A Gallery of Gratitude

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Florida. We stayed at the Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Resort in Orlando, went to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, shopped at Disney Springs, rented a car and drove to St. Augustine (the nations oldest city) for the day, spent a few days reading and lounging by the pool and relaxing. I decided before we left that I would embark on a quest to notice and document through pictures “treasures to be thankful for” and share them in this blog when I returned. Here are just a few examples of the many:

The first morning, we woke to this view out our window. I had just been studying in Genesis about God’s covenant promise represented by the rainbow. It was lovely.

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16

We stayed at the same hotel at this time last year and could not wait to go down to the Lakehouse Restaurant located at the resort to partake of this delicious squash lasagna. Yum!

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

As we were driving our rented Grand Cherokee down Highway 4 towards St Augustine, I noticed a billboard that said to turn to Z88.3. I did and it turned out to be great Jesus music. I gleefully sang the entire two hour drive. My blessing- yes- my husband’s maybe not so much.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Psalm 98:4

I was excited to see the nation’s oldest school house. I a sure glad some things have gotten easier for teachers and students.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

We had a few cold days while we were in Florida and even laughed that the temperature at the exact same time on one day was colder than back home in Utah. We took it as an opportunity to go bowling (neither of us had been in years and had a blast) and go to a fun Christmas movie (Last Christmas) at a Dine-In Movie theater with a waiter, real food, and heated seats. Yes!

I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”-Philippians 4:11

The entire trip we were blessed with great transportation providers, especially from fun and friendly Uber drivers.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7

Surrounding the lake at the resort, signs warned us to be aware of snakes, alligators, etc. Thank you, Lord, that in our many walks we did not encounter any of these creatures, only squirrels and a friendly black and white cat.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

We had a wonderful time on our vacation and as we paid attention, we noticed so many special gratitude gifts throughout the week. We received surprise coupons for free breakfasts at the hotel, Sky Priority on our luggage from a nice Delta attendant, moments of connection with waitresses, drivers, hotel staff, housekeepers, and other bus riders, etc, that made our days special and just the thrill of enjoying sights, smells, and sounds of “somewhere else”.

I am especially thankful for my husband, my partner, my friend. He makes me laugh and he watches over me. He has patience when I do silly things and he goes along with my antics. He may not want to dance in the street with me or sing “Let it Go” at the top of his lungs with Anna and Elsa, but he is right by my side while I do it and does not make me feel like I am a nut. Thank you, Lord for this incredible man in my life.

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Meaning From Morning Memories

Every morning before the sun has even had a chance to cheer me on, I stumble into my peaceful little “prayer room” and write in my journal. For over twenty five years one of my strategies for sustaining my sanity has been to express my feelings in a carefully chosen notebook. Over the years, this exercise has metamorphosed into more of a letter to the Lord. In these daily communications, I write the brutal of what I am feeling, the honest, the vulnerable, the absolute real, but I do not leave the letter without including the grateful.

Every few years, I dig out my old notebooks and look through what I have written in the past. I am often amazed at the raw emotions that pour out on paper during certain times in my life. I am even more in awe over the time-after-time gratitude that follows these expressions of hurt, anger, frustration, confusion, etc. Once in a while, the gratitude for the situation will show up while I am writing the letter. At other times, it is weeks or months later. Trials I thought were hopeless to fix, problems that seemed insurmountable, hurts that were never going to ease and yet… here among these pages were statement after statement of “Thank You, Lords” proclaiming answered prayer according to God’s infinite wisdom. It is powerful to remember the “how” I got through some of these “floods”. It is comfort and reassurance. Thank you, Lord

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

Therefore, in honor of “Notice November” here are a few word-for-word “Thank You” snippets from my journal entries for the last few weeks.

  • Thank you, Lord for words to write when I approached my computer without any.
  • Thank you, Lord, that I know I will get over this pity party once I share it with You.
  • Thank you that your kindness leads to repentance. I am sorry.
  • Thank you, Lord, for listening
  • Thank you for friendly people who wait on me at the grocery store.
  • Thank you Lord, for writing and work yesterday, for getting lots of “little things” off my plate and for gym time.
  • Thank you for honest, real, touching talks with friends.
  • Thank you for putting up with my whining some days.
  • Thank you Lord for shopping time and connections with people around me.
  • Thank you For hugs
  • Thank you for the sweet tween trick or treating at my door who said, “I know you. You used to read to us.”
  • Thank you, Lord, for helping me develop “quick forgiveness” from the offense of yesterday
  • Thank you, Lord, for flu shots and “nice days”.
  • Thank you, Lord, for good family and friends and hope and direction.
  • Thank you, Lord, for encouragement.
  • Thank you, Lord, for the small comforts, joys, and pleasures daily. Please help me to notice even when I am sad.
  • Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and grace- for your forgiveness as I fail and put others above You over and over again.
  • Thank you Lord as yesterday was a battle- fierce and exhausting- You blessed me with strength, grit, and comfort- that kind I know comes straight from You.
  • Thank you for still loving me and for allowing me the utter openness to tell You how I feel.
  • Thank you Lord for those good days and for the days that teach.
  • Thank you for the hard and scary part of anticipating the doctor visit on Tuesday that leads me to put my trust in You (all okay)
  • Thank you, Lord, for reminding me during drama days, “Not my circus, Not my monkeys.”
  • Thank you for the hidden treasures of yesterday like the song in the waiting room.
  • Thank you, Lord, especially for knowing You, for the many times You have delivered me- even from my own traps, for changing and growing me, for being my Savior and so much more.

Dear Reader, Thank you for letting me share a small portion of my journal letters with you. I find such healing in writing and I am grateful to share my thoughts and feelings with those of you on the other end of this blog. You are in my prayers and I have thanked the Lord for you many times. Have a fabulous week. In His love and mine

Blessing upon Blessing

I love November. I love being with family- listening to them laugh with each other and catching up. I love that it is the month of the birth of my incredible son. I love watching grandkids running through whoever’s house we are visiting-playing some made-up only-for-cousins game. Of course, I love the turkey, the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and jellied cranberry from the can (my specialty). I love the crisp weather and the creative colors, but high on my list of reasons I love November is the reminder to NOTICE people, places, and things to be grateful for. Every time I stop and take a moment to actually NOTICE, my mood lightens. If I express it, my world gets brighter still. So thank you, dear reader for allowing me to express the grateful (in no particular order) I have noticed this week.

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. John 1:16

  • An unexpected call for your help
  • Perfect song playing in a public place at the perfect time
  • Fun fellowship with family
  • Surprise spectacular sunrise or sunset
  • Spontaneous lunch invitation
  • Kind representative at Delta Airlines- Thanks, Kim!
  • Cinnamon french toast
  • Out-of-the-ordinary promptings
  • Running into a former student. Yay!
  • Passing on a compliment to your son
  • Gym time with inspiring fellow exercisers
  • New friends, present friends, long-time friends
  • A funny meme sent by your grandson right before you go to bed
  • Impromptu tee time
  • Smell of “Eucalyptus Spearmint” bath gel after you wash your hands
  • Laughing out loud with your husband while watching “our show”
  • Guidance exactly when you need it
  • A baby’s smile aimed at you
  • A well-timed encouraging “like, comment, share, email, text, or call”
  • Anytime you hear the word, “Grandma”
  • Anticipation of a much-needed trip
  • Morning time in prayer room
  • New insights from scripture
  • Hot tub in chilly weather
  • The incredible intense colors of fall
  • His unconditional love, forgiveness, and never-changing presence
  • Another day

For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]. John 1:16 Amplified Bible

Grace upon grace, spiritual blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, gift upon gift. Though God’s gifts are not always exactly what I am waiting for, asking for, or feel I need, they are there out of His fullness if I choose to NOTICE them. I am always happy to hear about what’s on your list during Notice November and I am praying that your next week is filled with blessing upon blessing. In Jesus name, Amen

Coloring the Gray Days

            Do you ever feel like you are walking through a landscape of gray days? Do you wake up to lusterless? Go through your day through a sheen of blah? Ever think about how you color your world?  What does the palette of your past look like? the hues of your future? The painting of your present? 

Shortly after I retired, I went back to the elementary school where I was taught for 14 years and I was nervous. I was afraid I would be melancholy and regret my difficult decision to leave. When I walked out the door on that last day (after a week of kind sentiments from beloved parents and students, and the incredible people I worked with) I painted my 26 year long teaching experience with rosy colors- shades of purples and pinks. 

Six months later, I attended a birthday lunch at the school in honor of my amazing principal and as I walked in, the rosy picture became splattered with the challenging browns and stressful fire reds of real elementary school. As co-workers told the adventures of the day (there is never a dull moment in elementary school) I remembered.  The colors morphed and deepened.  Then I walked down the old familiar halls to visit my previous students. Amidst the hugs, the tears, the joy of seeing them the grays muted. A vibrant rainbow- a kaleidoscope burst forth- a “whole picture” active and alive with glorious hue. By the time I climbed into my car to leave, I took with me an authentic portrait of my school career painted with all the colors of joy and struggles and I knew that (at least for now) it was time for new experiences in a different field.  As I drove away, I was so thankful to have worked so many years at a job of many colors.

            For a long time, I looked at my childhood through one monochromatic lens.  It was coal black. a picture of worthlessness, hurt, and anger.  Then one day I learned about a Savior who had forgiven me and I made the decision to pick up the brush and apply some forgiveness to the canvas of my own past.  The black page became animated with streaks of tangerine orange and pear green. Wow! It was a silent shout- a different perspective- a more authentic depiction. I added lemon yellow gratitude, and candy red lessons-learned and the past became a new likeness-the black was still there but now infused with pigments that were simply beautiful.

I applied the same strokes of forgiveness, gratitude, and lessons-learned to my past failed relationships-deeply etched with “victim gray”.  It worked! The swirling distortion of the picture of my past began to unbend and untwist into a true and rich landscape. Yes, there are hurts, even devastating betrayals, but there is much more. A whole healing picture!

            To the blank canvas of my future I add a different color scheme. To the ashen gray of worry, “what ifs”, or fear, I try to roll on those incredible colors of purple: lavender and lilac, plum and pomegranate and all those royal shades in between.  It is a mix of red and blue.  It is hope.  Adding hope to what the future might look like turns a dim sketch into a mural of possibilities.

           I have a choice about how to color my day today. I can let the leaden charcoal of discouragement, worry, fear, anger, etc. (and believe me sometimes I do) color my present or I can primer my daily canvas with an openness to a “whole picture” perspective. Then add a background of forgiveness (sometimes in spurts all day), gratitude, and lessons-learned. I can then splash my picture with hope (even dot the whole thing with apple-red adventure) and finally, seal it with a protective sheen of faith. I am not always good at this.  In fact, somedays are a combination of gray and/or black-an accumulation of all colors but lacks the Light to allow them to show. Once in a while even picking up the brush is a struggle, but if I try, I am often rewarded with a rainbow of richness- all part of this illustration of my life.

  • Forgiveness: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Mark 11:25 
  • Gratitude: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
  • Lessons-Learned: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25
  • Hope: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13
  • Faith: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Dear Readers: To join a direct link to this blog and more, please email me at sonflowersandsoul@gmail.com. I would love to directly communicate with you. As always, thank you so much for your support! With love in Jesus, Kristy