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IN THE SPIRIT: Top of the morning to you

Naomi Dunavan

Early on an August day, I was among several people waiting to see a doctor. Each of us had a book or a magazine, and I noticed that not one pair of eyes stared at the television on the wall.

Seems to me waiting room TVs are much too loud -- this one exceptionally so.

After about five minutes of nothing but horrific national news -- the murder of a 12-year-old girl; teenagers drowning after their truck hit a bridge; a dangerous prisoner breaking out of jail and at large; people torching their home; violence by a street gang -- I could take no more. I told the receptionist where she could find me.

Thank heavens for outer waiting rooms.

The troubling news stories soon were pushed from my thoughts by something I memorized years ago, something I try to practice.

You may recognize these words from Scripture: "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."

That's actually not hard to do. If we but look around we'll see there's much in our world that is uncorrupted, beautiful and commendable.

As I thought about good rather than bad on my drive home, Mandisa came on the radio. She's a gospel and contemporary Christian artist whose career took off after she appeared on American Idol.

I'm pretty sure that girl was singing directly to me that day: "It's a good morning, wake up to a brand new day. This morning, I'm stepping, stepping on my way. Good morning, You (God) give me strength. You give me just what I need and I can feel the hope that's rising in me. It's a good morning."

Check out Mandisa's song, "Good Morning," on I'd call it a danceable prayer.

It wasn't just that August day that turned out well. All of summer and fall has been delightful. We've had memorable family and friend trips to Medora, N.D., Cheyenne, Wyo., Keystone, Colo., and Hilton Head Island, S.C.

But, home is where the heart is, you know, and it's here where for most of the summer my watchful eyes have witnessed the beauty and happiness of everyday life and everyday people around me.

Thanksgiving is but days away and I'm thankful for, well, everything.

By that notable August day, I was two-thirds of the way to meeting my goal of putting 3,000 miles on my trusty yellow Trek Cruiser bicycle. That's the mileage I clocked in 2012 and I wanted to do it again. I'm happy to say I reached that goal on Oct. 31. Goal aside, I plan to ride till ice freezes over.

Exciting are the things I have encountered while pedaling.

First I saw a basement dug and a foundation poured on a cul-de-sac. I stopped to inquire (I'm not nosey, just interested) and was told a house was moving in.

I was fortunate to be riding the day Carrington (N.D.) House Movers brought the home down the street, around the corner and set it on its foundation -- a precision-plus process. No wonder. One of the crew told me his company moves 100 houses a year. Just this week I heard the plumbers and electricians are done, the house is nearly ready for its family and that it's really nice inside. I'll be stopping by to welcome this family to the neighborhood.

It's gratifying to get back on the trail after time away only to hear someone you don't know call out, "welcome back." Apparently the gentleman noticed I hadn't ridden by for a while.

One day Al Okins insisted I stop pedaling to look at his tulips with the wavy-topped pedals. I think they're called "Batalinii." Another day Al flagged me down again to meet his neighbor and good friend Gerald Johnson.

I watched and admired a new home being built from the ground up. Then I happened to be riding by when Dakota TV and Appliance delivered the appliances and as Tim Shea's Nursery was landscaping.

Seeing people you know who are such good folk also makes for a happy ride. I love calling out "Hey," to Jodi Jorde, Char Holy, Eric Hylden, Jackie Lorenz, Warren and Annette Strandell and Steve Gander.

One day a fellow with a bushy moustache walked into the street and as I neared him he asked me to stop. He had a question. It was then that I met Mark Vervalen for the first time.

Mark has seen me riding a lot and since winter is coming when I wouldn't be riding outside he wanted to know if I'd like a stationary bike. Some time ago, he'd bought one for his wife, Pam, and she no longer wants it. What a thoughtful gesture. I took Mark up on his gift.

Then there's the sad story to tell:

I was on my Trek in the alley behind our house when Beth Greenwood drove up looking for her beloved cat Milo, missing since Sept. 20. You may have seen Beth's story on the front page of Wednesday's Herald.

As Beth spoke of her love for Milo and how she misses him, her eyes filled with tears. Consequently, mine did, too. For days, I scoured the streets and wooded areas where I ride so wishing to be the one to spot Milo. But alas, that has not happened.

I guess it's a fact that we'll always have bad news with us so let's be grateful for the things we hear and experience that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

To be grateful is to have an endless attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for life as it unfolds around us. Living in the moment is good, too. It allows us to be receptive to the beauty and the abundance around us and even within us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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