it's the simplest things in life that bring me the greatest joy. Things like -
* eating dinner at a pizza restaurant we like and having the waiter remember our names.
* letting Daniel play hooky from basketball practice so we could have dinner together at the aforementioned pizza place.
* walking through a shopping plaza with Steve and the kids. We walked, talked, laughed, and marveled at the myriad piercings we saw in the myriad bodies.
* finding a great sale on some of our favorite lotions and potions at Bath and Body Works: Orange Ginger hand cream, Rosemary Peppermint moisturizing foot cream, among others.
* the buzz of my cell phone when a friend sends a text message.
* walking through the Schiele Nature Museum with a family of homeschoolers whose company we thoroughly enjoy.
* going back to their house afterwards and sitting poolside with the other Mom while the kids frolicked in their saltwater swimming pool.
* listening to Maya run up and down the stairs as she frantically tries to decide which family member she wants to play with.
* reading the blogs of women I don't know personally but who feel more like friends than some of the people who live on my street. One is pregnant after years of trying (www.superherodesigns.com/journal). Another is struggling to find her foothold as she goes through a painful divorce (www.jengray.com). Still another is rejoicing over the first solo gallery exhibition of her artwork (www.leonielife.com/journal). I wish I could see each of those beautiful women and give them a hug. Traveling mercies to you all, Andrea, Jen, and Leonie.
* spending last weekend with 23 women who are seeking newness of life in places that have seemed barren for years, who are hoping to find their foothold on the slippery path of life's journey, as well as figuring out ways to display their inner beauty that has not yet been made public. We talked, laughed, cried, made crafts, played games, walked, shopped, and ate together. One woman ran into a friend she hadn't seen in months at a shoe store and met that friend's Japanese daughter-in-law for the first time there at DSW. Who says nothing good can come out of a shopping spree?
* planning to spend not this weekend, but next weekend with another group of women, leading them down new paths of spiritual discovery, and watching them as they reach out to each other as co-travelers on their journeys.
* When I stand in front of these groups of women, share my stories, cry openly before them, read Scriptures with them, and encourage them to tell themselves, each other, and God the truth about who they are, what their struggles and dreams are - when I look out into the audience and see tears streaming down their faces, listen to their hearty laughter at my silly jokes, see the frenzy of their pens as they take notes, and watch as they smile at each other and reach out to embrace each other - that's when I know I'm doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do.
* Sometimes it's the simplest things that make me happiest.
Tonight I celebrate those simple pleasures.
I celebrate family, friends, pizza, ginger ale with lots of lemon, and peppermint foot cream.
I celebrate hugging and kissing my kids before they go to bed.
I celebrate getting up from the computer, brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on my jammies, climbing into bed, and rolling over to hug my husband.
Tonight I celebrate my life.
I am filled with gratitude.