Tuesday, October 25, 2016

tuesday inspiration and flower power

Because it's good to be inspired in the middle of the week, don't you think?

I have the opportunity each week to work with the youth of my church congregation, specifically the sixteen and seventeen year old young women.  This past Sunday I taught a lesson about gratitude and used this talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf entitled, Gratitude in Any Circumstance.  I love everything about this talk, but I especially like this paragraph,

Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.

At the end of my lesson I gave the girls a challenge to try and take one whole week to only express gratitude in their prayers, and not ask for anything.  Of course, I also took the challenge on myself.  It's been interesting so far.  Yesterday was day one.  I am already very much in the habit of giving thanks to my Heavenly Father on a daily basis, so that part has been easy.  But I also have become aware of how much I ask for from my Heavenly Father every single day.  Focusing my prayers on what I'm grateful has helped me look for the good even when "good" isn't exactly smacking me in the face.  Sometime we have to look at little harder to find the blessings, especially when we're in the middle of really hard challenges.  I am dead center in the middle of a very hard trial right now.  It's there when I wake up, it's there when I go to sleep, and a lot of times it's even there in my dreams.  But, what I've also found that's always there, is my Savior's love and my Heavenly Father's love carrying me from day to day and sometimes just minute to minute. In the middle of all this hard, I've gained a much greater sense of gratitude for all that is so very good in my life.
These are some flower pots on my back porch.
When my life went crazy five months ago, I planted these little Vincas and whispered to them,"You are my new life now.  Grow and bloom and be happy"
I have never, in all the years I've been growing flowers, had more beautiful blooms then these. 
Every day I talk to my flowers and thank them for growing and thank them for making me smile. 

Asking God for what I need each day is something He wants me to do.  I am is daughter and He loves me and knows my heart better than anyone. I also want Him to know that my heart is a heart full of gratitude.  As someone once said, "My cup runneth over, and it is messy!". Isn't that just life, the good and the bad, and all the crazy that comes with it.  Each day I want to be able to not only be thankful for things, but just be thankful to be on this journey itself and all that it encompasses. 
Like these little flowers.
They remind me each and every morning 
to grow 
and bloom 
and be happy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

homecoming and happy birthday

Birthday Love. 

Homecoming 2016.

Sierra Olivia. Seventeen years of making me smile.

Monday, October 17, 2016

where I come from

A small midwest town.  The place where I grew up and became me. 

This past week I had the opportunity to return home.  There are so many things I love about Wisconsin. The fall is the most beautiful time to visit, and the leaves were just beginning to be coaxed into their beautiful spread of reds, oranges, and golds. 

 The cheeseheads are die hards and rivaled by no one for their team loyalty.

Especially these guys.

I spent a lot of time walking around my home town.  Walking and thinking. 

I walked to my old elementary school and looked through the windows and saw myself sitting there in Ms. Wennam's second grade class.  I imagined looking out of one those windows so many years earlier, and being so excited to see big round snowflakes cascading down for the season's first snowfall. 

I spent lots of time in my parents yard remembering what it felt like to be little.

I couldn't stop looking up at the big oak tree that faithfully provided leaves each year for my sister and I to make the neighborhood's biggest leaf pile.  When I closed my eyes, the smell of the already fallen leaves made the memory almost tangible and tugged ever so kindly on my heart.

I spent lots of time with my mom and dad and my sister.  These are the people that have known me the longest and loved me the longest. How grateful I am for them.

My sister graciously drove me around downtown and we reminisced about some of the places we used to go. 

The Cozy Inn.  Our family's favorite place to go for dinner.  When we were very young, my sister and I were always amazed and impressed by the large and colorful collection of gum wads placed strategically under the tables.  Taking home a brand new pair of chopsticks was always a bonus novelty.

My little town is situated on a river. 

A happy little river that would become cold and menacing in the winter but happy once again each spring. 

The YMCA was another favorite (sing it with me,  Y. M. C. A.!) Swimming for hours was the best. 

Downtown Janesville.  Remnants of a slower, more simple time.  

And always, these beautiful trees.  
My parents still live in the house I grew up in. It was so good to sleep in my own childhood room, even if I am an adult now.  Sometimes, I just wish I could be little again, you know?

Happy fall my beautiful readers.  
Wishing you peaceful memories of the good things from your "remember when".