Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Christmas Ornament by Luke A. Bunker
Christmas Ornament, a photo by Luke A. Bunker on Flickr.

We had a great Christmas Eve last night (where it is tradition to look at lights around town and then come home to eat snacks and open gifts). It is my niece’s first Christmas, so we are especially fortunate to have shared in the joy and cheer of Christmas with her!

This morning and afternoon we will be headed to my brother’s to have a traditional Christmas meal and have fellowship with my uncle John, who came in town for Christmas!! ( 🙂 !!)

I want to wish you all the merriest of Christmas and the happiest of new years!!

Via Flickr:
My brother’s girlfriend received this ornament as a present for Christmas, and I just had to snap a pic!

Appreciation + the power of phrasing and thought


“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” – Alan Cohen

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy 

Whenever I think of the word “appreciation,” I always remember one day at the high school during enrollment when I was working the yearbook booth (we were pre-selling the upcoming book at the time), and a woman who I didn’t know came up to me and asked me a question.  I provided her with an answer and she said, “I appreciate you so much for helping me,” and you could tell by her eyes, tone and pausing to say this that she really meant it.

This may not seem profound, but it did to me at the time and still does to this day.  How often do we say, “I appreciate it!” when someone does something to help us out, and we just say it real quick-like without giving it much thought, if any at all?  Isn’t it so much for powerful for us to say that we appreciate that person for what he/she did for us and say it in a way that shows our appreciation for him or her?  When we say, “I appreciate you,” we are saying that we appreciate their existence and their willingness/ability to help us out – whether it’s in a small way like I helped the woman at enrollment, or in a bigger way.  And when we stop to think about what we’re saying and show that we really mean it, either phrase means so much more.

So, my challenge to myself – and it is often hard to catch this – is to say to that person (and more importantly, show that person) that I appreciate them for what they did.  Just that change of a word – “it” to “you” – makes a huge difference and profoundly impacts the sincerity and level of appreciation you are giving that person.  This goes the same for the level of thought you give before saying those words.

A great example is our gift exchange at work…  We are each given $50 to spend on a coworker randomly chosen for us.  One of my coworkers, Jan, took the time to bake a dozen chocolate cupcakes because she heard (correctly, as you all know!) that I love chocolate, in addition to the $50 bill, because she probably figured (again, correctly!) that I was the best person to figure out how to spend my money.  I thought it was very touching how she went out of the her way to bake those cupcakes when she could have just done the gift exchange and called it that.  And because I so appreciated her for her gift and her true concern and kind words/thoughts about my grandpa who passed away this past Sunday, I decided to write out a thank-you card and give it to her rather than just shoot her an email like I probably normally would have done.  I did this because we get so caught up in a busy world that we sometimes forget to really thank someone for doing something nice.

Perhaps I’m just a details person and these events stick out in my mind for no particular reason.  However, I know that this phrase – “I appreciate you” – means so much more when we put thought behind it and appreciate the people themselves and not just the act they are doing, and I hope that you will find the same if you choose to change it up and really think about what you’re saying before you say it.

To close – have a great week, and I want you all to know that I genuinely appreciate all of you, my readers – even if there are only two or three of you out there!

Grand Canyon in Snow, at Sunset

I recently got back from my trip to Arizona, where I met my brother in Phoenix. He ended up getting out of training early on Friday, so we blazed through Flagstaff to get to the Grand Canyon during sunset – what a beautiful sight! However, I must say that it was a "Dodge City kind of" cold day – the wind from the Grand Canyon was fierce, but we enjoyed it all the same.

Don’t worry – there are more pictures to come!

Horses at Wild Horse Pass

Really enjoyed walking around the resort this morning… Had a great breakfast and enjoyed the interpretive walking trail, all while taking pictures. Saw the Grand Canyon tonight!!! Pretty darn amazing. 🙂 Many more pictures and a travelogue are sure to come!!!

Via Flickr:
I assume this is the equestrian trainer. This picture was taken outside the Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa in Chandler, Arizona (outside Phoenix).

Review: "The Confession" by John Grisham

The ConfessionThe Confession by John Grisham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read this year and one of – if not the best – of Grisham’s novels. Excellent pacing, character development, dialogue and plot. Good work, Mr. Grisham. I can already tell this is one of those books that I’ll be thinking about long after the last page was turned…

View all my reviews

Google Doodle

I was going to say check out the Google Doodle for today (which celebrates Mark Twain’s 176th birthday), but it’s probably too late for you if you haven’t already seen it! As such, I have included a screenshot of the doodle!

(BTW, I really like Twain, so I’m super excited about this!)

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Why I Can Still Tolerate Kansas!!

Via Flickr:
Say what you want about Kansas, but one of the many reasons Kansas is a great place to live is the presence of these beautiful sunsets!

This was one of those times when I wished I had my good camera with me. I shot this with my cell phone (non-iPhone, unfortunately!) from a window at work, so I don’t know that it gives justice to the beauty of the sunset, but I hope it gives an idea!