Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful/50 Happy Things

Last week, Lizzi invited us to combine our Ten Things of Thankful post with participation in Dawn's 50 Happy Things challenge.  I had already written my TToT post for last week, so figured I would join in this week instead.  If I understand the rules correctly, we were to set our timer for 15 minutes and just start listing things for which we are thankful.  I spent about half that time brainstorming the following list.  I didn't try to prioritize. I didn't try to remember anything in particular; I just sat in my bed, looked out the window, enjoyed some mango/apricot juice, listened to the rain, and typed, There are more than 50 items listed, and thousands more I didn't mention:

rain
oranges
bunnies
warm blankets
comfy bed
birds
garden
electricity
family
grandchildren
children
John
Jesus Christ
faith
temples
scriptures
books
computer
blogging
grandparents
family history
photos
camera
smooth-writing pens
paper
dogs
fish
music
piano
violin
memories
emotions
road trips
Christmas
a house
raspberries
artichokes
chocolate
hazelnuts
health
running
shoes
medical care
humor
church
Disneyland
movies
sewing machine
satisfaction of a job well-done
waterfalls
hiking
National Parks
ocean
snow
mountains
trees
flowers
green
work
home improvement projects
service
charity
sing-alongs (Raindrops on Roses, and Whiskers on Kittens . . )
date nights
harmony--in music and in relationships
parents
friends

There are so many happy things in the world, and so much to be thankful for, and so much good to be found.  May we take everything positive from 2016 and carry it on into 2017.  Happy New Year!






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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Six Sentence Story: Patient

I tell you, I can't make this stuff up.  This week's Six Sentence Story prompt:  "patient." (Permission was obtained to share this experience.)  

A man in scrubs pulled back the curtain, rushed into the room and, taking one look at the young adult, asked disappointedly, "Did I miss it?"

"Yeah."

"How did the other doctor get your jaw back into alignment?"

"He just grabbed each side of my mouth and yanked with all his might."

"And how did you dislocate your jaw in the first place?"

"I won the 'How many Tootsie Rolls can you shove in your mouth' contest."

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Thanks for doctors.  

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking Ahead Toward the New Year


My friend Nancy of Wyoming Breezes  invited her readers to fill out the following form as a fun way to think about possibilities and dreams for 2017.  I decided to give it a whirl.  If you'd like to participate, go to Nancy's blog for a blank form.  



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Thanks for friends, and for possibilities and dreams!

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful: Wrapping Up Edition (#LightTheWorld)

I know Thanksgiving is a day set aside to remember all that we are grateful for, but Christmas also gets me thinking in a similar vein. My heart is full as I ponder and recognize abundance, tender mercies, friends, and family.  I see others whose circumstances are different than mine, and I feel compassion and a desire to help.

This year, I've been even more focused than usual on really trying to do good, as I've participated in the #LightTheWorld campaign. Yesterday's topic was "Jesus Showed Gratitude and So Can You." Although I'm a day late in that particular challenge, I knew that a TToT post would be perfect for that topic.  I also recognize that the next few days will be filled with family activities, so I'm going to combine this TToT post with the few upcoming #LightTheWorld topics, and take a short blogging break.  I won't be gone for long; I'll be back by next weekend.

1.  This might sound counter-intuitive, but I am thankful for opposition. Opposition provides a point of reference.  If I didn't sometimes feel sick, I might not appreciate good health.  If I didn't live in the desert, I might not appreciate the rain.  

2.  While I am thankful for opposition, I don't like to flirt with it. Recognizing the role of opposition helps me to be thankful without being compelled to be thankful. I'm thankful that I can, through intentional thought, be thankful for things that are going smoothly in my life--things I might take for granted normally.  

3.  I'm thankful also that the exercise of thankfulness (in light of the role of opposition) helps develop a more compassionate and less judgmental nature. That's not to say I am perfectly non-judgmental, but I know that I have much to be thankful for that came to me "just because."  Likewise, many good people have challenges "just because."  I have a roof over my head and food on my table, but that doesn't make me better than those who don't, for example. 

4.  I'm thankful that the exercise of thankfulness helps spur one to action to help others.  Lizzi, the founder of this blog hop, is an excellent example of this to me.  She has really gone out of her way to help those less fortunate, and is constantly doing her part to support, encourage, and uplift those who need, as she would say, "sparkly goodness." 

5.  I'm thankful for the exercise of thankfulness brings a feeling of peace. When things aren't going well, it's easy to feel uneasy. However, being able to find things for which to be thankful helps bring a sense of calm.  Today's #LightTheWorld topic is "Jesus Was a Peacemaker and You Can Be One, Too." Through thankfulness, we can find common ground and recognize positive traits of others. We have a diverse group of people who participate in this blog hop, for example, but we are united in our efforts to find the "thankfuls" in our lives. We are a peaceful bunch.  

6.  Though I am thankful for friends, both near and far, I am especially thankful for family.  Oldest daughter, youngest son, and youngest son's girlfriend arrived here safely this week.  It's so nice to have them here.  Some other family members will be here on Christmas Day.  Some will spend Christmas elsewhere, but I am thankful for each family member.  

7.  The Christmas Eve #LightTheWorld topic is "Jesus Cared for His Loved Ones and So Can You."  I am thankful to have a current-day example of that kind of caring.  My mom takes such good care of my grandma.  I don't live close enough to physically be there as often as I would like, but try to do what I can from here.  

8.  As you might remember, my grandma's 100th birthday is coming up on January 4th.  I put out a call for friends to send cards to help her celebrate.  So far, I have received a few, and I'm thankful for those who have participated.  If you would like to be part of a 100th birthday celebration, there is still time! Just let me know, and I'll email you an address to send the card.  :-)

9.  I'm thankful for Christmas.  One little baby born so many years ago impacted the world in a way I don't think we can fully understand.  The #LightTheWorld topic for Christmas Day is "Jesus's Disciples Followed Him and So Can We."  I have really appreciated the #LightTheWorld ideas, and hope to be more intentional in following Him. 

10.  I'm thankful for John.  He knows I startle easily,  so he will walk heavy-footed when he is approaching a room when I am facing away from him, so I don't end up jumping when I see him. He also keeps me grounded in a less literal sense by helping me keep my self-expectations realistic.  It's easy for me to get carried away at Christmas time with plans for homemade everything and a picture-perfect house to boot.  He helps me let go of the impossible, and assures me that everyone is happy with the reality.  When the hot-water heater died the day before our kids arrived, John quickly diagnosed the problem, ordered the part, and had someone out to replace it the next day.  

I'm thankful for John, for hot water, and for each of you!  May you have a peaceful, joyful, merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

#LightTheWorld: Forgive Others


Jesus Christ forgave even those who crucified him.  We are encouraged to forgive others, but sometimes that is easier said than done.  Forgiveness requires us to act in faith, to let go, and to trust God. 




Thankfully, we don't all have situations like Nnamdi Okonkwo. Most of the time the things we have to forgive are much smaller-- the person who cuts you off in traffic, for example.  

I'm going to try to be forgiving today.  It's a happier, lighter way to live. 

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Thanks for forgiveness. 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#LightTheWorld: See Potential in Others

Why was Mr. Roger's Neighborhood so popular?  Why do we teach our schoolchildren to support children who are bullied?  Why do we have billboards advertising National Suicide Prevention Month?

Collectively, and individually, we have a need to know we are worthwhile, that we make a difference, that we are good, and that we have potential for greater good.  We have as much right to happiness as anyone else.  




Today, be a cheerleader.  You can encourage and remind others of their own potential.  We are all on this cruise ship of life together; let's enjoy the journey, and help others to do the same.  

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Thanks for potential.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

#LightTheWorld, Calm the Storm

Years ago, when John and I had five children, ages 8 and under, getting everyone ready and to church on time was a challenge. Arriving on time AND with everyone in a good mood was practically a miracle.  

One particular Sunday morning, we managed to herd our children into the pew just in time for the opening song. The song spoke to my heart:




The tempest most definitely had been raging that morning, and I most definitely needed peace to my soul and stillness to my mind. Singing the hymn allowed me to calm down and arm myself with an extra measure of patience.  

Though those five lively children have grown up now, and I'm not frazzled walking into the church building, I still can use reminders to be calm in the face of the storms of life.  

Today, I will try to remember to be patient.  I can use calm words to encourage others to feel at peace.  

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Thanks for music, and for peace. 

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful: Another Week to #LightTheWorld

This month, I've been participating in the #LightTheWorld initiative, which focuses on pondering different ways Jesus helped others, and committing to help people now with similar challenges. It's been a great way to bring true joy into this busy season.  

To kick off #LightTheWorld, my daughter and I put together bags to hand out to people we see around town who are homeless.  The bags contained socks, lip balm, water, granola bars, and applesauce. We didn't get all of the bags handed out the first day, so we've been handing out more as we find more people. Friday, I had the chance not only to hand out a bag, but to watch discreetly (from the rear-view mirror) as the recipient opened up the bag and discovered what was inside.  The socks were the first thing she took out.  She fingered them, seeing how thick they are, then put them up to her cheek.  She touched them again, then put them to one eye, then another.  It looked like she was wiping away tears.  Next, she took out the chapstick and applied some to her lips.  As the stop light turned green and I drove away, I saw her eating the applesauce.  I'm thankful (1) to learn what things were most appreciated from the bag, as that could help me compile future bags.  I'm also thankful (2) that the bag seemed to genuinely meet a need.  I'm also thankful (3) to witness that scene, to help me remember that although news stations seem to love to report about scams, not everyone who begs is actually financially well-off, and that it doesn't harm me to be compassionate.  (What harm is it to provide socks, lip balm, snacks and water to anyone?)

I've been on the receiving end of light this week, too.  I love this time of year, when the mailbox is filled with cards from friends and family.  I've received several cards this week, and each one brought a smile to my face.  I'm thankful (4) for those whose cards have brightened my week.  

My week has been brightened in more way than one.  We received some (much needed) rain, and as is so common here, once the sun broke out again, a rainbow appeared.  I'm thankful (5) for colorful rays of light.


Photo:  A beautiful rainbow, as viewed from my backyard.
Friday night, John and I had the chance to go down to the Los Angeles Temple. Amazingly, traffic was not bad, and we arrived earlier than we expected.  We took some of our extra time to walk around the temple grounds and take photos of the beautiful Christmas lights before going inside. 


Photo:  Lights adorn the trees, bushes, and pathways of the grounds of the Los Angeles Temple

Photo:  Various palm trees wrapped in lights

Photo:  The Los Angeles Temple, with lights on a tree and other plants in the foreground

Photo:  A life-size nativity

Photo:  A lighted palm in the foreground, a life-size nativity in the background

I'm thankful for (6) beautiful Christmas lights, (7) those individuals who donated time to put them up, (8) the calm peace that is felt inside the temple and on the temple grounds, (9) the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year. 

As always, I am also thankful (10) for John.  There is so much that needs to be done in preparation for Christmas, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, John and I are overwhelmed about different things.  John helps me out by taking on more of the household chores, and I help him by taking care of purchasing the white elephant gifts for parties.  Win-win.  :-)

One more week until Christmas Day!  May your week be filled with safety, peace, joy, and love.  Thank you for your friendship--I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and/or comment!



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Friday, December 16, 2016

#LightTheWorld by Showing Compassion




I have always been impressed by the Bible verse that simply states, "Jesus wept."  Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus, were sad because their brother Lazarus was dead.  When Jesus saw their sorrow, he wept.  Even though he had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead (and he did bring him back to life), Jesus did not minimize the feelings of those who were grieving.  He took the time to mourn with them.  After he wept with them, he performed the miracle.

John 11:35, Christ mourns with those that mourn
Jesus weeps, as Mary and Martha mourn.  (source)

What can I learn from this?  I can have compassion on others, even if I can see a clear solution to the problem.  Feelings are valid and real, even though they might be fleeting.  I can share in the feelings of others, even if my own circumstances might be more pressing. (It was after this miracle of Jesus that the chief priests and Pharisees sought to kill him.) 

Developing true compassion takes time--perhaps even a lifetime. Though I am still working on becoming a more compassionate person, I remember years ago having an "a-ha" moment in line at the pharmacy.

I had just been released from the hospital after delivering a very small, very early, very sick baby.  He remained in the hospital, of course, and I did not know what the future held for him.  I had two other children at home.  I was recovering from an emergency crash c-section.  I was physically and emotionally drained.  I don't even remember now why I was in line at the pharmacy, but as I waited in line, an older woman in front of me starting talking to me.  She was so worried about her grandchildren.  One had broken a bone, and the other had a low-grade fever.  

Inwardly, I thought, "Oh that's not bad!" My first impulse was to tell her of my circumstance, but fortunately, I bit my tongue.  I thought of her needs.  My situation would not change her concern for her grandchildren.  I just listened to her, and as I did, I felt the joy that comes from helping someone.  Yes, I would have "won" the "How bad are things for you" contest, but that game really would have had no winner.  Instead, we both won. She got to vent a little bit of her worry, and I felt the joy of service.  

Today's #LightTheWorld challenge is to show compassion.  No matter how you choose to participate, the world will be a little brighter for your compassion.  

(I missed posting the #LightTheWorld challenge yesterday, but it was about worshipping through song.  That is an easy one, I think, especially this month.  You could listen to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 24/7 commercial-free station, attend Christmas concerts, or go caroling to your neighbors.  I'm sure you can think of other ideas, too.  Enjoy the music of the season!)

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Thanks for compassion--given and received.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#LightTheWorld by Clothing the Naked

Don't you just love the #LightTheWorld initiative? Everyday when I wake up, I think, "How will I participate today?"  Fortunately, it is usually easy to come up with an idea that works into my schedule--it really isn't difficult to give service!

Today's topic--"Jesus Taught Us to Clothe the Naked and You Can Help"--is another one that it is easy to do.  I already have a bag of clothing that has been waiting for me to take to the local Salvation Army.  Today I will get it out the door and to the charity.  

Another way to participate is to knit or crochet hats for babies.  I read about the Little Hats Big Hearts program yesterday.  I'm not sure if I will get hats made before the end of the year (which is the deadline), but I am going to share this idea with my daughter, who loves to crochet.  

We still have some leftover bags for the homeless waiting in our car, too, and those bag have socks in them.  As we are driving around town today, we will pass out more bags if we see people in need.  

Winter is nearly here officially, but has already started weather-wise in much of the US.  How will you help keep people warm?

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Thanks for warm clothing.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#LightTheWorld by Being Humble

Jesus sought no glory.  Everything he did was motivated by love, rather than praise of men.  As I looked at the suggestions for the #LightTheWorld initiative today, one of them caught my eye.  It said:  
  • Learn to laugh at yourself. Start by posting an embarrassing childhood picture.
My first thought was, that won't be too embarrassing.  What would be embarrassing would be to post a photo of my room, which is in that awkward pre-Christmas phase, with presents in various stages of wrapping, and boxes and wrapping paper all over the place.  The other day I was embarrassed in person, as a friend came by when my kitchen (also in the middle of holiday preparations) was a disaster with a capital D.  As I looked through old photos, I realized that I had pictures of me "helping" my mom around the house--proof positive that I had at least been trained in basic housekeeping skills!  

I decided to post some of those photos.  Housework is humble work, done out of love and is not usually praised.  And these photos aren't exactly the most flattering, so we can all laugh together:

Photo:  In the kitchen with my mom.  I'm making a mess rolling out a pie dough.  I'm scared now to think of what impish thought was in my head at the time--my facial expression looks devilish.

Photo:  Me at the kitchen sink, washing up after a particularly messy painting session (either that or I butchered a large animal--it's hard to tell.)
Photo:  I had apparently put aside my fear of the vacuum cleaner for the moment.  Check out my doggie slippers!
When I came to this next photo, I wondered what was up with the head wrap.  Then it dawned on me that I was currently wearing a clean dish towel on my head--something I do every day to help my curls stay curly.  

Photo:  Me striking a "happy homemaker" pose, with my dustpan and broom between the kitchen and the utility room
Next, I started mentally scrutinizing my wardrobe.  What was it with me and red pants with a mustard shirt?  Then I thought of the clothes currently in my closet.  I realized what I must do. 

Photo:  A grown-up version of the above photo

No matter how much I want to be a capable, grown-up adult, many times, I still feel like I am just acting the part.  Perhaps the point of humility is to get us to rely on our Heavenly Father--to acknowledge that we are nothing without Him, but that with His love and guidance, we can accomplish the tasks before us, no matter how humble they are, and no matter how we might be dressed.  

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Thanks for Jesus Christ, the perfect example of all good traits.

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