Category Archives: grace in small things

Sometimes people surprise you

I want to tell you a story… and write it down so I don’t forget it myself….

Earlier this week (Holy Week mind you), I ran into Walgreens after my morning workout to pick up a bottle of vitamins. They had just opened so I was the only person in the store – except for this guy checking out as I walked in.

When I got to the checkout, he was still there talking the cashier’s ear off. Dressed in some beat-up clothes, raggedy jeans and motorcycle boots he was going on and on about his rebuilt motorcycle. I had things to do – a schedule to keep of course – so I refused to make eye contact with him or the cashier because I could tell that he was the type of person who would try to pull me into the conversation and I just wanted to pay for my vitamins and leave. He was driving me CRAZY. On and on about cylinders this and carburetor that and how fast he can get his bike… then he asked the cashier for some paper so he could get his number and tell him about group rides this summer. (I probably sighed heavily at this point… I mean come on already!) And the guy started talking all about the cool rides and how much fun they have – SERIOUSLY?!? – and then mentioned a ride he’s doing in a few weeks sponsored by a church and he paused – something he hadn’t done in the entire endless diatribe about motorcycles so far…

“You know I didn’t used to be huge church guy but it’s something we gotta do,” he said “It’s important to just go and say ‘I’m sorry Lord and thank you.’ You know what I mean?”

I looked up and he was looking right at me.

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I do know what you mean and you’re right it IS important.”

He smiled back, “God bless you.” And he walked out the door.

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Lenten Graces: Week Two

It was a dreary week. Gray skies. Lots of rain. Discouraging progress with the Achilles recovery. Bad sleep sort of week.

Precisely the sort of week that deserves being reviewed for graces…

A surprise at faith sharing: For 5 or 6 years now I’ve been part of a small faith-sharing group during Lent. We meet weekly, break down the coming Sunday’s Gospel and use a guide to help us consider related points. This week one of our discussion questions was where we’ve been inspired by faith. I was literally brought to tears when one person across the table said they were inspired by my daughter… and then to have others around the table nodding and chiming in with their agreement. I’m in awe and feel privileged to witness her faith but to have someone else express that was a wow moment.

A request received: Last week I went a little outside my comfort zone to ask a friend to participate in a faith-based book study during Lent. She’s a friend I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like so I was hoping this would give us a reason to reach out and talk/text/share. This week I found myself sitting in my car, waiting for my son to leave practice and grinning from ear to ear as my friend & I texted back and forth about the first chapter.

A walk to the beach: I decided to try and push my Achilles just a bit this week and was so happy to see it respond in pretty decent fashion. I’ve been discouraged with my recovery (though my PT says I’m doing great) and this little half mile walk was a big spot of hope.

Family visits: Last Saturday we spent the day in Indy playing at the Children’s Museum with my sister’s and brother’s families. This Saturday we spent another day in Indy with my brother’s family listening to my daughter perform at a state music competition. I’m very grateful for the graces in my sibling relationships.

I’m ready to put this week behind me. Shake off the doldrums and move forward into week three of Lent.

Lent Graces: week one

As a firm believer in the benefits of consciously being grateful, I’m going to add a post of small graces to my weekly Lenten obligations. I’ve done this before and while gratitude is part of my regular prayer life, I think it’s good to write them down… to mark the moments and look back on them later when needed.

Where have I found grace this week?

  • In a new kid who came to youth group this week at the invitation of someone else. He came up to me afterwards to ask when the next meeting is scheduled because he really liked the night. A night with a good balance of focused Lent reflection, laughter and conversation.
  • In the ability to get up to my Lake a few weeks in a row now. This Achilles recovery is keeping me from hiking but it’s so worth the drive to stand on the shore and experience the changing Lake on a regular basis.
  • A new book study for Lent that has already changed the way I’m seeing life.

I don’t know what it is but I’m so ready for this Lent… for the opportunity to think about my priorities and change/grow for the better.

That Christmas when hangers were the best gift

I was looking through some old pictures yesterday and came across one that made me laugh out loud:

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He’s three years old in that picture. For a reason that will forever baffle (and amuse) me, he decided that day to call hangers (as in clothes hangers) hookers. He opened a gift of clothes and said loudly “Oh man there are hookers in this box.” Which of course made all the adults in the room laugh. When you’re three and you make people laugh, you keep it going. Every gift that had hangers would be shown to J, who would grab them and excitedly wave them around “YAY!!! MORE HOOKERS!!!”

I can’t wait until he’s old enough for me to explain why that’s so funny.

It was good for me to find something that made me laugh because I’ve felt very affected by sad news all around me lately – both close to home and far away in a world I can’t really even picture. It seems that everywhere I turn, I hear something angry or violent or sad. I’ve been doing some Advent reflections (not as often as I’d like) and the image I’ve been focusing on is that of a single candle. Its flickering flame is that of Emmanuel – Christ with us. My job is to shield that flame, to tend its fire, to help it shine in my little corner of the world. This week it shone on me when I found that picture and laughed all over again. It’s also shone on…

  • the laughter of my kids
  • a surprise breakfast with my son
  • a faith sharing group that has been an oasis of calm this month
  • crossing things off a list that is slowly but surely dwindling
  • receiving Christmas cards (I love Christmas cards)
  • listening to my daughter play the clarinet
  • watching my oldest swim – and goof around with her friends on deck
  • a 10yo who lets me read Christmas stories to him (sometimes)

By the way, my second favorite Christmas story is when my oldest was three years old (three is a great age). She had the lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town slightly off and we spent as much time as possible asking her to march or dance around the room singing it over & over:

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not poop
I’m telling you why…

To this day, my brother teaches his kids to sing the song that way as a joke. Kids are so fun.

’tis the season to be thankful

Thanksgiving is next week – NEXT WEEK! It’s been a busy month around here so it almost feels like it snuck up on me. The fact that it will be December when I get back from our Thanksgiving… well that’s a little mind blowing. It’s funny how the months can zoom past while the days drag on (every day has felt like Thursday this week – it’s been a neverending week). So here’s what I’m thankful for this week before I get caught up in all the turkey day preparations.

  • The grin on my son’s face as he cheered on his teammates in last night’s spell bowl
  • Finding time for short runs every day – runs that lift my spirits even as they freeze my face
  • Family dinner conversations & laughter
  • Flannel sheets
  • Watching 20, 8/9 year old kids close their eyes and pray for the recipients of their shoebox gifts (don’t tell them I watched, we were supposed to have our eyes closed!)