Monday, April 29, 2013

Gratitude Journal #185

Today, I am grateful to my sweet husband for buying me a new computer. It's AWESOME and fast and beautiful. Thank you, honey-bunny! You rock!

Today, I am grateful that a friend's tiny, less than one-month-old baby is doing better this morning. She was rushed to the ER last night with RSV. Any prayers for baby K's continued recovery will be very much appreciated!

Today, I am grateful for rain.

Today, I am grateful for dogs who demand attention when they demand it, no matter what you're doing.

"Mom, why are you reading that screen instead
of petting me? Seriously, Mom,
get your priorities straight!"

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Oh, the Horror!

Pioneer Woman lived every woman's nightmare, and her husband still chuckles about it.

To read the horror, go HERE.

It'll motivate you to clean your house this weekend in Sheldon Cooper style.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Nest

Saturday evening, George coated cod fillets in seasoning and prepared them to grill. When he went outside to preheat the gas grill, he opened it and yelled,

"What the --!!!"

I hopped up from the kitchen table where I was reading a medieval murder mystery and dashed out the door, only to dissolve into laughter when I saw the problem.

George had grilled the previous weekend and hadn't replaced the grill cover, so sometime last week, a pair of starlings built this very impressive nest.

We had, in fact, noticed the starlings on the deck all week (they are noisy birds, after all), but we never saw them with nesting material in their beaks and had no idea they saw our gas grill as the perfect shelter for raising babies.

Our first instinct was to move the nest into a large bucket, trying to damage it as little as possible, in the rather ridiculous hope the birds would still use it. But the nest collapsed when I carefully picked it up, and all that was left to do was dump the whole thing in the woods. I cleaned out the grill, and George made dinner as planned.

The birds were, understandably, very upset. They kept coming back stare at the grill cover and cheep angrily at it. In the last day or two, their visits have gradually become fewer and farther between as their bird brains accept the loss of the nest, but I still feel bad for them.

Not so bad, however, that I'd change what we did. Starlings are not endangered, and my aunt assures me they build several nests a year. Little wonder, given how fast they built this big nest! It's hardly hurting the species, even if this particular pair may be distressed. And if they were silly enough to nest in a grill, perhaps their particular genes shouldn't be passed down anyway.

Besides, the fish tacos really were quite delicious.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gratitude Journal #184

Today, I am grateful for good rest, nice people, and time with friends.

Today, I am grateful for online shopping.

Today, I am grateful for green...the green of new leaves, grass, and other growing things. The color green symbolizes renewal, rebirth, life. Spring made that pretty much a given for all eternity!

Today, I am grateful for the view out my windows.

Today, I am grateful for working computers.

Today, I am grateful the police, infrared photography, modern hospitals, justice and at least some closure in Boston. I pray for those who are wounded in body, mind, and spirit, that they may find peace and healing in the weeks and months to come.

Today, I am grateful to be in America.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Words, Words, Words about Gratitude

"The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see." Dr. Robert Holden

My thanks to reader Lucy for sharing this wonderful quotation with me. I do believe that what you see is very often what you look for. If you see the world through the lens of gratitude, you see a very different world than the one seen through a lens of bitterness, anger, or hate.

I wonder what lens the surviving Boston bomber has been looking through. What warped his view so terribly that violence and horror became acceptable to him?

I wonder what lens we should look through moving forward.

Gratitude seems like a good choice to me. Gratitude for those who keep us safer than most people in the world, for those who rush at harm to help others, for doctors and nurses and technicians who save lives and piece them back together again. Gratitude for kindness and community and love and compassion. Gratitude for a God that never, ever stops blessings us, even in our darkness and fear.

Gratitude is a miracle.

Change what you see.

Change the world.

What are you grateful for in this moment, right now?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Should We Do?

How many of you saw the Saturday Night Live introduction with Rudy Giuliani after the 9/11 attacks? The mayor essentially gave the cast permission to tell jokes again by cracking one of his own.

A certain awkwardness arises after a national tragedy. It's awful, horrible, overwhelming. We know that some people's lives have ended and others' lives have irrevocably and forever changed. But life goes on for most of us. We wonder how we should show respect but not give in to grief. We wonder how much we should let it affect our lives. If we let events overwhelm us, aren't we giving the bad guys even more power than they deserve?

On Monday, I had planned a post on my card-making blog of a happy birthday card...a cheerful card I could joke about. After the Boston tragedy, however, I felt it would be inappropriate to post that card, and posted THIS instead.

If you read the comments, you'll see that most of my readers agreed with my decision to delay posting the card. One reader from Ireland pointed out how common such scenes were there for thirty years...a comment that put the Boston tragedy in perspective as something unusual and shocking in our relatively peaceful and secure country but sadly too common in countries torn apart by political or religious or economic conflict. Her comment made me think of our friends stationed in Egypt right now, and I said a prayer.

One reader, Tanis, respectfully provided another perspective:

"I don't think it would have been inappropriate. There's something to be said for carrying on and not allowing the the perpetrator(s) of this horrific crime be more disruptive than they already have been. Forging ahead diminishes their power."

Tanis has a very good point, and I'm grateful she spoke up. There is, indeed, something to be said for carrying on.

In my post, I wrote:

"Posting my cheerful card seems indecent and inappropriate when the parents of an 8-year-old are mourning, when three whole families in Boston are mourning and countless others are eaten up with worry and fear."

That's definitely how I felt that evening, but I wish now I had emphasized that it seemed inappropriate for me to post something cheerful that night. My attitude need not--should not--be shared by everyone. And I certainly didn't think the people who continued posting to their blogs as usual, without mention of Boston, were in any way being indecent or inappropriate. It just felt that way for me.

In other words, my words expressed my feelings and were in no way a judgment of others' feelings or behavior. We all respond differently, some (like me) publicly with words and some very privately in the quiet of their hearts.

Boston hit me particularly hard, I think, because I know what it feels like to cheer on a loved one near the finish line of a big race. I know the excitement, the joy, the enthusiasm of the crowd, the sweat of the racers, the stumbles of exhaustion, the yells of encouragement from strangers you'll never see again in your life, the goodwill radiating from everyone.

Someone did an enormous evil in the midst of all that goodwill, and I'm still sad, still affected by the human cost of it all. But Tanis is right, too. The London marathon will go on, other races will be run, and I'll be in Wisconsin in September cheering George through another Ironman.The bombing won't stop us from gathering enthusiastically.

Let's all pay respect in whatever way we see fit and forge ahead.

That seems like the right thing to do.

Back in Business

I'm now up and running with our very old desktop computer that had been relegated to the basement for the children's use. A new keyboard (because a kid spilled orange soda on the old one) and some time setting up email and such, and it's working fine.

*knocking on wood*

If you are someone I know in real life or have regularly corresponded with via email, PLEASE send me an email at gsraihala at roadrunner dot com. I did lose my email contacts and all emails earlier than a week ago, and that's really the worst of the whole experience. If you email me, I can restore you as a contact.

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gratitude Journal #183

Today, I am grateful for 183 posts about gratitude. Do something 183 times, and it's bound to change you. Do something good 183 times and it's bound to change you in good ways. My cup overfloweth.

Today, I am grateful for plentiful food on my table and the hands of my husband who prepares it.

Today, I am grateful for clothes to cover my nakedness...and the rest of the world is grateful for that, too.

Today, I am grateful for Jack, who inherited a sunny-side-up disposition. He just woke up, came to me, noticed the library card sitting on my desk, and asked, "What happened to the library card?" I replied, "It went through the dryer and is now curved." Jack said, "Oh, well. It still works!" That's exactly what I said to Nick when he brought me the card from the dryer five minutes earlier.

Today, I am grateful for Nick, who is 13 and growing into a young man who thinks and feels things deeply and surprises me with depths of maturity beyond his years.

Today, I am grateful for George, who makes me laugh and think and feel loved.

Today, I am grateful for the golden light of sunrise on trees trying to overcome winter's bareness.

Today, I am grateful for coffee pots.

Today, I am grateful for dog smiles.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, April 11, 2013


George commented recently that I haven't written much lately. He sounded a little sad about it, although perhaps that was wishful thinking on my part. I want to get back to writing more and regularly. I want to shake things up.

Joan Didion wrote, "I write to know what I think." She's not alone. Lots of writers find illumination when they organize words.

When I first started writing this blog, organizing words was relatively easy. Some posts took longer than others, but basically, writing to know what I thought felt like a smooth and reliable process. Lately, however, I've struggled to organize words. Nearly five years in, and my thinking has become nebulous, hard to grasp, a struggle.

This is a good thing.

I'm not worried. Struggle is good for a soul. It changes us, which can be scary sometimes, but our fears rarely justify themselves. Heaven knows I've had struggles in the past...struggles far more intense and serious and with much higher consequences. I've learned to trust the process of struggle. It's the process of life, after all, and I'm living well. Very well. In the past five months or so, I've done some good new things and also realized that I've let some things slide that shouldn't.

My word for 2013 was Intentional. I need that word.

That's why I'm putting up curtains and trying to lose weight because where did that new ten pounds come from? Seriously, ten pounds and nothing fits anymore. I didn't intend to gain that weight or live in a house without curtains for over a year.

The distractedness that I've felt since we moved to the new house is fading, and I'm figuring out where my focus needs to be. I want to write and think, to share and connect, to teach and learn, to inspire and be inspired. I have an idea for a book about stamping and an idea for a book of devotional writing. I have an idea for my blog transforming common days, and I'm struggling for an idea for this blog.

I'll get there, though, and I appreciate your patience in the meantime.

When have you struggled to find focus? What came out of your struggle?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gratitude Journal #182

Today, I am grateful for rest.

Today, I am grateful for birdsong and blue skies and growing things.

Today, I am grateful for a wonderful Holy Week and spring break and safe travel and visits with family and bubbles in the back yard and movies and food and fellowship and laughter.

Today, I am grateful for moving forward on household projects: reseeding the lawn, paperwork, curtains and blinds, delivering donations to Salvation Army, and getting everyone's clothes organized for the new season.

Today, I am grateful for epiphanies, figurative whacks on the head, and the kindness of friends and husbands.

What are you grateful for today?