Can we find things to be grateful for anyway?

“I don’t have to drive home by myself!” We were in Idaho. Extended family members were eager to meet this man who’d won my heart.

For the past five years, I drove this route alone. And now I had a husband for the long road home.


Photo by Nicolas Moscarda on Unsplash

Leaving Idaho and crossing the high desert of eastern Oregon, Dan and I talked about the simple pleasures we stumbled into with this new life together—simple things, like, exploring back roads on a motorcycle, cooking together in a full kitchen, walking through the yard with mugs of Chai tea—checking out the garden, the raspberry plants, the pair of ducks on the tiny pond.

Brooke Hampton said this:

Fancy things never appealed to me. I like the sweet, simple things. I like to watch the sunrise on my old front porch with a warm cup of coffee. I like good books on rainy afternoons. And I like the way it feels to be surrounded by real friends and people I love.


Photo by Patrick Boucher on Unsplash

Fancy things never appealed to me either. I’m a simple pleasures sort of girl.

The long weekend in Idaho held its own simple pleasures: riding the perimeter of bro- and sis-in-law’s ranch, hiking the Jeep tracks, spotting deer, harvesting marionberries and honeydew and nectarines.

But especially catching up over good food with siblings and nieces and nephews and cousins and friends.

These are the things that appeal to me.

This challenge

Our nation is experiencing a long and uncertain season. What will normal look like after COVID-19 simmers down? How will the racial tension wracking our nation be rectified? How will the upcoming presidential elections affect our country? When will the fires burning up our beautiful state of Oregon come to an end?

It’s challenging for most people to speak gratitude in times like these.

But I wonder if gratitude doesn’t start by noticing the simple pleasures and calling them out while we still have them.

(Confession: I took for granted having a road trip companion all those years of my first marriage. And then there were the widow years of traveling mostly alone. And now—oh, sweet and simple pleasure—someone to share the road with again.)

There is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in ancient Philippi that contains guidelines on how to have our mind set—in good times and when things are going sideways:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Interestingly, Paul wrote this letter from prison—encouraging the believers in Philippi to live out their faith in joy and unity.

Who does that?! Who writes joyous and encouraging letters from prison, knowing this is as good as it’s going to get here on earth?

This isn’t a Pollyanna-ish attempt to get us to think positive thoughts.

The challenge is to practice a principle that helps provide quality of life—not only during the easy, comfortable, undemanding, uncomplicated seasons. But also during frightening and uncertain times.

A principle of having our minds set on noticing the simple pleasures that make up our full lives.

A principle of practicing gratitude.

Of thinking about and speaking what is true and lovely and excellent.

What is it you enjoy and appreciate? What are you grateful for? What would you miss if you no longer had access to it?

Consider compiling a list—on your phone, on paper, in your head—and sharing it with someone important in your life.


Here’s why freedom is over-rated


Should we set goals?


  1. Beverly Basile

    I love simple things too, Marlys. A child’s laughter. Misty days. Barking seals. The smell of dirt in spring. And hugs horses. Yep. These things don’t cost much but they sure bring a lot of joy to my heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Marlys, I love them!

  2. Tanya Neelon

    I love what you write every week, Marlys! Thank you for taking the time!


  3. Peter

    There are so many of your shared special moments of little things that mean a lot, in this message for which we thank you. I’ve deliberated, thinking, “Should I share.. (i.e. My time, cycling out of Oregon, into Idaho, on the cycle challenge across USA”). Then, thinking more about it, I knew I should, because you, together with your readers, could picture this English man on a bike experiencing so much, perhaps on the same roads you and they may have often travelled. My time was, from 24th August, 1992…. Hurricane Andrew was wreaking havoc in the South East and was now travelling north west, however not troublesome to us/me. However, forest fires were raging from Boise, Idaho, travelling south and my partner and I had looked alternative routes, fearing we might get caught up in the fires. At Halfway, we met firefighters, we showed them our route and as a result, carried on…. a side issue.. a little thing that meant so much… I rode a 3 yr old stallion @ Halfway where roping & branding was happening… never before had I experienced such joy and accomplishment. We learned, as we started to smell and see the clouds of smoke, that our route was south of Oxbow and Brownlee Dam. Continuously, we saw planes dropping water on the fires, on the other side of the lake, also helicopters dropping in to pick up buckets of water from the lake. At Council, there seemed to be ‘no room @ the inn’, the local Police found us a grotty room each @ The Ace Motel and we were truly thankful. The town’s accommodation was taken by firefighters and volunteers. The town of Council looked to be a ‘hard, rough’ place, which reminded me of my policing days in the steel area of Middlesbrough. BUT, mixing with the locals and firefighters.. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Next day we went on up to White Bird.. yes, some more good climbs, but the rewards of the smells, the views, especially the many eagles, buzzard, hawks and wild life… wow!. At White Bird, we arrived late afternoon and we saw many helicopters and fire tenders/engines, so immediately knew, there would be no motel accommodation. However, a visit to The Mangy Mouse, then The Silver Dollar, where I met Reece…. he was about 4′ 10″ in height and about the same around his gut… I guessed he’d been drinking for may be 4 or so days. He said he had a ‘shack’ up the town, he was ‘doing it up’ & we could stay there. He looked up at me (cos, I’m 6′) & he wagged his finger in a demanding way and said, “And leave it as you find it”. We duly promised.. with a can of beer in his hand he got in his little car and we follower him to the shack!. The place was virtually empty, very spartan and no heating..BUT he’d fixed the shower, which was ‘pure heaven’ after a long hard ride. We pushed a couple of chairs together for John, my partner (he’ 6’4″) and I managed on an old WW 2 camp bed. That night’s sleep was cold.. I think each of us wore every piece of clothing we had with us! We ate well, with firefighters, coal miners, stockmen, volunteers and we weren’t permitted to pay our way. We drank well too, well, I did, but the beer isn’t that strong, however it did get to John, so he was off to the shack to bed down. In preparation for the following day, we had bought chocolate bars, energy drinks and a litre of milk. John said he had put the milk in the fridge…. the following morning he realised he’d put the milk in the freezer… so the milk was frozen/no use. Back at the Silver Dollar, the night went on…I felt I was back among the locals, back home, may be working ‘undercover’… which was a large part of my detective duties, before retiring. It was all happening out the back of the saloon… throwing horse shoes, so there was no way I could avoid competing. I got the impression, I was probably the sobberest of all taking part and found myself in the final throws… Yes, you guessed it, I ran out the winner…. or did they really ‘let me win’. Anyway, I couldn’t know, but ‘bets were being made’ and as a result 20 dollars were handed to me.. for our fund raising effort (i.e. the challenge). The following morning, we left a thank you letter and momento, for Reece. There were icicles, but a wonderfully fresh bracing morning. The general store was open, thankfully. And finally as we made our way thought Idaho, to the summit of White Bird, we passed many log piles, being sprayed with water, such a fantastic sight.. to watch the droplets of water as the splashed off the logs, suddenly turn into frozen droplets which fell to ground.. making what appeared to be ‘a carpet of diamonds’ on the grassy ground. There you have a little bit of my shared heaven, but I thank you for painting the picture in your sharing, which has once again prompted me to ‘have a quick look at my diary of the cycle challenge that changed my life’ thanks to Father God and his great plan. Our love, God Bless, Bx P & family. PS : forgive me if I’ve rabbited on!.

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