Monthly Archives: July 2016

Time With My Sister … Thoughts on Gratitude

I know everyone can’t have a sister like mine, but if you did, you’d spend a lot of time laughing.

Carol and I met for lunch in central Iowa today. She brought her dogs and some cookies for me; I took junk to her. It’s a good life I have. But here are a few thoughts I had on the drive home.

My sister is a dingbat. An all out, full-blown dingbat. I adore her, but she makes me laugh. She brought her dogs along so I could snuggle the pups (more on that in a minute), so I picked up pork tenderloins at Culvers in West Des Moines and then drove on to meet her and we sat in her car under a shade tree.

After she got everyone adjusted (mad dash to the bathroom, another mad dash with the dogs to a little park area, dogs in the back seat … on and on), we passed out the food and then she went to push her glasses up to the top of her head – a very common Carol move. She let out a yelp and just howled with laughter. She’d put her hand up to her eyes and couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on. Carol had put her reading glasses on OVER her sunglasses – having no clue that she was still wearing sunglasses. Yep, two pairs of glasses and no idea. She’s the one who talks to me on the telephone while wondering where her phone is. This behavior is also quite standard for my sister. Never a dull moment.

She told me about a conversation she had with a business person last week. Carol needed to ask a question but knew it was probably something most people wouldn’t ask … they’d just inherently know. She prefaced the question with: “I drive my sister crazy with these questions, so it’s okay if you are internally annoyed with me …” Yeah. She’s a nut.

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13620262_10209362935212370_8122273210789334341_nI don’t have dogs any longer, just three wonderful cats that I adore. But there is something about a dog’s love and affection that you just can’t beat. Carol’s dog, Henri, spent a couple of weeks with me the first year they were together while Carol traveled and I love that little thing. After we finished eating, Henri climbed into my arms and then flung her little head onto my shoulder and relaxed against me. I melted. Dogs are just so genuinely affectionate. And Winston? Carol’s cockapoo? She kept telling me how tiny he was. His pictures don’t really do him justice. That dog is miniature! And so affectionate. It was a wonderful time to spend with pupperdogs.

Luckily, my cats were glad to see me when I got home. I sat down on the bed to take off my socks and change my clothes and within seconds, all three were beside me. TB loves to rub his head against my toes, Earl turns into a floppy, lovey boy and Grey wants to be close. Whew. They aren’t dogs, but they love me.

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My drive home is much nicer than Carol’s. Hers is faster, though. She drove the interstate all the way back to Omaha, while I turned north onto a state road seven miles from where we met. I called her and we chatted for a little longer (Seriously, do all sisters talk for as long as we do? There’s always something more to say.) I commented on the hot young farmers who were driving their tractors down the road without their t-shirts on (Today was beastly hot). She commented on the fact that she was in the middle of a whole bunch of trucks.

Yep. Between the young farmers and the gorgeous fields (see, I appreciate all things in nature), my drive wins.

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IMG_5861The final thought and my real purpose for writing this post was one of the gifts Carol brought to me today. She teaches upper elementary in Omaha and on Fridays, her classroom spends time talking about gratitude. One of the practical ways they approach this is she expects them to write thank you notes. The first few weeks of the year, they write a note each week, then because it gets a little unwieldy for her to manage, the kids are expected to write a thank you note every other week. They practice letter forms with salutations and dates … the whole bit. It’s pretty cool.

She brought me seventeen handwritten notes from kids in her classroom. I’ve done some silly things for the kids throughout the year (shouldn’t every classroom have moon pies on Pi Day – March 14)?

The kids put thought into the notes. Some made me laugh and others made me say ‘awwww’:

From one girl “I’m pretty sure you guys have had fights but that’s pretty good that you two have a good relationship by now.”

Another girl “I bet Ms. Greenwood is happy she has a sister like you.”

From one young boy “I wanted to write you this so you would know you are very appreciated.”

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the things you have done for my class.

At the end of the school year, I sent Carol a box of pens with fuzzy tops. Now, you also have to realize that they all know I’m an author. I also gave the kids some tips as they wrote a fantasy story earlier this year. So, one of my favorite sentences was a very descriptive look at the pen she received: “Thank you for the soft feather pens. They feel like little clouds on a pen.” She’s using a great descriptor!

The kids don’t realize how much I treasure these notes … how special a thank you note is when a gift is given.

There are a lot of words and phrases we should use every single day: I love you. I’m sorry. Please … and THANK YOU! It is so important to build a habit of saying and writing those words. A person who feels appreciated will always strive to do more. How do we not understand that?

I’m back in air conditioning now and I don’t know who to send a thank you card for that. Maybe it’s time for another thank you note to my garage for fixing my Jeep’s A/C a few weeks ago. The trip would not have happened today without it.

I’ll bet there’s someone you should be sending a thank you note to. It’s never too late. Seriously. Never too late.

I Believe in Love

I pray that we …

– choose joy rather than despair
– look for beauty rather than trouble
– risk ourselves for others, rather than run in fear of them
– have faith in something bigger than ourselves, rather than be limited by what we know
– see the best in others rather than expect the worst
– lift others up rather than show off
– cover mistakes rather than expose them to ridicule
– express love rather than judgment
– are kind rather than selfish
– hope for something better rather than speak constantly of disaster
– trust rather than doubt
– persevere rather than give up
– set ourselves aside, rather than beg for attention
– dream rather than cower
– forgive rather than punish
– learn rather than teach
– build up rather than tear apart
– listen rather than speak
– love rather than hate

Heart 43The familiar words of Paul to the church in Corinth resonate loudly in my heart today.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

I believe in love. Let it be our greatest goal.

I believe in love.