Gratitude and Gifts

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rainandflowerAs the rain falls and pours outside, it’s hard not to be a little nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest. Even as it rains, and its unseasonably cold here, its hard not to be grateful for today and the opportunities it brings.

Last week I was reminded what gratitude can look like in different ways. First, as I mentioned previously, it was my wife Allison’s birthday. To celebrate we did a number of things. Instead of a gift from me, she wanted to get flowers and hand out a flower representing each year of her life so far to a perfect stranger. It was a practice or idea that she had first found on Pinterest. (I would share the link, but as of yet, I haven’t gotten into Pinterest.) These flowers to me symbolized abundant life, hope, dreams, joy and love.

The expressions on people’s faces were priceless. As we drove down the street and stopped so Allison could share some with a dentist’s office, with people along the street, perfect strangers going about their days, auto workers, etc., the energy and joy was impossible to miss. I can still visualize one woman, who I imagine was perhaps a mother of two or three, being handed her flower. As she walked further along the street, the woman read the note on the flower and then didn’t just do a “double-take” towards Allison, she did a “triple-take,” looking back over her shoulder three times. I think she was wondering, “Is this for real? Can somebody really be this nice?” She smiled inquisitively, and then stepped into her mini-van and drove away. I hope she had a better day because of that chance encounter and I trust she did. Needless to say, I loved this!

I believe that holding the door for another person and offering a quick smile is the least one can do to show love to a neighbor and stranger. Last week, my wife decided to do a bit more and share a flower to help celebrate her birthday and to share some love and gifts with others. I think she might have inspired me to share some chocolate next year (or something) with others on my birthday.

In addition to this, we celebrated my wife’s birthday by going out for dinner with friends at one of my wife’s favorite restaurants in the world, Red Robin. As Northwest kids at heart, Red Robin holds a special place for us. (That and its bottomless fries and bottomless Root beer floats.) We are so blessed with so many wonderful friends, family and people in our life here in the Midwest, back in the Northwest, and really quite literally around the country and the world. It was special just to be able to gather with a number of them to celebrate. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for the friendships and relationships, and I am grateful that we are able to call so many people friends and family in this world. I am also grateful that they are so willing to take time out of their busy lives to spend with us.

Ullrich's and Siburg's together. (Left to right: Amanda Ullrich, Jeremy Ullrich, me, my brother Thomas Siburg, and Allison Siburg)
Ullrich’s and Siburg’s together. (Left to right: Amanda Ullrich, Jeremy Ullrich, me, my brother Thomas Siburg, and Allison Siburg)

As the weekend came to a close, we got another piece of news which I am grateful for. Two of our closest friends (and really now family), Amanda and Jeremy Ullrich, received word and announced their acceptance of calls to be pastors in Texas. This will be their first calls, and we could not be more proud and happy for them and for the congregations they will be serving and leading as part of. I am grateful for their friendship, and for the congregations for calling these two people. The church at large and locally will be served very well and grow in new ways because of these two and people like them. That much I am sure of! As more friends hopefully get good news about calls in the coming weeks and months, I hope to be able to share a bit more about gratitude and hope for the present and future of the church that I see possible through these people, friends, and colleagues.

Even though its raining today outside, it’s hard not to smile and be grateful. If you need something to start your week off right, how about you give this now modern classic a listen to. (Thanks to Pharrell Williams for sharing!)

Image Credit:  Flower in the rain

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