Winter’s Beauty

Never before have I had spring fever so badly and so early. Probably because, for the most part, we’ve had an incredibly mild winter here in Colorado this year. So when the snow and cold hit these past couple of weeks, it reminded me we’re still in the middle of winter. But what’s the best thing to get through a battle? Gratitude – pure and simple. I’d like to share some photos revealing the beauty of winter, scenery for which to be grateful. Enjoy.

Estes Jan 2015

IMG_3559IMG_3539

IMG_3563

Nov MN Creek

We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives. Gary Zukav

 

The Present of Presence

Being Present

The best lessons come from the most difficult trials, the most significant growth from when we’re at our lowest.

When we’re filled with pride, the inevitable fall is hard. And so painful. But with humility comes peace. Yet It never ceases to amaze me that like the monster it is, pride rears its ugly head time and time again.

I have found the one surefire way to stay humble is to be grateful. One cannot be grateful and filled with pride at the same time. It’s like being angry and laughing at the same time. They cannot coexist. The next time you’re angry about something, smile, even if you have to fake it, and see if it doesn’t change your perspective at that exact moment.

When I talk about being grateful, I don’t just mean about the big things that happen during the day. The in-your-face-can’t-miss-it blessings. I’m referring to the little, seemingly insignificant things that oftentimes go unnoticed unless we’re consciously aware of our surroundings. The hundreds of presents given to us daily waiting to be unwrapped, graciously accepted, and savored. All of the ordinary moments that collectively make the day extraordinary.

  • The birth of a new day.
  • That deep, long inhale, followed by a long cleansing exhale, feeling every muscle relax in the process.
  • The sound of laughter.
  • That smile from a stranger at that exact moment you needed a smile. And when you didn’t even realize you needed one until you received it.
  • A child’s belly laugh.
  • That one line in a book that speaks directly to your heart.
  • A vibrant red umbrella on a gray, rainy day.

red-umbrella

  • That magical “I love you” from a loved one.
  • That out-of-blue phone call from an old friend, just calling to see how you’ve been.
  • The smell of a freshly opened box of crayons.
  • The feel of fresh, crisp sheets after a long day.
  • The soft hum of the furnace on a cold day.
  • Bright stars twinkling in a black velvet sky.

Stars

  • The comfort of slipping into yoga pants and a sweatshirt after a long day at work.
  • Kindness from a stranger.
  • That out-of-the-blue scent that transports me back in time to one of my very favorite moments, like the smell of Chantilly that brings my grandmother close again.
  • The scent of a balsam pine candle.
  • Sea salt caramel gelato.
  • Letters written in silver script.
  • The warmth of the clothes as they’re pulled from the dryer.

Presents given endlessly, waiting to be discovered. And we can only receive them if we’re present in the moment. Presence. It’s the best present we can give ourselves.

Living With Compassion

 

Live Simply

If there’s one thing that can turn a bad day into a good one every single time it’s connecting with my Compassion kiddos. I can be having a terrible day at work, but if at the end of that day I come home to find a letter from one of my three kids in the mailbox, it’s like the dawning of a new and better day. I learn so much from them on how to be thankful for the smallest things in life, about praying for one another and asking for prayer for our families, and that less truly is often more.

I look at today’s kids with cell phones in kindergarten, people of all ages texting or otherwise immersed in phone or computer games and social media instead of connecting with one another in person and it makes my heart heavy. Trust me, there is no judging going on here. Me, my children and my grandchildren are all active participants of this movement. But it saddens me, nonetheless, to see that we’re moving away from personal contact with others, from living relationships with others, to cyber relationships.

I watch as we in this country become so obsessed with things, when my Compassion kiddos are simply trying to stay fed and clothed. And yet they’re happier and richer than anyone else I know. One of my kids, Alex Mandari, from Tanzania sent me a letter last week thanking me for his birthday money. With it he bought clothes, shoes and food. Buying all that with the small amount I sent him shows me he’s a master at making the most of a dollar. He tells me what he learns at the Compassion Center on Saturdays, about the goodness of God, how it’s important to listen to Him, and tells me every time he writes that he’s praying for me and my family. He’s a fifteen year old boy going on fifty in terms of wisdom and life lessons.

I began my sponsorship with these three angels wanting to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. To share what I have with those who have not. However, what happened is that they are the ones who daily make a difference in my life. They teach me about faith, unconditional love, and the power of prayer. They teach me that giving is a gift to the giver. They give to me of their lives, their worlds, their enthusiasm and zest for life, and the best part of humanity I could ever hope to experience. They aren’t just my sponsor kids, they’re part my family. And I’m so richly blessed!

Alex M. Amede Mamounata

Alex, Tanzania, 15                         Amede, Togo, 8                      Mamounata, Burkina Faso, 10

I have come across criticism a time or two for sponsoring outside of my country when we have so much need here. My answer is that thank goodness there are so many people with so many different interests. My answer is that it doesn’t matter where you give and who you give to, only that we give to each other. My passion lies with these three children and the people who make up their worlds, and also the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m so fortunate to have these passions laid upon my heart.

I would love to hear how you volunteer your time and support others and to hear how it has enriched your life, the giver of self, time and finances. It has paid me back far beyond what I’ve expended. 🙂

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

Carpe Diem

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

images[7]

My Top Three for the Week:

3.)  An exhilarating run on an exceptionally warm October evening, followed by a hot shower, a bowl of popcorn, a glass of A&W, and watching an episode of Castle. The ingredients for a perfect evening. 🙂

2.)  Finally, after several years, finding strength to truly forgive myself for a mistake, allowing the healing process to begin.

1.)  Time spent with my beautiful granddaughter and the joy, innocence, and heart-melting moments she brings to my life.

Gratitude-3

Carpe diem, friends. Truly seize and live this day.

What tops your gratitude list this week?

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Thankful

The top of my gratitude list for this past week:

3.)  The smell and feel of the cool fall air and the fresh beauty of an autumn thunderstorm.

2.)  Triple chocolate chunk and pumpkin spice ice cream – not together. 🙂 Yum!

1.)  One-on-one time with my adult sons. Priceless!

What tops your list?

“One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm in life is because we become ungrateful..we let what was once a miracle become common to us. We get so accustomed to his goodness it becomes a routine.” -Joel Osteen

Carpe Diem-2

 

 

 

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Thankful

My top three for the week:

3.)  My faith giving me confidence that my dear friend Guy is home with Jesus after a long, brutal struggle with liver cancer. He’s home and free.

2.)  Amazing friends who make the journey of life so much sweeter.

1.)  Unhurried time and conversation with each of my boys individually, talking about anything and everything, as laughter and hugs abound. I’m so blessed to have my boys! They are so good to their mama. 🙂

_MG_0597MN 2009 001

“The most beautiful necklace a mother can wear is not gold or gem, but her child’s arms around her neck.” –Author Unknown

What tops your list for the week?

 

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

gratitude-2

My top three for the week:

3.)  An out-of-the-blue phone call from a childhood friend who now lives in Montana. What fun to catch up!

2.)  My shipment of books arriving yesterday! Oh for the excitement! 🙂

box of books

1.)  My son and his wife asking me to be a witness to their marriage. What an honor! Yes, I cried.  🙂  They got married in the courthouse a year ago and are now having their big “church wedding.”

For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are your top three – or even one – for the week?