Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 291, November 30

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."--G.K. Chesterton

Our society is big on rights.  I frequently reflect that it's too bad that we are not so big on being right.  As Chesterton said, having the right is not at all the same as being right.

Take, for example, honesty.  We have the right to be honest.  However, we are not right in being cruel.  If an acquaintance asks me if I like her new hair cut and I really don't, do I have the right to say so?  Yes.  Am I right in saying so?  Not so much.  Surely I can find something I like about her hair.  I can comment on how shiny it is.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who spend more time in being right and less in having a right. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 290, November 29

"Sainthood emerges when you can listen to someone's tale of woe and not respond with a description of your own."--Andrew V. Mason, MD

I cringe when I think how many times a friend has confided in me a problem she is undergoing and I immediately, sometimes before she is even finished, tell my own greater tale of woe.  Why must I "one-up" my friend that way?

When someone tells us of a problem or difficulty she is having, it is likely she doesn't want to hear our own problems.  She wants someone to listen.  That's all.  Just listen.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why psychiatry and counseling are so much in demand:  we all want someone to listen to us, even if that person is paid to do so.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 289, November 28

Today is Thanksgiving.  Soon, our son Steven and his wife Melinda will be here.  Other members of the clan will follow.  We'll all eat too much food, tell too many stories that have been heard too many times, and then try to clean up a mess that is too much for this old tired woman.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanksgiving is one of those rare holidays that doesn't revolve around gifts.  For that, I am grateful.  Don't get me wrong.  I love giving and receiving gifts.  At Christmas, I am as excited as the grandkids.  But I enjoy the no-gift holiday of Thanksgiving, where we concentrate on togetherness rather than things.

So, for today, I am grateful for togetherness.  (Later, I will probably be grateful for less togetherness!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 288, November 27

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged.  You may feel that you are defeated.  The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming.  At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath.  But remember--David did win!

"Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one's coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.

"Have the determiatnion to make the effort, the single mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required.  Sometimes, courage is the quite voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again."--President Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I have been frightened and discouraged many times.  I have felt defeated.  I have thought the odds of obtaining victory not only overwhelming but impossible to beat.

Somehow I decide to try one more time.  To write one more page.  To send out one more story.  To offer up one more prayer for a wayward child.    Two things give me the courage to try again:  faith in the Lord and the righteous examples of others.

So, for today, I am grateful for courage, wherever I may find it..

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 287, November 26

Last week in church, a man spoke about the service given during the two months following the horrendous flooding that struck our town and others.  As he spoke, I was touched by the pictures he painted of people working together to help others, often people they didn't know.

One story concerned a group of young adults, ages 18 - 30, who helped a widow muck out her mud-filled house and barn.  He desccribed in poignant detail these young people showing up night after night to rip out ruined carpet, pull out linoleum in the house and move hay, bale by bale, from the barn.

There was no monetary reward for this group of valiant servants, only the satisfaction of helping someone in need.

So, for today, I am grateful for this example of service and compassion.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 286, November 25

We live in a society of shifting values and morals.  Some, even a few pastors and churches, say that's a good thing.  Guess what?  They're wrong.

Fashions change.  Hairstyles change.  Car styles change.  Lots of things do and should change.  But true values and morals remain the same.  When people say, "It's a time of moral flux," I wonder if they are trying to excuse letting go of important values and to make sin seem right.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who hold fast to their values.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 285, November 24

A couple of weeks ago Larry and I bought tile for our kitchen remodeling.  When we got home, Larry discovered that the cashier had charged us for only 30 tiles rather than the 32 which we had bought.  There was no question that Larry would take the receipt back to the store and explain that we owed another $20.00.

It was a small amount, perhaps not important to the store (one of a large chain), but it was important for us to know that we were honest.  We've had similar experiences in the past, returning to a store to "make things right."  Occasionally clerks or cashiers will give us odd looks; occasionally, one will say, "Good karma," as this one said to Larry.

So, for today, I am grateful for an honorable husband.

Day 284, November 23

For the Christian, every tragedy is ultimately a blessing, or God is a liar.
R.C. Sproul

Do you remember the book that was out a number of years ago, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?  The title always intrigued me.  Why DO bad things happen to good people? Why don't bad things happen to bad people, I complained to my long-suffering spouse on  more than one occasion.

"The Lord will make everything right in the end," he told me.  

"I don't want it to be right in the end.  I want it to be right right now.  Why do good people have to suffer?"

"Because the Lord knows the end from the beginning."

We've repeated variations of this conversation many times as I still grapple with the "whys" of life.  

So, for today, I am grateful the Lord who turns every tragedy into a blessing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 283, November 22

We are finished up a long-awaited and much-needed kitchen remodel.   It looks fabulous.  (Or so I tell everyone to tell me when they see it.)

I joked to my sister that I needed a remodel as well.  A face-lift, chemical peel, tummy tuck, and a bunch of other things come to mind.  As I smiled (a bit wryly) over the list, I thought of a more important remodel that I should have done, this one on the inside.

Here's a partial list:

- Soften my heart toward those who have hurt me
- Still my tongue when it is tempted to gossip
- Blur my vision to other's faults

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, for today, I am grateful for remodels.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 282, November 21

§ “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10)
This scripture reminds me of an incident 18 months ago.  A friend took me to physical therapy following my hip replacement.  When she brought me home and we opened the front door, my cat ran out.  As I was not to bend over, Marilyn, my friend, tried to catch Harley (the cat).   
She scrambled after Harley, then, with her arms full of a 15 pound cat, helped me up the stairs.   Together, with our arms around each other and Harley squirming in Marilyn's arms, we staggered up the steps.
Obviously the scripture refers to more than helping each other physically.  It means bearing each other's burdens, wiping away each other's tears, listening to each other with non-judgmental ears.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who "reach out and help."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 281, November 20

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
A friend included this scripture in an email to me.  Though I've read it before, I had not found such meaning in it as I did upon this reading.  Didn't the Apostle Paul give wonderful counsel in these scant words?  In encouraging us to "motiate one another to acts of love and good works," he presents us with a pattern for friendship.  
Real friends want just that for each other, to help them do better, to  be better.  One of the best ways to do that is to pray for each other.
So, for today, I am grateful for friends who "motivate me to acts of love and good works."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 280, November 19

We are approaching the end of the year.  We have less than a month and a half before the start of a new year.  And I wonder what I accomplished during the past eleven months.  It is sometimes easier to list what I haven't accomplished:  I haven't sold a book.  I haven't lost weight.  I haven't forgiven those who have hurt me.

A pretty dismal record, to be sure.

And then I remember what the Lord has allowed me to accomplish.  I was there for a family member when she needed me.  I was there for my granddaughter who was sick one day and was going to be home alone.  I was there for a friend going through a rough time.

Maybe that is enough.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I was there.  I am always grateful for those who are there for me.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 279, November 18

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
William Cowper

The first three words of this poem describe me.  (Really, it's only the word "fearful," as describing myself as a saint is a bit of a stretch.)  No matter.  I am fearful.  I am fearful for family members who are undergoing hard times.  I am fearful for the state of our nation, our world.  

As I read these beautifully penned words, though, I am reminded that the Lord is in charge, that He knows the end from the beginning, that I need not fear if I remain faithful to Him.

So, for today, I am grateful for "fresh courage."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 278, November 17

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things, for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward.

"Verily, I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in nowise lose their reward.

"But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with a doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."--Doctrine & Covenants:  58:26-29

Sometimes it seems hard enough to keep up with the things we are commanded to do. And now the Lord tells us that He shouldn't have to command us in everything.  It's hard to wrap my mind around that as I grumble about all that we're suppposed to do.

And then my better self makes a belated appearance and I find myself nodding at the words in this scripture.  Of course the Lord shouldn't have to command me in everything.  He expects me to figure some things out for myself, to take the initiative in doing good.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I don't have to be commanded to do good.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 277, November 16

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."--Henry Van Dyke

I love this quote.  (Have you noticed that I love all kinds of quotes?)  I love the admonition that we should all be using whatever talents we have.  Too often I bemoan my lack of talents.  I complain, "I can't write like Amanda," "I can't compose poetry like Jeannie," "I can't play the piano like Janet," etc.  And then I remember that Heavenly Father made me as I am, with the talents I possess.  No one else is exactly like me.  (Some would say that is a good thing!)

So, for today, I am grateful for talents, mine and those of others.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 276, November 15

I have a dear friend who loves birds and has planted flowers to attract them.  This poem by Victor Hugo reminds me of her:

Be like the bird who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Yet sings
Knowing he hath wings.

These words painted such a vivid picture in my mind that I had to share them.  Do you ever feel like this bird,  halting in your flight, perched on a limb that won't hold you, yet you keep going on your way?  Despite fears and worries, you sing, giving voice to your gratitude to the Lord.

The last years have been hard ones for our family.  Sickness, a son's divorce, the death of a beloved brother-in-law have beseiged us, and I wonder if I can keep going.  Then I think of the blessings with which Heavenly Father has given me and I know I can keep on, for one day more.

So, for today, I am grateful for the example of the bird who sings.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 275, November 14

"Life has meaning only in the struggles.  Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods.  So let us celebrate the struggles."--Swahili warrior song

I don't agree with everthing in this quote, but I do like the idea that we grow through struggles.  When times are easy, when life goes smoothly, we are apt to "rest upon our laurels" and are reluctant to keep striving, to keep trying, to keep working.  Only when life presents us challenges do we stretch and test ourselves.

So, for today, I am (trying to be) grateful for struggles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 274, November 13

Last week, Larry and I had the opportunity to participate in a service project, helping members of a Baptist church move chairs from the balcony back down to the main level.  (This church was filled with mud during the September floods and all the chairs had been moved to the upper level.)

This was described as a project suited to "the least of these," meaning even my poor old body with its artificial hip could help.  We formed a chair brigade, moving several hundred chairs in less than 45 minutes.  Baptists and Mormons worked along side each other, laughing, sharing stories, encouraging each other.

I was touched as I looked about, seeing gradeschool children working beside those in their 60s and 70s, all with a common goal.  When the work was finished, we congratulated each other on a job well done.

So, for today, I am grateful for the satisfaction of work.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 273, November 12

Last week, I wrote about my mother.  My nephew David (her grandson) left a comment about how "Grandma Georgia" remembered the small things--letters, cards, phone calls, etc.  In this age of email, texts, facebook, instagrams, etc, such things as cards and phone calls can get lost.   (I wonder sometimes if we are raising a whole generation of children who don't know how to write a letter, but that's a subject for another day.)

David was right--my mother did remember the small things.  She cut pictures from the newspaper or greeting cards to send to her grandchildren.  She slipped a dollar bill in cards to them.  She made sure birthdays and baptisms and other special events were remembered.

Mom didn't do grand gestures.  That wasn't her style.  But her everyday acts of kindness and thoughtfulness spoke grandly to all those who knew her.

So, for today, I am grateful for small things.  And, once again, I am grateful for Mom.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 272, November 11

Today is Verterans' Day.  For many of us, the idea of serving our country in the armed services, especially in a time of war, is completely foreign.  I cannot imagine the sacrifice, courage, and faith it took to put everything on the line the way so many men and women have.
Because I didn't know much about the history of Veterans' Day, I included some of the research I found:
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
My father and three of his brothers served during WWII.  Two of his brothers died during the war, one from injuries he received in battle and one from natural causes.  Through the Red Cross, Dad and his other brother could have come home to comfort their widowed mother, but they elected to stay and continue serving.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who served and who serve our country.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 271, November 10

A friend sent the following to me in an email.  I was so impressed with it that I decided to share it here:

Mary Ellen Tribby, founder and CEO at compiled a very interesting list of traits that are characteristic of successful and unsuccessful people.
Successful People
Have a sense of gratitude
Forgive others
Accept responsibility for their failures
Read everyday
Keep a journal
Talk about ideas
Want others to succeed
Share information and data
Keep a “to-be” list
Exude joy
Keep a “to-do/project” list
Set goals and develop life plans
Embrace change
Give other people credit for their victories
Operate from a transformational perspective
Unsuccessful People
Have a sense of entitlement
Hold a grudge
Blame others for their failures
Watch TV everyday
Say they keep a journal but don’t
Talk about people
Secretly hope others fail
Horde information and data
Don’t know what they want to be
Exude anger
Fly by their seat of their pants
Never set goals
Fear change
Take all the credit of their victories
Operate from a transactional perspective

As I read and re-read these two lists, I realized that I fall, at different times, on both sides.  On those times when I fall on the right side, I am less in tune with the Father and the Spirit.  I am in a defensive posture, thinking only of myself.  When I can say that I am (mostly) on the left side, I know I am in sync with the Lord.  

And isn't that the definition of true success?  When we are in sync with the Lord, we are successful.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I am truly on the Lord's side.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 270, November 9

A final (at least for now) story about Lincoln:

On his way from Springfield, Illinois to be inaugurated President of the United States of America, Lincoln recounted to a group in Trenton, New Jersey a story of the Revolutionary War that he had read as a boy in Weem's LIFE OF WASHINGTON.  He stated:  "I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle."

The humility of these words profoundly touched me, especially in light of the self-aggrandizing behavior of current leaders.  Lincoln, who is thought by many to be the greatest president our country has ever known, saw himself as "an instrument in the hands of the Almighty."

So, for today, I am grateful for his example of humility.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 269, November 8

More about Lincoln:

When the end of the Civil War was in sight, Lincoln realized that many northern leaders were urging him to make an example of the Confederate leaders.  Even prominent pastors and clergy were calling for blood.

Instead of yielding to the pressure, Lincoln met with General Grant and General Sherman, saying that when victory came, they should treat their adversaries with kindness.  The Confederates should be allowed to return to their homes with their horses, mules, and their self-respect.

This did not earn Lincoln approval from many of the northern leaders.  They saw his compassion as weakness.  Lincoln saw it as the start of healing of a nation torn apart.

So, for today, and again, I am grateful for a great man.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 268, November 7

Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes.  He combined both strength and gentleness, turning the seeming dichotomy into yet another strength.

His friends liked to tell a story from his days on the judicial circuit to show just how kind he was.  While they were riding to the next courthouse, one of his friends noticed that Lincoln had disappeared.

"Where's Lincoln?" one asked.

"When I saw him last he had caught two young birds which the wind had blown out of their nest, and he has been hunting for th enest so as to put them back," answered his companion.

After a while, Lincoln rejoined the group.  To the teasing of his friends, he merely said, "I could not have slept well tonight if I had not saved those birds."

So, for today, I am grateful for his example of compassion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 267, November 6

Today is my mother's birthday.  Even though she has been gone for 16 years, I miss her still.  I frequently find myself wishing that she were here to see how her grandchildren have grown up and my grandchildren are growing up.

A child of the Great Depression, Mom grew up poor.  That only whetted her appetite for learning.  She never had the opportunity to go to college.  Instead, she went to business school and learned secretarial skills.  From there, she traveled from her small town home in Eastern Tennessee to Washington, DC to get a job and send money home for her mother and three siblings.

Later in life, she worked as a substitute teacher in the high school which my sister and I attended.  She loved the students, and they loved her.

So, for today and for everyday, I am grateful for my mother.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 266, November 5

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass/  We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits.

"However such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were--better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."--Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As always, President Monson says much in a few, well chosen words.  Surviving trials strengthens us in a way that enjoying the smooth times of life will never do.  Much as I hate going through the hard times, I find I emerge with more confidence and more gratitude than I previously had.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I "change for the better."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 265, November 4

Last week, our lesson in Relief Society focused on happiness.  We talked about what happiness is ... and what it isn't.  We agreed that great riches don't make for happiness.  Neither do many of the things the world deems important.

What does make for happiness?  We came up with the usual suspects:  service, family, friends.  We included in their sharing the good news of the Gospel with others.  Happiness is one of life's ironies, in that when we chase it, it frequently eludes us.  But when we engage in doing good, it comes to perch on our shoulders.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when happiness happens to perch on my shoulder.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 264, November 3

Today is a special day.  It is our granddaughter Reynna's birthday.  Reynna is now 14 and fully involved in being all that that means.  She loves her parents, her little brother, and Justin Beiber.  (I hope she loves her grandparents somewhere in there as well.)  She attends Young Women, plays volleyball, and takes karate. 

Her energy is boundless as is her curiosity.  She is compassionate to her poor grandmother who is hopelessly behind in all things technological and is completely uncool.  When I wear things that Reynna deems unfashionable, she says, "Grandma, you have a unique fashion sense."

Reynna finds time to participate in Relay for Life races (to benefit cancer research), to work with her mother at service projects, and to babysit for friends.  She is a light in my life.

So, for today, I am grateful for Reynna.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 263, November 2

I promise:  only one more verse of "We Are Sowing."  (Well, there could have been more as I love this hymn, but the author ended at four.)

Though who knowest all our weakness, leave us not to sow alone!
Bid thine angels guard the furrows where the precious grain is sown,
Till the fields are drowned with glory, filled with mellow, ripened ears,
Filled with fruit of life eternal from the seed we sowed in tears.

The last line of the verse especially resonated within me.  "Filled with fruit of life eternal from the seed we sowed in tears."   Some of the most important seeds I've sown in my life had been sown in tears.  There is childbirth (and let me tell you there were plenty of tears there!).  And child rearing (more tears).  There is working to stay married (buckets and buckets of tears).  And saying a temporary goodbye to loved ones (still more tears). 

All of these jouneys were and are drenched in tears.  And they were also filled with laughter (well, not so much the childbirth)  It occurs to me that the most important journeys and events in life are frequently accompanied by tears, so that when we experience the joy, we are that much more grateful for it.

So, for today, I am grateful for "seeds sowed in tears."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 262, November 1

You've probably figured out now that you are going to have to wade through all the verses of "We Are Sowing."

Seeds that lie unchanged, unquickened lifeless on the teeming mold,
Seeds that live and grow and flourish when the sower's hand is cold.
By a whsiper sow we blessings: by a breath we scatter strife,
In our words and thoughts and actions lie the seeds of death and life.

We know what it is to be unchanged, but what does it mean to be unquickened?  Different definitions come to mind.  One that came to me was "unacknowledged."  The seed we try to sow within a child to return to a family sometimes seems unacknowledged.  The seeds I try to sow with my writing frequently seem unacknowledged as editor after editor reject my work.  There are all sorts of unacknowledgment.

So, for today, I am grateful for seeds that refuse to lie unacknowledged.