216. Mr. Rogers

Tonight I saw the new documentary about Mr. Rogers – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and my heart is full.

What a loving man!

And watching him treat children – and all other people – like individuals worthy of attention and interest – makes me feel worthy of attention and interest.

And makes me want to go out and be a loving person.

213. Credit Cards Paid Off!

Yesterday, I paid off all my credit cards.

This feels miraculous. For years, I’d prayed daily that it would happen, but I thought I was praying for something in the far distant future.

But I checked out a home equity loan recently – and qualified for just enough to pay off all those cards and end up in a better budget. Yes, I still have debt, but now it’s all secured debt.

And that feels so good!

210. A New Car!

I think I jinxed myself. Last year, when I paid $2700 to fix my old 2002 Prius, I kept saying that I hoped it would last until I paid off my student loans. Well, last month I paid off my library school student loans – and on December 28, when the weather had turned bitter cold, my check engine warning light went off. It still was running, but I took it in that night.

The next day they told me the hybrid motor was malfunctioning and the engine was misfiring. It would cost me $5000 to fix it. The car had 227,000 miles on it, 101,000 more than when I bought it ten years ago.

It was time to buy a new car!

So on December 29, I bought a brand-new Prius C (C for Compact). I knew I wanted another Prius, and was happy that now they have a smaller, cheaper version. I found what I wanted on the website and test drove it – and love it!

209. Candlelight Service in Our New Building

I’ve always loved the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at Gateway Community Church. We sing “Shine, Jesus, Shine” after letting the candlelight spread through the auditorium. And we hold our candles high. I didn’t use to think of that as a Christmas song!

And this was our first year in our new building, so there were lots more people, and it was all the more beautiful.

This year, we’re having an 11 pm service to prepare our hearts for Christmas, as well. It makes for a memorable Christmas Eve.

207. Christmas Tree Lighting

My church had a Christmas Tree Lighting. And what’s special about that is that for years we were meeting in a middle school, but now we have our own building! So this was the first annual Christmas Tree Lighting!

And I realized that usually I go to church with a goal – at the very least to learn something. But this was a goal-less trip. To celebrate, see people I care about, meet some new people, and do a little worshipping as well. It was lovely.

205. Seven Years of Singleness

Seven years ago today, my divorce was finalized.

At the time, I was scared. I got married right after finishing grad school. So I hadn’t lived as a single adult on my own, out in the world. I felt unprotected and alone.

But – being single turned out to be lovely! I am working as a librarian, making my own friends, active in church, choosing activities that I like to do.

I have even managed to buy a car and keep it maintained! (That was one of the most daunting things. Done.) Why, I even chose and bought my own home (with a down payment from my dad, okay) – something we never managed to do as a couple.

Yes, there have been lonely times. Yes, I hope to marry again some day. But life is very good even if that doesn’t happen.

And this year I’m even on the Newbery committee!

Earlier this month, a family crisis got me feeling vulnerable and alone again. But now things are better, and I just keep on seeing herons, as I mentioned a couple days ago.

Herons represent self-reliance and remind me that, yes, I am just plain thankful for the last seven years.

I am not only living my single life with grace; I am soaring.

205. Friends

Raise your hand if you’re having someone over who doesn’t have family nearby. My dear friend Darlene is doing that for me today – and I’m so thankful! I’ve known Darlene since we were in 3rd grade, so she feels like family. Thanksgiving is a good day to remember that I’m surrounded by people who love me, even when my family is far away.

194. Hiking

I do love going hiking. My kids know that, and agreed to go hiking with me, but I don’t know if they know that part of the reason I love to go hiking is that when I was a kid, the only time I got to do it was when we were on vacation going to Oregon. And often we would go to Silver Falls State Park to do it.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area, the idea that I can walk out of my house and walk in the woods still blows me away.

But it was extra nice to hike at Silver Falls State Park on this vacation. And I really believe that I remember South Falls – and going behind the falls – from a much shorter perspective.

Anyway, it was a lovely day for walking in the woods with my kids. And they didn’t even complain when we got caught in a rainstorm at the end!

193. Playtime with my Little Nieces

The other huge highlight of my trip was getting to play with my preschool age and toddler nieces! There’s nothing like it for forgetting worries and bringing smiles! They are so very sweet!

Meredith (one year old):

Zoe (just-turned-two):

Arianna (four years old):

Alyssa (almost five years old):

Getting to spend time with these wonderful girls was a treat that will keep me smiling for months!