Category Archives: Musings on Life and Beauty

This Lovely Morning

I’m slow again, so many things needing attention.  And yet… I sit at a desk in my bedroom with the open windows behind me.  A slight breeze flows in, bringing with it the refreshing scent and temperature of morning air.  A woodpecker is hard at work in a nearby tree, doves coo, and a hundred other birds chirp the good news of a new day.  And spring.

On my desk are my scriptures, notebooks, a picture of us at the temple with Emmeline, an old photograph of the interior of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a few books that represent creative yearnings.  There is a new framed quote, lettered by Lindsay Letters, of the hymn that has stopped me in my tracks for years:

“take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. . . . take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

This hymn was sung at my mission farewell.  I am so pleased now to read these words and have that beautiful prayer on repeat in my mind.  This is where I sit each morning to study, reflect, journal, plan, feel.  I do it here, with these reminders.

But today there are lilacs.

A beautiful branch, covered in tiny flowers and gorgeous green leaves, and a scent that fills me with joy.  Lilacs from the bush I planted on the side of the house.

Fresh flowers – in my house – from my own yard.

Just like the ones I delivered last night to some friends (with boxes of lavender shortbread cookies).

This is proof that dreams come true.  It feels so luxurious, like something from a novel.  But it’s real life, and it’s sitting here on my desk to remind me.

I hope I never get over it.

-Jennifer

The Speech I Just Gave to Myself on Mother’s Day

If I could have one wish each May, it would be to gather every woman I know for a beautiful Mother’s day luncheon.  We would visit and eat and laugh and be nourished by good food and better conversation.

And if I could have a few minutes to speak, I would say this:

Each of us has a story.  It’s a powerful story, because it’s the only story just like it in all the world – in all the history of the world, to be exact.  There has never been, and there never will be, another life story exactly like yours.

Collectively our stories explain the perpetuation of the human race.  It is the story of motherhood, from the sweet smell of a newborn to the runny-nosed toddler who marks your pants each day like a growth chart with dirty hands and face.  It continues through the delightful years of childhood and into the uncharted realm of teenagers.  It is the story of daughters looking to their mothers as they step into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood themselves.

It is the story of women who would do anything to be a mother, yet are denied their dearest dream.  The story of women who, for many reasons, choose not to have children.  The story of women who nurse, teach and care for the children of others.  Women who, because of the choices of one party or another, don’t know where their children are, or perhaps even who their children are.  Women who feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.  Women parenting alone.  Women still caring for the basic needs of children who were born decades ago.  Women who buried their child and have wondered ever since, “who am I now?”  Women who grieve for mothers who are no longer here.

The scenarios are as many as we are.  All of them matter.  Each one is part of this collective story of women doing hard things.  Some of us love Mother’s Day; some of us hide from it.  For some, it is salt in a very deep wound.  And for many of us, it’s a reminder that we don’t measure up (to some false standard of perfect mothering).

Today I  say this:

How you tell your story matters.  How you receive another’s story matters.  What you do with these stories, matters.

It matters how we treat people, and how we treat ourselves.  It matters that we forgive.  It matters that we repent.  It matters that we learn.  It matters that we find people to serve.  That we seek truth.  That we understand who we are as daughters of God.  It matters that we reflect light.  That we show up, do good, and overcome.

I have a piece of art that hangs on the wall above my bathroom scale.  That scale and I are not friends; it represents failure to me in a big way.  But I get on the scale anyway because I’m trying to show up, and as I do it I lift my eyes to the message on my wall.  It says, “You are enough.”

Not perfect.  Enough.  And it’s true.  You are enough for Jesus Christ to have offered himself in your place.  Because of the great and merciful plan of happiness, what He did is enough.  You are good enough!

Here is my Mother’s day challenge (I’m preaching to my own heart): Let’s shake off the things that make us shrink instead of stand boldly.  Let’s dismiss Mother’s day as merely a headcount of our children and a recitation of their accomplishments, or as a symbol of what we’re not, and let’s make it about light.  Let’s stand up and stand together and let’s be a light, a light that shines in darkness, a light that reflects the Light of the World, the Light which can never be darkened.

We can do this.  After all, it’s our day, isn’t it?

Right now I wish I could hug you and say, “Thank you for the light you shine into this world.  WE NEED IT.  What will you do to make it brighter?”

All my love,
Jennifer

Thanksgiving: Hungry, Full + FREE Gratitude Quotes to Download

Today as I left the grocery store I saw a man standing at the stop sign with a very simple cardboard sign in his hands.  It read, “hungry.”

The sign, the man, his situation – it always tugs at my heart, but “hungry” really got to me today, leaving me with tears running down my cheeks when I drove away.  “Hungry.”  Aren’t we all?  And for so much more than food?

My pie-making tools are on the counter awaiting the first pie of the season, my refrigerator stocked with everything for the big meal.  Yet in the hustle of it all, I’m both “full” and “hungry.”  Full, because I see the hand of God in my life and know that even in scarcity and adversity He is trustworthy, and that the darkest of days only make His light brighter when it appears.  Thanksgiving has become for me a time to take a step back emotionally and mentally and look hard to “see what God hath done.”  He does it masterfully, so my heart is full.  And I’m hungry.  Not just for the mouthwatering food that will grace the table, but more so for my family.  I’m hungry for them to feel it.  I want nothing more than for my children to have eyes to see, and for them to hunger for the feeling of “full” that can only come from recognizing our blessings AND their source.

Don’t you love having a holiday that reminds us to count our blessings?!  We should obviously live in thanks all year, but it’s wonderful to have a time of year that helps us focus on gratitude.  I have great confidence in what gratitude does for us when we practice it.  Early in the month our family started a gratitude jar with the invitation to write down what you’re thankful for and add it to the jar.  But the month always flies by with school and athletics — suddenly the holiday is tomorrow and I look around at my children and want so much for them to get it.  Are we truly grateful?

This year I went looking for some gratitude quotes that capture my feelings on this subject.  Tonight each of my children will find a different quote waiting for them at their place setting and we will discuss them together over a simple meal.  I’m really interested to hear what they think.

I’m hoping everyone enjoys it.  I printed them on parchment paper and decided it might be fun to start a little collection of gratitude quotes and do this more often!

I compiled eight of them in a PDF to share with you.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD GRATITUDE QUOTES

I will also be sharing my all-time favorite Thanksgiving quote with my extended family at our Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s by William Bradford, taken from his history of Plymouth Plantation, and I re-read it every year.  I love the way he testifies that God can work in our lives without all the luxuries we sometimes think are necessary.

I’ve shared this quote before, but decided it was time to type it up.  It is also available to download.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BRADFORD QUOTE

I had a local copy shop print mine in color on their nicest, smooth cardstock for a few cents and I love how it looks.

I really hope these things help prepare my children’s hearts to want to live gratefully.  Quotes such as these are a blessing to my soul – they center me, offer perspective, and give me confidence in Christ and hope for the future.  The best kind of “full.”

Wishing you happy – and grateful – Thanksgiving.
With all my heart,
Jennifer

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