61. Emmanuel

Emmanuel.  God with us.  That’s the amazing thing about Christmas.  God became one of us, and put aside His glory so we could better understand Who He is.

In Luke 7, after Jesus brought a widow’s son back to life, this happened:

They were all filled with awe and praised God.  “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said.  “God has come to help his people.”

God has come to help His people.  Thank you, Lord.

55. Thanksgiving

I’m so thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday!

A whole day set aside for giving thanks.  The awesome thing about Thanksgiving is it can be celebrated by people of every religion.  Even atheists can think of the other people in their lives to whom they can be grateful.

I also like the way Thanksgiving has traditionally become a time to celebrate the people in our lives whom we love.

A wise person has said that gratitude helps you live in the present.  When you’re being thankful, you’re not obsessing over or regretting the past.  You’re not worrying about the future.  You’re remembering that right now, this moment, you have something to be thankful for.

What a blessing!

49. My Church Community

Today my pastor preached a dynamic message, which tied closely with things I’d been thinking about.  And then friends both after church and at my small group, discussed those things, and in general gave me great emotional support.

Being part of a Community of Christ-followers is such a blessing.  I’ve had some emotional issues come up in my life lately.  And not everyone in my church or small group necessarily thinks exactly the same way as I do about these issues.  But they care about me, help me think things through, pray for me, and in general make me feel loved and supported.

They make me feel that we’re walking this life together.  And that’s a beautiful thing, and such a blessing.

39. My Small Group

My small group started back up, after taking the summer off!  This is a group from church — four couples and me — and we grab some lunch, then meet at my home after church.  We talk about our lives, pray for each other, and discuss and study the Bible, talk about the sermon, or maybe go through a book.

Most of us had a pretty big summer, and it was good to get to see these people I care about and who care about me.

27. My Own Personal Retreat Center


I’ve had some trouble with the Empty Nest Blues lately.  And the truth is, though it’s ticked off by my son starting his last semester of college, it’s exacerbated by the fact that I live alone.  I had always thought this would be something my husband and I would face together.  So it makes the pain of the divorce fresh.

But the other day I started reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation, and another book I started reading reminded me of how I’ve heard of people who take a personal retreat and spend time at a monastery — and I’ve always thought that would be a wonderful thing to do.

But then it occurred to me — I’ve got a Personal Retreat Center right where I live!  I’ve got a lake view, a path by the lake to walk, a balcony, a library of books around me, music of my choice, and all the solitude I could possibly want.  If such a place had been available to me when I was a busy mother of little ones, I would have fainted with thankfulness!

It also reminds me of I Corinthians 7.  A married woman or man spends time and energy trying to please her or his spouse.  An unmarried woman can focus on trying to please the Lord.

I do want to find a partner who wants to please the Lord.  But it’s better to be single than to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t.

And meanwhile, it helps my attitude to realize what a wonderful opportunity I’ve been given for all the prayer and contemplation and reading and writing I could possibly want to do.

Who knows, maybe that reflection will help me keep from spending too much time playing mindless computer games!

23. My Lake



In April 2013, I moved into a condo overlooking a lake.  And when I say overlooking, walls on two sides are filled with big windows through which you can see the lake.

It’s not a big lake.  When I walk to the other side and back, I travel a little over a mile.  But it’s lovely.  The wildflowers growing by it change by the week.  I regularly see birds and bunnies when I walk by and have also seen squirrels, deer, and foxes.

And those birds!  I never get tired of seeing a great blue heron who likes to hang out here.  (More on that later!)  But I also see great egrets, goldfinches, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, robins, mallards, Canada geese, and other interesting or seemingly ordinary birds.

What’s more, the lake gave me back my health!  In August 2011 I had a stroke.  I had the stroke because of an accident, not from lack of fitness — but the stroke itself destroyed my fitness level.

When I moved into this condo, the lake was so enticing, I was able to get myself to walk around it regularly.  I had never in all my life done a regular exercise program before.  I feel much more fit than I was after the stroke and before I started walking.

My lake is a daily blessing I’m so thankful for.


21. Babies

Today I got to work in the Babies’ class at church.  We had two babies, one for each of us helping.  Okay, one baby wouldn’t stop crying until we finally got Mommy.  And then the baby I was holding started crying.

But she was very happy before that.  I had gotten lots of delighted baby smiles.  And then after some crying, during which I cuddled her, she went to sleep in my arms.

Do you know how long it’s been since a baby went to sleep in my arms?

(I actually don’t know.  But it’s been a long time.)

I’m smiling about it still.

16. Good Counsel

Today my pastor and his wife took me to lunch.  They gave me wise counsel, a listening ear, good advice, and loving support.

I mentioned in my list of good things about living alone, I’ve been experiencing the Empty Nest Blues lately.  These blues are tied in with some other big things happening in my life lately, and also with enduring scars from my divorce.

I so wish I was done with dealing with that.  I also know how to deal with the blues — Strategies include giving thanks and talking with loving, caring people, among other things — but a part of me doesn’t like the weakness that I keep on having to deal with it.

Diane and Ed were kind.  Reminded me that I’ve got plenty of losses to grieve, and grieving is a process.

Also today my cousin posted about her own griefs.  And made a wise statement that sometimes grieving losses and celebrating blessings happens at the same time.

I think that’s part of the trouble I’m having accepting my own grief — It feels ungrateful to have these feelings when I’m so blessed.

But yes, life happens.  Emotions happen in all their riotous confusion.  I could choose to go numb about them all.  But how much better to experience life in all its craziness.  My painful emotions prove I’m still alive, still tenderhearted, still a caring person.

And the most valuable gift my pastor and his wife gave me?  With their time and attention and care and concern, they helped me feel loved and cared for.  And reminded me that indeed I am loved and cared for.

And very blessed.

15. Living Alone

Heron on the Housetop

Okay, I’ll admit it:  The last few days, maybe even few weeks (since I got back from visiting family on the west coast), I’ve had some bouts of the Empty Nest Blues.

My youngest son is doing a summer internship in Portland, Oregon this year.  He’s working at the same company my oldest works for.  He just turned 21.  He’s graduating after just one more semester; and he’s talking about moving back to Portland after he does.

On top of that, it seems lately I’ve gotten more than my share of bozos and scammers contacting me on the online dating site I’m on — all emphasizing that I’m living alone.

Mind you, my mind is fine with it.  I enjoy living alone!  But my heart is missing my kids, missing having a husband who’s in love with me, and, well, a little extra prone to the blues lately.

However — there are many, many wonderful things about living alone.  And I’m going to continue to go over and over those blessings in my mind — and hope the message will eventually get to my heart.

First, living alone is much, much better than living with a husband who actively dislikes me and is working to tear me down and explain why he can’t possibly live with me.  Enough said.

It’s amazing how much less time I have to spend on chores like cleaning and cooking and shopping.  I don’t have to clean up after anyone except myself!

I can play music I love as loud as I want and as long as I want.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can read as late as I want with the lights on.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can go to my gaming group every Friday night without finding out if anyone else wants to go and without feeling like I’m neglecting anyone.

I can jaunt off to the Smithsonian on a whim if I want to.

I can live in a smallish, cozy condo which I chose based on what I like (the view) and which has no yard work whatsoever.

I can be as active in my church as I wish to be — arrive early and leave late.  I’m not bothering anyone if I linger and talk.

I can spend lots of time working on my website, and again, I’m not bothering anyone by not spending time with them.  (See also less time doing chores and more time reading.)

I’m working on writing a book.  Again, spending time doing this doesn’t bother anyone.

I can do a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table or coffee table, and it’s not in anyone’s way.

Groceries cost an impressive amount less.

I can have just as long a quiet time every day as I want.  I can memorize verses by reading them out loud — no one notices.

I can sing at the top of my lungs.

I can surround myself with things I love (meaning books, yarn, and games).

And… you know what?  I think it’s time to give my sister a call.  But I can do that, too!

Honestly, I’m telling my heart — there’s an up side….

Am I protesting too much?  No, these are indeed wonderful things.  And I really do believe that God loves me and is with me and looking after me.  I do not want to pray for patience in this season of life — I want to pray to enjoy it fully.

12. Christian Music


I think positive affirmations are a good thing.

I’ve read books by Louise Hay which teach this.  The other day, a friend mentioned that when someone defines you negatively, just denying that definition reinforces it in your brain.  (It doesn’t help to try to counteract it by saying, “I’m not a bad mother.”  It’s better to say something positive:  “I am a loving and accepting mother.”)

And Christian songs add music to positive affirmations.  They are powerful.

I’m going to include a couple that have blessed me recently.


The Glorious Unfolding speaks directly to my bewilderment in not having the life I expected at this time in my life.

Sovereign Over Us reminds me that God is good and loving, and He is in control.