Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 355, December 31--New Year's Eve Day

Dear friends,

We're here.  The end of the year.  We made it.  Well, in my case, sort of.

For a while, at least, this will be my last posting.

To those who followed "Joy in the Journey" this year, thank you.  And for those who have followed the full four years of "The Gratitude Project," thank you and congratulations.  You stuck in there as I muddled my way through the intricacies of blogging and struggled to find my voice.

A writer's voice is unique to him/her.  But we are not always aware of what it is until we start writing.  I've decided my voice is what I am, a Mormon woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend.  It is not a "fancy" voice, just as I am not fancy.  It's a plain, down-to-earth voice honed by strengths and weaknesses, joy and pain, faith and fraility.  For better or worse, it's my voice.

Joy for today:  finding my voice.. and finding joy in the journey.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 354, December 30

Today is the second to last day of the year.  Did you ever think you wouldn't make it through?  I did.  I have.  And yet somehow here I am, still standing, still writing, still putting one foot in front of the other.  And sometimes that's all we can do:  put one foot in front of the other.

At the end of the year, it is customary to take inventory.  My husband, a business owner, takes inventory at the end of every year.  It is much the same with me.  I'm taking inventory of myself.

What have I accomplished ... and what have I failed to accomplish?  What have I learned ... and what have I failed to learn?  What brought me joy ... and what brought me pain?

The last is easy to answer, the others less so.

Maybe you are performing the same process, asking yourself the same questions.  I hope you find answers.

Joy for today:  taking inventory.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 353, December 29

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." ~ Amelia Earhart

I believe the Lord arranged for me to find this quote to share.  It fits so beautifully with yesterday's blog.  My friends' kindness prompted me to try to be kind.  And perhaps that prompted someone else to do the same. Who knows where a single act of kindness stops?  Maybe it doesn't stop at all but continues until it is spread all around the world.

The same is frequently true of an act of unkindness.  Small and petty acts spread virally, sowing seeds of discontent, envy, anger, and pain.  I know because I have been on the receiving end of both kinds of acts.  Unfortunately, I've also been on the giving end of performing small and petty acts.  Ironically, the person they hurt the most was me.  In debasing myself this way, I felt my soul shrivel and my heart harden.

As in so many things, I resolved to do better.  And, as in so many things, too often I failed.  I picked myself up and tried again.  That is what I'm doing now:  trying again.

Joy for today:  picking myself up.  (Darn.  I should have skipped the eggnog this year!)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 352, December 28

"Where there is love, there are always miracles."--Willa Cather

I found this quote on a Christmas card given to me by a dear friend.  It seemed appropriate to share today as it goes along with yesterday's post.

I wrote about my sweet friends who gave me such a thoughtful and loving gift, but I didn't tell you the rest of the story.  The gift arrived a couple of weeks before Christmas.  In those two remaining weeks, I felt my attitude shift, my heart soften, and my spirits lift.  There was the miracle I had been needing but hadn't known just how much I needed it.

I resolved to climb out of my hole of pity and try to do something for someone else.  A lady in our ward had lost her husband a year earlier.  What could I do for her?  Funds were limited, but I visited her more often, sent cards, and even managed to purchase a modest gift for her.  I wrote my aunts and expressed my love for them.  These were small things, but they were given from the heart.

Joy for today:  remembering a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 351, December 27

Before and after Christmas, much attention is given to gift-giving etiquette.  What do you give to your neighbor, your boss, the postman, friends, and, of course, family?  One of the favorite subjects addressed on morning talk shows is "the worst gift you've ever received."

I don't want to talk about the worst gift I've ever received (a duster--cleaning tool accompanied with the suggestion that I needed to use it) but to tell you about one of the best gifts I've ever received.  Yesterday I wrote about my granddaughter's loving letter to me.  That is definitely in the best-gift-ever category.

Another gift stands out in my mind.  Seventeen years ago, I felt (as I did this year) that I had little reason to celebrate Christmas.  My mother had died only a few months before, and I was still grieving.  Larry's fledgling engineering business was faltering.  We were living on $10 an hour, rice, beans, savings, and a whole lot of prayer.  

Enter my two walking buddies Marian and Tami.  One dreary December morning they showed up at our meeting place with wide smiles on their faces. They handed me a beautifully decorated box and told me to open it right then and there.  Eagerly, I did so.  

Inside was a treasure chest of things I love:  handmade greeting cards, stamps, three angel pins, and chocolate.  I was overwhelmed and so touched that I started blubbering.  Blubbering in the cold and snow and ice is not a pretty sight, but there I was, red nose, red eyes, and a heart full of gratitude.

I don't know if Tami and Marian remember that gift or its effect on me.  I only know that 17 years later, I remember it and am still reduced to tears by that memory.  They had given me the best gift of all:  love. 

Joy for today:  remembering a gift of love. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 350, December 26

It's been a hard year.  It's been a hard month.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I just wanted Christmas to be over.  How could I celebrate when my sister, the other part of me, is gone?

On Christmas, I resolved to be happy.  Larry and I were spending the morning with our daughter's family.  We had an enjoyable time.  Everyone received way too many gifts.  As we started to pick things up, my granddaughter Reynna (15) presented me with one more gift.

I opened it and found this letter:

Dear Grandma,

Merry Christmas!  I love you so much and I'm glad that I have you in my life.  For the past month I've been trying to figure out what to get you.  About a week ago, I realized that maybe I shouldn't get you something physical.

So I decided that I was going to make my present a little more meaningful this year.  I know you love to write and it's something that makes you very happy.  For for your gift, I've given myself the goal to write you a hand-written letter like this at least once a week.

 I'm not very good at writing, but I'm going to try.  In my letters I can talk about anything you want me to, from school to church or just to tell you that I love you.  I really hope that we can both bond from this.

I love you, Grandma, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.



As you can imagine, my heart filled, my eyes filled, and my heart filled again.  How could I be sad when I have such a granddaughter?  Reynna is my light, as she is a light to so many others.

Joy for today:  having Reynna in my life.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 349, December 25--Christmas Day

More about the Messiah:
Handel composed his masterpiece in a three-part structure with the "parts" subdivided by Charles Jennens into scenes.. Each scene is a collection of individual movements which take the form of recitatives, arias, and choruses. 
In Part I, the Messiah's coming and the virgin birth are predicted by Old Testament prophets. The annunciation of the birth of the Christ is represented in the words of Luke's Gosepl. Part II covers Christ's passion and His death, His resurrection and ascension. 
Part III begins with the promise of redemption, followed by a prediction of the day of judgment and the general resurrection, ending with the final victory over sin and death and the acclamation of Christ. Jennens feared that the audiences of the day would not understand all of the allusions to scripture.  For their benefit, he printed and issued a pamphlet explaining the reasons for his choices of scriptural selections.
Though I lack the musical skil and talent to participate in the playing or singing of the glorious words, I still am enchanted each time I hear the words of this glorious work.
Joy for today:  thrilling to music about Christ.