One Way to Respond When “Life” Happens

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

That’s how the saying goes, anyway, so I might as well give it a shot. You see, I started writing this the morning of Sunday, Nov. 5. Ordinarily I would have just gotten home from church, but today—which also happens to be my birthday—has been a little different.

Randy left for church—a 20-minute drive from our house—much earlier than the rest of us because he had tech duties to attend to there. The girls and I got ready and loaded into the van right on schedule, but when I went to start our trusty vehicle, nothing happened.

Well, actually, the dashboard lights came on and the van tried to turn over, but to no avail. We were stuck at home.

Yep, lemons.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon sang it in a song once, and I’ve been saying it over and over again this past year. It just seems to fit the season, if you know what I mean.

So rather than mope around this morning, I’ve watched the girls do homework, looked up Sunday hours for rental car places (just in case), made tomato sauce for ratatouille, and—finally—thought of what to write for this week’s blog post.

It seems appropriate, this being November and all, to make a gratitude list. And since I’m 47 today, that’s how long the list is going to be. 

Without further ado, here’s what I’m thankful for right now:

• That Lilly had a great time at her Sweet 16 birthday party last Friday night.

• Fruit trays, Domino’s pizza and artichoke dip.

• A house that can accommodate 21 teenage girls all at the same time.

• S’mores ’round the fire pit.

• Sitting by the fire with Randy while all those girls were inside decorating picture frames.

• That Lilly has a solid bunch of friends who enjoy doing things like decorating picture frames on a Friday night.

• Molly’s first Science Olympiad ribbon (earned at Saturday’s competition).

• All Sons and Daughters’ song “Great Are You Lord.”

• A good birthday dinner with Lilly at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

• Family videos from when Lilly was five and Molly was two.

• That Lilly has learned to control the vast quantity of energy she had when she was little and now puts it to good use in her very busy life.

• The important character traits that grew in Molly as a result of having a sister like Lilly when she was small (patience, resilience, a mind of her own, etc.).

• A husband who knows how to decorate birthday cakes.

• That the pants I was going to wear to church this morning fit now. (Before the Whole30, they were too tight.)

• The fall splendor of the maple tree across the street.

• Needtobreathe’s song “Hard Love.”

• Auto insurance that covers towing expenses whenever the car breaks down.

• That we didn’t need to use that benefit because Randy was able to get the van going again when he got home from church.

• That the van ran well again after he added some kind of fuel cleaner to the gas tank.

• The wall of bookshelves in my basement.

• Smoked paprika (a discovery I made while on the Whole30).

• Chopping vegetables for ratatouille with Randy.

• Leftover sesame chicken.

• The Kansas City Chiefs (even when they lose).

• Hillsong United’s song “Not Today.”

• The smart phone ap that can track my mom’s hearing aids when she loses them.

• Hearing Molly say that she enjoys watching people open presents as much as she likes getting them herself.

• Sweatpants, coffee mugs and peppermint scented candles.

• My cozy home.

• Christmas music in November.

• That 47 isn’t nearly as old as it used to seem.

• An extra hour of sleep this weekend (thanks, daylight saving time).

• Chilly fall weather.

• Vehicles that start right up on Monday morning.

• Vintage mason jars with glass lids.

• The lovely people who read this blog.

• The dear ones who leave encouraging comments, even when I’m too scattered and/or overloaded to reply in a timely manner.

• Kristian Stanfill’s version of “In Christ Alone.”

• The kind people who care for my mom.

• My birthday cupcake.

• Scarlet Fiestaware dishes.

• Eggs and zucchini instead of cereal for breakfast.

• Handmade birthday cards from my girls.

• My new red umbrella.

• That we still get to watch one more season of “Fixer Upper.”

• Holiday baking shows.

• Perfectly ripened avacados.

• A few weeks to catch up (and maybe write some) before the busyness begins again.

There you have it—47 things that I’m thankful for right now. (Bonus points for you if you can guess my favorite color after reading all this).

So what’s on your gratitude list today?


It seems appropriate, this being November and all, to make a gratitude list. Click To Tweet

Note: Today’s post was supposed to be a recap of our Whole30 adventure, but my mind was too full of birthday planning details to write about that. Stay tuned …

Also: I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community and Grace & Truth.

34 Responses to One Way to Respond When “Life” Happens

  1. Sarah Koontz says:

    Love this gratitude list. What a great idea!

  2. Carlie says:

    Always such a pleasure when I visit your site, Lois! Loved your list! Kind of inspired me to write one of my own.

  3. Brenda says:

    Lois, Happy Birthday, friend. — Love that you made a yummy treat out of what could have been a tart day. 🙂 Fun list of praises. Thank you for sharing. — I can’t figure out your favorite color?? Yellow? 🙂

  4. Love your list! Happy birthday!

  5. Thank you for this glimpse into your home and life. Your gratitude list is beautiful, just like you.

  6. I love everything about that birthday party! So much fun and so much girl energy.
    Trying very hard not to covet your bookshelf wall. . .

  7. Happy belated birthday! In those moments of distraction and discouragement, it’s all too easy to push gratitude out the window and wallow in “life happens.” But look at all we miss in doing so! I’m grateful for posts like this that remind us to see the blessings we often overlook!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Esther! I definitely wanted to wallow (and stomp around a bit) when the car wouldn’t start (groan). But you’re right … I would have missed out on so much if I had gone there. 🙂

  8. Linda Stoll says:

    Lois … Oh, I love this! Sometimes those unexpected days-at-home turn out to be the most serendipitous and needed graces.

    And 47?! You sure do wear it well, friend.

    Gratitudes are everywhere if only we have the courage to go there. Birthday blessings sent your way!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That’s something I hadn’t thought of before, Linda … sometimes it does take courage to seek out the gratitudes, doesn’t it? Thank you for your birthday blessings and sweet words, my friend!

  9. Dear Lois, what a blessing and wonderful reminder of the importance of perspective! Your daughters are beautiful and seem to reflect your Jesus spirit. Prayers continue for you and yours. XOXO

  10. Liz says:

    At this very moment, I’m grateful for the rejection I experienced because it enabled me to be a better mother than I could have ever been to my son who just found out he didn’t make the basketball team. If only I could learn to be grateful IN those times of my own rejection….

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw, Liz … I’m sorry that your son didn’t make the team. It’s hard to help our kids work through rejection, isn’t it? But what a wonderful thing to realize how God prepared you to help him, and to even be thankful for the way it happened. God always has a purpose for the pain, doesn’t He? I try to remember that in my own hard moments but learning to be GRATEFUL at the same time? Yes, that IS a difficult lesson! 🙂

  11. ~ linda says:

    I once kept a gratitude list and then put it away. I just pulled out the journal and have begun once again for I felt thankful and it is November. What a fine list and sweet looking girls too!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Linda. I’m like you … I did a 1,000 gifts list a couple of years ago and then sort of moved on to other things. But you’re right … November is a great time to renew that practice!

  12. Awww, Lois. Happy belated birthday. I love reading the 47 things you’re grateful for. And music. How fun that songs made your list. That’s how I am too. I loved seeing pictures of Lilly’s birthday party. She is truly blessed to have such solid friends. It looks like they had a blast.

    So thankful for you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      The party was a lot of fun, Jeanne. I was sort of anxious about it beforehand because I was afraid that many people would be tripping all over each other for four hours. I needn’t have worried, though … they just kind of flowed from one thing to another without much input or direction from me or Randy! (One of the nice things about the kids getting older, I think!) And yes … those songs I included have been especially meaningful to me lately … I just had to include them. I’m thankful for you too, my friend!

  13. Trudy says:

    Happy Birthday, Lois! To Lilly, too! May God fill your hearts with His love, peace, and joy! I love your list and your photos. 🙂 Especially the one of you and your girls. Your husband must be quite an artist. Love and hugs to you!

  14. Lesley says:

    I love this list, Lois, and what a great way to respond when things don’t go according to plan! I hope you had a happy birthday after the not-so-great start. It certainly looks like Lilly had some good birthday celebrations- and the cake looks amazing! I’m doing Jennifer Dukes Lee’s 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge this month and I’m enjoying taking time each day to pause and be thankful.

  15. I love this list! So many things to respond to, so little time! But I’m going to guess red and leave it at Happy Birthday, friend! Thankful for you too!

  16. Anita Felzke says:

    Happy Birthday! Love all your posts, but especially liked this one.

  17. Lois,
    I love this! I just love all the 47 things you thought of to be grateful for, even on a day that started out on the wrong foot. And happy birthday, by the way, you look amazing and the photo of you and your girls is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your birthday with us! xoxo

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