Cheers to Gratitude and Writing

Photo by Charli Wusk (age 6)

(While playing superheroes.) 

“Come on mom, be brave!”
“How do I be brave?”
“Show other people your feelings.” – Charli (age 4)

I’ve sharpened the new skeleton pencil I found.  It’s a little creepy with its white skulls sporting red glowing eyes.  It must have been a stowaway in a trick-or-treat bag.  Creepy or not, it’s sharp.  The kids are in bed.  The house is quiet, and I’m snuggling in with my notebook when I hear little footsteps.

“Ollie, is that you?” I say across the next darkened room.

The footsteps scoot along the wood floor, quickened.

“I just had to go potty, momma,” he says while he curls into my lap, pushing the notebook over.

“I’m writing a story,” I say.

“You should put characters in it. You should have Elsa,” he says matter-of-factly, as he hugs me one last time and skips along to the bathroom.

An Elsa from Frozen cameo would be a creative twist to this piece, but I’m not sure that’s where I’ll begin.  Simon Sinek says start with why, and there’s wisdom in that. . . for a business man, that’s just the place.

But I’m a storyteller.  

Storytellers tend to start with characters, setting, a problem that needs fixing.

So, today the characters are you and me.  Me in my sweats, my hair less blonde than it used to be.  You reading this somewhere, maybe on your phone or in your e-mail or just scrolling Facebook.  Here we are together, wanting a little more gratitude in these lives of ours.  

My setting today is small-town-big-heart, Sterling, Nebraska, fall 2018.  

This is the place where I’m teaching.  

This is the place where we’re raising our family.  

This is home.  

Our town water-tower rises just a block or so down the road.  In the daylight, I can see it out the window with its fresh coat of paint.  Like a lot of things around here lately, it feels new.  New teachers, a new community center in the works, a pair of dear friends with a new house.  There’s new energy, and yet the old iron of that water-tower sits underneath the paint, solid.  Not everything is new, and that too is good.  

I’m glad we’re here.

This time of year my notebook always feels a little full, like the few farm fields still lined with brown stalks, the last ones waiting for harvest.  

I’m a word collector.  I’m convinced there’s magic in ’em.  Just this week I was reading Eugene Peterson–a writer I love–and it was like he was right here talking with me.  He passed away ten days ago, but those words still felt very much alive.  

So as I set my creepy skeleton pencil down for the night, it’s tip a little duller, I’m sending these words out hoping they might have some life in them.  Perhaps Elsa will make her cameo tomorrow.  These are the words I have today.  Thanks for reading.  I’m glad you’re here.  Cheers to gratitude and sharing some writing this November . . . two of my very favorite things.  


Gratitude Dare: Flip through your camera photos until you find something you are grateful for.  For the entire month of dares, print the easy-peasy calendar at

If you or someone you know wants a little more gratitude in their in-box, subscribe just under the header image at  


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