Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 273, September 30

There is only one
admirable form of the imagination: the imagination that is so intense that
it creates a new reality, that it makes things
happen.~Sean O'Faolain
I love this quote. Perhaps because I love what imagination can create. Have you ever noticed how children can live in their imaginations? They make up a world with little more than dreams and thoughts and what those conjure up between them. How remarkable ... and how sad that we frequently lose that ability as we grow older.
Imagination is precious. Like all precious things, it must be nutured. It must be given time and energy for it to flourish, to grow, to bring forth fruit. So how do we nuture our imaginations? How can we cherish them? Do you spend time day-dreaming? I hope so. Are you willing to color outside the lines? Are you willing to try new things? Are you willing to fail? I hope for all of these things. For myself. For my children and grandchildren. For my friends. For you.
So, for today, I am grateful for imagination.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 272, September 29

Yesterday I wrote about the talk of a woman who spoke of what she wanted her granddaughters to know. At the same conference was another speaker who began his talk with a story about forget-me-not flowers. He compared them to the more stately rose and exotic orchid, saying that forget-me-nots were humble flowers, but beautiful in their own right.
He then gave five lessons he wanted his listeners to remember:
Forget not to be patient with yourself.
Forget not the difference between good sacrifices and foolish ones.
Forget not to be happy now.
Forget not the why of what you do.
Forget not that the Lord loves you.
So, for today, I am grateful for lessons from a forget-me-not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 271, September 28

A few days ago, I had the privilege of listening to a woman in our church give a powerful message of inspiration. Among the things she spoke of was what she wanted her granddaughters to know. It set me to thinking about my own granddaughter.
Reynna is eleven, soon to turn twelve. She hovers on that cusp of teenage-hood, at once a little girl and a young woman. What do I want her to know?
Do I want her to gain an education? Of course.
Do I want her to gain an appreciation of beauty? Again, the answer is, of course.
Do I want her to know that she is precious to me? More than I can say.
Do I want her to understand that hers is an eternal spirit? Yes.
Do I want her to understand her role as a daughter of God? Oh, yes.
I want so much for her. I want her to be happy. I want her to feel good about herself. (Too often, our daughters and granddaughters' self-esteem flounders as they reach the precarious teenage years. How I wish I could spare her that.) I want to protect her against the evils of the world. More, I want her to have the tools to protect herself, to lead a life of valor and honor.
So, for today, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of my granddaughter's life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 270, September 27

Fall is upon us. In many ways, this is my favorite time of year. I love the colors of autumn--ocher and saffron, scarlet and chocolate brown (who could not love a color with the word chocolate in it?). I love the energy of the children who are starting back to school. I love the sounds the leaves make as I tromp through them.
Autumn is a time when we and the earth are preparing ourselves for winter. We shore up our homes. (Those of us who are old enough to remember storm windows understand.) We put our gardens and yards to bed. We pull out our winter clothes, check them for any stains or holes.
What of our spiritual selves? Can we prepare them for winter? Do we need to take them out and brush them off as well? Ideally, we are always caring for our spiritual self. If you're like me, though, you may want to give it a once-over.
Here's a partial checklist:
Am I praying--always?
Am I grateful?
Am I serving others
Am I taking care of myself? (I can't serve others when I'm not physically and emotionally healthy.)
Am I generous with what the Father has given me? This includes not only fincancial resources but energy, time, talents, love.
Doubtless, you have your own checklist. This is just to get you thinking.
So, for today, I am grateful for autumn's reminders.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 269, September 26

Occasionally people will ask me when I decided to be a writer. I always stumble over that, not knowing what to say, or, more precisely, how to say it. For I never decided to be a writer. I just am. It is something inside of me, a part of my spirit that came with me to this earth that compels me to paint with words. These paintings are not always beautiful. Too often, they are clumsy and awkward and ill-conceived, but I keep trying.
How can I seperate the writer from the woman? I can't. Just as I cannot seperate the woman from the daughter of God. All are a part of me.
I am fortunate to know several tremendously talented sculptors. I believe they feel the same way. Their art is a part of their eternal spirits. And isn't that the way with all of us? However we create--whether through words, bronze, music, paint, or whatever--is an instrinsic part of us. That is God's plan.
But, you may say, I have no art. Are you so certain? Are you creating a home where learning and worship are encouraged? If so, you are an artist. Are you sharing a gift of laughter with others? If so, you are an artist. Are you working in a hospital, helping to relieve suffering? If so, you are an artist. The desire to create, indeed, the NEED to create, does not belong to a few. It is given to all of us. It is our responsibility and our privilege to find that for ourselves.
So, for today, I am grateful for gifts from the Creator.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 268, September 25

It is Sunday, the Sabbath for many people around the world. The Sabbath has always been a day of reflection for me. As I take the Sacrament, I renew the covenants I made with the Lord. I also vow to try to do better--in everything.
I don't work on my writing on Sunday. That is for the other six days of the week. Following church, I write letters to family and friends. If I'm lucky, I see my children and grandchildren.
When I was younger, I occasionally chafed at what I saw as the restrictions placed upon me on Sundays. Looking back, I am grateful to my parents for teaching me that the Sabbath was a special day, where we dress differently and do different things than we do on other days.
In the Lord's language, the Sabbath is a day of rest. Members of our church know that we do not rest literally; rather, we rest from worldly labors. How wonderful is the Lord's plan. He knew that we needed a day where we put aside the labors of the rest of the week and turn our thoughts and efforts toward serving Him
So, for today, I am grateful for the Sabbath.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 267, September 24

Do you ever have trouble getting up in the mornings? I do. It's not that I haven't gotten enough sleep. It's my attitude. Sometimes I just don't want to get up. I occasionally even wonder why I should get up at all.
That sounds pathetic, doesn't it? It is made more so when I consider that I have a good life. A husband who loves me. Sweet children and grandchildren. Good friends. The problem lies within me. Likewise, the solution lies within me.
When I am in sync with myself, I feel energetic, purposeful, and ready to tackle anything. When I'm not in sync with myself, I am sluggish and certain that I can't do anything right. What makes the difference? And then I realized that being in sync with myself means I'm in sync with the Lord.
When I do the things I know that He wants me to, I feel His approval. That approbation blesses my efforts throughout the day. Similarly, when I don't do the things I know that He wants me to, I feel His disapproval. Simple, isn't it? You'd think I'd catch on and get it right. But, like so many important things, getting it right is hard. It takes work. It takes time. It takes commitment.
So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I am in sync with the Lord.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 266, September 23

I grew up watching westerns on a small black and white television. In these shows, the good guys always came out on top. Sometimes, I find myself longing for those simple days where good always triumphed over evil.
That naive view has remained with me. I want to see good triumph. Too frequently, we witness evil triumphing. Then I remind myself that what appears a triumph of "the bad guys" is only temporary. The Lord has a plan and it does not allow for evil to triumph.
In the meantime, we can do our part to further the Lord's plan. We can speak out against atrocities. We can vote for righteous men and women to govern our country. We can teach our children and grandchildren eternal principles. We can be a good neighbor. We can be honest in our dealings.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's plan, where good is triumphant.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 265, September 22

Well, here I am writing about gardens again. This may seem a bit strange for those who know me and know that I'm not a gardener, but I have always been impressed by those who do garden. I wonder if gardeners understand life more fully than those of us who don't grow possess this talent.
The gardener understands that some plants provide sustenance and some provide beauty. Isn't that the way in life? Each of us has something that we can give. Few of us can do it all. Have you noticed that while we are generous in cutting others slack, not expecting them to be perfect or to do it all, that we are often less generous with ourselves?
Do you expect yourself to do everything and to do it perfectly? I hope not. When I was a young mother, I made deliberate choices, knowing that I couldn't do everything. I could read to my children or I could mop the floor. I couldn't do both, at least not at the same time. I could nurse my new baby or I could clean out a closet. Guess what? At that time in my life, I chose reading and nursing.
Did you notice the words I used? "At that time in my life ..." Later, I mopped the floor and I cleaned the closet. So, maybe I could "do it all." But I couldn't do it all at the same time.
Maybe that's what the gardener knows that the rest of us are only now learning: we can do everything we want to do, but we have to choose what order in which we do it.
So, for today, I am grateful for the freedom to make choices in wisdom and order.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 264, September 21

I mentioned in an earlier post about an article I'd read recently about gardening. It impressed me so much that I returned to it and re-read it. As so often happens, I picked up something new in the second reading.
"In order to create something beautiful, you have to get your hands dirty." The author's counsel reminds me that we rarely get the results we want in any endeavor if we aren't willing to work at it, to get our hands dirty.
Parents know that being a mother or father takes hard work. We get up in the middle of the night to soothe a fussy baby, to change a diaper, to nurse him. Years later, we stay up late, waiting for that child, now a teenager, to come home from a date. In between, we have ample opportunities to get our hands dirty. We clean up spilled milk, wash towels where small hands have wiped themselves before washing, and wipe smudged fingerprints from mirrors and windows.
I'm guessing that whatever work you do, you, too, have gotten your hands dirty. The contractor who is building our addition frequently has dried concrete on his fingers, under his nails. Am I offended by this? No. It reminds me that he is creating something beautiful. Likewise, the mechanic who works on our cars has oil and grease staining his hands. Even writers can get their hands dirty. I started writing in the dinosaur days of typewriters. Those of you old enough to have changed a typerwriter ribbon know just how messy the process is.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who get their hands dirty while creating something beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 263, September 20

Those who planted gardens are now harvesting those same gardens, bringing in ruby red tomatoes, succulent peppers, sweet melons, and other delights. Sometimes a friend will share some of their bounty with me, and I savor the tenderness of a just-picked tomato.
Isn't this the same with all the gifts the Father has bestowed upon us? Those who have one gift share with those who don't possess that particular one. Those who have another gift share it with someone else. And on it goes.
In my circle of friends are many talented women, or sisters. (In our church, we refer to each other as sister.) One is a beautiful seamstress. When our daughter married some years ago, this sister helped alter her wedding dress to fit her perfectly. Another is a talented musician. She blesses my life and that of others with her exquisite flute and organ playing. Yet another friend has a gift for humor, making me laugh whenever I am with her. I could go on, but you get the picture.
When we share garden tomatoes or a talent (and isn't growing a garden another kind of talent?), we enrich the lives of others. When we pray for others, we bless their lives. When we do a kindness, we bless not only the recipient's life but our own and, most importantly, please the Father.
So, for today, I am grateful for those friends who bless my life with their gifts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 262, September 19

I just heard an advertisement touting the wisdom of investing in gold. With news stories of the devalued US dollar, the stock market plummeting and rising and plummeting again bombarding us, we may be tempted to do as the advertisement suggests and invest in gold. Or pork bellies. Or corn. Or some other thing.
The fact is, my husband and I have made some bad investments over the years. Fortunately, we've made some good ones as well. I figure they even each other out. More fortunately still, we have made other, better investments. In each other. In our children. In our friends. In our faith.
Investments in worldly things may or may not pay off. When we invest in eternal things, we have a much better chance of recouping our outlay. What things have you invested in lately? Have you invested in family? In a friendship? In your relationship with God?
But, you may protest, "I haven't invested anything." Are you certain? Are you raising children to have high moral values? If so, you have invested in them. Have you given up purchasing something for yourself so that you can pay tithing to your church? You have invested in your beliefs. Investments come in different shapes, different sizes, different forms. What you invest in, in large part, determines what kind of individual you are.
So, for today, I am grateful for investment in things of eternal worth.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 261, September 18

A week or so ago, I began a post with a quote counseling that "you cannot do a kindness too soon." I'd like to relate a story tha occurred as a result of that.
My daughter, Alanna, a busy mom of two and a CPA, read the blog and decided to act on it. Alanna makes beautiful cards. She decided to make some thinking-of-you cards and send them to two ladies in her church who were facing serious health problems. She was not particularly close to these women but thought their spirits might be uplifted by receiving a card.
A few days later, she learned from a friend that both ladies were very touched at receiving her cards. Perhaps these women were inspired to do something for someone else and those people were inspired ... and so on. The writer in me likes to finish a story and, of course, give it a happy ending.
Or, perhaps, this story doesn't have an ending at all. Maybe the acts of kindness will continue, reaching hundreds, thousands, of people.
When Alanna wrote me of this incident, I asked her permission to share it, which she gladly gave. She said, "Maybe we can change the world one card at a time." I don't know if we'll change the world with cards, but maybe we can change a small part of it and make it a bit brighter for someone else.
So, for today, I am grateful for my sweet daughter and her decision to "do a kindness too soon."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 260, September 17

In telling a friend about some "new" furniture that I purchased at a garage sale, I described it as sturdy, serviceable, and, hopefully, able to stand up to grandchildren. I concluded by saying that I'm not a fancy person.
My wise friend responded that she had never aspired to be fancy. Rather, she said, she wanted to be classy. It started me to thinking about what is classy.
I believe classy comes from within. The woman who treats others, regardless of their position in life, with compassion and respect is classy. The young person who gives up his seat on a crowded bus to a young mother whose arms are full of a squirming toddler and packages is classy. The man who spends his Saturday to help a single mother paint her house is classy.
Classy comes in all shapes and sizes. It sometimes appears when we least expect it. It makes itself known when we put people above things and Christ above all.
So, for today, I am grateful for classy people, like my friend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 259, September 16

In a single day, I learned of a friend who had lost her brother, another who had lost her father, still another who was in the hospital for a knee replacement, and yet another who will soon have to undergo a spleenectomy. I felt overwhelmed by the need around me. And I felt powerless to help any of these people.
I sent cards but wanted to do more. What could I do to help these individuals through the trials they are enduring? Of course, the answer is prayer.
I've written about prayer in previous posts. It seems to be one of those recurring themes in this blog. Perhaps that is because I am learning to rely on it and on the Father more and more.
An article I read recently gave the results of a study about hospital patients. Those who were consistently prayed for healed more quickly than those who hadn't. This was not a study sponsored by a religious group, but a scientific double-blind experiment.
I cite this study not to make you believe more fully in prayer, as I'm certain that you already do. I use it only to point out that prayer is being recognized by the scientific community as a powerful and effective tool.
So, for today (and for every day), I am grateful for prayer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 258, September 15

Yesterday I wrote about lessons from a garden. As often happens, it seems I'm not finished with this subject.
Experienced gardeners know that the first step in planning a garden is preparing the soil. Our soil in Loveland tends to be lumps and clumps of clay. It is suitable for growing vine weed, crabgrass, and little else without a great deal of work and the addition of fertilizer and nutrients.
In the excitement over planting flowers or vegetables, we may forget this important step
Isn't life frequently the same way? In our excitement over starting something new, we tend to skip the preparation necessary. In writing, we talk about "pantsers," those who just plunge in with a story without plotting or outlining, and "plotters," those who know exactly where their story is going.
I am a pantser. I get excited over a character (who is usually talking in my head) and start writing, without knowing where my story is going. At some point, I have to do the heavy lifting of figuring out what my character is going to do and why he is going to do it. I have to prepare the soil.
It is the same in parenting where we hope to grow healthy and happy children. Family prayer. Family councils. One-on-one time with every child. Each is an important step. Each is a part of preparing the soil.
What things in your life require preparing the soil? Are you getting ready to go back to school? Are you looking forward for a two week trip to Europe? Are you doing as we did and planning an addition to your home? Each requires preparing the soil.
So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I remember to prepare the soil.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 257, September 14

Though I'm not much of a gardener, I enjoy looking at beautifully planned and choreographed gardens. Who does not appreciate the flow of color and scent and texture that devoted gardeners achieve with their vision and hard work?
Many of life's important lessons can be found in gardening. We are all familiar with the "Law of the Harvest." We reap what we sow. Like so many things, this is both encouraging and discouraging. When I sow seeds of compassion and kindness, I reap the same. Similarly, when I sow seeds of discouragement and bitterness, those qualities are my reward.
An article on gardening caught my eye the other day. The author likened pruning away a garden's old growth to that of pruning away the old growth in our lives. What constitutes old growth in my life? When I hold on to idea for so long that I can't entertain new ones. When I nurture grudges that take up room for new, healthier feelings. When I refuse to clean out the clutter in my closets ... and my heart. Yes, old growth takes many forms.
So, for today, I am grateful for lessons from a garden.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 256, September 13

Desist from making cutting remarks one to another. Rather, cultivate the art of complimenting, of strengthening, of encouraging. It is responsibility divinely laid upon each of us to bear one another's burdens, strengthen one another, to encourage one another, to lift one another, to look for the good in one another and to emphasize the good. There is not a man or woman in this vast assembly who cannot be depressed on the one hand or lifted on the other by the remarks of his or her associates.--Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
As always, President Hinckley knew what to say and how to say it. He achieved great honors in his life, yet he remained humble and generous in how he treated others.
What would our families, our churches, our communities, our nation be like if we all followed his counsel? Would we have greater peace in our personal lives? Would we have a kinder, gentler world? Undoubtedly.
Yet some of us (me especially) struggle to get this right. Unkind words spill from our lips. And, if we're fortunate enough to keep the words from spilling out, they stick in our hearts, cankering our souls and tainting our lives with bitterness. Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), when I remember to find the good in others, I also seem to find it in myself.
So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I get it right.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 255, September 12

"The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence. It's greener where you water it most."
I found this quote in a women's magazine and was immediately struck by the spin on the adage, "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence." Too often, I fall in to the trap of believing that the grass is indeed greener on my neighbor's side of the fence.
Lately, with a bit more maturity (translate that to getting older) and, hopefully, a bit more wisdom, I've come to see that the grass is the same everywhere. Everyone's lawn has some crabgrass, some vine weed, some bald patches.
What makes the difference between one lawn and another is the stewardship exercised over it. In other words, some people are watering their grass more diligently. Isn't that the way in all of life? What we give our time and energy and attention to will most likely thrive. What we neglect will probably wither and die.
I know it's true of my own life. Those activities that I enjoy, those that I feel good about, receive my best efforts. Those that I feel are drudgery receive a "lick and a promise." When I put my heart and soul into a project, it shows. When I give it only the required minimum, it also shows.
I sometimes wonder what Heavenly Father thinks of my efforts in my relationship with Him. Do I give it my best? Or am I content to give it the least I think I can get away with? The answer changes from day to day. Sometimes I give Him my absolute best. Frequently, though, I give Him a promise to do better the next day ... or the day after that. And still He loves me.
So, for today, I am grateful for times when my grass is greener because I've given it my best.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 254, September 11

No one needs a reminder that today is 9/11. September 11, 2011. Ten years since that infamous day when terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers. No doubt you remember where you were on that day when you heard the news. You don't need my thoughts on this, so I'm going to write about something else.
Today would be my parents' 67th wedding anniversary. They were married September 11, 1944. There was no big wedding, only a civil service where my mother wore a simple suit. They returned to a small apartment. I remember my father telling me that they had only a dishpan to set up housekeeping. They used it to heat up a can of oyster stew.
Shortly after that, my father was shipped out to the Pacific Theatre. My mother stayed behind, working to support herself and to send money home to her widowed mother. When my father returned to the States, they decided that he would attend law school. With both of them working and help from the GI Bill, he was able to afford tuition.
There was no sense of entitlement. Indeed, they would not have understood the meaning of the word. They lived frugally, worked hard, and were grateful for the opportunities afforded them.
My parents lived together, loved together, and, yes, sometimes fought together, for over fifty years. In their last few years together, when my mother suffered from breast cancer, my father tenderly cared for her.
So, for today, I am grateful for my parents and the legacy they left.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 253, September 10

I've confessed before that I'm not a fancy person. My house is decorated with garage sale finds. My clothes also come from garage sales. I get my hair cut at a barbershop rather than a salon, and when I wear makeup, it is usually that which my sister has given me.
I admire those individuals who decorate their houses just so and dress just so even as I recognize I will never be that way. Don't we often admire those qualities in others that we don't possess? I wonder why that is so. Why don't we appreciate what we do have?
These reflections are not new, certainly not unique with me. It's human nature, I suppose, to want to be what we're not. I wonder what the Father thinks when I am less than satisfied with what I am, what I have, and I fear He's probably disappointed in me. Does He see my dissatisfaction as a lack of gratitude?
I've been blogging for over eight months now in an effort to remind myself, to remind all of us, to be grateful, and I'm still trying to get it right. As much as I try, I find myself wanting more--wanting to be more, wanting to be better, wanting to be something I'm not. It's not wrong to want to be better, but I believe it is wrong to fail to acknowledge what we already are and have.
So, for today, I am grateful for what the Father has made me and pray that He will continue to work on me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 252, September 9

Yesterday I wrote about being in a hurry. Sometimes life reminds us to slow down. Sometimes aging bodies force us to slow down. And sometimes we slow down because we realize that what seemed so important only moments ago actually matters very little.
When life threw us a curve last December, we let go of holiday plans, work, writing projects, and everything else to be with a child who needed us. We flew halfway across the country to help our son through a crisis.
You've probably had similar experiences, dropping everything to be there for a family member or a friend who needs you. If you're like me, you take a deep breath and then you dig in and get to work. That work takes different forms. It may mean babysitting grandchildren. It may mean holding a grieving sister while she cries. It may mean turning your life upside down so that you can simply be there.
So, for today, I am grateful for reminders of what is important ... and what isn't.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 251, September 8

Do you ever feel that you are constantly in a hurry? I do. I'm in a hurry for the washing machine to finish its cycle so that I can transfer the clothes to the dryer. I'm in a hurry for the dryer to finish so I can unload it and hang up the clothes. I'm in a hurry at the check-out counter at the grocery store. I'm in a hurry to return home and put the groceries away. And so it goes.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to get things done, to accomplish the tasks necessary to keep a home and family going. Every day, if we're lucky, we have things we must do. We applaud ourselves when we do them quickly and efficiently.
What do I miss, though, when I hurry through everything? I know I missed sweet moments in my children's childhood when I was hurrying them through morning chores. Similarly, I missed quiet, reflective moments when I read to them because I was focused on the next thing to be done.
When I look back on those days, I don't remember the chores that did or did not get done. I don't remember the laundry that didn't get folded or the floor that didn't get swept. What I do remember are those times when I was fully present.
So, for today, I am grateful for times when I remember to savor the moment.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 250, September 7

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."--Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I ran across this quote, I knew I had to include it in the blog. Emerson's words remain as relevant today as they did more than a century ago.
Let me share a story with you. I had planned to take one of my books to an elderly lady in our church (she had expressed interest in them). "Tomorrow," I told myself. The trouble was, tomorrow never arrived; tomorrow kept being put off. And then I learned that the lady died. My sorrow over her passing was nearly exceeded by my disappointment in myself. I had the opportunity to make a difference, albeit a small one, in another's life. And I failed to make use of it.
I can't remember the reasons I had for putting off taking the book to her. What I do remember was the lively interest in her eyes when she asked me about my writing.
Since that incident, I've tried to do better. When I have the impulse to write a note to a friend, I try to act on it right then. Too many times, though, I fail to tollow through on good intentions. I fall prey to the "tomorrow trap."
Fortunately, I am surrounded by caring friends who do follow through, who extend kindnesses, both large and small, to me and to others.
So, for today, I am grateful for those people who "do a kindness too soon."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 249, September 6

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen
I'll admit it: I'm not a Woody Allen fan, but I like the sentiment behind this quote. I like the acknowledgement that failure is an inevitable part of trying. I like the idea that failure is not only all right but is also acceptable.
Writers get accustomed to failure. (We call it rejection.) Rejections used to come in the mail in SASEs. Now they come via email. However they arrive, they come with depressing regularity for some of us.
Most, if not all of us, have experienced some kind of failure or rejection. Sometimes what we perceive as failure is really not failure at all. Sometimes it is just the natural consequences of living in this mortal world. Sometimes the feelings we label as failure are caused by the insensitivity of others, such as an unappreciative boss or ungrateful child.
Whatever the causes of these feelings, we can keep trying. I am the poster child of "keeping trying." I keep trying in my writing. I keep trying in being a wife and a mother and a grandmother. I keep trying in being a friend. I keep trying in being a daughter of God. Sometimes, I succeed; sometimes, I fail.
So, for today, I am grateful for opportunities to keep trying.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 248, September 5

In taking a walk a few days ago, I stepped in a scattering of leaves. Trees haven't begun to drop their leaves in earnest yet, so this was a surprise. The crackle of leaves beneath my feet jolted me out of my thoughts so that I took a look around.
I tend to get lost in my thoughts as I walk, mulling over story ideas, recalcitrant characaters, and plotting problems. Passing drivers have probably seen me talking to myself. In reality, I am probably arguing with a character who refuses to behave as he should. (I'm hoping this is a common occurrence with other writers and that I am not the only one who remonstrates with fictional people.)
As I said, I had failed to take notice of the beauty of my surroundings until the snap of dry leaves registered. The Rocky Mountains loomed in the distance, hulking and magestic at the same time. Cotton puff clouds scudded across a bluer-than-blue sky. A neighborhood park, tucked between an elementary school and a church, provided an expanse of verdant green.
I would have missed this slice of a perfect Colorado morning if not for the crackling protest of leaves as I walked and talked.
So, for today, I am grateful for fallen leaves.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 247, September 4

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."--Voltaire.
Have you been guilty of this? I know I have. If I can't do something perfectly, I tell myself, I won't do it at all. How many moments of pleasure, of satisfaction, of happiness have I cheated myself out of because of this short-sighted attitude? Too many.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for perfection. I believe in reaching for the stars. However, I also realize that I can't achieve perfection in everything I do. In fact, I can't achieve it in most of the things I do. Does that mean I should stop trying?
I've written before about playing the piano for our church's Primary. Every week, I manage to make bloopers. Still, I keep trying. What's more, I genuinely enjoy accompanying the children while they sing sweet songs about the Savior. Should I give up that pleasure because I can't play the piano perfectly? No.
For years, I've worked to improve and grow my writing. I have yet to find the perfect words to craft the perfect book. I don't know of any writers who feel that they have achieved that, no matter what their level of success. But we keep writing because it fills a need inside of us. We don't let the goal of perfection rob us of the joy of the good.
So, for today, I am grateful for the times I let perfection go and concentrate on being good enough.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 246, September 3

Yesterday, I wrote about dreams. I was feeling pretty good about the post until I realized that I had neglected to say what happened when dreams don't come true.
It's no secret that some of my dreams have come true ... and some haven't. Isn't it that way with most of us? When a dream doesn't come true, it's easy to fall into a funk, to give up on it. After getting my upteenth book rejection, I was ready to give up on writing. Why should I keep banging my head against a wall?
A rejection letter from one editor suggested, ever so politely, that I find a new occupation. After engaging in a pity party where I indulged in copious amounts of chocolate, I got up, dusted myself off, and started again. I couldn't, wouldn't, give up on my dream.
What dream have you been tempted to give up on? Has someone tried to steal it from you? Has life beat you down until you can't even see that dream that once burned so brightly? I hope not. But if you have ever considered giving up on a dream, grab on to it. Grasp it, clutch it to your heart, and start over. Take the steps necessary to make it come true.
Maybe that dream needs to grow. Or maybe you need to grow, to look at it in another way. A fresh way. The important thing is that you never give up.
My husband dreamed of owning a business. He and a partner started in a small rented room, an old computer, and second-hand furniture. With a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and a large dose of faith, he made his dream come true.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who make their dreams come true.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 245, September 2

One of my favorite Disney songs is "When You Wish Upon a Star." (Yes, at my advanced age, I love Disney songs.) I love the hope and dreams that this particular song conjures up. I love the idea that we can make things better than they are.
I've written in earlier posts about dreams. Most of us have them. If you don't, you should. Dreams spur us to think better, to do better, to be better. For dreamers, quiet times are a necessity. It is during those times that we shed our practical selves and allow our flights of fancy to soar.
Life, with all its demands and duties, tends to ground us in tasks such as making a living, balancing the checkbook, doing the laundry, and a host of other things. Dreams can and do get lost. So busy are we that we scarcely notice their departure. What a shame that is.
Do you recall your childhood when you were invincible, when nothing was beyond your grasp, when the world beckoned with infinite possibilities? You can recapture those feelings when you give yourself up to the magic of dreams.
So, for today, I am grateful for dreams.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 244, September 1

Here it is September 1. Two-thirds of the year have gone by. During that time, our family, as have others, has been tested.. Our trials are probably different from yours. What we share is that all of us have faced and continue to face problems. This life doesn't let us escape unscathed.
Friends and family have weathered financial setbacks; others, health problems and disappointment over children. Whatever the problem, the Savior is the answer.
It's taken me a lifetime to grasp this. My heart understood, but my brain, trained to approach problems rationally, had a more difficult time. Finally, I think, I have gotten it. The Savior knows the end from the beginning. He knows a parent's heartache over a rebellious child. He knows the grief of losing a parent. He knows the pain of sin, because He has taken all of these--and more--unto Himself.
There is nothing that we can experience that He has not endured, understood, and wept over. There is no pain so great for which He cannot give solace. There is no hurt He cannot assuage.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Savior's infinite capacity to love.