Pretty Flowers – Gratitude 3/31

This rose bush is the fullest I’ve ever seen…a blessing from our rainy winter
These beauties bloom as bouquets. They are tucked into a spot on the side of the house.
On Wednesday evening a dear church member brought some beautiful roses from her garden to decorate the table for our potluck and discussion. I enjoyed seeing them, smelling them, and talking about their beauty. At one point I said, “I don’t have any roses yet.” Then upon further reflection I remembered that I haven’t been home saying, “before saying I don’t have any roses maybe I should look. Duh!” I looked and am sharing a couple photos of the beauty that is in my yard. 

In thinking about this, I wonder how often we assume we don’t have something, when all we need to do is investigate a little. I’m thinking of relationships, creativity, curiosity, perseverance… we have so much that graces our lives. When have you been surprised to discover something valuable you didn’t know you had?

Today I’m personally thankful for: beautiful flowers and their reminder of God’s creative work; for the reminder that I have so many resources to draw from; my kids who are running a half marathon with me tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. 

Home – Gratitude 3/30

Being home includes hanging out with these little dogs.
I’ve been home from my big Europe trip for almost a week and realized that I’ve forgotten my daily recounting of thankfulness. As I’ve mentioned before, I started this practice on the morning of November 9th, when I was so disheartened that I didn’t know what else to do. This practice did indeed help me to see that all is not bad in the world…and that I can actively engage in trying to fix what needs fixing. This practice of daily thanksgiving has also been a prayerful way to either start or end my day. So what happens when you forget to do what you thought had become a healthy habit? 

A temptation is to think, “oh well, I failed at this so I might as well give it up.”

That was a common reaction for me in many areas of my life…eating, exercise, daily prayer, learning to speak another language, staying in contact with others, etc.

While I can look back and see that common reaction, I can also look back and see the power of perseverance. Most recently this has led me to successfully change my eating habits and become an endurance runner. Through these two activities I’ve successfully lost at least 80 pounds. I know this success is not guaranteed for tomorrow! Continued perseverance and hard work are necessary.

So, it is with prayer and my daily giving of thanks. This activity is helpful and so I don’t have quit just because I forgot for a few days! What about you? What daily activity do you sometimes have trouble doing, even when you know it’s helpful?

Today I’m personally thankful for: the ability to remember and re-start a helpful activity; being “home” in California; and for quiet early mornings.

The Louvre – Gratitude 3/23

We finally made it to The Louvre! We used most of the morning and some of the afternoon exploring this wonderful museum. I enjoyed the building itself and am in awe of the magnitude of the art that is the building itself. I didn’t take very many photos because of my desire to just remember what cannot be captured. After lunch we spent some rime in a mustard shop…that was fun! The best tasting was something they bottle on site, closing the bottle with a cork. Not being to sure this would travel well we opted for 2nd best tasting …and bought 3 jars for ourselves and another as a gift. Our other excursion was to a chocolate museum and as course we had to buy some chocolate. I also liked this little story…as a reminder not to get on the bad side of church members ๐Ÿ˜‰


Today I’m personally thankful for: another day of vacation to explore Paris; the art that enriches our world; and that I will be returning to my beloved California the day after tomorrow.

Gratitude 3/22

While in Paris and admiring the history all around me I’m going to share some photos from Torgau, Germany. We visited this city a little ove a week ago. I have two strong memories! First, it was sooooo cold! Second there was an unbelievably beautiful spiral staircase.  I’m grateful that I thought to look up for a photo.

Today I’m personally thankful for: hanging out with Scott in Paris, the creativity of those who lived before us; and the care with which people have saved artistic treasure from the past.

My friend Katie looking down the top of the staircase.

The view…looking down

Heading down the stairs

Looking up

And most beautiful…looking straight up from the bottom! This stairway was built 1533-1537. Amazing!

Gratitude 3/21

Today will be our first full day in Paris. It’s also a vacation day so I have the free time to relax and reminisce this morning. My two weeks in Germany were wonderful. The seminar gave me much to ponder, along with lots of notes to review. Most valuable was the time in and out of the seminar with fellow pastors from around the world. Now I have friends to go and visit!

Today I’m personally thankful for: relaxing mornings; my Wittenberg roommate, Katie (pastor in Ohio); and wonderful memories.

We’re standing near the place where the Americans met with the Soviets at the end of WWII. There had been a bridge here but the Germans destroyed it to try and stop the Soviet army. The flags in the distance commemorate this event. A new bridge is just to the right.
I gave Katie my pussy hat as a thanks for sharing the time with me.

Marseille – Gratitude 3/20

My daily thanksgiving had taken a break…not because I’m not thankful but because the time in Wittenberg was so busy that I didn’t have time to post.

Now I’m on vacation! Yesterday I ran my first race outside of California, the Marseille Half Marathon. After the race we enjoyed a wonderful cheese plate for lunch, then set out to tour the city. Eventually we found the correct bus to get to Notre Dame de la Garde. This was at the top of a big hill…the race went around this (thankfully not over it!).

I found a beautiful bronze cross in the gift shop. It has a beautiful blue stone that will forever remind me of the beautiful blue sea here in Marseille. In attempting to purchase it, none of the cashiers spoke English. Thankfully I thought to attempt the transaction in Spanish…it worked! 

Today I’m personally thankful for: a fun race yesterday; an action packed first day of vacation with Scott; and the helpfulness of speaking Spanish.

Looking up from the base.
What can I say, other than “beautiful!”
Scott the tourist…and representing the Ventura Marathon!
The large white building is the Velodrome and out hotel is next to it.
A beautiful cross!

Field Trip – Gratitude 3/11

Today we journeyed to Erfurt and Wartburg Castle. It’s hard to believe that our first week of seminar is completed. I could describe this first week as filled with topics that give me much to think about…all under the theme of “freedom and reconciliation.” Here are a few photos from a couple days ago… at Luther’s and Melanchthon’s houses.

Today I’m personally thankful for: this opportunity to learn in Wittenberg, the topics that enlighten and challenge; and for a refreshing 6 mile run yesterday afternoon. 

A life size painting done for the 400th Anniversary of the Reformation
Zelda, a pastor from Mozambique poses with Melanchthon
Luther’s house, not actually his table but from the period
When the majority of the population is illiterate you teach with pictures…here is the 10 Commandments