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.

Sometimes

Today’s post is written by my friend (and regular guest contributor) Debra Dickey. Thank you, Debra, for sharing your beautiful thoughts!

Sometimes……the slow person in front of you is in front of you to remind you to be patient.

Sometimes……the end to your lucky streak is to remind you of how fortunate you have been and still are.

Sometimes……what you perceived as an ‘error’ actually happened because it was the better option.

Sometimes……the change that you are not happy with is an incentive to better the situation.

Sometimes……a face that you didn’t expect to see just makes your day!  Or was that a cookie?

Sometimes……when you are outside viewing the colossal sky filled with the vast number of stars and constellations, some of which you cannot identify, your son will suddenly say, “I have an app for that!”

Sometimes……in the middle of January’s 20 degree temperatures, it warms up to 55 degrees!

Sometimes……you cannot even imagine the program that is running in the background of your life, until the beautiful evidence is illustrated.

Sometimes……the kindnesses that you send out into the world come back to you, and you are humbled.

Sometimes……you have nothing to hang on to, but you do.

Sometimes……the blessing are truly in disguise.

Sometimes……the puzzles are not puzzles at all.  (Vera Nazarian)

Sometimes……it’s not what was accomplished, but rather, if His Will was done.

Sometimes……the universe aligns with such clarity, that there is no mistaking Who is in charge!

Sometimes……the wonder and awe of His Presence is so infused that mankind cannot behold it.

Sometimes……now, the grass is too tall to take the path less traveled.

Sometimes……these treasures, in their own right, allow us an audience with God.  The whispers, the roars, the accomplishments, the defeats, the soldiering, the shouldering, the hidden, the luminesced, the white sands, the black shadows, the great and the small, each a brushstroke from His palette, details of essence and life.

Cosmos 2Tiny specks in the Cosmos — that which we are not privileged to view the entirely of — we are finite beings on our portion of this journey.  In unexpected ways and unforeseen places, may we recognize Him, within each discovery, each vivid contrast and fluent extreme, and at every impress.

Sometimes….. all that we have is not enough; all that we offer is.

Sometimes….. the seemingly insignificant is the supreme task.

Change gonna come

*Thanks to Mary Agrusa, today’s guest contributor, for sharing this beautiful piece with everyone.*

summer_haze_by_purpledino92-d5b2qf6

Summer Haze by Purple Ino 92

This weekend I saw it. Looking out my living room window I got the distinct impression that fall had arrived. Perhaps the approaching storm played tricks with the refractions of the sun’s rays, but the world outside was glazed in a more muted, mellow glow.

Mid-July in the Deep South is vaporous, a steam bath. Humidity spikes and the air is thick and muggy. Clothes stick like second skin as I stop glistening and start sweating. The autumn hue was deceptive. One step outside and reality hit like a warm, damp wash cloth. Still – the hint was there. Fall’s on the way.

I’m cognizant of the subtle, seasonal changes in the sun’s light long before the calendar or temperature confirms my observation. In the depth of winter I’m encouraged that warmer days are in my future. When everything wilts under summer’s sweltering haze, I take heart. It won’t be long before the trees adorn themselves in shades of vibrant color, citron to deep burgundy, and stand out in brilliant contrast to the cloudless, cobalt blue sky. I enjoy spring and fall the most. I prefer their moderate climes to the penetrating cold of winter or summer’s stifling heat.

Life appears to emulate the cyclical rhythm of nature. We have new beginnings and periods of growth (spring); the out-growing and passing of the familiar and established (fall). Like winter, the cold, hard grip of loss: loved ones, jobs, health, finances and the like leave us buried. Entombed under an avalanche of adversity we wonder, “Will I ever see the light of day again?” Like the onslaught of a long, hot summer we find ourselves under intense, relentless pressure and cry, “Will someone PLEASE, turn off the heat!” Depending which season life finds me in determines how tightly I cling to it. At times I want to move in, unpack and stay forever; other times I’m running hard for the nearest exit – if I can find one.

I’m thankful that in life, just as in nature, God sends hints that change gonna come. I praise Him for those snippets of hope that remind me that this too will pass. Reinforced with fresh, clearer vision, I’m rejuvenated to continue my walk of faith, confident that He knows exactly where I’m at and He’s in control.

Outside my window the sun now blazes and the temperature matches its intensity. I’m not concerned – I’ve seen what’s coming and I’m prepared for change.

Untied shoelaces and lost gloves

Today’s post is written by my great friend, Debra Dickey. Thanks for the great reminder, Debra, that God is always faithful to me in the small things, too.

Glove #2I have had the honor of an unconventional amount of both during this past year.  At first, the phenomenon was a bit of a nuisance, but by allowing it to be so, soon it became a point of inter-communication, an inside joke if you will, an almost secret wink between me and the One Who watches over me, causing me to raise an eyebrow at the humor, as He reminded me to not be annoyed, but to be grateful and to take those moments to praise and thank Him.

Although I cannot begin to count how many times my shoelace has come untied, I can count how many times, at the moment when I needed to stop what I was doing, stoop down and bow my head to retie it, that I took that moment just to say ‘Praise God’… EVERY time.  Thank you. Simple, yet powerful.

I do know how many times I have lost that one glove from last winter to this one.  Three!!  Each time, I would get back to the house from walking Maddie, realize the glove was missing, and begin the back-tracking process in hopes that I would be able to locate it, in the snow, in the mud, or who knows wherever I had dropped it during the lengthy and meandering trek we had taken.  And every time, sooner or later, I was able to find it!  A glove?  Easily replaceable, you say.  Not a big deal, right.  But it was, to me anyway.  So I uttered hallelujahs and praises when I saw it, and gratefully said ‘THANK YOU!’

Oh but yes.  Someone is trying to get my attention.  In a comical way, huh?  So much the better!  Someone is trying to tell me that little things do matter.  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much . . . . .” [Luke 16:10]  (‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much’ . . . . as spoken in the King James version.)

Although this parable from Luke was meant as a guideline for how God, and we, should try to identify a trustworthy approach to the world and its peoples, there is a converse maxim to that as well, a truism that Someone is trying to instill in me:  That He is faithful to me in the little things, therefore He will be faithful to me in the bigger ones.  In other words, if I can depend on Him to help me find a lost glove (and I do!!), He lovingly reminds me that I can surely trust Him in the “much” of my life too.  Ordainment and Promise of Perfect Comfort, Absolute and Supreme; I only need to own it.

With certainty I always ‘know’ this in my heart/ my spirit being:   “But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” [II Tim. 1:12]  It’s my human existence that struggles with the essence of that kind of power, strength and ability.  So for my benefit, He cares enough to take that precious moment to kindly remind me, in the smallest of ways, even with a lost glove or an untied shoestring, to acknowledge His Omnipotence, not only to myself, but to Him.  He is able.  And my faithfulness to Him is nothing compared to His faithfulness to me.   Simple, yet completely overwhelming.

‘Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us’ [I John 3:1] because we are His.

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.