Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 212, July 31

During the last 200 plus days, I have made many confessions. I've confessed that I color my hair, don't exercise enough, am unforgiving, and a host of other things. So it probably won't come as a surprise when I tell you that I'm not perfect.
Family and friends are well aware of my imperfections. In fact, my husband and children and, now, my grandchildren point them out to me on a regular basis. I accept that I'm not perfect and am, mostly, all right with it. Because, you know what, perfection is boring.
There, I've said it: perfection is boring. It's also intimidating. Perfect people intimidate me. Being around them makes me want to check the buttons on my blouse to see if I buttoned them correctly, tug at my hair, and run my tongue around my teeth to see if something is caught in them. Don't misunderstand. I admire perfect people; I just know that I will never be one.
I feel a kinship to the friend who missed an appointment because she wrote it on the wrong day on her calendar. While garage sailing with a friend, I felt a new closeness to her when she confided that she gave away clothes when they needed to be ironed. It was a euphoric moment to know that someone else didn't believe in ironing.
Like my physical self, my home is not perfect. It has too many books. Too many pictures of grandchildren. It is cluttered with the bits and piecies of living. The Depression-era quilts that grace my living room are frayed, the stitches uneven, the colors faded. Perfect, they are not. The cat hairs that cover every surface are evidence that I have a sweet, loving companion who wants to be wherever I am.
Only in one thing do I strive to be perfect. And that is in being grateful to my Father in Heaven. That I fail miserably in this effort does not mean that I don't keep trying and striving.
So, for today, I am grateful for imperfections.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 211, July 30

I've been surprised, and pleased, at some of the comments made on this blog. Somehow it has found its way to people living outside the United States, people I don't know. Conversely, it has failed to make its way to people of my own family and my own town. That is one of those "go figure" things that make life interesting.
I like interesting things. I like interesting people. I like finding connections and relationships between things, between people. Those relationships between people especially intrigue me, probably one of the reasons why I am a writer.
As I observe people, it occurs to me that we gather around us those who are most like us, not in appearance, or jobs, or economic status, but in the values we share. Values define who and what we are.
How we treat those who serve us in different ways comes from values. I have watched people who are disdainful of those who offer service. And I have watched those who are gracious and thankful to those who offer service. A kind word. A compliment. Thoughtfully expressed gratitude.
These are small things. As were the acts of the Savior. Yet who can deny the influence of His words and deeds? And who can predict the effect of our words and deeds? Will they some day be chronicled as were our Lord's? Or will they be forgotten?
Quite frankly, I hope some of mine will be forgotten, especially those times when I was selfish and cruel, thoughtless and careless. I can't make those things right, but I have the agency to do better the next time. The Lord has given me, has given all of us, second chances.
So, for today, I am grateful for second chances.

Friday, July 29, 2011

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People
love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back....' - Maya Angelou

I love this quote. It reminds me that whatever is going on in my life, I can make a difference to someone else. With a word of praise. A touch. A smile.

Some people seem to do this instinctively. Others, like me, need a gentle reminder to look outside themselves and find a way to lift up another. Let me share with you some ways that friends have lifted me:

A young mother of seven, who is beyond busy, finds time to comment on this blog nearly every day. Her words of encouragement keep me going. Another friend, an inspirational writer, lifts people with her beautifully crafted words, offering hope and faith and compassion to her readers. In between writing books, she found time to knit my sister a prayer shawl at the time of her husband's death. Several friends in our church remember not only my birthday but also that of my sister whom they see only occasionally.

I could go on with examples of people who make kindness look easy, but I'll let your eyes rest. Doubtless, you have stories of your own of friends who touch your life in special ways.

So, for today, I am grateful for people who lift and uplift.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 209, July 28

I love pockets and deplore the fact that so many women's clothes are made without pockets. Pockets frequently hold happy little surprises. Have you ever stuck your hand in a coat pocket, fishing for a pair of gloves and come away with a ten dollar bill you'd forgotten you'd tucked inside?
Yes, I love pockets. I love pockets of time, those small bits and pieces of minutes and hours that are unexpectedly free of demands and responsibilities. What mother has not rejoiced in an extra thirty minutes of quiet when her children sleep in for a change? And what child has not rejoiced in a snowday from school?
I also love pockets of space. At one time, our house was bursting at the seams. Pockets of space were difficult, if not impossible, to find. I occasionally used to hide in the bathroom, taking a book with me and pretending I was taking a bath. (All right, I admit it. I was hiding.)
Pockets. I wonder if the Father Himself did not create these little pockets of time and space, for surely they are blessings in each of our lives.
So, for today, I am grateful for pockets, wherever they are found.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 208, July 27

Lost opportunities are a plague for many of us. They fill us with regret, with a wistful desire to have a "do-over." If only I had done this, or that, I tell myself. If only I had taken a chance. If only ...
My regrets run the gamut, frequently focusing on the things I didn't do. I look at children, at their inhibitions, their love of life, their total confidence that they can't fail. When did I--when did so many of us--lose that?
Did it happen during the black hole of the middle school years? Or did it happen earlier? For me, it was a loss of self, a loss of belief. I felt it seep away and was powerless to reclaim it. Only in my writing have I found a piece of that fearless child who was ready to try, to dare anything.
I speculate that most of us feel that we have lost pieces of ourselves along the way. Perhaps it was an insensitive teacher who made you feel less than you were. Perhaps it was even well-meaning parents who wanted you to follow one path while your heart yearned to choose another. Finding those lost pieces, reclaiming them, takes commitment, resolve, and determination. It requires setting a goal, going after it, then doing it again and again.
So, for today, I am grateful for courageous people who seek the lost pieces of themselves and find them in unexpected places.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 207, July 26

Recently, one of our sons told us that he had been "defriended" on Facebook by someone he regarded as a friend. He related the incident in an off-hand manner, but I could tell he was hurt. Electronic friending and defriending seems to be a common occurrence these days. Not being up on all things social media related, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the concept.
What are the grounds for defriending someone? Is there a time frame when defriending is acceptable? Must I give reasons for defriending? The whole process seems fraught with social mine fields.
I have been guilty of hurting people by my carelessness and thoughtlessness. I have been guilty of selfishness and, even, at times of cruelty. Fortunately, my friends, true friends, have forgiven my lapses of defriending and continue to love me despite my weaknesses.
Worse, though, than defriending my friends is when I defriend the Lord. How do I do this? I defriend the Lord when I fail to be obedient. I defriend the Lord when I choose the things of the world over the things of eternal happiness. I defriend the Lord when I am selfish with my time and means. Like my friends, the Lord forgives me. Again and again.
So, for today, I am grateful for friends and the Lord who never defriend me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 206, July 25

A quote from a movie stuck with me: "For some, greatness is thrust upon them." It had me thinking about what is greatness. Is greatness the soldier who saves his comrades' lives by throwing himself upon an explosive device? Is greatness the religious leader who lays down his life for his beliefs as did ancient and modern day prophets? Is greatness fighting for a cause even when one knows it is lost?
All of the above are examples of greatness. Yet greatness is and can be more. Greatness is the father who gets up and goes to work every day to provide for his family. Greatness is the mother who tenderly cares for her disabled child even when that child is an adult. Especially when that child is an adult. Greatness is the grown man lovingly tending his mother who suffers from dementia, as my brother-in-law Rolf did.
Greatness comes in all shapes and sizes. Greatness comes when ordinary people do extraordinary things. Greatness comes when ordinary people do ordinary things day after day simply because they must be done.
So, for today, I am grateful for ordinary people who do ordinary things with greatness.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 205, July 24

Today is the 24th of July, a momentous day in Mormon history. On this day, in 1848, Mormon pionners arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Many of the Latter-day Saints wept upon seeing it, some in gratitude, and, some, I'm certain, in despair. They had left their comfortable homes in Nauvoo, Illinois to travel to this desolate, barren place?
But their faith sustained them. They set about planting fields, constructing barns, and, most importantly, building churches. Worshipping the Lord came first. Always. In the Salt Lake Valley of a land that was not yet a state, the pioneers found religious freedom for the first time.
They had suffered through the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. They had watched their fields and homes burned by mobs. They had lost fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters to the hatred of these same mobs.
In Utah, in the valley that the Lord had designated a promised land, they forged new lives, new homes, new hope. My ancestors were among those who traveled west, who sacrificed everything in obedience to the Lord's command.
So, for today, I am grateful for the faith of ancestors.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 204, July 23

Yesterday I wrote about chasing after gold. It took me back to years ago when I watched westerns on television. Prospecting for gold was a common theme. Frequently, men were taken in by what was called "fool's gold." They found "some color" and believed themselves rich, only to later discover that the ore they had mined was, in fact, pyrite or fool's gold.
We are no less susceptible to being taken in by fool's gold than the eager prospectors of an earlier century. We have only to look around us to find examples of it. I have some dear friends who talked themselves out of believing in the divinity of Christ in favor of believing Him to being simply a great teacher. They have been fooled. A son's former wife has traded her family and church for the things of the world. She has been fooled. A husband and father who once looked to his and child wife for love and support now looks to drugs. He has been fooled.
What am I fooled by? As I approach another birthday, am I lured by the claims of anti-aging creams and surgical procedures to turn back the years? There is nothing wrong with such things. The wrong comes when I make this--or anything--more important than family and faith. Am I willing to sacrifice those things of eternal worth for those which give only fleeting pleasure? I hope not.
So, for today, I am grateful for those things which are of eternal worth.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 203, July 22

The other day I watched a television show where people were caught up in gold fever. It was set in contemporary times, with educated individuals chasing after gold, leaving behind families and lives.
I would never do that, I told myself with more than a touch of self-righteouessness. I would never leave my family, my responsiblities to chase after gold. But it set me to wondering what I have left behind to chase after other kinds of gold.
When I neglect to give a friend in trouble the attention and time she needs because I am busy with my writing, I am chasing after gold. When I fail to carry through with my church responsibilities in favor of watching a movie, I am chasing after gold. When I choose a quiet morning at home rather than attending my church services, I am chasing after gold.
Gold is different for each of us. For me, quiet and privacy are a kind of gold. Success in my writing is another kind of gold. For others, designer clothing and expensive cars are a kind of gold. Gold tempts us, and I am no exception. Who can resist the allure of its glitter and sparkle?
There is another kind of gold, that of eternal riches that comes when we choose the Lord over the things of the world.
So, for today, I am grateful for the times when I choose the Lord.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 202, July 21

A heat wave has swept across much of the United States. Those of us of a certain age are especially sensitive to the heat. In talking with a friend, I said that I melt when the temperature reaches a certain point. Even as I give thanks for air-conditioning, I am transported back to the days when air-conditioning was non-existent.
We children played outside with abandon, uncaring of the heat and humidity that smothered our eastern Maryland neighborhood. Chasing fireflies, catching June bugs, playing tag, we ran until we exhausted ourselves. Then we ran some more. Those were innocent days in an innocent era. Yet even then, I had a glimmer of the different sides of my friends, myself. We were cruel and thoughtless; we were wise and loving.
More than fifty years later, I find that I am still cruel and thoughtless, wise and loving. Sometimes I manage to squeeze all those within one day. What does that make me? Very, very human.
When I am wise and loving, I find that I am happier, more at peace with the world, with myself. What prompts me to choose wisdom and love one day and to neglect it the next? Could it be that I am listening to the Spirit one day and ignoring it the next? I believe so.
So, for today, I am grateful for promptings of the Spirit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 201, July 20

Today is my sister Carla's birthday. Carla has had more than her share of health problems in the past and has suffered heartaches. But she is here and enjoying her children and granchildren, delighting in life.

Carla is the other half of me. She is the ying to my yang, the temperate to my more boisterous self. In many ways, she is the better half of me. We complement each other in a myriad of ways. We are more than sisters of the same parents; we are sisters of the heart. When she hurts, I hurt. When she rejoices, I rejoice. We clung to each other at the deaths of our parents. I grieved with her at the passing of her husband.

Sisters, whether of the blood or of the heart, occupy special places in our lives. How could they not? Sisters know when the other is hurting, across the miles, across the years. Sisters are there for each other with quiet support and a kick-in-the-seat when needed. Sisters simply are.

So, for today, I am grateful for my sister.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 200, July 19

Recently some friends and I were talking about a subject that comes up with increasing frequency: aging. Botox, plastic surgery, and Lady Clariol notwithstanding, aging is inevitable and happens to the best of us.

As much as we deplored the slowing of our bodies, our conversation focused not so much on the outward signs of aging but, rather, upon the inward signs. One person commented, "He's just like he was thirty years ago, only more so." This can be a good thing, or a not-so-good thing, depending upon the person.

I've written before about my dear friend Dorothy. Dorothy, who passed away when she was 83, aged with grace, humor, and love. Those who knew her rejoiced in her company. She delighted in a good joke and laughed with abandon, slapping her knee as she did so. I never thought of her as old, though nearly thirty years separated us. I guess I never thought of her as old because she never acted old. She remained involved and interested in people and the world around her.

My husband's aunt, now in her mid 80s, serves in her church, makes quilts to give to Project Linus, and visits "old" people. She is always busy, giving of herself, of her time, of her energy. She doesn't think of herself as old and neither do those who know her.

Gordon B. Hinckley (1910 - 2008), President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 - 2008, fulfilled his many responsibilities with a smile and genuine concern for others. Though he was almost 98 when he passed away, he never seemed old. At his doctor's suggestion, he carried a cane, but he used it not for walking but for waving it at the many people who wanted to say hi to him. He proved that aging is more a matter of the spirit than of the years.

So, for today, I am grateful for those whose spirits are forever young.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 199, July 18

Have you ever wondered why our world is painted in color? God could have created a functional, efficient world that comes only in shades of black, gray, and white. Plants would still grow; flowers would still bloom; cows would still produce milk.

But He, in His infinite wisdom, chose to wash our world with an infinite number of colors. Their names conjure up delightful images. Azure. Crimsom. Violet. Saffron. Amber. Emerald. Sapphire. We live in color, but sometimes we fail to recognize it. When was the last time I gave thanks for the brilliance of the scarlet petunias that march down the driveway? When was the last time I rejoiced in the intense green of the grass?

As I've written in earlier posts, our family is also composed of colors. We range from blue-eyed blondes to dark-eyed brunettes. Even the blondes are not all the same. We vary from sand dune to strawberry, from gold to ash. Some of us have freckles; some do not. Our coloring is as different as are our personalities.

And is this not what the Father intended? That we shine in whatever color we are?

So, for today, I am grateful for colors, in flowers, in people, in the world.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 198, July 17

Sometimes my poor old brain just doesn't want to cooperate. It can't remember what it used to. It can't compute things as it used to. (Well, it was never very good at that, but it was at least usable.) It can't adjust to change as quickly as it used to. Yes, my poor old brain is showing the signs of age.

The same is true of my body. It can't leap buildings in a single bound. It can't run and stop on a dime. It can't lift a grandchild over my head. (Really, it never was able to do those things, but I like to remember it that way and since my memory is going, I figure that's okay.)

What about my heart? In some ways, it, too, has atrophied. It remains unforgiving in many areas. I try to make up for those lapses by doing "good" things when I can. I try to exercise my heart in ways that have nothing to do with strengthening the actual muscle.

The truth is, my heart is a stubborn vessel. It wants what it wants. Sometimes it wants good things; sometimes it doesn't.

As I struggle to keep my brain and body functional, I struggle even more to keep my heart functional. I struggle to expand it, to use it in the way the Father designed. He has not given up on me, so I suppose I should not give up on myself either.

So, for today, I am grateful for a heart that still can be changed under the Master's love.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 197, July 16

My sister and her family leave today for a much-looked-forward-to trip to San Diego. I am thrilled for them, thrilled that they can have this time to wade in the ocean, to visit Disneyland, to simply be together. My sweet sister has endured more than her share of heartache over the last few years. She has endured it, not without tears, but without giving up.

Perhaps that is the true definition of courage.

Examples of courage are found around us, if we but look. Does not the mother of seven young children display daily courage in facing the endless round of laundry, sticky hands, and questions? Does not the missionary called to serve in a foreign country show courage when she accepts that call? Does not the individual who speaks against lies reveal courage? Does not the soldier who serves his country with honor exemplify courage?

I believe that we are all soldiers when we choose not to give up even in the face of overwhelming odds.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who endure.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 196, July 15

I love movies and television shows where good triumphs over evil. That sounds so very simplistic, doesn't it, even naive. If so, I plead guilty. I plead guilty to wanting the good things of the world to triumph over the evil things. I plead guilty to wanting good people to triumph over evil ones.

My husband says that I see the world in black and white. He is probably right. (He usually is.) Fortunately, the Father has provided many opportunities for me to witness acts of generosity, charity, and love--the white.

Perhaps it is because that I am a writer that I am also an observer, and so I watch. I watch our church family come together to help a family going through a crisis. I watch my son give his two small boys the righteous guidance that every child needs. I watch a friend help a young bride-to-be alter a wedding dress so that it fits perfectly.

Small things? Maybe.

But the Lord has told us that out of small things shall mighty things emerge.

So, for today, I am grateful for small things.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 195, July 14

Yesterday I wrote about true women. It seems I am not quite finished with that theme. Many of you know that I am Mormon. I am proud of my heritage, proud of the men and women, especially the women, who came before.

Allow me to share another story with you, this one taken from church history. Many of you will already know this, so please bear with me. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Saints were commanded to build a temple at Nauvoo, Illinois. There was little money, but faithful members of the church followed the Lord's direction and sacrificed of their means and time to construct a place of worship.

The women served food to the workers, sewed clothing for them, and helped in every way they could. When they were asked to give their china to be chopped up in to small pieces to add to the beauty of the building, they did not hesitate. They did it with a joyful heart, grateful for this opportunity to obey the Lord.

Could I do that? Could I give up a cherished treasure, perhaps the only thing of beauty I possessed? Probably not. But these women did. Not too long later, they were called to leave Nauvoo, to leave behind their homes, their gardens, the temple for which they had sacrificed so much.

True women. Courageous women. Faithful women.

So, for today, I am, once again, grateful for true women.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 194, July 13

Several years back, I watched a made-for-television movie entitled TRUE WOMEN, based on the book of the same time. In it, two sisters forged a life for themselves in the harsh Texas landscape of the 19th century. They survived disease, poverty, and Indian attacks (forgive me for being politically incorrect there, but saying "Native American attacks" just sounded wrong).
I know many true women today. Chances are you do as well. Let me share with you sketches of a few of these women. A cousin, widowed early, served, at her own expense, a mission for the church in Samoa. When she returned, she took her widowed mother into her home and now cares for her. Several friends raise their grandchildren, making sure these young spirits are reared in righteousness and love. My sister-in-law cares for her nearly 90-year-old father, taking care of his most basic needs from putting on his socks to making sure he takes his medication. A dear friend writers inspirational romances, touching her readers with stories of hope, healing, and forgiveness.
These women give of themselves, making their small slice of the world a better place. Who knows how far their sphere of influence extends. Could a child, raised under the tender tutelage of his grandmother, someday discover the cure for a disease that plagues us today? Could a reader of my friend's books take away a message of hope and gather the strength necessary to find a happier life?
So, for today, I am grateful for true women.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 193, July 12

Several weeks ago, a friend went through a horrific health scare. One doctor was certain she had a rare form of breast cancer. My heart went out to her. And my prayers. Yesterday, she wrote that it was not cancer but an infection that could be treated. She thanked all those who had prayed for her and called us her "prayer warriors."
I love that term: prayer warriors. In our current world of war, natural disasters, and disease, would it not be great if we were all prayer warriors?
I have many faults. (Ask my husband.) But among them is not the failure to pray. I pray for individuals by name. I beg the Father for His merciful blessings upon them. I pray for our country. I pray for our world. I pray when I'm driving, when I'm walking, when I'm doing housework. Heavenly Father has given us prayer so that we can talk with Him anytime, anywhere. What a priceless gift.
We live in a high-tech world. Texting, Facebook, Linkedn, and a host of other social media keep us connected. With all this technology, though, I hope we do not forget the power and grace of a prayer. In Primary, I listen to the simply uttered prayers of the children and feel their total faith that Someone is listening. They, too, are prayer warriors.
So, for today, I am grateful for prayer warriors.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 192, July 11

Yesterday my husband and I arrived at church early enough to hear the prelude music. The man playing the piano segued from one beautifully played hymn to another. What is remarkable about this man is that he plays without any music. He told me once that he didn't read music, that he played by ear. What a great gift he possesses.
I've mentioned in earlier posts that often music touches my soul in ways that the spoken word cannot. Music, especially spiritual music, reaches in and squeezes my heart. Why is it that a series of notes juxtaposed with words has such power?
Could it be that the Lord Himself inspired the men and women who created the music and lyrics? Do I feel His Spirit when I hear these glorious compositions? I believe so.
One hymn in particular finds its way into my very being: "How Great Thou Art."
Let me share a few lines:
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed.
Perhaps it is the theme of creation that resonates within me. Perhaps it is the melding of these words and notes. Perhaps it is God Himself who seems to be speaking just to me. Whatever the reasons, this hymn brings both joy and solace to my soul.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who share with others their gift of music.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 191, July 10

Last week, two of my grandchildren, Reynna (11) and Christopher (8) spent the night and the following day. They are full of energy, enthusiasm, and questions. Many, many questions.
Upon waking up that morning, Christopher asked, "Grandma, what's your favorite rodent?"
I have to admit being taken aback by this. Generally, I don't have a favorite rodent. In fact, I usually try to avoid rodents. Bleary-eyed, I looked at him and said, "I don't think I have a favorite rodent."
He then proceeded to give me a discourse upon the benefits and drawbacks of having a baby mouse as opposed to a grown-up mouse. When I had gathered my few wits about me, I agreed that both had appeal.
"Grandma," he asked wistfully, "do you think I could have a rodent?"
I had to think fast. Aside from the fact that his family has a cat, Joe-Mama, I knew my daughter didn't care for rodents--of any kind. "Well," I said, "I guess it would be up to your parents."
He nodded sadly.
This conversation made a delightful beginning to my day and reminded me that time spent with, children or grandchildren, is never wasted. It is time to be savored, the precious moments taken out and relived, the memories pressed upon the mind in the same way a faded corsage is pressed between the pages of a book.
So, for today, I am grateful for conversations with an eight-year-old grandson.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 190, July 9

I love the sound of ice cream truck music. It transports me back to those long-ago summer days when the much-awaited ice cream truck wend its way through the narrow neighborhood streets. My sister and I, along with other children, pestered our parents for dimes to buy a treat.
The choices seemed endless: dreamsicles, with orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream swirled together, fudgesicles, and, of course, popsicles in a rainbow of colors. Who could choose between such delicacies? When I finally made my choice, I didn't immediately rip into it. I pressed the paper-wrapped frozen treat against my forehead and relished the blessed coolness. (These were the days before central air conditioning.)
After I had savored this prelude, I pulled the paper away from my treat of the day. Now another choice presented itself: should I bite into it or should I lick it? On those days when I chose to bite off a hunk, I knew I could expect brain freeze. That, too, was part of the experience.
Those were innocent days, filled with innocent pleasures, when the lemon heat of the summer sun beat down on our heads and we played cowboys and Indians, wielding our melting treats like the fiercest of weapons.
So, for today, I am grateful for ice cream trucks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 189, July 8

I like pretty jewelry. It doesn't have to be costly. In fact, expensive jewelry makes me nervous. What if I were to lose it? I'd never forgive myself. So I look for my "pretties" (that is a term my Tennessee grandmother used to refer to sparkly baubles) at garage sales. When I find an especially lovely one, I snap it up. Such pieces are an easy way to bring color and style to an outfit.
How else can we adorn ourselves?
A smile rivals a Tiffany necklace. The lines that comes from laughter beat out a Harry Winston tiara any day of the week. One of my favorite people, Dorothy, celebrated her eighty-plus years with humor. She bejeweled herself with her pleasure in people and the world around her. Her face bore the lines of joyful living; her eyes shone with it. Her mouth easily tipped into a smile at my outrageous stories. She asked me to compose silly poems to send to her doctor, whom, she said, needed his sense of humor sparked. I did so gladly.
So, for today, I am grateful for the necklace of a smile and reminders of a friend.

Day 188, July 7

I have another confession to make: I am a craigslist.junkie. I use it to identify garage sales (one of my vices) and, occasionally, to list things for sale. One day I had the brilliant idea of going to the barter section. There, I listed that I'd like to trade tutoring in English and writing for some other skill.
When I received my first (and only) response, I was thrilled. Maybe I could work out a deal for someone to do yardwork or housework in return for my tutoring their child. Imagine my surprise when I opened the email and found that a gentleman wanted me to be his "naughty, kinky teacher." He then proceeded to give his description and a number where I could reach him.
I deleted it, but not before I chuckled. I'm certain he thought he would be getting someone much younger rather than my grandmother-ish self with my pasty white skin, bad hip, and bad feet. I suppose I shouldn't find this funny, and I apologize to those who believe I should be outraged. I'm sorry that I can't summon up sufficient umbrage, but, as I've said in earlier posts, I like to laugh.
When I told my husband, he said, "Maybe you can work it in to the blog. You can be grateful for career alternatives."
Well, this will not be a new career direction for me, but it has given me my laugh for today.
So, for today, I am grateful for humor found in unexpected places.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 187, July 6

Did you have a special childhood place? Perhaps a place where your family went to every summer. My family had one such place. Each summer, my mother, sister, and I traveled to Tennessee and spent six weeks with our grandmother, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Summer in eastern Tennessee was a magical place. There were June bugs to catch, a slow-moving creek to explore (complete with crawdads), and good southern cooking. My mother and aunts were not fancy cooks. They were down home cooks with a flair for infusing everything with an extra bit of flavor and a large dose of love.
My Aunt Maxie had a specialty, and I begged for it whenever I saw her: wacky cake. Wacky cake contained no eggs but was made with the unlikely combination of oil and vinegar as well as cocoa, sugar, and flour.
More than fifty years later, I can still recall the moist, humid air of late evenings, the chirping of crickets, and the delectable texture of wacky cake. Small memories. Precious memories.
So, for today, I am grateful for memories.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 186, July 5

"Use it up; wear it out; make it do; or do without." I have heard this bit of wisdom attributed to several people over the years. I like the counsel; more, I like the sentiments that prompted it.
Our world has become a throw-away world. We want the newest, the latest, the most up-to-date in every aspect of our lives. Who can blame us when we are bombarded from countless sources the virtues of upgrading? (That is a deceptive term. It seduces us in to thinking that if we fail to purchase the newest gee-gaw out there, we will be thought of us less.)
I remember stories from my mother of Depression years. Nothing was thrown away. Nothing was wasted. Clothes too worn for another wearing were carefully cut apart to salvage enough material for a few quilt squares. Buttons were removed from these same clothes to be used again. Bacon drippings were saved for flavoring or subsituted for the shortening called for in making bread. Sheets were cut part, then restitched to put the less-worn sides in the middle and the worn-out middle on the sides, a process called "sides-to-middlin'."
People were grateful for what they had and worked hard to make ends meet. I see a resurgence of this among some of us today as the economy causes us to tighten our collective belts. I also see others who whine that life has dealt them a raw hand and are entitled to live upon the labors of others. Unfortunately, this attitude is fostered by our government.
I have some dear friends for whom life really has dealt them a raw hand. Instead of complaining, they thank others for the least favor. The other day, my husband and I receievd a gift card in the mail from these friends, an expression of gratitude for a small favor on our parts. I was more than touched that they took time from their own problems to think of us.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who give thanks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 185, July 4

It is the 4th of July. What else could I write about but freedom?
People have different ideas about freedom, about what it means, what it doesn't mean. In the last ten years, many have complained that our freedoms have been taken away as our country responds to terrorists threats.
It occurs to me that some people use their freedom unrighteously, such as the terrorists who seek to impose their will upon everyone. Then there are the people who use their freedom to fight threats to America. These are the people who have my respect and my gratitude, the men and women who serve our country so valiantly.
I've written before about my father who served in World War II. He had the opportunity to remain stateside and use his skills here, but he felt compelled to volunteer to be placed overseas and ended up in the Pacific Theater. Today, decades later, other men and women place their lives at risk to provide the rest of us with the freedoms we too frequently take for granted.
So, for today and for everyday, I am grateful for American servcie men and women.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 184, July 3

Yesterday I wrote about wrinkles--on the face and in life. I've learned to live with the wrinkles on my face; I've yet to learn how to cope with the life ones as well.
Because my mind tends to wander in strange ways, I postulated that perhaps I can cope with face wrinkles better than life ones because they are superficial. Those wrinkles that crop up in life tend to be deep and painful. I handle them with anger, with tears, and, finally, with the acceptance that comes through prayer. Why don't I start with prayer in the first place?
Is it because I believe I can take care of things on my own? I'm afraid so. You'd think I would get the message that I can't. As I approach turning another year older, I am hoping to find some kind of wisdom in remembering to turn to God. Prayer is that conduit. between myself and the Father
So, for today, I am grateful for prayer.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 183, July 2

As I've mentioned earlier, I belong to that select group of women of a certain age. We are a great group, but one of the drawbacks is the onset of wrinkles. Wrinkles have found their way onto my once smooth face. (A side note: don't waste your money on expensive wrinkle creams and age-defying creams. They don't work.)
Colorado is a state resplendent with triumphant mountains shouldering the sky and verdant valleys. These valleys could be seen as wrinkles upon the landscape. Yet to navigate from one peak to the next, one must descend into the valleys.
Last December, I descended into one of life's valleys or wrinkles. I wondered how I was going to climb my way out. I went to the Lord in prayer. He instructed me, "Be grateful."
"Be grateful," I scoffed. "What do I have to be grateful about?" (Not one of my finer moments.)
"Be grateful and then write about it." Thus was The Gratitude Project born.
At times I feel like a hypocrit writing about blessings when I am so far away from being truly grateful. Who am I to write about gratitude when I remain prideful, even arrogant? Who am I to believe that I can touch the lives of others with my words? But, with the Lord's guidance and your encouragement, I persist.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's and your patience with me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 184, July 1

Today marks six months of doing The Gratitude Blog. It has been a joyful and painful, revealing and concealing process of discovery. Does that sound contradictory? That may be because it is. A scripture instructs us that there must be opposition in all things.
How can something be both joyful and painful? Isn't that what life is? A journey of joy and pain and all those feelings in between? As for the revealing and concealing part, I realize that I have been more open in this blog than I usually am. I am normally a rather private person. However, inspiration from the Lord and encouragement from you have had me sharing many experiences. But there is still much I haven't shared. This is probably a good thing. I don't want to be guilty of the sin of TMI (too much information)
Well, that was a drawn-out explanation, wasn't it?
Writing this blog shows me how far I have to go in being grateful. To my husband. My children. My friends. And, most of all, to the Lord. Just as the Lord tells us that we should pray constantly, so should I be grateful constantly.
It is a humbling thing to accept that I still remain arrogant and prideful in so many areas of my life. How can I think that I know best ... in anything at all? How can I presume to write about something in which I clearly need so much work?
So, today, I am grateful for the Lord's reminder that I need to do better.