Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 304, October 31

A few days ago, a heavy snow took down trees which, in turn, took down power lines. We, along with much of Loveland, were without power for a day. I discovered (if I didn't already know it) that I am not hardy pioneer stock, as were my ancestors.
I moaned. I whined. I complained. I couldn't use the computer. I couldn't use the washing machine. I couldn't watch television. I couldn't even turn on the lights. I ended up spending the day at my husband's office which did have power.
We returned home later that evening to find that our power had been restored. I nearly wept in gratitude.
It set me to thinking (have you noticed that the strangest things set me to thinking?) about a far more important Power in my life. This Source of light is always available and is not subject to the whims of Mother Nature or other vagaries.
Of course I am speaking of the Lord. His Power is always there, mine for the taking, if I but choose to do so. Did you pick up on the operative word there--choose? I must choose to partake of His power. He will not force it upon me.
So, for today, I am grateful for sources of power and Power.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 303, October 30

I love learning new words, new phrases. A few days ago, my husband taught me an expression I hadn't heard before: "He's all hat and no cattle."
I love the symbolism of these words, how they express in six meager words what some of us might spend hundreds, if not thousands, of words to express.
Chances are you know someone who is "all hat and no cattle." Most of us can point to certain politicians or celebrities who take pleasure in flaunting their talents, their wealth, their breast size. Because they possess little or no substance, they must rely on outward trappings to feel good about themselves, to impress their "inferiors."
Fortunately, we can also point to individuals who are "no hat and all cattle." These persons find joy in serving others, in giving of themselves, in praising the Lord. Their feelings about self come from within rather than from without.
So, for today, I am grateful for those persons who are "no hat and all cattle."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 302, October 29

I realized a few days ago that it is less than two months until Christmas. Two months in which I have a wedding to plan, several trips (wedding related) to make, holiday shopping to do, a house to prepare for my son's and grandsons' visit, and a host of other things.
When I was mentally reviewing all that needed to be done in two short months, I started feeling overwhelmed. That is a common feeling with me these days. I am easily overwhelmed. Things that another person might accomplish without breaking a sweat leave me feeling anxious and ... well, overwhelmed.
I began breaking down the tasks and realized that no one thing was the "straw that broke the camel's back." It was the accumulation of things. And isn't that often the way it is? Instead of obsessing over what needs to be done, what should be done, what can't be done, I should take a deep breath and then enjoy my son's wedding and sealing to his sweetheart, enjoy the time with family and friends, enjoy the holiday season.
So, for today, I am grateful for deep breaths ... and a dose of common sense.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 301, October 28

In working on a writing project, I discovered that I had to delete several pages, thousands of pages. It was a painful process. After all, I had shed tears and sweat over writing those words. But they didn't work, and they needed to go. Reluctantly, I pressed the delete button.
There. It was done.
It got me to wondering why it isn't as easy to press the delete button on other aspects of my life. Why can't I make a clean sweep of my sins and faults and weaknesses? Do I want to hold onto them, as I wanted to hold onto those pages, even though they are no longer working
I'm ashamed to admit that the answer is yes. I do want to hold onto to certain behaviors. They may hold me back. They may keep me from achieving my goals. They may even take away the possibility of new pleasures and joys in my life. But, darn it, they're mine. They're familiar. They're comfortable. They fit me.
Fortunately, the Father has provided a delete button. It's called repentance. And it's available to everyone.
So, for today, I am grateful for delete buttons, on the computer and in life.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 300, October 27

Doing the right thing for the right reason. How many times have we heard those words? Sometimes, it is difficult enough to do the right thing. Putting that together with the right reason ups the ante.
Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason? I have. I've done the "right" thing for any number of less-than-noble reasons. I've done the "right" thing because I didn't want others to know how lazy and selfish I truly am. I've done the "right" thing because I wanted others to ascribe pure motives to me.
How foolish and short-sighted is that. The Father knows all. He knows the workings of my mind. More, he knows the motives in my heart. Those times when I do manage to do the right thing for the right reason fill me with incredible joy.
So, for today, I am grateful for those people who do the right things for the right reasons.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 299, October 26

If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf
that doesn't know it is part of a tree.

- Michael

As you have probably figured out by now, I love words, especially those found in inspiring quotes. The above quotation reached in and captured my imagination.

The older I get, the more I appreciate heritage, especially my personal heritage. My ancestors, on both my mother and my father's side, were stalwart men and women. They sacrificed for their children, for their beliefs, for their faitih.

My Mormon ancestors suffered from persecution and abuse that I am only beginning to understand and deplore. What must it have been like, to be driven from one's home, family, and friends?

My Tennessee ancestors endured their own share of trials and poverty. Scraping out a living during the Great Depression, my mother's family clung to their pride and their faith at a time when many people abandoned both.

I started this post with a quote about history. So why am I writing about my ancestry? Because it is my personal history. If I don't know where I came from, how will I know where I am going?

So, for today, I am grateful for heritage.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 298, October 25

The year is nearly over. Leaves litter the ground. The days are growing shorter, the nights longer. And my year of being grateful (on this blog) will draw to a close in two short months. What will I do after that?
I hope I will continue to be grateful, to look for the good in life. I hope that my gratitude is not so ephemeral that I can't find it in me to thank the Father for His blessings without the prompt of this blog.
As I've mentioned before, friends and followers and faith have kept me going this long. Several people have been kind enough to leave comments on the blog, to share their thoughts and feelings about the postings. I wonder what would happen if we left "comments" for everyone in our lives?
Would we be kinder, gentler, more Christ-like if we spent a few seconds telling someone that we appreciate him or her? Would our homes, our churches, our workplaces, indeed, the entire world be a more beautiful place if we gave a compliment, a word of praise, a small kindness that was unexpected by the recipient?
I like to speculate on these things. Maybe it's the writer in me who wonders "What if?" What if we all resolved to say one kind word, perform one act of kindness, offer one extra prayer of thanks a day? Could we change the world? Or maybe, just maybe, we could change ourselves. And then we, imperfect mortals that we are, could change the world, or at least, our little part of it.
I don't know. I'd like to think so, though.
So, for today, I am grateful for unexpected kindnesses.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 297, October 24

Yesterday I wrote about using green corrective concealer. A disaster. When I discovered that it didn't work for me, I got rid of it, literally tossed it in the trash.
Why isn't it as easy to dispose of other things in my life that don't work? Why can't I dispose of my sins, my weaknesses, my selfishness, and other flaws by simply tossing them in the trash? Unfortunately, that seems to be beyond my capabilities.
Finding new behaviors to replace old ones that no longer work is difficult. It takes wisdom. It takes self-discipline. It takes hard work. These are all things that are in short supply, at least in life.
What is in your life that you'd like to replace? Do you have a problem with procrastination? Are you prone to entertaining negative thoughts? Does discouragement plague you? I wish I could wave a magic wand and make your problems (and mine) disappear.
Fortunately, we have a Friend who can take our sins and weaknesses unto Himself. He can't make them disappear, but He can give us the strength and faith and courage to overcome them.
So, for today, I am grateful for a Friend in Christ.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 296, October 23

A few days ago, I tried some "corrective concealer" to cover up the dark circles under my eyes. Imagine my surprise when I squirted a bit of the cream on my fingers and found that it was green. Yes, green! A pretty springtime green, but green all the same.
I decided the manufacturers must have had a reason for that so I gamely dabbed some under my eyes and tried to blend it in. It didn't. Blend, that is. I spent the next fifteen minutes working to get this green gunk off my face, then off my hands, then off the bathroom counter.
Lesson learned: green concealer is not for me. Or for anyone.
The experience caused me to think of what other kinds of concealer I use in equally vain attempts to correct things wrong with myself. Do I use shopping to lift my spirits when I'm feeling down? Do I gossip about other people to make me feel better about myself? Do I indulge in self pity-parties and then drag others in with me?
Are these and other such behaviors not the equivalent of green concealer? If so, why do I do them? I don't have an answer, at least, not a good one.
Why don't I turn to the Savior to find the "corrective" action that I need? Why don't I turn my sins and weaknesses and frailities over to Him and allow Him to do what He has promised?
So, for today, I am grateful for the Savior's corrections.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 295, October 22

Stories of families being "upside down" in their mortgages abound in the news. It was just in the past few years that I learned what being upside down meant: people owe more on the mortgage than the house is worth. As I try to wrap my mind around that, I realize that I am downside up on my gratitude to the Father.
Yes, you read correctly. I am downside up in the gratitude department
Surely what the Father gives me is worth far more than the paltry bits of thanks that I offer Him. He gives me life. He gives me family. He gives me friends. He gives me faith. What more can I ask?
A lot, it seems.
My prayers are full of "give-me's." Despite my best efforts to focus on my blessings, every other phrase in my prayers seems to be, "Please do this. Please do that. Please bless ..." And the list goes on.
As in so many areas of my life, I am a work in progress. I keep trying. I keep working on myself. I keep praying for strength and endurance.
So, for today, I am grateful for reminders to be grateful.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 294, October 21

Recently, a frieind shared with me a letter she received from her son who is serving a mission for our church. In it, he wrote that he was totally happy, a condition which he ascribed to counting his blessings and to doing exactly what the Lord wanted him to be doing at this time in his life.
What a profound insight from this young man.
Some of us who are much older are still trying to assimilate this lesson into our lives. (By "some of us," I mean me.) When I am grateful, when I am obeying the Lord, I am happier. No doubt about it. Why can't I remember this?
On those days when I struggle to get up in the mornings, when I struggle to get going and then keep going, I can nearly always trace it back to indulging in feelings of self-pity, of focusing on what's wrong in my life. Even knowing that, I still fall into patterns of self-defeating behavior.
So, for today, I am grateful for the wisdom of a missionary.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 293, October 20

Have you noticed that stores are displaying Christmas items already? This used to bother me. Now, I look at it as reminders of the upcoming holiday season, in particular the birth of our Savior.
Yes, I know, the stores probably aren't featuring wrapping paper, cards, decorations, and gifts in order to start us thinking more of Jesus, but I choose to see it that way. Of all the great and marvelous things that have occurred since the Creation, surely the birth of our Lord is the most momentous. Surely it has changed the world more than any other single event.
Like so many of God's plans, this particular one was brought about in humble circumstances. We know that Christ was born in a small stable, a shelter for animals. Not once in His life was He treated as the King that He was and is. Yet He remains the center of our lives, the anchor onto which we hold, during times both good and bad.
So, for today, I am grateful for reminders of the Savior.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 292, October 19

The son of some friends is preparing to leave to serve a mission for our church. A week before he was due to leave, someone stole his wallet (with his driver's license, other picture ID, and credit cards), a pair of new shoes, two pairs of new slacks, and other things from his car.
This was a setback, financially and emotionally. However, this young man didn't let it deter him from his goal. He set about replacing the stolen items and plans to leave on the appointed date.
What an example of resolve, determination, and faith.
Have you ever noticed that the more the worthy the goal, the more the Adversary tries to prevent an individual from reaching it? Could it be because he feels threatened by honorable people striving to do honorable things? Chances are you can point to instances in your own life when you worked toward a goal, only to find those efforts thwarted.
I know I have. Sometimes, I have persevered. Others, I've permitted the Adversary to defeat me.
So, for today, I am grateful for this example of courage and faith.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 291, October 18

My friends who garden are busy harvesting their gardens, picking lush fruits and vegetables. Depending on their desires and skills, they freeze the vegetables, bottle them, or use them in salads and soups.
I have always loved the look of bottled fruits and vegetables marching across shelves. Jellies gleam like jewels when the sun gleams on the glass jars. Humble green beans and prosaic tomatoes taste special when they are home grown and canned.
Preserving food, setting it by for hard times, is a time-honored tradition. What qualities do we preserve in ourselves? What qualities do we set by for hard times?
Have I preserved honesty and compassion? Have I set by generosity and unselfishness? Have I stores of self-reliance and independence to draw upon when times are hard, when life grows unmanageable? Have I been a wise steward of my strength as my friends have been wise stewards of their gardens?
So, for today, I am grateful for wise stewards.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 290, October 17

In previous blogs, I've written about having a family room added on to our home. In addition to that, we also had some much needed renovation done to a few rooms. What a difference new paint and new fixtures make.
It got me to wondering what kind of renovations I could make to my soul. Could I fill in nail holes left by old hurts and grudges? Could I shore up my desire to follow the Savior's counsel? Could I find the courage to try new things when I have always clung to my comfort levels in the past?
Renovations to a house take time. They take effort. They take money. Renovations to a soul are much the same. They, too, take time. They, too, take effort. They take a different kind of currency than money, however. They require a willingness to put aside pride and selfishness. They require a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
So, for today, I am grateful for renovations, in the home and in the soul.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 289, October 16

I like to laugh. I like to laugh at life's absurdities. I like to laugh at our shared human condition. I like to laugh at myself. Somedays, that is all that gets me through.
This week, I had the opportunity to do the last. In washing my hair the past week, I noticed that my shampoo didn't seem to be lathering very well. I rinsed and repeated and still didn't get the desire result.
Finally, I looked at the shampoo bottle and saw something I hadn't noticed before: it wasn't shampoo. It was mouthwash. I had been shampooing my hair with mouthwash. Of course I had noticed and appreciated the minty scent. What a nice change, I thought, from the more typical flowery scent of many shampoos. (In my defense, this was a "freebie" that I had picked up in a high-end hotel where my husband and I had stayed several months ago. I looked at the green liquid and decided it must be shampoo. I hadn't bothered reading the little print.)
Well, I had a good laugh and decided I'd better pay more attention to what I was doing. This is good advice in many areas of my life.
So, for today, I am grateful for the opportunity to laugh--even at myself.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 288, October 15

A friend related an inspiring story to me which I'd like to share with you. In conjunction with her job, my friend's 22 year old daughter attended a city council meeting. When the meeting was underway, a man burst into the city council room and ordered that all the Mormons in the room stand up.
He accused the Mormons of using their position to help themselves to city monies. As he made this and other wild accusations, his aggressive manner turned threatening. Still, this young woman, along with several other individuals, stood.
I don't know what it cost her to make this decision. It couldn't have been easy, but she put her beliefs before her personal safety and faced down this man. Could I have done this? I don't know. And that shames me.
So, for today, I am grateful for the courage of a 22 year-old girl.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 287, October 14

A writer understands the importance of editing. After we compose the words, we go back and edit. We take out needless words and repetition. We check for spelling and grammar. We then look for inconsistencies in character and plot. Sometimes we end up throwing out whole pages or even chapters of books.
Editing is hard work. It involves painstaking attention to detail. It requires taking a hard look at the pages and deciding if they work together. Usually, writers have an editor who points out any mistakes they have missed.
I wonder what my life would look like if I edited it as ruthlessly as I edit my books. Would I take out needless things? Probably. Would I check for poor behavior? I hope so. Would I end up throwing out sins? I don't know.
Editing manuscript pages is a snap compared to editing a life. Pages don't talk back. They don't whine when I make necessary changes. In short, the pages cooperate far better than I do when I try to make changes in my life. Fortunately, I have an editor Who will help me make changes if I but let Him.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Master editor.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 286, October 13

Yesterday I wrote about a woman stopping to help a stranger who had fallen. Today, I'd like to continue the theme of people helping others.
My aunt (this is the same one I've referenced before) sent me a newspaper clipping of a United States senator who stopped to help a stranger in an airport.
Senator Phil Roe had risen early to catch a 5:30 AM flight out of the Tri-cities Airport in Blountville that would connect him with a Charlotte (North Carolina) flight on to Washington, DC. While sipping a cup of coffee in the Charlotte airport, he heard a shout and saw a man lying on the floor. He rushed to the man and administered CPR.
The senator was not worried about missing his flight but was concerned about the man on the floor. His aid no doubt saved the man's life. Roe stayed with the man until he was transported to the hospital. Later, Roe called the hospital to check on the man's condition.
Frequently, we hear stories about the less than admirable behavior of congressmen and senators. How nice it was to read of a senator who acted with compassion and unselfishness.
So, for today, I am grateful for the example of a senator.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 285, October 12

The other day, while my husband and I were doing errands, we saw a woman fall on the sidewalk. My husband pulled the car to the curb, and I jumped out to help her. Before I could reach her, however, another lady helped the woman up and gather the things which had fallen from her purse.
The woman who had taken the fall appeared shaken but all right. She thanked both the other woman and me. It was a small thing, but I was grateful for the opportunity to witness someone helping a stranger.
The media bombards us with stories of cruelty, dishonesty, and depravity. How refreshing to see the opposite. I'm fortunate enough to hear of many small acts of kindness. A few days ago, I wrote of my friend who gave a stranger $3.00 to buy a coat. A month or so ago, I blogged about my 87 year old aunt, who, every day, tries to do something for someone else.
I'm certain that you could relate similar stories, ordinary people doing ordinary things that, somehow, elevate the ordinary to the extra-ordinary.
So, for today, I am grateful for the kindness of a stranger.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 284, October 11

Yesterday I wrote about fasting and listening to the Spirit. I wish I could say that I always listened to the Spirit. I wish I could say that I always obeyed the Spirit. I wisih I could say that I always live in such a manner that the Spirit can reach me.
Unfortunately, I am weak and willful. I want my own way and am frequently fairly insistent upon getting it. (Ask my husband.)
Upon one occasion, though, I did listen to the Spirit. I've written of this experience before, so please bear with me as I share it with you again. Last December, I was in a dark place, so dark that I did not believe I would ever emerge into the light again.
I cried out to my Father in Heaven, asking for His succor. (I was on a plane and so did this silently in my heart.) As I've related before, He told me to be grateful. I didn't want to be grateful. I had nothing to be grateful for (or so I beleived at that moment). Still, the Father, through the Spirit, instructed me to be grateful and then to write about it. Thus was this blog born.
I've struggled in writing this blog. I've struggled with technical things with blogger. I've struggled with finding the words to say what was in my heart. I've even struggled with my own heart, which can be a stubborn and hard vessel at times, finding gratitude when I didn't feel grateful.
My blog has reached few people. It has not "gone viral." The number of followers is modest, and, in fact, one follower dropped out. Still, I persist. When the Spirit speaks so plainly, I could not defy it.
So, for today, I am grateful for the whisperings of the Spirit.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 283, Octiober 10

Yesterday, our ward (in the Mormon Church, congregations are referred to as wards) held a fast for a member who is in the hospital, praying for the Lord's healing powers upon our friend.
Fasting serves several purposes. As we go without food, we become more sensitive to the Spirit and its influence. In addition, we donate what we would have spent on the missed meals to the Church to help those in need. What a marvelous system the Lord has devised to allow those with surplus to help those who lack basic necessities.
I struggle with fasting. I struggle giving up food for even this limited time. So, when I participate in a fast, I am actutely aware of hunger pangs gnawing at my stomach even as I work to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit works in quiet and occasionally unusual ways. It sometimes tells me things I don't want to hear. After all, who wants to hear that she is selfish and unforgiving? But I listen and try (or try to try--sometimes that is all I can manage) to mend my ways.
So, for today, I am grateful for blessings of the fast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 282, October 9

A few days ago, I watched a talk show all about anti-aging techniques for the skin. As the show's host, a doctor, gave a checklist, I found myself mentally going through the list, evaluating my own skin.
Wrinkles between the brows? Check.
Wrinkles across the forehead? Check.
Wrinkles between the nose and the mouth? Check.
Lines at the corners of my eyes? Check.
Age spots? Check.
By the time, the show was finished, I was more than a little depressed. I had a perfect score, if perfect meant checking every item on the list.
It set me to thinking, why we, as a society, are so obsessed with aging. Yes, it's great to look good, to feel good. However, when we start feeling bad about ourselves because we show signs of age, maybe it's time to re-evaluate.
I started composing a different kind of checklist:
Did I do something nice for someone today?
Did I thank my Father in Heaven for the blessings He bestows upon me?
Did I remember to thank the people who serve me?
Did I tell someone I love him?
Did I help someone in need?
If we did these things, perhaps we would find our own anti-aging miracle.
So, for today, I am grateful for checklists.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 281, October 8

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."--Stanley Horowitz
Don't you love the imagery in this quote? It brings to life the seasons, painting them with both verve and poetry.
I live in Loveland, Colorado, where we enjoy all the seasons. Whenever I try to decide which season I prefer, I am stumped. Each has beauty; each has its own appeal.
Isn't that the way in our lives? Our seasons last longer than the three months assigned to each of nature's seasons. Our seasons encompass years. Some of us spend more time in the childrearing season; others linger in the empty nest season. What is important that we cherish each of them.
I spent a good deal of my life wishing away parts of my seasons. When I was a child, I couldn't wait to turn a teenager; when I was a teenager, I couldn't wait until I was officially an adult, and so on.
Now, looking back, I wish I could relive some of those seasons, to capture those sweet times with my children as babies, as toddlers, as teens. (Well, I may not spend too much time wishing to relive my children's teen years!) Isn't this as futile as fast-forwarding through the seasons? Why am I not content to enjoy the season I am currently in? This is the season of watching my children choose careers and mates, of savoring moments with my grandchildren, of developing my talents.
So, for today, I am grateful for this season of my life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 280, October 7

While visiting with a friend the other day, she told me a story that touched my heart. Please bear with me as I share it with you:
As my friend was shopping for Halloween costumes for her grandchildren at a thrift store, she saw an older woman struggle to try on coats. My sweet friend went to the lady's assistance, helping her try on one coat after another. After twenty minutes, they found a coat that was attractive, easy to get on, and cost only $3.00.
The little lady looked at my friend with beseeching eyes. "Do you have $3.00 you could give me?" she asked.
My friend had only a little money on her but went through her pockets and purse and discovered she had just enough to help out her new-found friend. "Here," she said and handed the lady all of her money.
After purchasing the coat, the woman turned to my friend and said, "I've never had anything so fine. Thank you."
We may consider this act a small thing; after all, it was only $3.00. But to this lady, it meant everything, and my friend was sensitive and generous enough to realize that.

So, for today, I am grateful for the example of a friend.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 279, October 6

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I grew up watching black-and-white television. I didn't mind--I didn't know anything else. I imagined the TV shows in color, wondering what Bonanza and other shows would look like in emerald green, ruby red, and sapphire blue.
Now I watch television on a high-definition screen. The colors are vivid, the resolution sharp, the pixels pixalating. (My husband is an engineer; resolution and pixels are important to him.)
I wonder what I would see if I viewed my life in high defiition. Would the high def illuminate my sins? Would the resolution be sharp enough to see the glaring errors in my behavior? I hope not. I hope that someone would put a cloth over the camera lens to soften the focus, to blur the lines of my hard heart and stubborn pride.
Isn't that what we all wish? That we could reduce the harsh aspects of our personalities? That we could work the magic of the camera men and make everyone look more lovely than they actually are?
Unfortunately, most of us have no such magic at our disposal. We make do with what we have. But there is Someone who can soften our hard hearts and gentle our stubborn pride. He can take our sins. He can change us--if we but allow Him to.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Savior, the ultimate camera man.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 278, October 5

Yesterday I wrote about achieving dreams and reaching for stars. In re-reading it, I was afraid that it sounded idealistic, even naive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Living our dreams and reaching for stars takes work. Hard work. Back-breaking work. Heart-wrenching work. Tear-jerking work. What are your dreams and stars? What work have you had to put in to make them come true?
In my writing, I have taken classes, sent in thousands (literally) of submissions, and worked to improve my craft by practicing. And practicing. And practicing. Still, I receive a discouraging number of rejections. Last week alone, I received twelve rejections. I thought about giving up writing, turning my attention and energies to something else--anything else. I realized I couldn't. Writing is my dream. It is my unreachable stars. And so I keep trying.
I know I've written about this in earlier posts; this is one of those recurring themes in my blog: dreams and what it takes to make them come true.
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Is your dream painting a beautiful picture? Is it to play a piano concerto flawlessly? Is it to raise a loving family? Find your dream and then go after it with everything you have.
So, for today, I am grateful for the work it takes to make dreams come true.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 277, October 4

Do you ever find that the more you want something, the more elusive it seems to become? You try your best to achieve your dreams. You take classes. You practice and practice. And still it remains just out of your reach.
I've been there. And I'm still there. In my writing. In my relationships. In just about everything in my life. Success appears tantalizingly close. I close my eyes and imagine I can reach out and grab hold of the gold ring. And even when I accept that I may never grab hold of that prized ring, I keep trying.
I have always loved the song, "To Dream the Impossible Dream." The beautiful lyrics end with the words "To reach the unreachable stars."
What impossible dreams do you dream of? What unreachable stars do you reach for? I hope you have plenty of both. I hope you have dreams that give you something to strive for--always. I hope you have stars to reach for--always.
So, for today, I am grateful for dreams and stars.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 276, October 3

This past weekend, members of our church and others had the opportunity to listen to our church leaders speak on subjects ranging from families to growing a deeper relationship with the Savior. I listened to the talks with gratitude and humility. Gratitude, because I am blessed to hear the messages of inspired men and women. Humility, because I realize how far I have to go.
In addition to the "regular" talks, the President and Prophet of the church, Thomas S. Monson, announced that five new temples are planned: Provo, Utah; Paris, France; Congo, Columbia, and Wyoming. In last April's conference, he announced other temples, including one in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Temples represent blessings, not only to those who can enter them but to entire communities and cities. Temples remind us to do better, to be better, to continue to strive. The announcement of these temples are the result of the Prophet's communicating with the Lord.
Many of us grew up with Sunday School lessons about ancient prophets such as Noah and Moses, Adam and Abraham. How awe-inspiring it is to know that we have a modern day prophet who can give us the Lord's counsel for our times.
So, for today, I am grateful for a modern day prophet.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 275, October 2

The weather has a way of leaving us scratching our heads sometimes. One day, we start the day bundled in fleece jackets and hoodies. Within hours, we've shed our coats and go about our business in short sleeves and turn on the air-conditioning.
Shedding our coats is easy. We undo a few buttons or a zipper, slip our arms from the sleeves, and we are free.
If only shedding bad habits and sins were as easy. Mine have a way of clinging to me, much like a bad smell. Habits and sins are tenacious creatures. They like to hold on, to cleave to me even when I try my best to push them away.
When I ponder upon this, I realize that perhaps I don't really want to push them away. Maybe I want to hold onto them much as a child clings to a favorite blankie. Bad habits and sins are comfortable. I grow accustomed to them. I embrace their familiarity. I accept them as part of me and, when challenged about them, shrug them off with that ultimate excuse, "That's just the way I am."
Fortunately, the Father has provided a way to rid myself--indeed, all of us--of our sins. Repentance, that word we learned early on in Sunday School, is real. It is attainable. It is a miracle.
So, for today, I am grateful for the miracle of repentance.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 274, October 1

A few days ago, I had breakfast with a friend. The food was tasty, the atmosphere pleasant, the company wonderful. We chatted for more than an hour and a half, discussing everything from extreme couponing to garage sales, religion to politics (yes, we tackled even those forbidden topics).
Afterward, I felt renewed. Isn't that the way with good friends? We feel renewed after spending time with them, renewed, refreshed, refurbished. At my age, I need all the refurbishing I can get.
The following day, I went to visit another friend. Food wasn't involved, but we managed to have a good time anyway. (Those of you who are Mormon understand that food is usually involved in any gathering.) We laughed a great deal, even when talking about hard subjects, like an upcoming operation she is due to have. Again, I came away feeling renewed.
I think that is a prime characteristic of good friends: they leave you feeling better than you did before. Have you ever been with someone whom, when you leave them, you feel drained and depressed? I have. You probably continue to see this person, to visit with him or her, because for whatever reason, they are important in your life. But you do not come away feeling uplifted and optimistic. In fact, quite the opposite.
So, for today, I am grateful for friends who uplift (much like a good bra!).