making an impact


This year has been one for making an impact, and make one, I did. But I'll also add that the happenings throughout the year have made an impact on me. My life is unrecognizable today from January 1, 2017. Many changes that I have chosen and many changes that have been thrust upon me have made an impact on the landscape of daily life.

I've had house guests for five months of the year that I could never have foreseen. Roles in my job have gotten heavy on editing, and I never expected that although it has been a time of growth for me to do so much editing. My oldest son is a working machine, so he's never home, but I'm so proud of him. It's strange to not have him around for family dinners and prayer time at night. We all really miss him a lot of the time. But that's part of the impact of time marching ahead. And it's good. Progress is good.

This coming year has many changes ahead that I can already see. I don't want to go into any of it too much, but significant change will be making its mark on us for sure.

Christmastime has been a real opportunity to make an impact on my surroundings. We've tried to be thoughtful of others and give to charity and see where we can do a little something differently to help others.

Wrapping up 2017, I am glad for the experiences I've had to choose to do something more and really help people. In helping others, I have learned a great deal about what it takes to change lives for the better—including my own. With the word impact guiding my choices this year, I have put my creative powers to the test and found unique ways to serve neighbors, friends, family, and even strangers. It's been a great experiment in stretching my character and finding new opportunities to teach my children about how to effect change in the world around them.

I have no doubt whatsoever that impact was destined to be my word of the year for 2017. I'm grateful I was patient in seeking it out.




Christmas Songs: week two


Seeing as this is Week Two, you might want to catch Week One if you missed it . . .

For this week's song, I want to dedicate "Last Christmas" by Wham! And so you know, that exclamation mark was forced on me. Why do bands even use punctuation anyway? Seriously. But I digress . . .

thoughts on destitution

where do these thoughts belong
nowhere for they are homeless
as homeless as her heart
bereft of affection that she needs
left in want for the resources
that make life smooth in this society
wherein she resides and hides
divorced from the world that functions
without distress and habitual begging

an exercise in humility
humbling and good for the heart
in the long run
left without a hand to hold
empty-handed hopefulness
without even a half measure
of the attention she needs
a beggar's heart with no home
inner turmoil with no voice

robbed of expression of truth
of a full life
with someone who wants to
offer all of the attention
never having quite enough
to feel comfortable
yet always cared for by and by
by the traveler on their
way to their own homes

passersby with something to give
the puzzle pieces that make life whole
though disjointed and dejected
put together with a bit of paste
and a whole lot of prayer
while divested of love's finery
left stark and cold with nowhere to go
on this earth for shelter
from the elements of want and woe

abandoned for emptiness
left to roam and want for
more than someone to talk to
someone who is present
for her needs and support
given self freely and fully
not borrowed for the day
someone more than glad to make room
for the impoverished love she has to give

destitution defined
painted with tools of affluence
words and emotions
not only for the starving for food
yet this exercise feels like a spit in the face
to ones who have no literal home
so with a heavy heart recognizing
there is so much more
unaccounted for



Christmas Songs: week one



This Christmas, I want to dedicate a song to each one of my children. The reasoning behind the dedications will be different and as unique as each of them. I hope you enjoy it.

Two things inspired this series. The first is "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano, and the second is my little son who is not so little anymore.

love


I keep choosing broad topics to be thankful for, but I don't believe this would be a complete gratitude month challenge without talking about love specifically.

I do not have in my life the love and support of a husband, and I will say right now that I long for it. I long for it every day of my life. I have dreams that promise me this will come. I see my friends and family enjoying the benefits of long-term support, namely the comfort/security that comes with it.

I feel keenly the absence of this love, so I believe I feel more keenly the other loves that are in my life:

Love from my children—apparent and assumed
Love from family
Love from close friends
Love from casual friends
Love from acquaintances
Love from neighbors
Love from co-workers
Love from strangers
Love from God

Because I am lacking something essential, I am able to more fully appreciate the kindness and care I receive from everyone around me.

So today, I am thankful for the love I see all around me—for the love my friends and family enjoy and for the love that comes my way.  

a job I love



Being an English teacher and an editor with social media expertise is a strange combination, but it has served me well.

I am able to have the career I want and enjoy because I took time to add a minor during my undergraduate studies. That one decision put the fork in the road I wouldn't know I'd need for around five more years. So much opportunity for growth, service, and gainful employment has been mine because I took time to really listen to the guidance of the spirit.

I give thanks to God for watching over us even after making that decision to change my minor. I was led by the hand to talk myself up, sharing irrelevant at the time information about my skillset, which ended up being how I have my job today.

The school I work for is so wonderful. They really care about life/work balance with our families being a priority. It's refreshing to be empowered and appreciated as well as I am too. Time and again, I am given opportunities to practice my skills and serve the school. There are also wonderful people there. Such sweet and kind people to work with and learn from and grow with. Not many people are able to be so satisfied with their job, but I am and I feel quite blessed because of it. So fortunate indeed.

I am so thankful for the entire experience from my educational choices to now. 

paper products


I say paper products generally because there are many forms that make life better. I love to throw parties, so napkins, paper (or plastic) cups, and paper plates are nice. But honestly, I like to use real dishes whenever I can. It's more environmentally friendly to do so and fancier if you ask me. That can only really happen when doing smaller types of events, but I love it. If I have about fifteen people or less coming, I go with real dishes.

But anyway. What a tangent.

I am thankful for specific paper products today. I have been sick all weekend and now creeping into the week, and I have resorted to the mighty paper towel as facial tissues and toilet paper just are not cutting it for me. I am very thankful that I have any of these three paper products in my possession, but I am most thankful for paper towels today.

Partly why I am so thankful for paper towels is that there was a time when I couldn't afford paper towels. I learned quickly when my divorce process began that paper towels are a luxury when distribution of marital resources is not equal. I didn't have paper towels for a few years but every once in awhile when I'd splurge.

Today, as I reached in pure desperation to find relief for one instead of a tissue, I recalled when I would ration them or simply go without and the gratitude overwhelmed me. I haven't begun to take paper towels for granted (just ask my kids about how I get after them for wasting them), but the thankfulness that I had some on hand was poignant.

Paper products are a wonderful luxury, and I'm thankful for how they help me live more comfortably.


good health


As I type about my gratitude for good health, I am coughing my brains out and have so much sinus pressure that I need to be lying down.

That said, I can more keenly appreciate feeling good and recognize how well we have all been this past year. Yes, my children and I have had some illnesses here and there, but it's all been recoverable types of things. Allergies and stress have been the main culprits around this place, so there is much to be thankful for as those are not so bad considering what some families go through on a daily basis with chronic illnesses.

Reading Tuesdays with Morrie with my youngest just a month or so ago was a real eye opener about the effects of ALS. I cried when I'd try to put myself in Morrie's position. I can hardly imagine the trial of suffering that people go through. I don't really know what more to say about it, so I just won't say more since I don't want to sound ignorant and insensitive.

My point is that I see how blessed we have been to enjoy such good health and how protected we are even in our struggles. Even with a terrible cough and feeling poorly, I am thankful for this body and my children's good health right now. Very thankful.




Seeking to Become - November 2017


As I connect that this is the final Sunday of November, I realize that I haven't written my Seeking to Become segment that I intended to write one of these Sundays. So here we are!

I'm thinking about how thankful I am for the scriptures and this writing and reading challenge that I've put myself up to. There are times in our lives when we are our own best friend, and I'd say that this Seeking to Become challenge falls under that category. I've helped myself to hold to the iron rod of faith through this tool, so I owe my past self for seizing the day and keeping on keeping at it.

There is something about having a goal to look forward to. It keeps me looking ahead despite the hard times. These monthly goals keep me working on my flaws and weaknesses. I am a good person, but I struggle with keeping a charitable attitude at times. My appreciation overflows for how I am guided and calmed by the spirit as I read and ponder and set goals.

For this coming month of December, I want to focus on charity, the pure love of Christ, as Christmas is near with the scripture found in Alma 7:24 in the Book of Mormon as a motto:

And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works. 
I hope to abound in good works this coming month that reflect the charity I hope to cultivate and share with others. I hope you will join me.


quiet friendship


I'm not sure if I can describe what I mean by quiet friendship, but I shall try because it means so much to me.

Quiet friendship is a type and quality of friendship when grand gestures are unnecessary, understanding prevails, and lovingkindness surrounds whether near or far. That doesn't mean grand gestures don't happen. It certainly doesn't mean that there is never a misunderstanding. And at times things can be less than lovingly kind.

But what that definition does mean is that those fine qualities can be counted on whether rain or shine, near or far, busy or together. This type of friendship doesn't feel like work even though it can take work to keep it healthy. It feels like pure love and peace when life is going smooth. It feels like God's hands keeping you afloat when life is breaking you down. It feels like service and joy when you are needed.

Quiet friendship in its full definition has been offered to me from a few family members and a few friends in my life, and I am thankful for every time I am able to recognize in them what gift they just gave me.

Do you give/receive quiet friendship?




my home


Since I am currently living in my home that I speak of, I can't be sure that I don't take it for granted—or at least any particular aspect—so let us assume that I try not to.

This home that I live in right now has been such a comfort to me and such a haven for my family. My whole life has changed since I moved to this house nearly thirteen years ago. I have a child I never planned on. I am no longer married. All of my children are nearly grown up. I work outside of the home. I don't have an extensive garden anymore, but I have a lot more fruit trees. I have an office instead of a study. I am friends/good acquaintances with at least a hundred people in my neighborhood when I used to know no one at all.

My children. Man alive, they've all grown up here. The two oldest can hardly remember not living here, so that counts. Learning how to ride a bike. Learning how to read. Learning hard things. All of these and more have occurred while at this home.

So many wonderful neighbors come and gone or still here. I have so many friends now when I thought I'd never fit in. Well, I might not fit in ever! But I have friends when I couldn't see how I'd ever make new ones.

This heart of mine is burgeoning with gratitude for the blessings I have received by living in this home. I prayed to know which house to buy, and I just knew this would be the place for us—and it truly has been.


gratitude


Is it even possible to be grateful for gratitude? If anyone can do it, I can.

It's one thing to be grateful for this or that, but to be grateful when you see others' gratitude, you gain an entirely different perspective on people and life. I guess I learned about being grateful for gratitude as I have been subjected to severe lack of gratitude over the years.

You can learn much from the poor examples of other people just like learning from good examples. Seeing the absence of thankfulness has shown me where I lack gratitude and how ugly it is to be ungrateful. I don't like it in others—and especially not when it is found in myself. I work at recognizing what is being afforded me, so I won't end up looking like a fool.

Gratitude for everything and everyone around us also includes being thankful for how they react to us.

I'm thankful for the people who appreciate what I try to do for them. It gives me joy.


late night talks


It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it makes me happy.

Getting one of my children to open up is not easy, so I love it when a good talk happens. Talking about random things and laughing at life and stupid things are the best. I think a little bit of the relaxed environment can be attributed to being sleepy. Nevertheless, it is so great.

I wonder if my parents savored the times when I would let them into my confused young adult life. I remember my mom being at the ready to help me any time I'd let her. I sure wish I had let her a little more often a whole lot sooner than I did, but I guess that's how life goes.

It was really so good to chat about work and upcoming Thanksgiving dinner and lavender chamomile tea and not wanting to tell me about days off. Gotta keep back a little for their own, right? To feel and be independent.

I'm thankful for every late night talk a little extra because I know they won't last forever. I will savor them now while I can.




Christmastime


The best part about Christmastime is that you can begin celebrating it anytime you like.

If you think about it, Christian believers who are living the gospel actually celebrate Jesus year round. Right? So I don't quite understand what the big problem is with busting out the sparkling lights and other decorations in November to get things off to an early start.

Since getting divorced, I realized that our Christmas celebrations seemed rushed and went by too quickly. So last year, I began doing things a little differently—we started our Christmastime November 1. My children thought it was crazy at first, but when December 25 finally came around, they felt like we had a wonderful Christmas, fully enjoyed and not so rushed through.

The first thing is to decorate. What is so fabulous about doing decorating early is that you can ease into it, only doing a bit here and there until it's all complete. And you are finished by the time Christmas events and parties start up. There's no rush to get the tree done because it is done. And you've had time to truly savor the memories and stories and decorations.

We have been able to focus more on Christ's birth instead of all the hustle and bustle of the "holiday season."

With every other weekend gone with their father, we still can do all the fun things, watching Christmas movies, baking treats, sledding, going to Christmas concerts, and we have energy for it now instead of feeling a strange sort of burnout from rushing around too much.

We kicked off our Christmastime this past week with putting up our Candy Cane Forest and then watching Elf last night while we had Chinese food my oldest son bought for us. We even snuck in some Christmas music and a little service to a friend and her family before getting our dinner and treats for the night. It made my night to have all of my children together to begin our Christmas season.

I look forward to every single day for the next month and half until the new year begins. Christmastime makes the ending of another year absolutely magical.


ice water


It's cold outside right now, but I was just thinking about how refreshing it is to have an ice cold glass of water. Not everyone in the world has access to fresh, clean water, let alone fresh, clean ice.

When I'm really thirsty, nothing hits the spot as well as ice water. Growing up in Las Vegas, I'm pretty sure this has to do with conditioning. It's so hot there most of the year, so you really get to appreciate ice and how nice it is. I remember days when I'd fill a whole giant cup to the top with an ice cube tray's worth of ice and then add water to top it off. That ice seemed to melt so quickly! But I loved having such a luxury. I remember feeling grateful back then for ice water.

Today, I hadn't drank enough water, so when I downed that drink, I remembered my childhood ice water and felt that wave of gratitude wash over me. So thankful to have always had enough and to have enough of these types of comforts in life even still.


my family


Saying that I'm thankful for my family is a broad statement, so I want to clarify.

I am thankful for my children. I'm thankful for all they teach me and how they help me grow as a person. I'm thankful for the opportunity and privilege I have of being their guide and teacher. I'm thankful for all the love they give to me every day.

I'm grateful for my brothers—for who they are and who they aren't and for their wives and children and all that they do to teach me and help me grow as a person. I'm grateful to be their only sister. I feel special by default.

I am grateful for my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins on both sides of my parents' families. Some of them are my friends for life and forever. I am always shown more and more how blessed I am to have such an extensive extended family with whom I associate and am familiar with.

I am thankful for my parents who brought me into this world and their parents and theirs. I'm thankful for all the sacrifice and heartache that they persevered through and overcame to get to the point that I could be raised in a home where I knew I was loved and wanted despite severe underlying problems.

I'm grateful for my future family—for grandchildren and possible husband and children from him. I have hope for that. And I'm grateful that I have hope.

I am thankful for the hope of eternity that I will see all of my family together one day, and we will no longer be apart.

I am thankful for all of my family—every single person.


winning


It's not every day that you win a giveaway, but when you do, it feels great.

My little son and I were afforded the very best time today at the BYU vs. UMass game. We not only had Row 12 seats midfield, but we also were treated to a catered luncheon, snacks, drinks, and such hospitality.

I love to watch football and feel the energy of the game, and, because of winning that giveaway, I was able to share a most memorable time with my son. He'd never been to a football game (other than at the high school), so it was extra special. He was in awe over all the perks and our fabulous seats. I think I earned some coolness points for winning the tickets too.

What a fun day. I am grateful to have a break from the daily grind and do something so exciting and rejuvenating with my little boy. To see him so happy was the best treat of the whole day.




people who like to write


Not everyone enjoys writing, so whenever I find a kindred spirit, I reach out for connection. I wonder at times if it puts people off, but I feel like I've found "my people" every time I find an writerly type.

We talk about writing struggles, good ideas, interesting storylines, writing workshops, and the list could go on forever. I feel so at home and so assured that we will be good friends from the very start. As a lover of writing and being an editor, I also have opportunities to help others with their writing.

And you do not want me to get started when I find out someone is an editor! Talk about feeling at home. The grammar rants alone fill my joy to overflowing.

I am so thankful that writing and writers are part of my life.


energy


Not everyone has it. And not everyone has the level I've got. And so, today, I am thankful for energy.

Energy to wake up after only five hours of sleep most nights because of all that is required of me.
Energy to work a full day at a good and even vigorous pace at times.
Energy to listen to the scriptures on audiobook with my daughter to support her study efforts.
Energy to be thoughtful of my daughter needing lunch before band.
Energy to drive home safely from work.
Energy to deep clean the storage area in my basement.
Energy to pack away some books and things that are taking up space.
Energy to begin setting up our Candy Cane Forest outside—and nearly finish.
Energy to drive to pick up my daughter from band practice.
Energy to pack away more books and things that are taking up space.
Energy to care for my daughter with autism who needed extra help.
Energy to read a whole chapter with my little boy.
Energy to worry about things I can't change.
Energy to talk to a friend.
Energy to write this list chronicling how blessed I am to have energy to care for myself and my family each day.





photographs


The one you see on this page for this gratitude challenge is the result of a little side trip I seized while on the way to work on location up a canyon. Photographs like this one with a little story behind them—or a big one—are why I love photographs.

I believe that most photos have a story behind or in front of them. The motivation for taking a thousand selfies has a story therein. The subject of the photo might be what has the story. Who knows? But no matter what, there is always something about photographs that speak to me.

Sometimes when I see someone else's photos, I feel a wave of story come to me even though it's not even my picture! Sometimes, entire poems come to rest in my heart at the sight, and I never forget how I felt when I first saw the photo.

I love taking my own photographs as well. Obviously. If you don't follow me on Instagram, you should. I am so random and terribly normal that it has to be art. Right? Because life is art.

So anyway! What a rambling! I am thankful for all sorts of photographs, my own, my friends', and artists'. Good photography is inspiring!


Christmas music


I am exceedingly thankful for Christmas music. I don't care what anyone says about how you're skipping Thanksgiving if you've got the Christmas tunes going before December 1. I don't think there's enough Christmastime if you don't begin edging into it in November—even the beginning of November isn't too soon. Isn't Thanksgiving about gratitude anyway? And am I not grateful for Jesus's birth? Yes, I am. So it is more than appropriate.

So if you're wondering, I am totally listening to Christmas music as I write this. I've been listening to my "Christmas All Day, Every Day" playlist on my phone, and then my "A Purple Christmas" Spotify list has been going in between. It's been such a wonderful beginning to the magic of Christmas. My gratitude for such joy is full right now.



In case you'd like to listen along with me sometimes and see how I mix my Christmas jams, have a listen and follow. I'm still adding to it, so know that it is a work in progress.





friends


Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure of having good friends. I don't usually have a lot of close friends at once though. I don't understand why, but that's just how it goes. My norm is to have just a couple of people at a time whom I'm close with.

It's strange how friendships ebb and flow in order to make room for the next person I need or who needs me. Sometimes, I mourn the loss of closeness with some people, but as I've gotten older, I've come to understand more and more how it is to help and bless me and all of my friends, past, present, and future.

When family fails me, there has always been a friend (or many) there to make up the difference, and I am never left without support. I owe so much of my joy and comfort to friends who owe me nothing yet give so much loving care, compassion, and acceptance. I give thanks to God for helping them to see that I need them in my life and deserve to be loved.

Over the past year, I've made a couple of new friends who have surprised me with reaching out to care for me despite my being so busy. I have felt so valued and seen. They haven't done anything grandiose to show they care, but their kindhearted friendshipping has really meant so much to me. They have brought such joy to my heart by wanting to be my friend.

For new friends and old friends and some of my most precious friends who seem to stick around through every phase of my life, I give great thanks this day.




a day off


When I get wound too tightly, I need a break, but oftentimes, I cannot make the time for it. Today was not one of those times, and I am thankful.

I have needed a long stretch of quiet and relaxation for months now. So much going on every day, every week, for months. And so I decided to stop and let myself breathe for a good chunk of the day. I probably should have done more than start my dishwasher and a couple loads of laundry, because that's literally all the work I did for the main part of the day, but I really needed to recharge. I've had so much on my mind and many responsibilities all pressing down at once. So to take some hours to do whatever I'd like really made a difference for me.

Anyone else out there feeling like you have too much going on? If so, I highly recommend taking a day off even if it's just a half-day. It really helps.

I am truly thankful right now that I could spend a little time doing nothing of real consequence.



veterans


To live in this country is a privilege and a blessing. I am thankful today especially for the blessings I enjoy because of the people who have signed up to protect my rights and blessings as a citizen.

I've made a point of learning about the different wars that Americans have fought in, so I can better appreciate what veterans have done for us. I think about the aftermath, the real cost, of their service. Some people come back a different person entirely. Some people lose so much and even their lives.

I'd like to thank all who serve to keep me and my family safe and able to keep living our American dreams.


singing with the choir


Since I was a young girl, I have sang in the church choir off and on. It has been part of the best times of my life from a little girl, teenager, young adult, and now in my not young but not old stage. It means so much to me actually.

I've noticed how thankful I am to be able to sing at all since the past several years I've had ear and throat and therefore voice issues. I couldn't hear my pitch for several months before I had a tonsillectomy, and then I just haven't been the same since that surgery. I am sure I'm losing my singing voice, but I hope that by continuing to sing in the choir despite my cracking at times voice, I will hang onto something I love a little longer.

I don't know what I'll do when I can't sing anymore, but until then, I'll just be glad and grateful that my voice holds out for me most of the time still. I love to sing, and I'm thankful for being part of something like church choir that brings the spirit of God closer to the hearts of those who will listen.


people who actually love me


I've been told by many people that they love me; however, it is debatable if all who profess it actually do.

I don't need for the whole world to love me. All I need are my children and any few souls who recognize my divine worth, value my gifts and talents,  and don't stop to make sure I know how much they have to endure to "love" me. I am human. Like everyone else. I don't know what causes others to put this magical yardstick against me that somehow gives them the right to reject and judge me with clear consciences, but I am so done with that garbage.

So today, I'd like to offer my everlasting gratitude to the select few who truly see me for who I am and love me regardless, in spite of that, and/or entirely because of it.

Another thing I'm grateful for is that people, whether they actually love me or only profess it, know they can tell me like it is, and I'll totally take all of it to heart.





people who don't get bored reading about gratitude


I was just thinking about how awesome it is to have people who read my writing. From when I started this thing almost seven years ago, there are significantly more readers. I don't even know half of you personally, but I do feel like I've gotten to know the people who reach out on social media to discuss things or write a comment here and there. I do wish for people to be more brave and interact here. I try to bring up talking points that warrant further discussion, so hopefully, we can get more of that going. But as I said, I am most appreciative for having people who stop by for a read. 

Furthermore, my gratitude is full for how my audience keeps growing along with me. I do the same thing over and over for years (like writing about gratitude in November), and people keep reading. I try new things, and people keep reading. I embrace the grief in my life and write poems for people, and people keep reading and even seem to flock to me. 

Gratitude and grief seem to be part of what speaks to all of you. You like and share and keep coming back when I share these things with you. I hope it's because it resonates with your heart. I hope it's because you're understanding my meaning and feel uplifted. 

I can't help but think I am boring at times. My life is so repetitively sad and difficult. Like, why would anyone want to read what I have to say? And then, you keep on reading my words. And I cannot say thank you enough. My joy is full in this regard. My gratitude knows no bounds. 








new carpet


My house is getting older, and it still has the original flooring throughout. That wouldn't be so bad if the people who built the place had chosen high-end stuff, but they didn't. This means that the flooring has been in dire need of replacement for at least a few years if not longer.

When my family home sold this summer, I set aside some of the money, so we could the new flooring, and man alive, it has been quite the project. And you know what else? Holy cow, carpet is expensive. And all the other things you need to buy for all the other flooring to get done—just wow. I can hardly believe how expensive everything is. I didn't set aside quite enough money, so now, I'm having to cut back on other home repair projects, even halt some, and see how it will all pan out. I'm thinking this Christmas is going to be something along the lines of, "We got flooring for Christmas. Be grateful," but that's alright—we will have new flooring.

But the carpet is getting replaced. I know it will help with our allergy issues to get a fresh start in this area, and I am looking forward to feeling like we aren't just using up the place but investing in keeping it nice.

I am thankful for being able to get this carpet project going and done, and I hope it's complete before Thanksgiving. I am on track for it so long as I can get my books all packed off the shelves in time. I don't even know how I feel about doing that, but the guy said I had to.




safety


I might be jinxing myself by saying I'm grateful to feel and be so safe, but I'll say it regardless.

With so many troublesome things happening around the world, personal safety is nothing to take for granted. I can sleep at night and run errands and go to church and do whatever I need, and I have been safe for many years. This is something too many people cannot say. I don't want to go into all the many ways that people suffer in a day, but I do see how different things are for some when I am allowed to carry on in relative peace and comfort.

I give thanks to God for watching over me and my family, and my heart is comforted as I recognize how safe we have been over so many years.


church


For the first Sunday of this month, I want to give thanks for church—for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the ability and desire I have to attend each Sunday, and for what I receive by being part of this particular church.

I was raised LDS, or Mormon, but I haven't always followed the teachings, so to be able to write that I'm thankful for it means a lot to me. I love it. I love the people I meet. I love the leadership I've had over the years that has blessed my life. I love who I am because of the guidance I receive from the things I learn. I make my choices, as I am no robot, so that is all the more reason to love church. I know that I can choose how I want to be.

That choosing has made my life so much better over the years. I have a network of friends and helpers no matter where I've lived to be there when I need something, whether it be spiritual or temporal. I have also discovered how much I enjoy serving others because of this church. It has shaped into someone I recognize so much better than my young adult self.

What exactly do I receive from going to church? I receive so much love and care from imperfect and wonderful people. My children and I have been watched over with so much care. I personally have made friends I wouldn't have even met if we all didn't attend our church.

And you know this is just a small bit of what I'm thankful for as far as church goes. I don't know if I could do it justice in a blog actually. Who I am is able to come forth because of the gospel of Jesus Christ being an active influence in my life. I am grateful for that more than I can say.


music


Knowing how musical my mother is, I was probably thankful for music since before I was born. Therefore, it should be no wonder that I write about being grateful for it every single year in some way. But I don't even care—I will write about it again!

Music is perfectly wonderful. I like at least a little bit of almost every single type of music. And if I don't necessarily like a genre, I can usually find something to appreciate within a song or two. When I get a feel for certain songs, I'm just lifted beyond myself. Music brings hearts together, and it draws us closer to God when we listen to uplifting stuff.

With one song, I can be brought to remembrance of a favorite memory or a sad event or fall in love all over again. There is such a responsibility too for watching out to not listen to music that brings us down or pushes out our ability to feel the spirit. That's such a real thing that I don't believe enough people acknowledge, but I'll say that I know music very much affects my spirit, my mood, and my ability to listen to the needs of those around me.

I'm thankful I am able to recognize the power of music.

With all this celebration of music going on, we need some music, so I'll share a Spotify playlist of mine for your enjoyment. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!




lunch


I went to run errands with one of my sisters-in-law, and she suggested we get some lunch. I was all for it. Who isn't up for getting some lunch after poking around a couple of stores? So anyway. We went to order, and I couldn't decide what I wanted as per usual. So I asked the person to please be sure to start another order to stall for time, and then my sister-in-law told me that she was getting my lunch. I never picked up on the fact that she had invited me and wanted to treat me to lunch!

I feel pathetic. It shows how rare it is for me to be treated to lunch. Well, that was my first reaction.

After getting over my patheticness, I now feel thankful.

I'm thankful for spur of the moment invites to do things and get lunch. All of this has caused me to consider all the times that I've taken others to lunch and they've taken me, and I am full of gratitude for the many wonderful memories I have just because of taking time to slow down at lunchtime with others.

There's just something wonderful about a midday get together, and I am thankful for all of them.






quilts and other blankets of great worth


Most people I know have at least one special blanket in their family. It could be a quilt or an afghan or some store-bought thing that has become special for whatever reason.

I grew up with special blankets. My mom made our special blankets, and I still have a few of them. My children also have special blankets, quilts, that I made. My method of making a quilt is novice at best, but with the help of my mother's sewing machine, I made quilts! One of my children, the youngest, still is waiting on his special quilt from mom—only close to four years later than the rest of the kids—but whatever. Hopefully I will get it finished in time for Christmas or his birthday. You know, you people ought to pray for me that I'll be able to get it done. I know it would be special to him.

So I just digressed like a champ. Back to my quilts and blankets of great worth that I'm thankful for. The quilts I have from my mother's handiwork and the afghans she crocheted, all give me comfort since she's been gone. When I miss her, I can put on a movie and grab one of these wonderful blankets and almost feel her with me.

And my dad, he loved those scratchy Mexican blankets, and he had a couple of purple ones that I have, so when I miss him, I can grab that and remember him sitting in his recliner, drinking Dr Pepper or Sprite in latter years, and watching some show or taking a nap. I sure miss him and his stories.

I'm thankful for the quilts and afghans and Mexican blankets in my life. They get me through some days.


shelter


To begin, I want to say welcome and hope you come back each day to read and share what you're thankful for with me. Each year, there are people who approach me in person or on other social sites, so no one else can see the discussions going on. I encourage you to share here, in the comments, so more people can be inspired. You don't have to, but count this as a friendly invitation.

So what do I share to break the ice? What rises to the top as I ponder a mountain of blessings?

Shelter.

The severity and frequency of major disasters around the world, which have left many people stranded without shelter, put my gratitude in sharp focus. My children and I have our home intact and dry, free from defect. I can't imagine how we'd survive one of those terrible calamities with how life is precarious of sorts as it is. Putting myself in the shoes of those who lost so much has helped me recognize how much more secure we are than how I was perceiving things before then.

Shelter is essential for healthy human existence, and I am not taking it for granted, hopefully, ever again.

As I wrap this up, I wonder if anyone reading this knows someone or is someone who lost their home over the past year or so due to a disaster. I'd appreciate learning your story of recovery if you don't mind sharing.

So anyway. Until tomorrow. Day 1 down, 29 to go. Share a comment. I mean it!









impact update


I haven't really done any updates this year on my progress for my word of the year, so with only two months left, it's fitting to check in with everyone.

How could I have chosen any better word not knowing what would come into my life this year? It was certainly the word I needed to guide me. I have been faced with many choices throughout 2017 that required kindness I didn't think I had in me, yet I surprised myself and showed myself what I'm made of. I am someone who deserves to be on other people's lists (for more info, see: Impact, Twenty People: Part 1, and Twenty People: Part 2).

Who even knows how the rest of the year will turn out, nevertheless, I am feeling good about how I've done with this word. I have risen to the occasion without having to really make myself—it has all just happened one small (or big) decision at a time. Choosing joy, choosing service, choosing kindness, choosing love, choosing forgiveness, choosing me, choosing my family, choosing to make an impact wherever I am able.

It has been so good for me to look back today. I have been sad again with so many pressures on me, and this reflection refuels me. I'm thankful to be someone who writes. It changes my day.

That said, I am looking forward to Gratitude Month in November. I'll be writing on here every day, finding something to be thankful for, and I cordially invite anyone who would like to leave a link to their website or make a comment for everyone to join in your gratitude. Come on each day or whenever, so we can be inspired by one another and revel in all that is good about life!


working on sunday



Not sure who even cares about the topic, but I do, so I'm going to talk about it.

I've been a Sabbath Day keeper for most of my life, but I never thought about how my choice affects others. I just stay home and spend my time on my family and service and spiritual things, so that's all there is to it, right?

Well, my oldest got a job working full-time, and he works on Sundays now. Since we are used to being together for Sundays, we have been trying to take him a warm dinner when he works. I wasn't prepared to see how full the parking lot is every week. And another thing I wasn't prepared for was hearing how things are so busy, and that's why so many people are scheduled to work.

If more people stayed home on Sundays, more people who want to be home with their family could do so. My staying home actually helps other Sabbath keepers to have the freedom to stay home too. It's a collective thing that I never realized its reach.

It's upsetting that we can't spend our traditional family time regrouping for the week because so many people don't care about nor acknowledge Sunday as a day of rest. I wish more people stayed home since their choices most assuredly affect my family and me. I've started praying about it, and I guess right now I'm speaking out about it even if it's in a small way. I hope it helps somehow.

And that's all I'll say about that. 

Seeking to Become - October 2017


It's been two months since my last challenge, but this is better than the track record before that one! So I am feeling good. While I'm on the topic of progress, I want to add that I have been pondering what to focus on, so it's not as if the challenge has been completely off my mind, so that's good too.

I've had change on my mind lately. Everything about my life seems to be on the table for possible change within the next year or less actually. I just don't know what or when. Therefore, I have become reflective and immersed in trying to feel the gratitude that is warranted in my life—not taking things for granted, so I can know what needs to hold firm and not let go in this sweeping motion of change. I have room to improve in the gratitude department, but this reflection process has helped me to better appreciate what I have.

As I've worked on developing gratitude, I decided to focus on finding scriptures that have the words rejoice and joy in them. It has drawn my eye toward some familiar scriptures as well as ones that I have seemed to gloss right over and seem new to me! I've really loved discovering so many uplifting and meaningful passages as I seek to grow. One such scripture is found in 2 Nephi 4:30 of the Book of Mormon:

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
To praise God forever is what I want to do. I seek to be a rejoicing and thankful person. As the month of November draws nigh, you will be hearing from me a great deal more as I do my annual gratitude challenge. I want the gratitude challenge to have a strong theme of rejoicing in what God has given to me.

I invite anyone who would like to participate this coming month in rejoicing in God and counting blessings to leave comments each day or a link to your own blog each day. Have a wonderful Sunday!


editor eyes

Editing: My Early Years


Not sure if this is common knowledge among my readership, but I'm not just a teacher and private school social media director for my profession. I'm also an editor. And over the past few weeks, I have had to put my blinders on and focus on the largest project I've ever edited. 

By blinders, I mean shut out the world, so I can focus! To carve out more project time, I've put off some school work, canceled plans, not set plans, stopped cooking dinner for my family (lots of fend for yourself nights and pizza just got ordered yesterday to save the little guy's mac n cheese chef skills for tonight), missed out on several activities and dates, etc., and I have got to have the most exhausted eyes ever. Like, I'm pretty sure I have the eyes of an old lady for sure now. There is nothing wrong at all with having old lady eyes—except if you're not one yet. I'll have to treat myself to some kind of eye treatment or something to refresh them. I don't even know. If anyone has ideas on what to do to give eyes a rest outside of sleeping for a year, please leave a comment. I'd totally appreciate it for real. 

My eyes are so done with reading and scanning and close, close reading that I don't know if I'll want to read a book for leisure for like a month after this is done! I know, I know. I must be losing it big time. And I probably won't stick to that, but right now, even typing this is reminding me that writing is reading and my eyes are going to break up with me if I don't show them some love and lay off. 

There is a truly wonderful side to all of this—I love the project. It is filling my mind with ideas and great treasures of knowledge as I read the author's work. What a fantastic by-product of working so hard.  

Another pretty great part too is that I am getting to do another thing that I love, so I can take care of myself and my family. Teaching has always been my calling, I think. And social and marketing and public relations fit with my personality and natural talents. Then this editor stuff takes my English teaching skills and word love and technical training and wraps them all into one big nerd fest every single project I have the blessing to work on. 

How awesome is it that I can do what I enjoy? These eyes see blessings. I think I'll train my focus on that to pull me through the final leg of this marathon manuscript I'm working on. 

But you people really need to come up with some ideas for how my eyeballs will get some rest. Okay? I'm counting on you. 





I want you to know

I don't cry every day anymore.
There's a hole where you lived
In my heart,
But the tears finally dried up.

That said, I can't say that I'm not sad
Or disappointed
Or a little more broken than before;
I ache all of my waking hours.

I've learned to live with it though.
I've learned to live without dreaming
Of you or an us.
I've become accustomed to ignoring my heart.

You never let me in,
And I'm sorry I imagined that you did.
Looking back, I still don't understand though.
I don't imagine I will ever understand.

Why didn't you let yourself love me
When you know it was all there—
The ingredients for making love new
Like bread, every day.

Why wouldn't you let yourself care enough
To dissolve the walls that trap you





*This poem was found in my drafts folder, obviously unpublished, from May 4, 2017. I have left it as-is because as I read through it now five months later, I know that it would cost too much to write more of it. It's all true. It's still true. Decide for yourself if you believe it is unfinished or less true than what you read.


no stupid questions

Not sure where I want to go with this, but I'll start with the fact that there are stupid questions.

Some of you teachers will be aghast at my statement, but I'm telling you, I believe that perpetuating the notion that "there's no such thing as a stupid question" is part of the problem with our decaying society. And now the aghast are probably hyperventilating because that's a pretty bold assumption I've just made. But here's my case:

If children and adults have all the information at their disposal (handouts, visuals, internet accessibility that moment, whatever), and they don't take the time to review the information at their disposal only to ask a question that could be answered if they took the time to review said information, that constitutes a stupid question. What makes it stupid isn't that it doesn't make sense but that it could easily been avoided if that person valued the time of the all-knowing answer giver enough to use some of their own to see if they even needed to ask a question. I am not talking about after taking time to read/review/search the topic at hand the individual has a question. Not at all. After doing all one can do for themselves that's when questions are the best plan of action! No need to sit confused or misunderstanding or even completely clueless if you don't quite get what's on those pages of info. You tried, and that's what matters. That's showing respect for your own intelligence and knowing it's okay to need help sometimes.

It boils down to respect for self and others.

Disrespect is stupid; therefore, if someone isn't respecting their time and the person they are asking, it's a stupid question. Plain and simple. It's so basic that I wonder at how the first person to utter "there are no stupid questions" could even come up with that and not realize they are opening the door for people to get lazy.

All that said, I'd like to know your thoughts on my stupid questions philosophy.


he made me a real teacher



You try to make a difference as you teach each day
You find the ones who need a little love
Encouragement and lent confidence dosed out
In between the lines of each school day
Pep talks and positivity and teacherly friendship
Buffing out life's smudges the best you can

Watching students grow gives fresh hope
For the future
Their future
Your own

Every gain of theirs is a feather in your cap
Every tiny triumph, every giant step
Proves that you knew good and helped it grow
With the promise and expectation
That they would continue showing the world
How brightly they do shine

But the world would have to weep
Foregoing such a privilege and treat
For Heaven needed him back Home
To shine with angels, leaving this temporary stone

And leaving this teacher's heart to mourn
The suddenly changed world, steeped in reality
Yet always to remember his kind and thoughtful smile
And the light that ignited as his confidence was born




For Jacob,
You taught me how teachers become a true teacher, a teacher forever, by loving their students and losing them too soon. You will be missed.


headstones

As I was walking up the cemetery lawn for the service for my children's teacher who passed away last week (to every teacher), I was contemplating the headstones. The dates alone tell a story. This person was 49 when he died, there was a toddler, and there were many headstones for married couples with a predominant amount where the husband had passed away and only a name and birthdate was inscribed for the surviving wife.

So many stories. So many beloved people. But does a headstone prove you were loved? What about the grave marker I saw with no name? What about the people who never have In loving memory inscribed on stone for them?

I wondered what my story would look like to someone. Will I have a double headstone or be like the single grave of some woman that didn't offer any clue whether she had anyone left behind—just her name and birth and death dates? I often wonder if I'll be here until Christ returns in his glory, which means I will be around to watch many others leave.

I have a great-aunt who is the last of her peers. When I visited her this past weekend, she told me that when she moved into her little home the bishop at her church introduced her to a row of little old ladies to befriend and sit with each week.  And now, she is the only one left of her group. She seemed to be alright with it, but there was resolve in her voice that she knew she would be by herself. She also asked me how old I was when I got divorced; I was 36. She told me she was 34 years old when she last divorced, and she never married again. My great-aunt is to be 87 years old next month. Over fifty years without a companion.

Looking to her example for strength on my lonesome days, I know I will find joy and keep adding to my story. I just wonder sometimes what it is shaping up to be. I wonder what people would say if they had to tell my story right now.


to every teacher

Got word this afternoon that one of my children's past middle school teachers died in a car accident on his way to work today. My first thoughts were for his family and then a huge wave of gratitude came over me.

I remembered a quick conversation at an open house in the fall several years ago when this teacher reassured me that my child would do well in his class, that he'd make sure all went smoothly, and that he was there to help. I remembered the absolute positivity he radiated to me in my distress and worry that another school year would be difficult. I remember now how much of a weight was lifted off of me by his confidence in his abilities to lead and teach my child.

It was such a breath of fresh air at the time. Not that the other teachers weren't helpful, but I distinctly remember how completely sure he made me of my child's success in that class. And he was right. He didn't let us down but was such a support. His guarantee was valid.

Today, I'd like to thank every single teacher out there who gives to their students (and their parents) the morsels of hope, blankets of reassurance, and that fresh air to breathe when students feel suffocated by life. I want to take a moment to recognize that I work at being that kind of teacher too. I'm sure that I am not perfect at this, but I am always striving to help and uplift and keep open the door to true education of the self.

I'm thankful for that teacher who helped my child and me during such a hard time in our lives. His life was cut short, but he made a real difference with his life. I'm thankful for all of you teachers out there who reach out beyond yourselves not even knowing what a difference you're making. 

half birthday

I had a half birthday last week, and I realized how weird it was for me to even pay attention to that fact.

My mom used to find any reason to help me feel special. I'm thinking my half birthday was one of her tools for that since I am conditioned to pay attention for it.

It's funny how we remember certain things about our lives, but we don't remember how it came to be. I wish my mom were around to remind me, to explain a little and take me to lunch as a silly treat on a day we pretend means something extra.

No one even noticed except for me, so it is pretty silly to even mention it now. I wonder if I'll ever find someone who will care about details such as that. Probably not, but it's nice to think about.

true love



There is such a thing as true love
It's the kind of love that waxes and wanes
The kind that gets you through the best
And the worst

True love is honest love
It doesn't have to be hidden
To exist
It just is

When you find this love
You don't always know what you have
Sometimes you throw it away
With both hands outstretched

Wishing you could reel it back in
As you are reeling from the loss
Of the song that your heart knows
Remembering who you are

True love looks like staying
Working to stay
Choosing to stay
Loving every day no matter what

As it breaks you
You become a golden god
Empowered to love more
Crushed yet invincible

True love takes you
Where you belong
Lifting you to eternal opportunities
Rise to the occasion, my love

Find me
I'm watching the horizon for you
Find us
I need you to find us



upside down

My house is a turned upside down mess that I keep referencing as a shook up snow globe. The resemblance is uncanny, and I must call it like it is. Although, it's making me crazy to not be able to just get everything put back together in efficient ways and carry on. Chipping away at a wreck of a place feels like zero progress. The truth is that I am a working, single mom with too much on my plate. Projects around the house never happen efficiently anymore. Frustrating as that is, it is my reality.

As I think about the struggle, I am reminded of my joy quest I did this summer, and pineapple upside down cake comes to mind directly after that.

Pineapple upside down cake is not my favorite. They rarely look beautiful (in my opinion), and for some reason, they just aren't that appetizing to me. I like cake and I like pineapple a lot, but putting them together has rarely satisfied my sweet tooth.

And yet—pineapple upside down cake still is a treat. When you stop to think about it, there are thousands of varieties of sweet delights to make people smile, adding that touch of something you only get from a bite of dessert. I figure my life is like that right now. I have joy for the taking even if it's not my favorite. Maybe it isn't aesthetically pleasing or the right combination of perfect confection, but it's still sweet and fresh and something to find delight in.

Being upside down and caught in a snag of chaos is never part of anyone's plan, but maybe I can find all the joy that is here for me if I will let myself partake of it.




Seeking to Become: August 2017


Not sure what's wrong with me, but I haven't been doing this thing here for a while. I've wanted to, yet it just hasn't been enough to actually get to it. And even now, it's at the last of my Sunday when I'm squeezing it in because I really want to try and not let it go down the drain.

Change is at the helm lately. So very much change. My heart is broken, family life is drastically different in surprising ways, and I feel that change is still in the air, so I'm bracing for it. I truly want some respite though, but isn't that a myth at this stage in life? Seriously. I'm pretty sure I won't get a break until I'm dead. So anyway.

You might wonder how all of these ramblings fit into my seeking to become more Christ-like. It fits because the scriptures I've been pondering and letting sink in teach me that everything will be alright.

27 Thus we may see the the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.
28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.
Helaman 3:27-28

If there is anything I try to be it is sincere in my prayers and all areas of my life even. I see the mercy of God poured out for my children and me as we travail this existence. There is so much hope in these words. I am encouraged by the promises. I need mercy. The example set here is another facet of how to be more like Jesus as well. The gate is open for all who will believe. ALL. Not some. All. Who am I to think I might not make so long as I am doing my best to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to recognize the blessings of mercy and faith better.

I want to focus this month on praying more and believing with more purity of heart. I hope you might join me.


don't even blink



Shifting things around and around
Making room for more
More of what—more change
Unsettled and unhappy as the days melt
Into each other without stopping
Joyful and energized at the same time
Two sides of a coin, some might say
But she is no coin
She can't make change on a dime
It takes something out of her
As it breathes new life in too

In the blink of an eye, change has
Changed everything
Nothing is the same—again
Every step in any direction
Takes us further from the other
The horizon is unrecognizable
Unfamiliar faces and places
All while she stands in one place
Watching the world walk past
Without her
No one noticing she doesn't want to blink anymore


choices

Every day, there are choices before us. Every single day, I make good ones and poor ones. But I want to talk about a slice of good ones.

Being a mother is by far the most difficult thing I've ever done outside of getting divorced, and yet I have a sense of satisfaction in my efforts as my children are growing up. They are turning out to be be these people that are so amazing and easy to love. They are the best part of me.

Not all of that can be attributed to me since they have their choices, of course. But I want to celebrate the good choices I've made that have helped them along their way to making their good choices. It feels so good to see them learning and growing and discerning right from wrong.

This summer has been peppered with—even immersed in—change, and still my children keep on shining and making me look so good. My heart is full of love and gratitude for all the blessings we enjoy because of their precious hearts being so true and sure as they work out how to make good choices and recover from poor ones in the best ways.

It is all glorious to behold.


buying drinks and things

While on a late night run to the store with my youngest, I had an experience I don't ever want to forget:

My little guy and I were finishing up shopping for some random items like a new scooter since I had forgotten to bring home his scooter he got for Christmas from the park as I had promised him—and it got stolen—big surprise, and we had decided to get a cold drink last thing before checking out since it was still pretty hot outside even if it was late. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, but then he surprised me.

I chose a drink, then he chose a drink, and then as we walked toward the cash registers, he said, "I want to buy my drink with my money," as he showed me his folded up dollar bills. He had earned five dollars from selling a bean bag chair of his a couple of weeks prior and somehow still had a little bit of money left over. That's not really what surprised me most though. I was surprised by when I asked him if he was sure how he was emphatic about needing to pay for himself. My oldest son had just been emphatic about paying for a really large purchase just a few weeks earlier, and I was in awe of his drive to step up, and now my little guy was doing the same thing over a cold drink at the store.

What a place to be in as a mother. I see my boys striving to be men, and what am I to do but let them be men. I almost cried as I witnessed them stepping up each time. I think this most recent one hit me the hardest though as I had already seen one son set the example just weeks earlier on a much larger scale. I felt the ripple effect of his choices pushing his little brother along a good path.

And then, as we were walking to the car and he held his drink in his hand, he explained more of his thoughts. He told me about how awesome it felt to buy food for himself for the first time ever when he had walked to the store with his sister earlier this summer. He said that he didn't expect it to feel so good to buy food for himself with his own money. He gave credit to his sister, saying how he could understand now why she liked to buy her own food with her own money now, and that's why he wanted to buy his own drink—so he could feel good about getting something he needed for himself.

The simplicity with which he explained himself put me in awe. I was in awe of my little son for even being so mature as to hold this type of conversation. I was in awe of my oldest son's example of being assertive and insistent on providing for himself better. And I was in awe of my youngest daughter's example that was quiet, unspoken, teaching her little brother about spending money on things that matter to help take care of yourself.

My children's good hearts bless and honor me as a mother. I can hardly find words to describe the immense joy I have as I recognize my children's goodness.




thoughts on aging



I've decided to capture a slice of my thoughts now, so I might compare them later down the road.

Being single and in my 40s means I get to witness all of my peers who have gone the distance in their marriages reach epic milestones like 25th wedding anniversaries. Who knows, maybe I'll find someone in enough time to have that celebration before I'm dead, but I won't be in my prime when it occurs. I will be getting on in age for sure. Even if I married tomorrow I'd be officially a senior citizen. Now that's a hard pill to swallow. Not that I think it's bad to get older, but I never pictured myself so devoid of romance in my prime of life.

My parents were not romantic types if you would have asked me when I was younger. Thinking of that in this context, I remember the excitement I enjoyed putting together my parents' 25th anniversary party. I hand stamped and embossed all of the invitations, arranged for the cake to be made by my grandpa who is a master baker, and witnessed my parents' joy in being so celebrated by friends and family for going the distance. Who could have known she'd be gone just shy of their 30th anniversary. And who even does a big deal party then anyway? I'm so glad I could play such a large role in making that one anniversary memorable.

But I don't want to focus on the party aspect. I want to note the small everyday things that brought them to that point: the not giving up, the choosing each other even when life was very hard, the learning to be and stay friends. That's real romance, you know.

I hope to find that to share with someone someday. I just really hope it happens while I can still dance and play with vigor. 

joy quest: hope and healing


Today marks my 30th joy quest post and the end of my formal exploration of joy—for now. So what do I write? How do I choose my words for something that I still don't understand completely? I have questions still.

How can we feel joy when also overwhelmed with sorrow? And yet—it happens. How does joy make its presence known when there is so much fresh pain pushing down? And even still—it happens. How does joy heal our hearts when our hearts are continually being wounded anew? I don't have the perfect answer to this question either except that I have seen the hope joy brings in our human suffering, and it is a continual healer. Joy heals as we look for it, embrace it, and allow it to heal us.

We have to choose joy though. That is something I have learned and know about joy. It is everywhere, in everything we do; however, if we aren't choosing joy, we can't see it or feel it. When in the midst of adversity, it is critical that we reach out to hold onto the joy that is available. Even still, it is more critical that we recognize the joy we experience in times of peace. There is no worse waste of a gift than to take it for granted.

Being apathetic to the gift of joy that makes life so good sets us up to not be able to see how joy works for us when things get difficult. We need to keep watching for it and wanting it continually to truly appreciate the work of joy in our lives.

I found a talk that teaches how to appreciate and understand how joy works in our lives, and I hope you will watch it. As I listened to it, I knew it belonged in my joy quest because of the truths it bears witness of. One of my favorite quotes by Yoon Hwan Choi:
It is not easy for us to recognize the love of Heavenly Father when we look around with our temporal eyes, because we see inconvenience, loss, burdens, or loneliness first. On the other hand, we can see the blessings beyond when we look up.



This joy quest has been perfect in its imperfection. I have let loss and burdens keep me down a few times. But I have learned from it when that has happened. The hope and healing of the paper crane I began with has been ever present, and that is why I share it at the end of my quest too. Recognizing that I have seen how I push away joy, I want to do better. I have done better. I have loved the challenge of these past thirty days that has pushed me toward understanding joy better, to seek it out and be part of it more often.

I thank my friend Julie for being the catalyst for such an enlarging experience when I needed to be stretched and healed and fortified. Joy has become a true companion.