“Ordinary Grace,” March 21, 2017

Sometimes the best gifts are those we most take for granted.

“Do you have big plans for this weekend?” asked the clerk as she rang up my groceries.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m going to unpack my suitcase, do laundry, open mail, cook a little, and watch a whole lot of basketball.”

She laughed, but I was serious.

My husband and I were just back from a trip to California. Our house had a look that said, “You were gone too long.” But it was also the start of the NCAA basketball tournament. And we are, to say the least, big fans. Not fans of one team (I tend to root for any school near a town that carries my column) but of the game as a whole.

We are especially fond of the Golden State Warriors, who also had games over the weekend, so we were set to see a lot of hoops.
My husband helped put away the groceries, then we sat down to rest. Resting is a prime chore at our house. Then he tuned into a game and I started dinner.

Our kitchen and den are one room, so we can cook and watch TV all at once. Sort of. I was making shrimp and grits, a specialty of the South where I grew up. It was never big in my family (mountain folks didn’t do much shrimp) but my husband loves it. So I thawed a bag of frozen shrimp and boiled water for the grits.

During halftime of a game, I unpacked my suitcase and started a load of laundry.

Then I fried a chopped onion and some garlic with a little lemon and a lot of butter, added the shrimp to the pan until they turned pink, dumped it all on the grits and served it up.

I wish you could’ve tasted it.

My husband swore it was the best meal he’d had in months. I saw no need to doubt him.

We cleared the dishes and sat down to watch another game. As I watched, I opened a stack of reader mail with all sorts of birthday cards from some of you, thank you so very much. Three rated extra thanks:

1 _ A reader in upstate New York sent me a candy bar (in response to a column about my first birthday party where one of the two guests gave me a candy bar and the other one ate it.)

2 _ A reader in Indiana sent me a jar of “pain relief” cream (in response to several columns about my broken ankle.)

3 _ And a reader in Kansas sent me a crocheted bookmark in the shape of a cross (in response to nothing I could think of, but appreciated all the same.)

I split the candy bar with my husband, rubbed the cream on my ankle, and put the bookmark in my Bible next to a favorite verse, Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

That was Friday. Saturday, we did the same, except we ordered pizza. Sunday, we ate leftovers and watched South Carolina beat Duke, of all things.

It was an ordinary weekend, nothing to write home about, maybe. But to me it was special.

Why? Somewhere in that lovely mix of shrimp, laundry, basketball and mail, I suddenly remembered to be thankful.

Four months ago, I broke my ankle, had surgery and spent two months in a wheelchair. Then for weeks, I limped along, went to physical therapy and wondered when, or if, I’d ever get back to “normal”?

In that time, my husband did all the chores we usually shared. This weekend, I did things I had not done in months, things I had feared never doing again.

Imagine that. We heal, you and I. We get back to normal. Or we find a new normal. Then the things we’d prayed for become things we take for granted.

I never want to take for granted ordinary things like walking or cooking or grace.

Gratitude changes the world. Especially my world. I hope to make it my new normal.

Maybe you’ll make it yours, too?

Please know that I am always and forever thankful for you.


  1. Happy birthday Sharon!! I am sending love and lots of it with blessings that you never get hurt in future, not even a tiny bit of scratch. Love your posts as always it is so good.

  2. Mona Baen says

    I have enjoyed your columns, having somewhat recently discovered them. Even read your book. Your column appears in our local paper every Monday. Never quite liking Mondays, I started looking forward to Monday mornings just to read your column with my morning coffee. 2 weeks ago, it was missing. Last week it was missing again. Today, it’s not there. While I intend to write a stern letter to the editor, your column and a couple of other things are what kept us buying the paper. We have been thinking of cancelling our subscription. With the lack of your column, a couple of other changes, and the retirement of Scott Burns, we,be been pushed over the edge. We are going to buy each other IPads and expand our news and information worlds. Glad I found your blog. I enjoy reading the replies from your fans. It is a pleasure to be among that group. I’m thankful for so so many things, but finding your blog today is one of them.

  3. this is the first column that I have read, but I find that it speaks to me. A little over a year ago I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and placed on a vent to heal. I had also just learned that I was suffering from gout and had cancer. For months, my wonderful husband took care of me, cooked and cleaned for me, as well as taking care of my aging mom who lived with us. Although it tooks months to get back to cooking a whole meal on my own (for someone who hated to cook) it was the best feeling ever. Still struggling to overcome the cancer. I’m an overachiever, not only did I have one type of cancer, I had to get a second, unrelated type. But on my good days, I can still cook supper and that is amazing.

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Amazing how the little things bring such joy, yes? We’ve watched a bit of basketball, when the World Baseball Classic had a day or two off ? USA looks to win for the first time ?? And opener is in ten short days…. but this year I will miss texting my dear friend (her only fault being that she was a Giants fan, and I bleed Dodger Blue) during the games… one of those little things that gave such joy. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip – but it’s good to get back to home base, yes?

  5. And I am thankful for you!
    Thanks for the shrimp and grits ‘recipe’ too! ?

  6. Annie Hudson says

    Go Gonzaga! From your fans in Spokane, WA.

  7. Ron Claire Talley says

    Wow, this column certainly struck a chord with me!! Almost two months ago I fell on steps outside our house and broke my ankle in two places, had surgery, and have been in a cast and on a knee scooter and walker since then!! With each tiny task I am able to accomplish by myself, I am so grateful! My husband has also been remarkable to do everything around the house, so I am most grateful for him!! I never thought I would look forward to cooking, but I am eager to be able to make our dinner again! Thank you for your positive outlook on the worl and for sharing it with us each week. I am humbled by your words and appreciate even more all the many everyday blessings I gave in my life. Hope your ankle is back to normal now, and Happy, Happy Birthday!!

  8. Pearlene Curry says

    And I am always so thankful for you. You bring so much into my life. Thank you.

  9. Janette Beam says

    You always make my day brighter!
    Glad you are getting around and see you soon.

  10. Deborah Brazell says

    As always enjoyed your column today. So glad you are feeling better & able to enjoy your daily activities. Yes, Duke is out of the Sweet 16. WFU did not even come close. I was raised in Raleigh now live in Winston-Salem, & it’s going to taste like vinegar to pull for Carolina… until next time, enjoy your day & thank you for the joy you bring to ours.

  11. It is amazing that small normal things in life can be so wonderful. Love your writings. Happy late birthday. Love, Taska.

  12. So True! I used to think when I wrote Christmas letters that it was the “same ole, same ole” routines. Then, after two years ago being hit by a tornado, I realize that having the same ole routine happenings year after year wasn’t so bad after all. So much to be thankful for in our lives! Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Sue Summers says

    I am thankful for you also. Your column reminds me even tho my husband of 63, almost 64 years isn’t able to get around or take any trips, he is still here with me and I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself but be thankful for him and the wonderful marriage we have. Thank you. Sue

  14. Doris Hudson says

    Your column always lifts me up…for which I am thankful! Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for my blessings.

  15. Fred Hernandez says

    Have I told you lately that I love you?

  16. Lana Miller says

    Your column makes my week. Look forward to Sunday’s paper just because of you. It’s the only thing I read!! You always know exactly what to say and it seems to fit my circumstance with each reading. Don’t ever stop because you of a God given talent!! I like to think we are best friends!

  17. Jana Shannon says

    your columns make my heart smile……

  18. Beth Heeren says

    I remember singing Micah 6:8 w Ranz and everyone!
    Beth Heeren

  19. I’ve run out of ways to say thank you for your columns. Life throws curve balls at us from time to time and your example is the best way to get through to the other side. Enjoy your healing ankle. I went through something less serious but was so thankful when my feet started working properly again. Thank you again!

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