Friday, April 20, 2012

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ and a revisit to the topic of Gratitude...

~~ It's been some time now since I posted one of my favorite blogging themes. 

It's definitely time for another "Ten Things I'm Thankful For", ever changing, anywhere from the simple to complex recognized for the heartfelt bits of gratitude they produce, something tangible and very personal, and yet ~ they very much matter to me. 

I can't believe how momentarily "out of the loop" I seem to be of late with so many things taking precedence in our lives, but then again, I have to remind myself that these truly are just "things" and the "people" in my life matter so much more than those things. Like when life threatening or life affirming "things" top the helm of a loved one's days, and the challenges associated with them create extraordinary concerns when it comes to life and death - yep, people matter more than things.

In a perfect world, the little things would be totally insignificant and irrelevant. But, even in that so called perfect world, it's also some of those very things which we tend to wave off, that end up providing much joy by way of simple pleasures, not only for the moment, rather heartfelt keepsakes that linger on for years to come. 

I've been reflecting a whole bunch the past while with thoughts of upping my intentional practice with regards to the topic of"gratitude" in my life, and prefer at all times to smile first (ALWAYS SMILE!), engage brain to remember my intention, and then devote seconds or minutes of time to really reflect and remember everything I'm grateful for in any given day - no matter the grandeur or wee whimsy or gushy "things" they may prove to be in the sight or knowledge of another. 

These reflective moments have come to truly matter to me, and of course especially during all the many, many brinks of crisis visiting our family and extended family the past few months.

How does one see through the big visage of blurry ahead during such a time without finding things to be thankful for? 

Oh yes, these are the tender thoughts that tug at our heart strings, any time, but especially while we are under duress, or a situation reveals itself in ways to push us seemingly on the brink of being over the pains of our emotional edge for a time. 

We all have days like that, don't we, times when we wish we had a "pause" button on our foreheads to flash freeze those seconds before all sorts of crazy decisions have to be sorted and concretely made. 

Gratitude is a action word, when used it begins propelling us forward, a simple and mindful action that I feel so many people these days are missing in their lives. The human misery of late shown in the news media features many suffering souls that are having tremendous strife within our current and very poor economy, and every person I speak to lately seems to have something hugely significant in their lives in need of constant prayer, and caring friendships to help them through. 

A relevant thread passes by way of many folks, some not though, when (even painfully) adopting the practice of always looking to the bright side, filling a heart to overflowing with thoughts of gratitude, yes - even through the grit of their difficult circumstances. Those are the folk who "get it", yet many tend to (unknowingly) prefer to wallow in their grief, hide their misery under a veil of self pity which begins to reign thickly in the air, perhaps not realizing in the process they are also tending to drag others down in the process. They don't realize it's their outlook that is magnetizing no one toward them, rather repelling many away. But there's hope. Revisit the meaning of "gratitude"...and you'll find it.


The suffering is very real, and for those who simply cannot focus on anything bright and cheery in their days because the veil of darkness doesn't allow any light to filter inside their hearts, well, we need to pray they may find joy when their crosses are weighing them down, that they remember to fill their anxious thoughts with gratitude for what they do have, trust God's plan for their lives for all things to come, be thankful for the loved ones in their lives, and anything to spark a balance of hope during their toughest moments in their darkest days. And we need to assist in raising their spirits as they sift through the tough times when stuck in denial mode, or ostrich hiding, while avoiding the process of moving forward, to just love them right through it we are called to do. 

It all begins with a single action, that of having a continuous outlook of prompting a thankful heart, the same thing I've been tooting and repeating here on my blog for over five years now, long before many popular books spurred on purposeful gratitude list making. 

Blessings to all you who are nodding your head as you read my words. I am there. Are you? Bless you as you journey forth towards the entire true meaning of "gratitude", that your eyes will become afresh with this spring season of new life, of springing into discovering thankful things, and enjoying the simple pleasures in your daily moments of time passing at incredible speeds. 

God bless you!

 My ten for today are;

-1- I'm thankful for the season of Lent which has just passed, for what it represented in my life, a time when I had  no idea Lent would come "looking for me" in ways least expected. But, they came, in droves, some incredibly tough times to be sure, a few still in progress and in great need of prayer. 

Lent whispered its way into the helm of our days, and then seemed to steam roll ahead like a mighty presence threatening all in its path to humble thoughts on heady issues. It kept reminding us to pray for those we love, and the rewards were simply knowing we tried our best throughout. So much pounded our hearts since that rainy Ash Wednesday morning, and the glory of Easter has washed all those darker days away. 

I really enjoyed spending time reading out loud to our children during Lent. The book above is the fourth in a series, and this one offered a thrilling imaginative account of live in Jerusalem, with intrigue and suspense just like all the others. It was a great biblical and historical journey, following along with Amon to our Lord's passion and resurrection. Like a breath of fresh air, the daily reading offered deep reflection on what it important in life ~ people and not things...

-2- I'm thankful for a great, though rather short winter where escapes to the mountain slopes offered much in the way of respite and gratitude. It was the serenity and peaceful surroundings coupled into these excursions that offered refreshment to a soul, not to mention the fresh air, simple pleasures of being able to warm hands by the fire, and observing happy faces whipping down the slopes and then sleeping well at night.  Never mind too they offered free high speed internet! (wink)

 -3- I'm thankful for a new organizer on the kitchen desk. With a fresh supply of pens, pencils from a friend (thank you Allison), scissors (YES, they somehow keep finding their way back here and don't disappear!), pads of scrap paper and post it notes, this mama is a happy camper. 

I've realized the one smaller pen/pencil holder just wasn't cutting it for me, never a pen there when I needed one, everyone too lazy to return them to their rightful place. Now in contrast, no one seems to have a problem with returning things to the more roomy compartments this organizer holds. Crazy but true. 

-4- I'm thankful for this beaming man lurking in a guitar store! Yes, after all these years, with official retirement dates passed, it's time for him to begin thinking about creating music again - well at least on a better quality instrument than he's had for some time now. 

-5- I'm thankful for unpacking the family baptismal gown again for yet another wee grandbaby to nestle in for her first sacrament and entry into the church. This baptismal gown was one that I made the year our grandbaby's own mama was born. She was the first to wear it, and between the two, there have been seven so far who have been baptized while wearing the lacy lovely. 

Actually, this newest baptismal date has already passed, and one day I'll take a moment to update the embroidery process of adding baby's name and baptismal date onto the delicate slip underneath the dress, with the others, for its deemed family heritage precious goal over the coming years. 

 -6- I'm thankful for the amount of poetry included in our children's studies, something that I used to think was not necessary in my own schooling days, but something I have come to very much appreciate now. 

The poetry book above is one of many I have graced on my book shelves. Three times each week I assign a new poem for our children to read, read aloud with specific enunciation, and then pen into their poetry books. At last they have developed the habit of using cursive writing when both preferred initially a neater and tidier approach using printing instead.

Over the years, I have become attached to many beautiful and meaningful poems, ones I don't want to forget by way of simply closing the book and putting it away again. I'm like this also with "quotes" I tend to collect and appreciate for their simple thought provoking messages, so I've been jotting them down in a pretty notebook for my own keepsake over the years. It's a lovely keepsake in progress, one to reach for anytime of day or night, an instant uplift or inspiration to peruse when the desire strikes to do so.

-7- I'm thankful for owning a screw driver and staple gun because I was able to recover this (awful looking fabric atop this) desk chair in matching fabric to our wing back chairs nestled in our family room. I didn't have extra fabric hanging around to complete this project, though I did have an extra throw pillow that came with our couches to match the chairs. With scissors in hand, there were gasps in the room when this mom began cutting off a perfect square from the front of one pillow, luckily, the perfect size to wrap around the chair top and staple onto the bottom. 

It was actually very simple to do this myself as I've had experience with this type of project before, and then one son agreed to screw it back onto the chair base for me. Done! And I have a pillow form in tact to recover with other fabric now, and a whole backside square of matching fabric to use on another project in the future. Yay! 

-8- I'm thankful for these and other ladies in my life who inspire me greatly to participate in many things I normally wouldn't. No matter the time of year, their dedication to weekly walks/hikes keeps me on my toes and I am so thankful they have never forgotten about me, keep prodding via telephone calls and emails to get out and join them when I'm able. I love their companionship! 

So often I didn't think I should take a few hours to join them, as much of it is during a weekday morning, but now I realize I can't afford not to when the timing works for me. They are a very fit bunch who "power walk", never "stroll", and the workouts are always incredibly invigorating. It's like having a visit with good friends, coupled with aerobic exercise to keep me moving. 

The photo above was our March beach walk on a scrumptious yet unusual warm day, yah - a beach walk of an estimated power walking timing adding up to 5 km! Go, go, go...move, move, move...where was my towel? But, wow, that felt GREAT! Next week we hike 10km. I'm ready!

-9- I'm thankful for another daughter who has discovered sewing for herself. Here she is making a reversible tote bag, one she will use for her swimming lessons and whatever else she desires.

Sewing for a young lady is a complex learning experience, as it also requires; deciphering and using a pattern, learning about various types of fabrics, measuring distances, pinning precise seams to be sewn, threading a sewing machine, using an iron, and much more. She is so proud of her tote bag, and wants to create a few wardrobe items for summer. Yay!

-10- I'm thankful for fish Fridays, specially in Lent. Well, how about shrimp on this particular Friday instead? I can't get over people living in Ontario, mostly because the vast majority of folks I've met while living here are not fans of eating fish. Their typical idea of fish is "sole" and "tilapia", two white fish (ew, ew, ewwwwww), two of the most tasteless fish I've ever eaten myself. It's a bonus landslide win for us when the cans of wild salmon and tuna on the grocery shelves go on sale. I buy lots when that happens.

Why oh why though - can't we get them fresh for our fish Fridays? Instead, it's a rare day to find anything akin to "wild" fish in Ontario! Well, I tell a fib because once a year, Costco does just that when offering fish, on ice. Most fish here are also farmed rather than wild, and are usually found cold stiff in the freezer section, therefore, we are mostly resorting to large frozen shrimps when we can't find something more delicious and appealing to our personal palettes. Shrimp then it is! Yum!

What are your ten things today? 

Grab a paper and pen, write them down and hold them close to your heart. It helps the heart. It helps our loved ones. It helps entire families.

Make it a challenge to everyone in your home. Compare notes over dinner, during a family night, whatever. Just

~ Renee

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The everyday ordinary wonderful...

Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet 
in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer.   

~ Anne Morrow

A gift of flowers....

While arranging the beautiful bunch of colorful flowers gifted to me recently, my thoughts were a million miles away, drifting in the nothingness of space and time. Very quickly though, I noticed hidden there smack in the center of that bundle of springtime lovelies, was one single and most perfect rose. 

Yes, a single rose, not really perfect per se, but oh so wonderfully perfect to me. 

Standing there in what initially had felt to me to be just a simple ordinary moment, within seconds had quickly become extraordinary, of a surreal nature, something that had me suddenly whipping my head around swiftly, wondering if perhaps anyone else was standing nearby to have heard my involuntary gasp in that wee bit of lapsed time. 

That one rose had offered me a perfectly tangible message, a sweet answer to a (secret) completed prayerful novena, an intention so dear which had been taking up an unwanted dark residence in my heart, so ultra heavy with its weight constantly having to be wildly thrust back heavenward.

I closed my eyes for just a second, took a deep breath, and then glancing back down upon the happy cluster of florals I had placed in the very center of my dining room table, felt my heart seem to skip a happy beat when I realized it wasn't going to disappear anytime soon.  It was there, in the center of the bundle, hard not to notice, alive and blooming just for me.

I felt in that instant, a warm liquid whitewash of gratitude pour upon me.

Humbled at first, mostly because it was so much more than a lovely orange colored rose that had made my day beautiful, it was what I had been so deeply hoping for. 

A message by way of one simple rose...

Thank you to my hubby for the gift of these gorgeous flowers the day we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last month, the everyday Monday kind of day.  

This was also the same day when our wee (tenth) newborn grandbaby and her mama were having a real tough day, and rather than my hubby and I choosing to quietly celebrate our anniversary over dinner at an agreed upon restaurant, instead it became much more important to cancel our plans and pitch in and just love them both through that early afternoon and evening precious, though difficult timing.

The rose - well, it was simply the best gift ever. 

Dinner would have never trumped it anyway... and after 35 years of marital life, it just goes to prove once again, that love in action offers much more grace for us as well. 

Happy 35th anniversary to my teenage crush, my spouse, my everything... I love how we were also able, to secretly and giddily celebrate a failed medical timeline for another year. 

How blessed we are! 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Alleluia, HE is Risen!

Happy Easter to all our dear family, friends and blog readers.