Saturday, July 21, 2012

High Five.

Five things I'm thankful for today are:

  1. My job. Not only do I realize how fortunate I am to even have a job in this economy, I'm also aware that enjoying that job puts me in a unique and beautiful category. I prayed for this for so long, and now I am here. Blessed am I.
  2. My foot. My stupid, sore, ugly-shoe-clad, plantar fasciitis-ridden foot. Were it not for this foot, I wouldn't appreciate the 8,456,293 neglected pairs of shoes in my closet that I WILL wear one day when this foot finally heals. I also wouldn't look forward to things like running, walking distances, adding variety to my exercise routine, or doing anything that puts weight on my foot. So, you know, good reminder. Every dang day. 
  3. Upcoming getaways. Switzerland, you ask? The West Coast, perhaps? Maybe a little jaunt to the Pacific Northwest? Not quite. But from my anticipation of a road trip that'll include visits with friends and family, you'd think I'd won an Oprah dream vacation. It's really nice to have things to look forward to.
  4. Stress. Yeah, I know. This one's a little Pollyanna-ish, even for me. But still. Feeling stress reminds me that I don't always feel that way, and that there is a difference between good stress and bad stress. (Maybe I'll blog more on this later. It's a topic that interests me.) So I am grateful to recognize the difference between the two, to realize this isn't my norm anymore, and to find ways to relieve it!
  5. LOL. A teacher I had in high school was great about laughing at her own mistakes. I saw this at the time, and thought I caught on, but I think I'm aware that with each new mistake -- minor or major -- that I maybe don't have that down quite so much. So God bless Mrs. Farris for sharing her stories and demonstrating the value of laughing out loud as often as possible. Since she was attacked by cancer a few years back and I didn't get to say these specific words to her, I really hope she knows just how valuable those lessons were to me. (Also, the typing skills are coming in handy, too.) Knowing Mrs. Farris, I have no doubt she's still cracking herself and everyone around her up, even in Heaven. I'm striving daily to ace that test myself. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Not To Say.

Do you laughingly tell people you "have no filter" when you speak? Better yet, is one of your points of pride how thoughtfully you dole out each.and.every.word before opening your carefully groomed mouth?

If your eyes lit up while excitedly nodding at either of these questions, you're cordially invited to read my rant -- ahem, blog post -- on a few things I recommend never saying. 

Please note that I don't make these suggestions* because they're rude or even because they're just plain silly. No, no. There is much more calculated method behind this madness -- I promise.

I offer these sentences as items to never, ever, ever speak because 
a) they either apply to absolutely everyone, or 
b) they apply to absolutely no one. 

Hence, better left unsaid.

  1. I'm not good with confrontation.* - Who is? Unless we're terrorists, attorneys (no offense, attorneys), or collection agents by choice, can any of us say we've perfected the art of confrontation, and get jazzed up about it any at given time? Not I, said the redhead. Which is why there's an asterisk by this one. Well played, RJ.
  2. It's just that I hate being sick. - Really? In that case, I can see why you took the time to point this out, since it certainly makes you incredibly unique. Most people I know (including me, who's not feeling well right now, which is why you're explaining your distance from my germ even though you're dating me) rather enjoy not being 100%. Huh. Now that you've cleared that up, I get it now, and can appreciate your uniqueness even more. Sweet! 
  3. My life is just PERFECT! - This is one of my biggest pet peeves. While I, too, have been so full of contentment that it would take an atomic bomb to ruin my joy, no one can really say their life is perfect. Plus, when people do say that, it almost sounds like they're trying too hard. You know? Why not, "I'm so thankful things are going well" or "I really couldn't ask for more right now"? Why the word "perfect"? Ugh. (At this point, I always feel like I have to give some disclaimer that I'm not bitter about life, but I'm not even going to try that. I mean, I'm not. If you believe me, great. If not, this blog is voluntary for you to read, not required. Right? Wow. That was freeing!)
  4. Literally.* - If you don't know the meaning of this word, do not use it. If you know the meaning and cannot literally apply it in the sentence you're using, don't include it in your sentence. Period.

* Items marked with asterisks are things I sadly know for a fact that I've actually said out loud. Hopefully only once, though. Then I caught myself and mentally tarred and feathered the little rebekah inside my head. May you do the same if in a similar situation. I mean that in the nicest way possible. Obvs.

Do you have suggestions to add to this list? If so, feel free to "throw me something, mister," and leave your feedback on this blog post. I'm always open to new pet peeves. It's probably a big part of what makes my life so literally perfect! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Funny how quickly I rush to the computer when I need release for worries, but how delayed my post is to shout from the (blogosphere) rooftops the sincere gratitude I feel the minute that same concern is relieved.

Don't get me wrong. I felt like I could run a marathon when I heard a good report on a loved one's health. But isn't it easier, all the way around, to log complaints than it is to give praise? I find that's true at the grocery store with customer service, too. Kind of sad that it applies to my Giver of Life.

At any rate, the relief I did and do feel at this very positively answered prayer is best summed up in a decade-old song by Nichole Nordeman, aptly titled, well, "Gratitude."

Watch the YouTube video:

The lyrics are here:

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead 
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You, please...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Great Concern.

My Grandma Johnson was a very strong woman in every sense of the word.

Deeply rooted in her faith, sturdy in physique, able to mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually take on just about anything that came her way, and not one to succumb to even the slightest cold.

(Seriously. I'm not sure if it was the Vicks salve she used each night before bed or the hymns she lifted up to Heaven with her sweet alto voice every day, but the woman never went to the hospital until the month before she died -- including through the healthy births of eleven children. You read correctly. Eleven.)

Part of that strength I remember so vividly was Grandma's stubbornness. Whether pursing her lips about the "healthier" 2% milk she did.not.order on her grocery list or turning off the TV when "filth came on" by yanking the plug from the wall, Grandma Johnson knew her mind, and was not shy about sharing her determinations.

[In case you're wondering, yes, I am her biological grandchild. Shocking, I know! :-) ]

One of the most precious memories I have of Grandma is her quick reassurance to anyone telling her not to worry about something, "I am not worried. The Bible says not to worry. I just have great concerns."

Ranking right up there with the "You are my sunshine" tune, regular sleepovers next door, picking blueberries in the summer, watching her beautiful hands make those delicious chicken and dumplings with eight decades of love, and her favorite saying of "God has an all-seeing eye and an all-hearing ear," I think I heard the "great concern" statement so often that even at a very young age, I was hiding grins at the idea of Grandma Johnson not worrying about this or that.

Grandma's point, of course, was that she didn't want to disobey God or His Word -- a compulsion so sincere and pure that just thinking about it makes me teary eyed as I type. But admitting she did still have the feeling behind worry was so sweet, and equally earnest.

When things bother me -- usually those pesky ones I can't do anything about, naturally -- I quickly realize why God instructed us in His Word not to worry.

I mean, yes, it's easy to do. Hard not to do, actually.

But man, it can eat away at you, can't it?

I guess everyone probably processes differently, but some days, when something big worries me, I get jittery, or start clenching my teeth, or can't keep my hands or mind busy enough. On really good days, I do all of those things.

Then on other days, I'm good for absolutely nothing, but in the opposite way. I could sleep all day -- all day! Grandma would have had a FIT! -- with no productivity, all over something I have absolutely no say-so in.

So even if most people process their troubles better than my extremes, how are any of us really of much use to anyone, especially God, if we do spend our time worrying? It's kind of hard for me to focus on something I need to do accurately, like fold clothes, if I am bothered that much. To take on tasks for others...well, that's nearly impossible.

So, I get where Grandma was going with her "great concerns." And some days, I'm right there with her. I definitely can't just let troubles drop off my radar and pretend they don't exist. But I can remember that I'm not the Pilot, but I am here for a reason, and if it's to be the best passenger I can be, then I certainly can't do that by obsessing about things I can't control.

Also, I can remind myself to breathe. Come to think of it, maybe that little secret was behind Grandma Johnson's ongoing relationship with her Vicks salve. :-)