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See the woman near the top center of this picture, walking away? She’s key.

* * *

I’d been warned.

“Be careful passing under the bridge where the boat docks.
People cross back and forth there
and aren’t alert to cyclists passing through.”

But I had in mind
to ride the length of the trail
without stopping or getting off,
to go faster or slower,
adjusting as needed,
but to keep riding.
A personal challenge.

“Be careful passing under the bridge…”.
I kept it in mind

Pedaling along
I thought of that spot,
how the path dips down.

I’ve walked it plenty of times,
but on a bike
the descent would mean picking up speed.

AND there’s a blind spot
just before the edge of the dip
where you really can’t see what’s down there
until you’re about to descend.

I had a plan, a good plan.
I’d slow
almost to a stop (but not quite)
and look down into the dip
before making my descent.

* * *

I came around a bend,
approaching that spot,
about to work my plan
and, looking up,
saw a woman walking.

We’d be reaching
the crest
at the same time,
a bad place to pass her.

Speeding up to pass sooner was not an option.
so I slowed and slowed until
reluctantly
I had to stop
and give her time to walk on.
I’d pass her later in the straightaway that followed the dip.

If not for that woman
my plan would’ve worked perfectly.

If only she hadn’t been in my way.

* * * *

No rush now.
I walked the bike
to the edge
and looked down.

There I saw
not just foot traffic – people boarding the boat,
but an automobile FULLY BLOCKING the path,
someone dropping off a handicapped person.

The thought of what MIGHT have happened was sobering.
If I hadn’t stopped, I certainly would have crashed right into it.
(Ever the blogger, I snapped the pic.)

* * *

I recalled the words
from long ago
of an old woman
whose face and name escape me now
“In the frustrating moments of life,
when I’m stuck in traffic
or a checkout line
or when someone has forgotten something
and we need to turn around and go back,
I try to remember
never to let it get to me,
that we never know just what danger this frustration is saving us from.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances…”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

On Monday I expand on recent entries in my Gratitude Journal. This was #929.

What obstacle or frustration do you need to be thankful for?

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A short exchange sticks in my head.
“How are you today?”
“Not too good.”
Let’s see if we can build on that.”

* * *

The most perfectly placed person
I know
has to be
a 30-ish man
at The James
with a way of making each person feel
recognized
remembered
cared for.

It’s a gift.
No other way to account for it.

I’ve watched
been delighted
made mental notes.

On rides home
we have discussed him
the way he is with people.

Where he is
is not place of sickness
but a healthy place
where the sick are welcome.

He had already made an impression on me
before escorting
us to another department,
but that walk together sealed it:
Passing through a waiting room
full of people
of varying ages
states of health
stages of treatment -
some in wheelchairs
some with scarfs covering heads -
there were nods of recognition
and ‘hellos’
from all directions.

He slowed a bit.

“And how are YOU today?”
he asked a woman
whose poor coloring -
side effect of treatment -
caught my eye
before anything else.

“Not too good,” she said.

Let’s see if we can build on that today then,”
he said with such enthusiasm
and a smile so certain
that you might think
that alone
could work magic.

Fifteen months later
“Let’s see if we can build on that…”
swirls in my thoughts.

In essence he was saying
whatever mood you are in it’s okay
we may be able to build on it
but the main thing is you showed up.

* * *

"MOOD is a luxury...whatever mood he has to begin with becomes the building block of a better mood."

I thought of him this week,
reading Julia Cameron’s words
“MOOD is a luxury…..”

Waiting for the mood to strike
will undo
just about every good idea.

Start where you are.
Show up for the work.
Put a toe in -
a whole foot even.
Take one step, then another
it won’t take many
before the mood comes up a notch.

_______________
Sources
*Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life (New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, 1998), 33.

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I know so many people who are waiting these days. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe we all are in some way.

* * *

On Mondays, I share bits and pieces from my Gratitude Journal.
#843   BALD EAGLE
A bald eagle made a surprise appearance overhead on Saturday, a day that was unexpectedly hot but also had some excellent breezes. The majestic bird was a joy to watch – his seemingly effortless flight full of graceful turns. He brought to mind the words of Isaiah 40:31:

“...but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint
.”

These promises for all who WAIT are not based on sight, but on FAITH. Bring along a readiness for take-off.

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holy experience

The idea of using Mondays to post content from Gratitude Journals began at Ann Voskamp's "A Holy Experience" blog. The number of bloggers participating keeps growing. A good way to start a work week - dwelling on gifts given!


Louis Giglio defines grace as “that which only God can do.”

Having done all I can
I rest
and tell God
I’ve taken each step
put in front of me
so far as I can see
and now
seeing no more steps that are mine to take
I’ll wait
and trust the timing to Him
I’ll wait
and not fidget.

Fidgeting is 2nd-class waiting.

But after some time
when nothing seems to be happening
and no more steps are shown
I begin to think
maybe I read things wrong
maybe that’s that.
Time to move on to acceptance.

And then
THEN
is when the motherlode of grace
is dumped on me.

#805.
After 2-1/2 years of searching,
I FINALLY land a native Spanish speaker for a language intercambio partner,
and not just a native speaker
but someone studying to do exactly this thing,
chock full of experience and tips
and an excellent resource.

A sign
to continue.

* * *
Also, other SIGNS on the journey:

#809 a sign I love

#810 an interesting sign I'd never seen before

#811 Count on finding the unusual at the farmer's market!

:-)

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Sprucing up a door IN.

I’m also looking for a better opening for a story I’m working on.
Sanding down YET AGAIN the latest attempt.
It’ll come to me.

At this point, I’m a little afraid that the hurdle of the perfect opener is becoming a reason to procrastinate
Alas.

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holy experience

On Mondays, I share bits and pieces from my Gratitude Journal.

#365 The meaning of ADVENT, made new!

After a long talk with someone
AGAIN
same subject
still no resolution
still waiting for an answer
I see that we are in an Advent frame of mind

We wait for God to step in and inform our attitude and actions.

* * *

ADVENT.
Not simply remembering
ancient times
ancient things
ancient people
in great need
waiting
watching
expecting
and finally
of God stepping into their world.

But us
in need
waiting
watching
expecting
hoping
for God to step into our world
and tell us what our response to it needs to be,
every day.

We need the reminder
of the faith walked
shepherd seen
angel sung
wise men acknowledged
world-changing
stepping in of God.

Because
He still steps in.

* * *

An ADVENT frame of mind.
Expectant.

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On Mondays, I share snippets from my Gratitude Journal:

* * *

Back to the Jungle by Peter Boldt#221. A GOOD BOOK to make a long wait fly by

Some of you may recall my fascination with immigrant stories. What a marvelous companion THIS book was on Friday! We had a very long day of tests at OSU Medical Center, but I’d grabbed this on my way out of the house and it kept me company in several waiting areas. I started and almost finished the book in one day – a record!

The author was born in Paraguay and emigrated to Canada with his Russian-Mennonite parents. After attending Bible College in the States (another cross-cultural experience), he served as a missionary in Panama before returning to Canada. He eventually returned to his childhood home.

This book had it all for me and I was so glad to have taken it with me on what could have been a very trying day. (Extra bonus: I got to talk about it the whole way home!)

If you have good titles to recommend, please leave a comment.

* * *

finger puppets#208 FINGER PUPPETS

Whatever happened to my last handful of these, I don’t know. I think they were distributed to various wiggly children and tied onto the ribbons of baby shower gifts. I received the nicest thank you note a few months ago from a new mother, telling how, when all else failed, the little finger puppet was the sure-fire way to calm her baby.

My stash was in sad shape, but I found these and a few more in a store in Atlanta and snatched them up!

People expect old ladies to have fun things for children and it’s one part of the stereotype that I truly enjoy reinforcing. I have tons of knitting needles and yarn and really ought to make these myself. (I’ll add it to my to-do list.) :-)

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