he wouldn't have written the book.
He stepped out in faith.
And I'm so glad he did. 
If not, he wouldn't have heard  the incessant whisper on his heart to write the book.  And he wouldn't have been urged to place that excerpt on May 27, the very day I needed to read it.

Oh, how my itty-bitty brain wishes to understand.
But, at the same time, how grateful I am that I don't have to worry about my path.
It's been written since long before I was born.
And I'm stepping out in faith, knowing that Almighty God is on my side.

- Thanks for reading today.
In awe of His goodness.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A House, An App and My Dad

Do you have time for a story? 
A story with amazing messages and even a few answered prayers
I hope so. 
I hope after you read it, you will dare to dream your God-sized dreams.
I hope you'll know the value of transparency, able to put aside pride and ask for help, knowing that when we help each other, community is born.
I hope it will inspire you to pray in thanksgiving for all you have and all that is still to come.

In order for you to fully appreciate this story, this journey, I'll need to start with the background of three seemingly unrelated subjects. Subjects which, after a long, winding walk, all intertwine to complete one another.  I call it...

A House, An App & My Dad

Desire to Care for My Family

A conversation with my friend inspired me a year ago to live with intention; dream big, bold dreams; and NOT WAIT to live and work toward my heart's desires. 

I love my house, but I have felt for years that we are not destined to stay here forever. 
This conversation, however, prompted a change in my motivation to move. 
I started praying for the place God wanted me and my family to be.
It wasn't about "wanting bigger and better" as it had been. 
It was about being in the place that was the healthiest, most inspiring place for me and mine.
A place that would be big enough to welcome as many people as we possibly could to share His love and grace
I prayed for a place away from the noise and the traffic, away from poorer air quality affecting our health...
a place near the water where I feel so connected to Him. 

There are two streets in Long Beach that have always drawn me, simply by the names: Corinthian Walk (how cool would that be?) in Naples and Napoli Court (my grandmother was born in Napoli, Italy) right behind Alamitos Bay. 

I started praying that prayer, asking God to help me discern the dreams that were in line with what He wanted for me when, THE NEXT DAY, a house on Napoli Court came on the market. 
I knew it was a sign. 
The house was exactly what I had been praying for. 
I prayed in earnest and asked Him to lead me down the path to realize this dream. 

Dreaming of Creating Community

In other news, I felt called to create a smartphone app that solved a problem of keeping up with the many prayer requests that came my way. I wanted to remember them all and do my part...I just kept forgetting who needed prayer and when!  So I began researching and designing one.  A friend referred a company who drew up plans, and, as if they had accessed my imagination, putting the designs in my brain to paper, I knew this was it!  

But fear and life's roadblocks took over - plus a healthy dose of doubt and laziness, and I put it on the back burner. 
How realistic was it that I could pay $20,000 for the app development? 
Once developed, would anyone purchase it? 
Weren't there other, more worthy causes that folks needed to give to?
I felt in my heart that God was leading me down this path,
but I got scared and turned away
(Story of my life...can anyone relate?) 

So the app fell by the wayside and the house sold.

His Love through Hearts & Crosses

Then Daddy passed away last May, and I was consumed by grief and loss, frozen at times from moving forward.  It seemed that whenever I got the ball rolling on a productive path, I got sidelined with lingering grief. Still, Daddy sent love to me in the form of "hearts & crosses," which kept me buoyed up and moving. I knew whenever I found them, he was saying, "Yes, precious child, that's the way forward. And I'm here with you each step."

The Finish
Fast forward to a month ago. 
I have been working on my worst trait ...never finishing what I start. 
I began working on the app again. 
I decided to move ahead with a crowdfunding campaign...God led again.  
"But when to launch?" I prayed. 
I heard a whisper in my heart...
"Make something of your grief...make something beautiful in honor of your dad...launch it on the one year anniversary of his passing to new life." 
Monday, May 27. 
Today is that day.

While working on my campaign, I visited others to get ideas and to support other dreams.   I read, wrote words of encouragement, referred through my Google account, and even contributed to a couple.  The site wants to foster community....just as I hope to through my app.   

As I was typing out my address on one such campaign donation, I thought to myself,
"Daddy loved the name of our city...he talked about "Long Beach" all the time. But boy I wish I were typing out Napoli Court right now."  I chuckled to myself - hadn't thought of that house in a long while.

The next morning I awoke to a thank you from the Staplehouse campaign. 
Next to their thank you on the left? 
A heart and a cross. 
Yes, my project is blessed, this sign was telling me. 
"Yes, child, you're on the right path."

Literally one moment later, I opened my daily real estate notification, and I saw the word "Napoli" jump out at me. I stopped in my tracks and took a deep breath, praying, "Lord, is there another house available on Napoli?" No, it wasn't another house. It was the same exact house that I had prayed for 6 months ago!!!! Back on the market. On the very day after I had continuously been praying for signs of confirmation that I was doing the right thing. I burst out laughing. God is amazing....and hilarious, I might add.

I have no idea whether or not we will end up in this house. 
I only know that God is sending me these unbelievable signs to keep me on His path. 
(With a little extra encouragement from Daddy thrown in for good measure.) 
I also know I haven't been this excited to move forward - maybe ever - in my life. 
I know this story has been written and I can't wait to live the outcome. 
I am living in faith. 
I am stepping out in anticipation.

I want to thank all of you who stop here to read these words.
We are building community.
I know, with no doubt, that I have been led here to connect with you, if only through the blessing of shared experiences. 
You are one of my many blessings.

I prayerfully ask that you visit my campaign and do what you can to help.

Spread the word.
Share on social media.
And will you pray with me? 

Pray DAILY for the success of this campaign. 
Pray that I will reach my goal so I can complete this beautiful creation which will foster community and faith.
In honor of my dad.
In honor of community. 
We are community here. 
I want that for everyone.

Without further ado, here it is...

Thank you for visiting me there...
...and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For When You Need to Breathe

"Praying for quiet rest; deep, filling breaths of comfort; and answered prayers from the doctor," an email from my friend, Kate, read on Saturday.  It wasn't until I finished reading that I realized it...

I had been holding my breath.

It's tough watching someone you love struggle to breathe.
From infancy, both of my children experienced serious asthma, both needing emergency room trips, countless hours on the nebulizer and, for Braden, hospitalization. 
It's been years since any of this has been an issue. 
We thought we were past the age of danger...that they had both outgrown the condition.

But, unexpectedly, the past few weeks, Braden's asthma has flared - which is my non-alarmist, "quiet my own heartway of expressing that he has been in trouble.  By Saturday, it was serious, with his doctor on the verge of admitting him to the hospital.  Thankfully, post emergency-steroid-shot and continual every 4-6 hour breathing treatments, he is sitting on the couch at home today, making up schoolwork, his breath less ragged...more calm.

In the midst of his crisis, I found myself running full-throttle into the darkness of "worst-case-scenario" thinking.  So before driving myself completely over a cliff of panic, I sent out an all-call to my prayer warriors. Within minutes, a barrage of emails and texts followed, including Kate's words of comfort. It was here that I discovered myself taking the shallow gulps of the terrified rather than the cleansing inhalations of the assured. 

Why does this happen to us in times of trial?
That we hold our breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop, instead of trusting in His care and protection?
That we fail to realize that, no matter the outcome, He's got us? 
That He will see us through the hardest of times, if only to wrap us in His heavenly embrace and rock us back and forth as we slip into the quiet promise of His love?

Sunday afternoon at church, as we celebrated Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, we also read from the Gospel of John about fear...about faith...about His reassurance
About that moment in time when the disciples were locked away, hiding from the Jews and their own shadows, distressed and anxious about being convicted as the leaders of Christianity.  It was at their exact moment of need that Jesus appeared and breathed His peace on them.

He breathed on them.

You see, until that time they were bound by the chains of their fear, afraid to take even a simple step outside of their door without their leader.
They had lost their way and their courage.
They were taking the shallow gulps of the terrified.

But as soon as Jesus walked through that bolted door and stood in their midst, the chains were lifted.
They rejoiced.
They regained their nerve.
They were blessed with the cleansing inhalations of the assured. 

Yes, Jesus breathed on them.
The breath of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of courage and truth.
That Spirit that loosens our bonds and sets us free.
That Spirit that releases our lungs, blowing into them total and utter peace.

The Spirit that Jesus exhaled on the disciples surrounds us still today.
And when It does, we cease holding our breath;
we finally exhale into Him;
and once again, we're able to breathe.

Photo credit:  "Woman on beach with hair blowing" from Photos.com

Monday, May 20, 2013

1000 Gifts Sundays...er, Mondays

Though this blogpost is planned for publication on Sundays according to my "weekly calendar," the truth is, there is never a deadline on expressing thankfulness.  So here it is a day late right on time along with a hearty thanks to Ann Voskamp and the weekly challenge on her blog, "A Holy Experience."  Enjoy.

Gratitudes #907-926

#907  For the power and miracle of prayer.

#908  For learning to say "Thank you God for doing 'X'" rather than "Could you please do 'X,' Lord?"  (Of course He can do it, Cynthia...He can do anything!!!)

#909  For the opportunity to teach two incredibly fun, interactive music classes on Tuesday.

#910  For the opportunity to teach one painfully brutal music class later in the week (Bless their hearts...7th and 8th graders who drove all night to be there...not a great formula for success!) and the opportunity for the class to end.  :)  Honestly, it made me grateful for those classes that are so rich in creativity and participation.

#911  For the women in my life who I could never replace in my heart...who shore me up when I am low...pray for me when I am weak...and laugh with me when we get together.  Beyond grateful for these women and those close to me who were not present that evening...

#912  For a chance to see Miss Bessie after 20 months!!!!  Two babies later!!!!  What?!?!?!?  Happy Birthday, Miss Becky!

#913  For empathetic and expert medical professionals caring for my children.  So fortunate.  And for insurance!!  What would we do otherwise?

#914  For Colleen getting through her AP testing relatively unscathed.

#915  Knowing that, no matter how bad things get, fresh flowers make me stop a moment and thank God for His beauty and grace


#916  For the praise band at our church and how they treat Coll like a little sister.  So dear...

#917  For my chilluns...love those two so much! 

#918  Knowing that my husband is selflessly taking care of our family...giving up moments and outings for himself when the three of us really need him.  Nothing is so special as a committed man...

#919  For yummy tapas made by special friends...can't beat a Caprese skewer in my opinion!

#920  For a fun afternoon at our house for Colleen and her friends, doing P90X in the studio then having pancakes for dinner.

#921  For iced milk water for my girl's terrible sunburn...ouch!  Thank you, American Cancer Society, for the tip!

#922  For a chance meeting with my dear, dear friend Sjaan Trowbridge at Disneyland...for catching up and joyful embraces...for realizing how lucky I am to have met her years ago as "the geriatric elf cast."

#923  For Braden's incredibly optimistic attitude, even in the face of illness.

#924  For easier breathing for my boy.

#925  For a beautiful Pentecost Sunday service...the church year anniversary for my dad's passing into his new life.

#926  And finally...a beautiful message from Daddy in the moment that I needed it most...on his church anniversary....along with one of my favorite Scripture verses. 

What a blessing...

Still sending hearts & crosses 1 year later

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

- Thank you for sharing these special graces with me.
For visiting.
For reading.
For living in community together.
Have a blessed week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When You Don't Know What to Say

I just finished a writing deadline overdue by a day. 
It's so rare that I get stuck. 
That I'm at a loss. 
That I can't find the words. 
It's so rare that I don't know what to say.

Yep, I'm a talker.
A chatty Kathy.
I've got the gift of gab.
However you choose to say it, you're describing me.
Did I mention it's rare that I don't know what to say?

The past week, though, since my word loss has set in, I've been wondering why.
Is it the deluge of illness we've experienced the last few weeks in my family?
Is it sheer exhaustion?
Is it the trials that my friends and family are enduring?
Is it that my attention is now split between writing and my new teaching gig?
Or is it that the creative writing muse is simply eluding me right now?

I've heard the answer.
And you know what I've discovered it is?
Yes to all of it.
Because the more in-depth answer I've received is...this is life.

Life is all around us, in the joy and in the tears.
It's in the illness and the boundless energy.
It's in cancer and asthma and Alzheimer's and scoliosis.
It's in beach play and education and family and technology.
It's in growing a business and losing a business.
It's in strengthening a voice and losing that voice.
It's in marriage and pregnancy and adoption and unconditional love.
It's in everything we experience.
And it's overwhelming and distracting...
the cause of focus and loss of focus....
the impetus for words and for loss of words.

So what do you do when you don't know what to say?
Simply pray.
Open your heart to Him and let Him fill you with what you need.
Whether that need is words or quiet...
Song or heartbreak...
Activity or rest.
He'll know.
And He'll be with you until you find the reason to say something important...
Until the words you speak are Him.

Image credit:  Microsoft word images, provided by Fotolia

Monday, May 13, 2013

1000 Gifts Sunday

Thanks to Ann Voskamp and the challenge on her blog, "A Holy Experience," to chronicle my daily gratitudes.  So happy to be back in this space each week.  Enjoy.

Gratitudes #884 - 906

#884  For my beautiful children and their love and care for me on Mother's Day.  Feeling so loved and appreciated.
#885  For an incredible homily by Deacon Shane at church this week.
#886  For my daughter's beautiful voice raised in worship with our Praise Band.
#887  For the baby birds who were just born right outside our French doors.  Love hearing them sing.
#888  For The Young Americans show on Friday and Saturday and an opportunity for my kids to perform with them again.
#889  For gratifying work for my husband, work that fills him up and keeps his fingers in the audio pie.
#890  For a good afternoon with Bill & Annie and 25 year friendships.

#891  For my twinsies, Mary & Anna, and getting to visit with Mary in between shows.

#892  For my beautiful Ireland company manager, Brooke, and her friendship.

#893  For a good and productive Parish Council meeting before adjourning for the summer
#894  For new projects to welcome people to our church
#895  For a possible solution to Braden's continuing asthma.  Thank you, Lord, for this trial as an opportunity to lean on You for grace and answers.
#896  For a generous fellow teaching artist who took my class for me when Brae was too sick for me to leave him.  Thank you Ken! 
#897  For my favorite...a boat ride around the bay and throughout the channels
#898  For Colleen's friend, Jaclyn, who was able to spend some time with our family this weekend.  Loved having her...what a sweet girl!
#899  For the opportunity to share the show with Jessica on Friday...always so much laughter and elbowing....bruises abound!
#900  For a beautiful Mother's Day orchid from little Lizzie and her family.
#901  For catching up with old friends at the show.
#902  For shopping with Rachel, Colleen and Michelle on Mother's Day.  Fashion show!
#903  For my husband and how much he sacrificed, through a cold and sheer exhaustion, for me on Mother's Day...for the beautiful roses and card, gifts and work at making sure I didn't lift a finger.  Thanks babe! 
#904  For the example of my Aunt Lucille, investing in her writing and sharing her gift with the world.
#905  For my mother, mother-in-law, sisters and sister friends who I celebrated in my heart on Mother's Day...for their example and care, lessons and grace.
#906  For His care and opportunities to love Him and depend on Him.

{Would love to read your gratitudes
if you'd like to share below.
Thanks for stopping by.
And thanks for reading.}

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mama's Day

Almost 17 years ago, the week before my wedding,
my dad and I were having a bit of a disagreement.
"You'll never get through it without crying," Daddy was saying.
"I will so," I retorted.
I knew later he was just trying to get my goat;
to tick me off just enough so that I would have to prove I was capable.
Boy, that dude knew me too well.

He was referring, of course, to the fact that, despite Mama's belief that my sister, Margaret, would be singing the mother's song as our moms walked down the aisle at my wedding, I was surprising my mother and singing it myself. 
I knew Margaret would do a beautiful job singing "Mama, A Rainbow." 
Only, I wanted to sing it as my gift to Mama...
that last love letter to her before I became - officially - a married woman and could no longer consider myself her little girl.

Turns out, Daddy and I were both right.
I got through the song unscathed until the final note. 
Then my voice cracked with all of the emotion that a little girl feels when she has to say goodbye to the woman who has done everything for her since the day she was born...
Fed and bathed, dressed and cared for her;
Taught and paid for, sung to and held;
Listened and laughed and loved and sacrificed for.

So on this Mother's Day, I want to mail this repeat little love letter to my mom, to recognize her for all of her beautiful gifts she's shared throughout my entire life.

I love you, Mama...

(Mama and her five girls, Christmas 2011) 

from "Minnie's Girls"
"What do you give to the lady who has given all her life and love to you?
What do you give to the reason you are livin'?
I could window shop the world before I'm through.

Mama, a rainbow.
Mama, a sunrise.
Mama, the moon to wear.
That's not good enough; no not good enough...not for Mama.

Mama, a palace...diamonds like doorknobs....mountains of gold to spare.
That's not rich enough; no, not rich enough.
Not for Mama.
Mama, a lifetime crowded with laughter.
That's not long enough...not half long enough.

What can I give you?  That I can give you?  What will your present be?
Mama, young and beautiful...always young and beautiful...
That's the Mama I'll always see.

That's for Mama with love from me."

{Happy Mother's Day to every mother visiting here.
I hope your day is filled with joy, peace, laughter & rest.
Thanks for reading.}

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Journal, a Coloring Sheet & Lessons from an Eight Year Old

We were so happy to have our little 8-year old friend, Lizzie, come stay with us a few weeks ago.  We love this girl and her family.  She's a really complex child...extremely deep but extremely hilarious.

Liz came on Thursday night and left on Monday afternoon.  During that time, we played lots of games, watched lots of movies, washed the cars, did a little exercising and a little eating, and we also went to church.  Before church, Liz said to me, "No offense, Auntie Cynthia, but sometimes I get really bored in church."  I said, "That doesn't offend me, Liz.  I got bored at your age too.  That's why we packed some quiet things for you to do...just in case."

Liz was amazing, sitting and looking around or softly taking things out of the bag I had packed to occupy her (extremely active) mind. 
Meanwhile Deacon Shane was preaching on loving every person,
even those outside of your "inner circle;"
even those difficult to love;
even those who have sinned or hurt you or who are different from you. 
It was a beautiful talk. 
Halfway through it, moved to tears by the homily, I looked significantly at my husband to see if he was getting as much as I was from the Deacon's words.  I found him, not moved to tears but to laughter.  When I glanced down to where he was looking, I found Liz writing in a self-made journal entitled "Me and My Life Now."

The then completed excerpt read:  "OK, let me give you some advice for church. It is really fun, but kind of boring. I can't believe church is one hour. I don't want to be trapped in here forever."

I went from choking back tears to choking back giggles.  What a juxtaposition of age and personalities...one woman fighting to gain control over her tears while one child fights feeling trapped! Hilarious.  

Liz continued to write.  "The glass pictures of Jesus on the walls glow. Jesus is important, of course. I know that he's the guy who created me."  I told you...she's deep.   And I loved, of course, that she called Him "the guy."

Liz summed up her experience at our church with these thoughts:  "Oh! I think it will end now at this point. A prayer is going on now so I guess I'll write this for the time. One second ago, EVERYONE was singing. Now it is over or not the end. They're singing again. AAAAAAAAAH! WHEN WILL IT END!?"

Yes, the caps were all her.

But here's the amazing thing.  When I was leaving church that day, I stopped by Deacon Shane's table to pick up some art pages for the kids to color for the prison inmates his ministry supports.  Lizzie and my kids, Colleen and Braden, colored the pages for these guys and wrote a message, as suggested, for the recipient to read.  Liz's message?

"Learn to love all and all will love you."

I showed it to Drew and he said, "That's exactly what Deacon Shane was preaching on yesterday." 
Oh my gosh.
I didn't even make the connection.

She had gotten it all.
The words.
The message. 
The direction. 
Those journal words she wrote in church may have helped her pass the time, but the words the deacon spoke were truly written on her heart.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Master Planter

(Almost a year later and the jasmine outside my window is fragrant and full.  Revisiting this post about my dear Daddy and the lessons he taught...lessons which I will never forget...)

I awoke this morning to the smell of jasmine wafting through my bedroom window. I kept my eyes shut and just enjoyed the fragrance for a while. I rarely take for granted the significance of these plants climbing up trellises on the side of my house. My father planted them nine years ago.

Daddy came for a visit when my children were small. It was the only one he ever made to my home by himself. And he stayed for almost two weeks. It's a treasure I will never forget. We had a high old time.

Went to the Getty museum (he loved the marble which covers almost every square inch of the grounds...he also got in trouble by a security guard for almost touching one of the paintings...hilarious! True to form, he was teaching me, giving me a lesson in oil painting brush strokes.)
We went to the beach,
went to the theater (Phantom of the Opera),
went out to eat at Maggiano's (Daddy charmed our way out of a 20 minute wait...we got in in 30 seconds).
Daddy even got to see students of mine perform 3 shows for sold out houses.

My favorite times, though, were the quiet ones. Walks around the block, Daddy painting and repairing some benches in my backyard (He asked if he could paint my house! Luckily I talked him out of that one.), painting a table with oils, and planting my side patch of grass. He said, "You really need some greenery there." As usual, he was right. We went to Lowe's together where he suggested climbing jasmine. I wanted the $40 per bucket ones that were already lush and blooming. He said, "No, just buy the $4.99 ones over there. They'll be as big as the $40 ones before you know it." I humored him even though I was a little disgusted to not have what I wanted, when I wanted it...which was right away!!

Daddy got to work, planting those tiny plants and installing small wrought iron trellises behind them. They could not have been more than a foot tall. Oh, me of little patience...how would I ever be able to wait to see them full and blooming?

I thought of that this morning as I lie, eyes closed, inhaling the splendor of these most gorgeous of God's creations. And I thought of the joy I experienced over the past nine years, watching the plants grow. I would carefully wind the tendrils around and behind the iron to make sure the jasmine was climbing properly. I watered them (praise God that they don't need much!) and cared for them. They climbed and climbed and grew and grew. So gratifying. Again...glorious!

What I would have missed had Daddy just acquiesced the lesson he wanted to teach, and we had just bought those $40 full growns and plopped them into place.

I would have missed the wonder and the miracle of cultivating life.

I would have missed the reward of careful time and attention to a cause.

And I would have missed the feeling of connection to my dad each spring when the jasmine came back to me in bloom.

So much I would have missed in my impatience.

Thank you, God, for sending me the father I received.
Another valuable lesson from him,
the master planter.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bringing Gratitude Back - 1000 Gifts Sunday

The last few weeks, I have decided to tackle a personal issue I've been dealing with for years and years...never finishing what I start!  So I'm bringing it back - gratitude, that is.  Yes, I never reached 1000 last year in my endeavor to take part in Ann Voskamp's challenge on her website "A Holy Experience."  Plus, I really, really missed taking an hour or so each week to list the things for which I am grateful.  So enjoy...and maybe consider taking the challenge yourself, making a list of your own each week?  Would love to hear them!

Gratitudes #857 - 883

#857 For my beautiful daughter, Colleen.  For her sharing with me. Communicating with me.  Listening to me.  For letting me love her more than any girl in the whole world.  Luckiest mom ever.
(Colleen and her best friend since 1st grade, Emilee) 

#858  For an amazing, life changing trip to UK and Ireland.  For an amazing cast of singers and dancers who welcomed me with open arms.  For challenging situations there allowing me to lean on His grace for answers. 

#859  For the Irish countryside...especially an afternoon at Giants Causeway.

#860  For hearts sent from Heaven and my Daddy...

#861  For the beautiful union of Katherine and Geoff and the most meaningful Greek Orthodox service.  Exquisite...
#862  For Jessica singing "Ave Maria" as Kat walked down the aisle...glorious.
#863  For a finally finished, expertly completed bathroom.  And for two sinks in one place!  Yahoo!!

#864  For college tours for my girl.  A lovely and wonderfully landscaped UCLA as the front runner.  Can't wait to see what happens!

#865  For the opportunities to decorate our parish hall with my best friend
 before Easter and to feed our adopted family.  Beyond blessed to have enough to give.

#866  For a night out eating Mexican food (tableside guacamole) with my girl and painting pottery after.

#867  For a stellar performance of "Guys & Dolls" by the middle school choirs at Stanford Middle School...and co-starring Braden McGarity as Tourist Dad/Guy in Suit.  

(Wearing Grandpa Joe's Hawaiian shirt and his necktie...)  Awesome!

#868 For Easter celebrations with Drew's family

 #869 For a trip north, visiting colleges, touring San Fransisco, watching some major league baseball and meeting up with family friends. 
Great Spring Break!

#870  For the BEST COOKIE EVER!!!  Thank you Pacific Cookie Company...

#871  For the opportunity to be a "loved one" at our little Lizzy's Grandparents and Loved Ones Day.  Precious girl, precious poetry...

#872  For valuable and joyful new work...teaching at Disneyland!  Feeling valued and appreciated.  A whole new world opening up...pun intended. :)

#873  For quiet days with my kids

#874  For a husband who nurtures and protects, works and supports, accepts and applauds.  So lucky...

#875  For the Ireland cast YA's who came to stay with my family.  For the way they loved, accepted and encouraged my children.  For a boat ride with them around my favorite, Alamitos Bay.  For thank you notes, truly written from the heart.

#876  For the performance opportunity near home that the Young Americans provided my children and their friends.  For the esteem they build in children all over the world.  For treating my babies like gold.

#877  For Ginger Spice...
#878  ...and the Lion King soloist.

#879  For an incredible team of associate directors, of which I am now a part.

#880  For Drew "tying one on" in honor of my father...Daddy's necktie, that is.  Waaahhhh... 

#881  For the most amazing weekend with little Lizzie Brawley.  For making us remember to play games and have fun.  For giving us hugs and laughter and making us think.  So grateful.

#882  For Flat Maggie and fun and games...the most fun I've had taking care of a puppet ever!


#883  For a visit with Maddie, home from New York for only 2 days, and hearing about her school life.

# 884   And lastly, but most importantly...
For His abiding love and grace...
for His dying on the cross to cover my sins...
for His guidance, love, patience and forgiveness...
for blessing me with this unbelievable life. 
Thank You, Lord, for all that I've been given.

In gratitude for all that you give me by visiting this humble space.
Thank you for your support.
And thanks for reading.