Yesterday was a glorious Sabbath — sunny-blue weather and the first glimpse of autumn in the breeze. I was thrilled to worship the Lord, especially since I had not felt well enough to attend church the past three weeks. Afterward, I laughed on the church patio with my husband and our friends. I enjoyed lunch and people-watching at Empire Cafe. And I stopped by Barnes & Noble to use up the remains of a gift card.

I was on a mission for the new issues of The Paris Review and DRUM! magazine, the latter for my husband. The new issues were not on the shelves, so I roamed slowly through the refuge of books. I stepped on to the escalator to check out the poetry section upstairs. I looked for Luci Shaw. Nothing. I spied Mary Oliver's Why I Wake Early. I picked up the slim book and flipped through the table of contents: "How Everything Adores Being Alive," "Clouds," "Look and See," "This Morning I Watched the Deer," "The Wren from Carolina" . . . Yes, this is the book. I tucked it under my arm, checked out, and drove home listening to Sandra McCracken's Desire Like Dynamite album. Oh, and I stopped by the grocery store and was delighted to see mini white pumpkins on display at the entrance. Placing a minimalist arrangement of the small gourds on our dining room table is an annual tradition of mine.

I wrote (or eked out two meager paragraphs) for an hour before watching the Emmys with my husband and mother-in-law. Truth be told, the main reason we watched that long production was to hopefully see Derek Hough win the Emmy for Outstanding Choreography. Say what you will about Dancing with the Stars, but he is an extremely gifted dancer, teacher, and choreographer, and he seems like a good guy. He won. We cheered.

I read And the Mountains Echoed until I fell asleep, and also to avert my mind from thinking about the next day. Like, How will I finish writing this article by Thursday? How can I better structure my time to be more productive as well as steer clear of stress? I won't divulge how far behind I am on this article, but let me just say it will take a bona fide miracle to finish it by Thursday night. If you pray for writers, please pray for me.

I slept fairly well, but not as well as I'd hoped. I woke up grumpy and tired with very low expectations of the day, even though I'm very much looking forward to Imprint's Khaled Hosseini reading tonight. I tried sleeping an extra hour, but those first negative thoughts ricocheted off of my hard head to my soul. So I made myself get up.

I quieted my mind and prayed to the Lord. I confessed ungratefulness, worry, sloth, and many other vices. I read Psalm 126 and smiled when I remembered a dream I had back in May — there were no visuals, only the sound of my joyful laughter. There are some fortunes of health that I'm currently waiting for the Lord to restore, and I believe He will — He has so often during this particular decade of my life. Even so, my prayers also included, O Lord, how long?

After fixing a mug of piñon coffee laced with coconut cream, I settled back into the armchair and suddenly craved poetry. I picked up the Mary Oliver book I purchased yesterday, flipped through the smooth pages, and landed on "Mindful." Instantly, the cadence of words soothed me and changed my outlook. The poem is so good, in fact, that I want to share it with y'all:

by Mary Oliver

Every day
   I see or hear
         that more or less

kills me
   with delight,
      that leaves me
         like a needle

in the haystack
   of light.
      It was what I was born for—
         to look, to listen,

to lose myself
   inside this soft world—
      to instruct myself
         over and over

in joy,
   and acclamation.
      Nor am I talking
         about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
   the very extravagant—
      but of the ordinary,
         the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
   Oh, good scholar,
      I say to myself,
         how can you help

but grow wise
   with such teachings
      as these—
         the untrimmable light

of the world,
   the ocean’s shine,
      the prayers that are made
         out of grass?

. . . A load of laundry, yoga, and now I'm seated at my desk. Yes, I could have worked on the miraculous article instead of blogging, but I felt compelled to share that poem. Besides, this blog post feels like a writing exercise — a warm-up to loosen my creative muscles.

May we all be mindful of the ridiculous blessings God pours over our heads every day — even the tiresome, frustrating, and seemingly pointless days. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. We are fearfully and wonderfully made — and beautiful — exactly as we are. And my goodness, His glory emanates from every facet of creation, the work of our hands, our ceaseless prayers, our blind faith and hope, our laughter, our sorrow. In everything, He loves us with an everlasting love. 

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