Fall into gratitude

 Today’s post is written by my friend Kimberly Studdard, a truly beautiful soul. Thanks for sharing this, Kim!
This is truly “that” time of the year. The summer begins to fade. In our area, we go from extremely hot and humid to cool then cold, sometimes in the same twenty-four hour period. The sun begins to shine less. Our surroundings can be somewhat gloomy. Fall awakens, and then winter awakens.
I am one who gets depressed or down in the dumps in the fall/winter of the year.
I have learned I cannot accept that for myself.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI will graciously put my flip-flops away and embrace the shoes. I can also be grateful for having warm clothing to wear during this transition. We heat with wood heat in our home. There is nothing like the fire from a wood stove. Some evenings on the weekends, we may bring the little people over. These little people we call our grand-kids. We build a fire in the fire pit.
The flames at times may be roaring and crackling. If we look closely, well, maybe not TOO closely, we can see smiles and happiness in the silhouettes of red and orange
bursting from the fire. Upon occasion, we may roast hot dogs and have s’mores. One of our family favorites is apple cider and just a touch of red hots added. There is nothing like apple cider with a kick.
My husband and I sit in the porch swing and watch the kids running and playing. They may get the glow in the dark football or darts out to play with. That is when there are no cares in the world.
During this time of the year, it can get very hectic. I have a tendency to allow myself to become entangled with the stress. I can step back from that and allow myself to realize during these crazy times (as I see them) that we can allow this to be the best of times. While we enjoy one another, we can also embark in the memories we are creating.
Our youngest son is just a few years older than our grands. He will be going off to college in a couple of years. He will still play, scream, and enjoy his nieces and nephew.
The times we create are to cherish now and later in life. Time changes; people change. Kids grow up. Any time I can be a part of creating a happy memory, I look forward to the opportunity.
This year I will set aside the negative and embrace what God has blessed me with. I will be thankful for the cold weather. I will be thankful for family. My gratitude will fill the cornucopia of the holiday seasons upon us.

My favorite WhINES

*Today’s humorous post about that terrible tendency to whine comes from one of our regular and beloved guest writers, Debra Dickey-Liang. Thanks for the post, Debra, and for reminding me to appreciate the finer things in life (all the blessings) rather than critique the things that bother me.*

Did a double-take, didn’t you?

Yes, I’ve determined that I indubitably do have a strong selection of favorite, personal, and very timeless WhINES!  A connoisseur, if you will.

Lamentable for me is Daylight Savings Time – changing the time, and rising an hour earlier for work doesn’t seem to tax anyone else that I’ve had a conversation with, but for some reason, my body, mind and stomach struggle, at the very minimum of two weeks, attempting to make this transition, while in the meantime, my appetite, as well as my animals, are completely confused.  Great!  One more hour during which I’m expected to be productive. ( :   Truly, a remarkable little WhINE, don’t you think?

And recently after working outside for three days of my vacation, in the beautiful weather, pulling weeds, raking leaves, re-potting, cleaning, and hauling debris, I was reminded of one of the more timid, yet notable WhINEs that I tend to keep in stock– the huge amount of yard work, weed-eating, and water maintenance that will be required during the months of tormenting heat, just to attempt to keep up with what I finally did get accomplished — for the whole summer long.  The first time around is manageable and rewarding, but I’m surely not looking forward to the continued aesthetic demands – why can’t it just stay that way!?  Would that classify as a blush, maybe a rose?

Another fine, yet robust WhINE in my depository is a specialty that I acquire only during this point in the semester with regard to my summer tasks.  As May approaches, faster rather than slower now, June, July, and August become an apprehensive anticipation at my desk.  Contrary to the vacation plans that most folks schedule for some R & R during the summer, those months are actually the busiest and the most potentially overwhelming days that I experience, with reference to the persistent challenges and perpetual changes of incoming freshman students!  Housing, letters, orientation, certificates, handbooks and more, all culminating with an event for over 250 students, the biggie, the ceremony….. all that is Matriculation!  Somehow, some way, it all gets done, and to my relief, astonishingly well, but frankly, reviewing my task lists always dampens the enthusiasm for what others refer to as ‘enjoying the summer break.’  Bon aperitif, coming up —

Genie-BottleAnd then there is the universally known brand that I always have on hand, a most illustrious renowned WhINE , one which I am sure that you are all familiar with — housework.  Ugh.  ( :  These days, I admit to that being one of the least favorite chores in my quiver. Because my trusty genie has apparently escaped – and who could blame her – cleaning continually gets lower and lower on the totem pole, whilst I watch the dust accumulating and longingly wish for a self-cleaning abode!  Vintage, yes?   

Too cold, too hot, too dark, too something— seems all these are just a few of the more preeminent WhINEs from my personal collection that are decanted with a carousel theme, week after week, year after year.  Quite distinguished, and completely predictable little WhINEs they are, actually!    I am certain that ‘gifting’ these WhINEs to anyone reading this would be inappropriate, so it is needful to just make fun of myself and admit that I have a WhINE penchant. . . .   Famous Grouse?  Yes, that’s me.  Too often, I moan and groan, benignly of course, but certainly not the right attitude or a model trait for one who so desires the presence of, and to be filled with, the Spirit of God!

So let me remember:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Okay I’ll work on giving up WhINEs , and focus on, uh-oh, what’s that, an empty genie bottle . . . it just might work for it – yes!  . . . . plain ole W INE!    Oh man, I’ve got so much stuff to do . . .

In the dark

*Special thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang, one of my regular guest contributors, for sharing one way to be thankful and turn a negative into a positive.*

ImageAbout four years ago, I moved from the city back to the country, pretty close to where I grew up.  Now, don’t misinterpret me, I LOVE it out there, but after having lived in town for quite a number of years, there have been a couple of considerations that I’ve had to work out.

One thing that I do miss about living in town is the distance from work.  I used to live right down the road from my job, so I could walk the dog, do household chores, and take care of numerous other tasks during my lunch hour, and by so doing, I typically had daylight left at the end of my day. Now it takes me 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, just to make the drive.  That is not so terribly dreadful; however, during the winter months, that means that I get home after dark.  Which also means that, during those few months with short daylight, I must do my outside chores and walk the dog, in the dark.

At first, I was noticeably disheartened by that. But why? The time was the same, the amount of hours left was the same, the animals didn’t mind, but it was cold and dark, and I just didn’t want to be out there any longer!  I wanted to be done – done with work, done with wearing a coat and gloves and being cold, done with my day!  So I sometimes groused.

ImageBut as usual, He began to share with me lovely presents, giving me a new and unexplored appreciation for the night, and for sure, turning my attitude around.  The first gift that He gave me I received by simply looking skyward – believe me, Montana has nothing on the view of the colossal sky filled with the vast number of stars and constellations that I get to see every night by just stepping out my door!  The feeling is overwhelming, the height, depth, and breadth of which cannot be described.  I never forget to thank Him for that beautiful panorama.  It is like being in a whole different world! 

When the weather got quite cold, the next gift He shared was the experience of walking at night when the moon is brilliant and full, in the unbelievable quiet of the country in winter, down a road that no one has yet driven on, in the snow. There’s not a sound. Your boots make crunching noises as you take each step, the moonlight glistens off the bright white of the fresh snow, and the air is so crisp and clear that you feel as though you can hear into forever.  I completely stopped noticing the cold . . . .  so hushed and surreal.

Then, later, when it began to get much warmer, I had the most inexplicable firefly light show experience that I have ever been privileged to witness!  Just out in the field, all in one place, there must have been hundreds of fireflies, just blinking, continuously and without pause- like multitudes of clear twinkle lights on a great Christmas tree.   It was magnificent!  I just stood and watched for the longest time, because they were absolutely phenomenal.  And just for me!  I will truly never forget the timely artistry of a Gift perfectly given. 

So these days, when the time ‘Falls’ back and the daylight becomes shorter, the dark does not articulate my disposition.  I no longer dread nor feel disinclined to be out at night!  I don my togs, pick up the leash, and we go for a walk.