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When You Frame It Like That… It’s a Rare Sighting of Open Hospitality

This sign stopped me dead in my tracks. I stood still and gawked like it was Big Foot himself. I whipped out my camera so I could prove its existence later, when I told the story. It’s true! I experienced a rare sighting of open hospitality.

I was in a quaint little beach town. It was October 2021. I had visited this place before and freely browsed shop after hospitable shop. This time was different. Most of the stores were locked up tight. The doors were closed, even to the ones which displayed their open signs. The knobbed barricades ensured my encounter with the stern warnings posted upon them. I was not welcome without a facemask. Stop, put up a barrier, or do not enter.

That was why this rare sighting was so unexpected. I looked up, and it was just there. A natural and beautiful gesture of open hospitality in its natural habitat. It shone, bidding me to stop and stare. And it was alone. No negatives, no restrictions, just welcome.

A welcome sign: When You Frame It Like That... It's a Rare Sighting of Open Hospitality
Welcome. No hoops or hurdles. No requirements or mandates. Just welcome.

This storekeeper! This one got it right. You see, the official mask mandate had been lifted in this town. This store owner took the requirement down. And they didn’t stop there. This little sign meant YOU are welcome here. No stipulations. No changes necessary. You can be you and you may enter as you are. This kind of open hospitality is extremely rare these days. And oh, what a relief!

Lord, You see me. You require nothing of me when You beckon. You bid me come just as I am. You are the epitome of open hospitality. You are relief. And You want me to extend that rare acceptance to others.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had… Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

1 Corinthians 5, 7

When you frame it like that, I realize open hospitality is a rare offering from me, but never from You. Thank You, Jesus, for erasing all requirements and simply inviting me in. Help me make others feel welcome in that same manner, in Your name.


“When You Frame It Like That…” is a hosted prompt. Feel free to join in with a thought and a photo (or several!). Please click here for details.

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Reflections

Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

Here we are! Thanksgiving week already! Do you have any exciting plans? Are you traveling? Hosting? Having a quiet day of reflection? Shopping? If you live outside of the U.S., what are you up to this week? Do you have a celebration of thankfulness in your culture, or anything similar?

Regardless of your traditions or plans, I’ve got a challenge for you. I realized that my list of things I’m thankful for has stagnated. Don’t get me wrong, each and every item on my list is a gift from God. I just haven’t put much thought into it lately. I’m always thankful for my family and friends, pets and paychecks, shelter, and such. This year, I want to make my list more unexpected and meaningful. Will you join me?

Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are some things for which we seldom stop to give thanks. But God is good, and He wastes nothing in our lives. I want to recognize the blessings in places I don’t usually think to look. I have 3 examples to show you what I mean.

Pain

The other evening I was out jogging. (Yes! I’m still at it! If you read How An Eerie Scene Provoked Me to Run and Keep Running, you know the crazy story of how that came about.) Anyway, I thought I heard something in the bushes beside me and as I turned toward it, I inadvertently looked directly into the setting sun. It was so bright! Instinctively, I threw my hand up to shield my eyes and the motion aggravated my bum shoulder. Pain shot to my fingertips and my arm fell limp at my side.

My arm has been doing this the past several weeks. I’ve learned that if I stay still for a few minutes, the pain goes away. So still I stayed. Then, perhaps emboldened by my stillness, the most majestic deer stepped out from behind the bush. It stood looking right into my face. We studied each other intently for a while and then it slowly went back about its business.

Deer: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com
This is not my photo. I didn’t dare move to grab my camera. But this is much like what I experienced (minus the spots and second deer in the background).

The pain in my arm caused me to stop. Without it, I never would have experienced the wonder of looking into those wild brown eyes from just a few feet away. I was – I am – genuinely thankful for the pain. I can’t say I’ve ever put pain on my Thanksgiving list before. What an amazing thing!

Busy work

I work in a lab. I get to do incredible things every day. Science is fascinating! But lab work generates piles of paperwork and time-consuming cleanup. The busy work is not nearly as fun.

I realized this week that busy work never comes up on the list of things I appreciate in life. But why not? I enjoy the job I have. The paperwork and cleanup testify to all that my team and I are accomplishing every day. For the first time, I truly understood that I have many reasons to be thankful for all that busy work. What an incredible realization!

Conflict

I try to avoid conflict. It rattles me. But, let me tell you, there is nothing like it to make me fall to my knees. I need God to help me understand it, navigate it, and handle it well. I feel that I’ve had an unusual amount of conflict lately. Have you heard this saying?

Sometimes, God uses difficult people, like sandpaper, to rub the rough edges off us.

Power sander: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com
The abrasiveness of sandpaper smooths and softens

It is not pleasant, but it is effective. Conflict smooths my jagged edges and softens my corners. In it, I see ugliness in me that I must confess and give over to God for refurbishing. I usually start by asking God to change the situation or the other person and end up being so thankful that He changed me. This Thanksgiving, my recent and ongoing conflict is high on my list. God is so good!


Those are a few of my examples. What about you? Where can you find hidden blessings? Are there things for which you haven’t yet thought to be thankful which belong on your list?

If you ask God to show you, I’m sure He will. He loves to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in His people. Will you join me and take up the challenge of finding thankfulness in unexpected places this Thanksgiving?

You’re welcome to join in, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Thankfulness is always in style. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

“Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:3-5
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Reflections

When God Served Me An Attitude Adjustment in a Starbucks Cup

I walked into Starbucks today and was accosted by a sea of red. The signs, the cups, the aprons – everything had been given a merry and bright makeover. I knew before I even saw the new featured menu – it is that day! An anniversary for me, of sorts.

Starbucks decked in red for the holidays: When God used Starbucks to Serve Me an Attitude Adjustment in a Cup
Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash
Starbucks decked in holiday red

I stood in line staring at the picture of the caramel brulée latte and thought back to the memorable morning 9 years ago, when God served me an attitude adjustment in a Starbucks cup. I went home and dug up the article I wrote. It was November 2012…


An Attitude Adjustment in a Starbucks Cup

I’ll admit it – my attitude was pointed south this morning! My watch battery has been slowly dying causing my alarm to grow increasingly quiet. Today, I didn’t hear it. I woke up 40 minutes late and found my husband sick, and still sleeping, which meant no coffee made and no help driving the 5 kids to their respective schools.

I woke everyone up, made breakfast and lunches in record time, and we made it out the door without a second to spare! On the road, my son remembered that he had a fitness test in PE today and was going to need a clean uniform shirt afterwards. Not only had he forgotten to bring one, but he also hadn’t done laundry; so there were no more clean shirts.

When I got home, I hurriedly started a load of laundry. My washer broke mid-cycle. Of course it did. I took a uniform shirt out of the soapy water, rinsed it in the sink, tried to wring it out by hand and threw it in the dryer.

I really needed my quiet time and morning coffee, and I had 45 minutes before the shirt would be dry enough to take to my son at school. I make terrible coffee, and my husband was still asleep, so I decided to indulge and go to Starbucks. I deserved it after the morning I’d had, right?

I knew God had planned a date with me there as soon as I walked in and saw the Caramel Brulée Latte sign! I hadn’t known it would be available today, but God did.

Just one sip and it came flooding over me. This holiday drink is my ‘thankful spark’. For some people it is cooler weather, or the changing leaf colors, but for me – in Hawaii, where the temperature is constant – it has been the taste of the caramel brulée latte that has annually stoked the fire of gratitude in my heart.

As I enjoyed it, I was reminded… This is the season of Thanksgiving and I have so many things to be grateful for!

Even just today:

  • The fact that I need a new watch battery means that I have a clock on my wrist.
  • The chores around the house mean that I have a family to serve and enjoy.
  • My sick husband is staying still, which means I will get to spend more time with him today than I have in the last week combined.
  • The need to call the landlord about the washing machine means that it won’t cost me anything to get it fixed.

And no morning coffee meant that I would end up at Starbucks and receive an attitude adjustment in a cup. And for that I was very, very thankful!


Reading over the article now, I’m remembering what a gift it was to me. That morning is forever etched in my mind as a miraculous event. My thoughts were so negative. I felt like there were roadblocks around everything I needed to accomplish.

Starbucks holdiay cup with a bow: When God used Starbucks to Serve Me an Attitude Adjustment in a Cup
Grace, mercy and an attitude adjustment in a Starbucks cup

I went to Starbucks for what I thought I needed, which was caffeine and something tasty. What I got was mercy and grace. God was not punitive about my bad attitude. That’s mercy. And He gave me something better than I was looking for. That’s grace. The goodness of God was so vibrant and blaring and real in that moment. My way of thinking was instantly changed.

I will never forget the time God served me an attitude adjustment in a Starbucks cup. I celebrate it, annually, when the holiday menu rolls out. God met me right where I was and turned me around. The fact that He used one of my favorite flavors to do it proves how intimately He pays attention and how perfectly He plans. I’ll raise a merry cup to that!

What is your favorite holiday menu item? It doesn’t have to be at Starbucks. Do you have one anywhere? And I have to ask… has anyone else wondered why Starbucks goes all red for the holidays when the usual green color it sports is also festive? Have you ever had an instantaneous attitude adjustment?

Thanks for reading. I’m thankful for YOU!

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Conversations Reflections

When You Frame It Like That… Its the Quiet Ones Who Get Overlooked

The rainclouds had all but cleared away. I walked over the bridge and caught the sound of trickling water. Had I ever heard that tranquil patter in this spot before? I wasn’t certain, but it sure was beautiful – to my ears and to my eyes. It begged my attention and compelled me to stop and experience it. I stood taking it in for quite a while before I noticed, with a start, the face in the rocks.

Can you see the face in the rocks: When You Frame It Like That... Its the Quiet Ones Who  Get Overlooked
Do you see the face in the rocks? (Lower right corner)

I had to snap a photo so I would remember. Isn’t that such a picture of life? That which sparkles and makes noise catches our attention and it’s the quiet ones which get overlooked. When you frame it like that, it is easy to wonder what interesting people and worthwhile things have been missed in the fray.

Lord, I want to live with eyes wide open to notice all that you give me to see. Your Word says that while people focus on the outside, you look deeper.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

1 Samuel 16:7b

When you frame it like that, I realize I often overlook the quiet ones, but You never do. Thank you, Jesus, for never overlooking me.


“When You Frame It Like That…” is a hosted prompt. Feel free to join in with a thought and a photo (or several!). Please click here for details.

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Conversations

Moments are Quick but They’re still Mighty! Grab one and Share one – Post 8

I captured this quick moment before it went fleeting by:

Stretching Cat: Quick Moments Post 7
The question mark of confusion was replaced by the exclamation point of amusement

I returned, from the kitchen, to the desk in my home office with a small dish of almonds in hand. I sat in my swiveling chair and swung it to face my computer. I lifted my knees slightly and then relaxed my legs, so my feet could land on the footstool beneath the desk. This has all been done hundreds of times and was completely without cognition, until my feet pulled me forward and clunked to the floor. My elbows landed hard on my keyboard without any semblance of grace. My brain was sent searching for context. In that quick moment, the question mark of confusion was replaced by the exclamation point of amusement. My granddaughter had removed my footstool! As it all became clear, I could hear her behind the couch trying to contain her laughter. She got me! I have to admit, I was impressed!

There is boundless wonder in every quick moment! Tell me about one of yours


Need some background on the Moments Series?
Click here for the Quick Moments Introduction in Post 1.

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Conversations

Moments are Quick but They’re still Mighty! Grab one and Share one – Post 7

I captured this quick moment before it went fleeting by:

Stretching Cat: Quick Moments Post 7
Photo by Tamba Budiarsana on Pexels.com

I suddenly streeeetched in one of those impromptu, involuntary motions on which instinct decided before consciousness gave permission. For that quick moment, sounds were muted, vision blurred, and my mind turned for the briefest introspection of the body under its purview. Arms overhead, muscles, joints, fingertips to toenails – all received an instantaneous rush and reset. In that inkling of time, I was invigorated and empowered. I moved forward, thankful for the miraculous phenomenon which seemed to have broadened my shoulders and lengthened my lifespan. It came out of nowhere and was such a gift!

There is boundless wonder in every quick moment! Tell me about one of yours


Need some background on the Moments Series?
Click here for the Quick Moments Introduction in Post 1.