Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 334, November 30

It is the last day of the next-to-last month of the year. For me, it's been an up-and-down year. My life has been a roller coaster of highs and lows, ups and downs, and everything in between. Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever want to say, "Please, life, just settle down." Do you ever want a period of just plain old boredom? Sometimes, boring looks really appealing.
I wish I could report that I have come through the highs with humility and the lows with faith. Unfortunately, my humility and faith are as up and down as a teenage girl's emotions.
Through it all, the Father and the Savior have been there for me, as They have been there for everyone. They carry me when my knees are weak and my faith is fragile. They lift me when my legs threaten to buckle. They are simply there.
So, for today, I am grateful for the Father and the Savior, who are there, no matter what.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 333, November 29

Every month, Oprah Winfrey ends her magazine "O" with a column titled "What I Know For Sure." It caused me to think about what I know for sure. Below are some things that came to mind. Doubtless you can add others.
I know that Heavenly Father loves His children.
I know that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to make the atonement possible.
I know that the Lord's love for us in infinite.
I know that family, friendship, and faith make life worth living.
I know that trust should not be broken.
I know that we emulate the Father when we create.
What do you know for sure? What are the immutable truths to which you cling? Or are you like me and cling to some things that masquerade as truths but are, in reality, shoddy imitations?
So, for today, I am grateful for those things that I know for sure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 332, November 28

Are you as weary as I am of hearing about the "occupy New York, occupy Denver, occupy Salt Lake" etc movement that has swept our nation? People, apparently with nothing better or more important to do, have decided to "occupy" public parks, streets, wherever they can set up their tents and sleeping bags.
Why? Because they don't feel that they should have to repay loans they have taken out. "We don't want to repay our loans," they cry. "They're too high. We'll never get out from under this debt." These individuals have a sense of entitlement that rivals any I've ever witnessed.
Why should they repay their loans? Why, indeed? What about for the simple reason that it's the right thing to do?
I know. That sounds simplistic, naive, even. Despite my advanced years, I plead guilty to those charges.
I contrast the attitude of these "occupiers" to that of others, people who haven't enjoyed nearly the same opportunities but who remain dedicated to doing the right thing, to paying their debts, to behaving honorably and honestly. Our world is filled with such people, but they rate little attention from the media.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who pay their debts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 331, November 27

Do you remember Dorothy's line from The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home?"
Never have those words had more meaning to me than now, when I've been gone from my home for over two weeks. Don't get me wrong. I love traveling. I love visiting my sister and other family. I loved being able to attend my son's weddding.
But it's good to be going home.
Home, for me, is a modest house in Loveland, Colorado. We've lived in this house for over thirty-five years. That must be some kind of record in our very mobile society. Four of our children came to us since we've been in this house.
When Larry and I started discussing the possibility of an addition or of moving, I chose the addition. How could I leave the home where my children took their first steps, learned to talk, learned to play the piano and a myriad of other things?
Home is more than four walls. It's more than an addition. It's more than a remodeled bathroom. It is a place of refuge. It is a place of worship for most of my prayers are said in my bedroom as I kneel at the side of my bed. It is a place of love.
So, for today, I am grateful to be going home.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 330, November 26

Today our son Steven is marrying his sweetheart in the Rexburg, Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the Mormon church, we believe that marrying in the temple is not just for time but for all eternity. Such marriages are sealed by Priesthood authority.
It is a wonderful, awe-inspiring thing made all the more beautiful by the very simplicity of it. And isn't that the way with many things, those that are the most special, the most sacred have as their hallmarks simplicity and truth.
As I think of Steve and his lovely bride, I am excited for the new life they are forging together. What they had before is now assimilated into a union sanctified by the Lord, with His blessings and His approbation.
In anticipation of this event, it was easy to become wrapped around the parties and clothes and flowers and food that go into making up a wedding reception. I reminded Steven that those things were well and good, but that they were just the outward trappings, that anything of true importance happened within the temple walls.
So, for today, I am grateful that my son and his bride can be sealed together for all eternity.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 329, November 25

Keeping a blog every day for 329 days hasn't been easy.
Somedays I want to quit. Somedays I want to say, "It won't hurt to skip a day." After all, I skip days in exercising (too many). I skip days in reading the scriptures (again, too many). I skip days in saying "I love you" to my family and friends. Why not take a day off in keeping this journal?
The truth is, I don't know. Something compels me to keep going. To keep trying. Maybe it's because I had the Lord's direction in starting this project. Maybe it's because of those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing. Maybe it's because I have a stubborn streak a mile wide. Maybe it's a combination of these things.
Whatever keeps me going, I'm grateful for it. I haven't kept up many things in my life. I'm lazy and too often tend to take the easy way out.
So, for today, I'm grateful for the Lord's and your help in keeping me going.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 328, November 24

Today is Thanksgiving. I am fortunate to be spending it with family and friends. Add faith to that, and you have the recipe for a perfect day.
It is fitting that I write about Thanksgiving in a blog devoted to gratitude. Thanksgiving is sometimes a neglected holiday. Between turkey and Black Friday, the spirit of the day is frequently lost.
Do you know the name of the Indian tribe who celebrated with the Pilgrims? Wampanoag. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't know that and had to look it up. Why didn't I know that? Why haven't I educated myself more about this important day? Is it because I am caught up in the food and shopping and excesses of the day? I'm afraid so.
Can I change? I hope so. Can I remember to carry the spirit of Thanksgiving in my heart, not just today but every day of the year? Again, I hope so.
So, for today, I am grateful for the opportunity to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day and every day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 327, November 23

A dear friend is going through a hard time with her 93 year old mother. Her mother, suffering from diabetes, dementia, and a host of other things, can no longer be alone and is under Hospice care. My friend confided in me her frustration with people who would call and offer their help but fail to follow through.
In the weeks she spent with her mother (in Idaho), no one stopped by to relieve her of her caregiving duties so that she could attend to other things necessary in tying up the threads of her mother's life. "Just sitting with mother for a few hours would have been such a help," she said on a wistful note.
In telling the story, she passed off her frustation with the words, "Well, everyone is busy."
Everyone IS busy. Everyone has responsibilities to attend to. We all understand that, because we are busy ourselves. When we are too busy, though, to help someone in true need, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate.
This friend is the same woman whom I wrote about a month or so ago who bought a coat for the elderly lady at a thrift shop. She is the first to volunteer to bring a meal or offer a ride to neighbors or church members. She is the first to give of her time and means.
If the situation had been reversed, I know she would be among the first to offer help. She would have showed up to clean bathrooms, prepare a meal, sit with a friend's elderly parent. That is her nature.
So, for today, I am grateful for people like my friend who are never too busy to serve.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 351, December 17

Day 326, November 22

In reading one day (does it seem I spend a lot of time reading?), I found the history of the word serendipity. The word was coined by a 19th century English writer, Horace Walpole, who loved an ancient fable titled "The Three Princes of Serendip," (Serendip being the early name of the beautiful, teardrop-shaped island off the southern tip of India).
In the fable, the three young princes embark on a search for their fortunes. Alas, none of them finds a fortune. All three, though, discover things that are better than a fortune--truth, love, and opportunities to serve.
How did they make thse discoveries? They paid attention to things that other people miss and thus found unexpected joys and happiness.
Walpole explains his coinage of the word: "We do not have an English word that expresses that happy ability to find things that are better than what we think we are looking for." Thus was the word serendipity born.
I love this story. I love the very word serendipity. I love the sound of it, the smooth syllables that seem to roll from the tongue. And I love the idea that we can find treasures we aren't looking for simply by paying attention to what is going on around us.
In our garage sale travels, my friends and I use "serendipity" when we stumble upon a sale that wasn't listed and find a treasure we hadn't known we needed. (Who can resist a Chanel purse, after all?)
Have you had a day when you accomplished nothing on your to-do list but, instead, found someone who needed you? Did the help you extended end up taking most of your day? At the end of the day, did you feel uplifted? Life happens, and, when it's happening, we sometimes must stray from our schedule and pause to lift up another.
So, for today, I am grateful for the opportunities that serendipity offers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 325, November 21

To nurture: to cultivate, care for, and make grow.
I ran across this definition recently. It intrigued me. Sociologists and psychologists frequently engage in the debate of nature versus nurture. Does nature play the major part in a person's development or does nurture?
I believe that the two work together and who can say where one leaves off and the other picks up? But answering that question isn't the purpose of today's blog.
Do you have people in your life who nurture you? I hope so. I pray so. For we all need nurturers in our lives. When we are young, our parents are our primary care-givers. As we grow, other people come into our lives who also provide nurture: friends, teachers, sisters, spouses, etc.
I can identify many nurturers in my life. There is my sweet husband who is always there for me. There are my children and sister and friends, each of whom bring something different in their care. The other day, my sweet daughter, who knows I love to send cards, brought me a packet of her hand-made cards. In doing this, she was nurturing me. When I send a card to a friend, I, in turn, am nurturing her. And so it goes.
So, for today, I am grateful for all those who nurture.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 324, November 20

Mormon wards (congregations) tend to be noisy. You know what? I don't mind. I don't mind because I love that parents know they can bring their small children and babies to meetings. I love the babblings, the squeals, even the outraged cries for they remind me that, despite all the bad stuff that goes on in the world, there is hope for tomorrow. How can one doubt that when that hope comes in the guise of such innocent faces and sounds?
As a mother who has raised her chidlren and a grandmother, I am looking at this from the other side of the equation. In the throes of mothering, I cringed when one of my toddlers let out a blood-curdling scream in the middle of church. When I look at the young mothers as they struggle to instill reverence in their children, I want to reassure them, "It's okay."
I believe that Heavnly Father loves the noises that babies make, for He, Himself, is a Father. I picture Him in heaven smiling when one of His littlest angels babbles "Uh-oh" over and over in church. I imagine Him wrapping His arms around this child and drawing him into a tender embrace.
So, for today, I am grateful for the voices of angels.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 323, November 19

Today is the anniversary of the day, November 19, 1863, that Abraham Lincoln delivered what has come to be known as the Gettysburg Address at the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event. Indeed, he was more of an afterthought. The other speakers were given more time, more notoriety. His words held none of the arrogant pontification of the other speakers but were humble and simple, spoken from the heart.

His remarks, only a few hundred words, took a scant two minutes. Those attending appeared to give little notice to them. Or to him. Yet, nearly a hundred and fifty years later, it is those remarks which live on.

As a schoolchild, I was required to memorize these words. As an adult, I have a greater appreciation for their meaning. As a writer, I am in awe of their beauty.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

So, for today, I am grateful for Abraham Lincoln and his enduring words.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 322, November 18

We are probably all familiar with the term "first responder." These are the brave men and women who are the first to appear at accidents, fires, emergencies of all kinds. Recently I read an article about "first responder friends."
Some phrases just reach in and grab you. This was one of those for me. (If you haven't noticed already, friends and friendship are important to me. Must be why I write about them so frequently.)
I have many first responder friends. These are those sisters of my heart who I know will be there for me no matter what. They are the ones I cry with over the heartaches of life. They are the ones I turn to when life gets too hard to handle. And, I like to think, that I am a first responder to them as well.
A few days ago, one of these friends shared happy news with me: her daughter is expecting. It reminded me that we share the good times along with the bad. We rejoice with each other over good news. We grieve with each other over sad news. And always, always, we are there for each other.
Life continues to throw challenges at all of us. How wonderful to know that my first responders are there for me.
So, for today, I am grateful for first responder friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 321, November 17

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that
of an ignorant nation.
- Walter

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve my sister and me piling in the car and our mother taking us to the library. We scoured through the books, finding treasures such as Little Women, The Scarlett Pimpernell, and Robin Hood. We devoured those and others. Such trips to the library were a regular part of our lives.

Fast forward fifteen years. I was a young mother with two little toddlers. Again, libraries played an important part in our lives. Every week, a friend and I took our children to the library's story hour. There, the children listened as dedicated librarians read aloud stories.

When I started writing, libraries played a new role in my life as I researched any and all topics. Librarians helped me mine for obscure bits of information, those golden nuggets finding their way into my stories and articles.

So, for today, I am grateful for libraries.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 320, November 16

A week or so ago, I wrote about the storm that hit Loveland, taking down trees and, consequently, power lines. As Larry and I drove through town the following day, we saw tree branches littering yards, parks, and streets.
Many of those branches were from cottonwood trees. Cottonwoods are large, showy trees. They grow quickly, reaching their maturity in a matter of years rather than decades as do other trees. Perhaps as a result of this, their branches are weak, their roots shallow. The roots spread beneath the ground like tentacles, but they fail to dig deep.
I couldn't help but make the comparison between cottonwoods and some people. You probably know the kind I mean. They are large and showy in their accomplishments, in their possessions, in their talents, but they never reach their true potential because their roots are shallow. Like the cottonwoods, they don't have the strength or stamina to withstand life's storms.
Then there are the other kind of people, those who hunker down and weather out a storm through sheer grit, determination, and a healthy dose of faith. They may bend, but they don't break.
So, for today, I am grateful for trees ... and people ... whose roots grow deep.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 319, November 15

We are probably all familiar with Paul's discourse on charity in the New Testament. Defined as the "pure love of Christ," charity makes us sensitive to the needs of others and prompts us to act on that sensitivity.
In speaking to the women of the church, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says this. "Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others."
When I first read this, I was taken aback by the Prophet's words. Am I being uncharitable when I lose my patience? Am I uncharitable when I become offended? Am I uncharitable when I fail to accept weaknesses and shortcomings in others ... and myself? Am I uncharitable when I fail to look beyong physical appearances and categorize others? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
As always, President Monson challenges us to do more, to be more than we are. Taking a meal to a family in need is not hard. Forgiving the person who has offended or wronged us is. Sending a card to a lonely friend is not hard. Seeing beyond an individual's faults and weaknesses is. Well, you get the point.
So, for today, I am grateful for a prophet's wisdom.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 318, November 14

Recently our oldest son Rob became engaged. While I haven't met Jenny, I have talked with her on the phone and was impressed with her down-to-earth attitude, humor, and love for my son's two small boys. A special ed teacher, she is committed to service and helping others.
It made me wonder about her parents, in particular her mother, and the influence she played and plays in Jenny's life. Her mother has obviously guided her daughter, teaching her, supporting her, loving her.
Mothers take a bad rap sometimes. Psychiatrists are fond of abscribing a child's problems back to faulty mothering. Mothers are belittled by the media and, occasionally, even by their own families. This is especially true for stay-at-home mothers.
There is no one who works harder than mothers. Mothers keep the world spinning on its axis. We make certain that baths are taken, underwear is changed, and homework is done. Does that sound menial? Not at all. What would happen if mothers didn't do these things? Picture a world of dirty, smelly, and uneducated children.
Mothering involves these things. And more. It is "the more" that is so important. The more includes showing a child how to pray and then listening to their prayers. It includes staying up at night waiting for a teenager to return home. It includes finding a remaining speck of energy to help with a homework project when every fiber in you screams with weariness.
So, for today, I am grateful for righteous mothers everywhere.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 317, November 13

An ancient prophet gave the encouragement, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
I've always loved this scripture. It reminds me that I do not need to possess great talents or skills or courage to make a difference in the world.
Most of us will not lead a nation out of bondage as did Moses. Nor will we build an ark to save our families and friends from an earth-sweeping flood. (I don't know about you, but I'm relieved to know I probably won't be called upon to do those kinds of things.)
But what can I do?
I can pray for someone who is sick.
I can send a card to a friend who is lonely.
I can listen.
I can tend a grandchild.
I can embrace a friend who is grieving.
By the same token, I have been the recipient of many small and simple things. A comment on this blog lifts my spirits. A hug from a grandchild warms my heart. Whispered words of "I love you, Grandma" from a long distance grandchild do the same.
What are the small and simple things in your life? Are you like me, a grandmother who dotes on anything to do with her grandchildren? Are you a teacher like my future daughter-in-law and delight in watching a child grasp a new skill?
So, for today, I am grateful for small and simple things.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 316, November 12

"Don't try to be better than your predecessors or contemporaries. Try to be better than yourself." -- William Faulkner
Writers encounter a lot of competition. We compete for ever-decreasing publishing spots, whether in books or in magazines or on the web. We compete for publishing dollars. We compete for editors' time and interest. We compete for marketing dollars.
I suppose that is the same in most industries and endeavors. My husband's power supply business competes with other businesses selling similar products. Athletes compete for first place. Some go on to compete for the "gold" in the Olympics.
Faulkner's words remind me that my true competitor is myself. Am I doing better today than I did yesterday, the week before, the year before, the year before? If so, then I am a winner.
And then let's get to the really important things: Am I kinder today than I was yesterday? Am I more in tune with the Spirit today than I was yesterday? Am I more obedient today than I was yesterday?
So, for today, I am grateful for those days when I do better than I did the day before.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 315, November 11

Today is Veteran's Day. How many of us regard it only as a shopping day featuring sales and not-to-be-believed deals? Newspapers and the internet abound with such ads.
Veteran's Day is so much more. It was created to help us to remember and honor those who have served in America's armed forces.
I've written before about my feelings for those who protect and defend our nation. We cannot honor or revere them enough. When I hear stories of veterans who are homeless or disabled, my heart weeps. It weeps again when I hear stories of the disrespect that some people show our veterans.
Please forgive me as I quote George Orwell (again): "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. " To this, I would add, "and rough women" for we cannot and should not forget the women who serve our country as well.
So, for today, I am grateful for those men and women who stand ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 314, November 10

"I'm not afraid of trying and failing. I'm afraid of succeeding at the wrong things."
I found this quote in a talk by a pastor. It stuck in my mind, and I knew I had to write about it. In past blogs, I've written a lot about trying and failing and trying again. But I'd never thought about succeeding at the wrong things.
What are the wrong things in my life? Is wanting a child who doesn't live by our standards to change her ways the wrong thing? No. Is trying to force her to do that the wrong thing? Probably.
Is wanting a beautifully appointed house and manicured yard the wrong thing? No. Is sacrificing time with family and failing to obey the commandments in order to get those things the wrong thing? Definitely.
Do you have wrong things in your life? Are you working to succeed in them? Or are you working at the "right" things? What is right for someone else may not be right for you ... or me. That's where we rely on the Father's guidance and personal revelation.
So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I don't succeed at the wrong thing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 313, November 9

Finding a penny on the street is always a cause for a smile for me. It reminds me that Heavenly Father is watching out for me. Does that seem a stretch? Maybe. But I still believe it.
Pennies are the humblest of coins. Yet, when put together, they can add up to a lot. And perhaps that is what the Father is trying to tell me. Take the pennies and add them up. Make a dollar, two dollars, and more, from them.
What else can I add up to make something more? What would happen if I add up blessings? What would I have? A fuller life. A more grateful heart.
What would happen if I added up all the cards I've received? Would I have a tangible reminder of friends and family who thought enough of me to send me a note?
What can you add up? Can you add up kind words given to you? Can you add up prayers offered on your behalf? Can you add up the kind words you've given? Can you add up prayers you've offered for someone else? You will probably find you have too many, on both sides, to count. And isn't that wonderful?
So, for today, I am grateful for pennies and the reminder they offer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 312, November 8

I've mentioned in earlier posts about my Mormon heritage. Please forgive me as I return to that theme once again.
In October of 1856, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke to the Saints in General Conference. There, he described the plight of handcart pioneers who were stranded on the plains hundreds of miles away and needed assistance.
"Your faith, religion and profession of religions, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in these people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties, otherwise your faith will be in vain."
Lucy Meserve Smith was among those who heard the Prophet's words. While men prepared to leave then and there, the sisters "stripped off their petticoats (large understkirts that were part of the fashion of the day and that also provided warmth), stockings and every thing they could spare, right there in the Tabernacle and piled them into the wagons to send to the Saints."
What valiant women. What bold women. They couldn't leave their families while their men departed, but they sent what they could. There was no false modesty. No murmurings that, "Hey, we might need these things ourselves." There was just obedience. Immediate, unquestioning obedience.
So, for today, I am grateful for courageous women.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 311, November 7

A friend shared with me a story of her son who had trained to participate in a state competition of cross-country runners. He'd honed his body and his mind in preparation for the race. He was feeling good. Loose. Ready to take on all comers.
Everything was going well. Then it happened. As he rounded a curve, his feet encountered a slick patch of mud. And he fell. Added to that, another runner ran over him.
Later, he reported to his mother that he knew it was over at that moment. Still, he picked himself up and continued the race. What kind of courage that must have taken? To know that he wouldn't win, probably wouldn't even place, and still to continue. His team, which had been predicted to take first place, ended up in the fifth position.
What if we all did that? What if we all picked ourselves up after a fall (a disappointment, an illness, a financial setback, whatever) and kept on going? Would we be happier? Of course. Would we be stronger? Definitely. Would we be more like our Father in Heaven? Most assuredly.
So, for today, I am grateful for those people who pick themselves up and keep running.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 310, November 6

Today is my mother's birthday. (I know--I wrote about my parents two days ago and should have waited until today to write about my mom. But I figure she deserves at least two postings.)
My mother was born November 6, 1921. She was born at home, in a tiny house without central heat, without indoor plumbing, pretty much without anything at all. But she survived and she thrived. Three years later, a set of twins was delivered, and a few years after that, another girl.
My mother, the oldest of the four children, had responsibilities at an early age. She worked hard because not to work wasn't an option. She attended a little country school, earned prizes for her penmanship, and attended Sunday School.
It sounds like something out of the Waltons, doesn't it? Life in that small slice of Tennessee during the Great Depression wasn't easy. But it instilled within her the desire for more education, more knowledge, more awareness of the world outside.
Eventually, she traveled to Washington, DC. There, she worked as a secretary, sending money home to her widowed mother and siblings. It was there, too, that she met the man who would become my father.
My mother never had much in the way of material goods. Even when she no longer needed to, she lived frugally. Her money, what she had, was rarely spent on herself. I don't believe she knew how to spend money on herself and would have been puzzled by the idea of it.
So, for today, and for every day, I am grateful for my mother.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 309, November 5

Larry and I have reached that time in life when things keep happening. You probably know the kind of things I mean. The yucky things. The tear-your-heart-out-of-your-chest things. The make-you-weep-till-you're-hanging-over-the-toilet things.
Recently, several dear friends have been dealing with cancer. Cancer is that elephant in the room. It is spoken of in hushed whispers and only after a furtive look around, because you don't want to talk about it in front of someone who is dealing with it, or, worse, someone whose loved one is dealing with it.
But my friends are cut from a different cloth. They put it right out there in the open. They talk about it. They laugh about it. And, yes, sometimes they cry about it.
All of those take courage. Tremendous, mind-blowing courage. The kind of courage I don't have. I admire my friends more than I can say. I admire their knuckle-down-and-let's-deal-with-this attitude. I admire their optimism. I admire their unwavering faith.
So, for today, I am grateful for courageous friends.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 308, November 4

Do you ever wonder where all the money went? Do you have months when there is more month left than money? If so, you're not alone. The last few years have brought new challenges to many families.
Making do on less is new to some of us. When I think of my parents and the near poverty of their early lives, I marvel. I don't believe they thought of their childhood as deprived.
My father was a self-admitted farm boy who considered his mother's homemade bread dipped in milk from the family cow a fine meal. Even when he could afford much more sophisticated foods, he turned to those simple foods of his childhood. Warm bread. Jam. Milk.
My mother grew up in Appalachia, in the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee. There were no store-bought clothes for her and her brother and two sisters. But there were quilting parties with her mother's friends. There were trips to church revivals. There were bottles of homemade jam and sweet pickles.
No, they never thought of themselves as deprived. They counted the blessings of family and friends and faith and considered themselves fortunate.
So, for today, I am grateful for the example of my parents.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 307, November 3

Today is my granddaughter Reynna's birthday. She is twelve, that age when she hovers between childhood and the teenage years.
I admit it: I am one of those obnoxious grandmothers who believes the sun rises and sets and rises again in her grandchildren. I attend church and school programs and preen over the any and all accomplishments. I imagine people looking at me and smiling indulgently, knowingly.
And you know what? I don't mind.
When Larry and I were hosting a dinner party one night and Reynna was visiting, I had her sing for our friends while I accompanied her on the piano. After everyone had left, Larry said, "You were in uber-grandma mode tonight." He was right. I couldn't help myself. I believe, no, I know, that Reynna is wonderful and I wanted everyone else to know that as well.
I know the time is quickly coming when Reynna won't want to spend time with her grandparents. I've already lost some credibility when she started school and learned that chocolate was NOT a vegetable. (Who would teach her such a thing?) She will spend more time with friends, with her own activities. That is natural. That is right. And I will be sad. In the meantime, I hold onto time with her and savor it as the precious thing it is.
So, for today, I am grateful for the wonder of Reynna.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 306, November 2

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness, and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."--Audrey Hepburn
I found this quote in a woman's magazine. Hidden among articles on choosing jeans to flatter one's tush, the best ways to shape one's arms, and how to use eye shadow more effectively was this small jewel.
Will expensive creams soften the growing wrinkles around my eyes? Unlikely. Will collagen injections plump up my lips? Maybe. But who wants fat lips anyway? Will wearing designer clothes give me more poise? The possibility that I will ever be wearing designer clothes is slim to none, so I won't worry about it.
But Ms. Helpburn's words can help all of us. Male or female. Young or old. Fat or thin. Her counsel is ageless, as was her beauty.
So, for today, I am grateful for words of wisdom from a classy lady.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 305, November 1

Has your life turned out exactly as you planned? If so, congratulations. You are the exception. You may have heard the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."
I figure I must be providing God with a great deal of laughter. My plans didn't include so much of what has happened in the last years. They didn't include my son being left a single father. They didn't include health problems for me and other family members. They didn't include collecting more writing rejections than a politician spouts lies.
And then I started thinking. The last years have brought new friends and strengthened old friendships. The last years have added grandchildren to our family, and, soon, a beautiful new daughter-in-law. The last years have reminded me what matters ... and what doesn't.
So, for today, I am grateful for plans that turned out and (even) some of those that didn't.