Category Archives: Musings on Life and Beauty

Gratitude: good for the soul

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  -G.K. Chesterton

I love that quote.  It’s one of my favorites.
Earlier this week I was feeling a little bit tired, frustrated, and to be very honest, sorry for myself.
I realized that I needed to move to a higher plane of thought, to remind myself that it’s not about me.

So I sat down and wrote some letters of gratitude to people who have blessed my life lately.

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It felt good.   In fact, it was a great cure for the way I was feeling.
It reminded me once again that the choice to be grateful is a powerful one.
It changes our lives because it changes us.
And that’s really all that we can control.

So today, find something or someone to be grateful for and no matter how busy you are, do something about it.  Enjoy the lift that will follow your efforts.

Happy day to you!

Decisions

If there’s one thing I didn’t anticipate about parenting, it is all the decisions that need to be made.
I didn’t foresee how difficult it would be to choose which activities to involve my children in,
how much to push them, how to maintain a balanced life for each of them individually and somehow find a balanced lifestyle for the family as a whole.

This week would be the week of decisions.
It doesn’t help that most of the year is decided in May, when you’re most exhausted and least able to really perceive how things will work out.

Gymnastics.  Soccer.  Piano lessons.
Scouts.  Church activities.  Swimming lessons.

What about time with friends?  Time to ride your bike?  Time to read a book?
What about time to work around the house?  Homework?  Time to go on an outing with Dad?
What about time for good, old-fashioned childhood?

You want them to develop their talents, to give them opportunities to stretch and find new strength deep inside them.  But you don’t want it to come with a price tag that ends up being too high.  You don’t want to burn them out or have them gone so much that you lose your opportunities to just be a family.

I have an old friend whose least favorite words are “missed opportunity”.  She makes many decisions with the assistance of these words.  As a mother, though, I’ve learned that every thing we choose to do means there are many other things we’re choosing NOT to do.  It’s important to grab opportunities when they come, but if we grab too many of them, we miss the opportunity to live a balanced life, or we miss the opportunity to gather at the kitchen table for family dinner (the studies regarding the importance of family dinner are amazing!).  So I guess my own question isn’t so much about whether this choice will turn out to be a missed opportunity as much as whether it is the RIGHT opportunity at the RIGHT time.  And you hope so much it will be a positive experience.

This is what you want to see.

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My husband took this picture on his phone at my daughter’s last gymnastics meet of the season.
She looks so happy, and so at home.  My eyes tear up a little because I’m so grateful it turned out to be such a great experience for her.

You hope your decisions feed them, make them happy in the true sense of the word.  You hope they will feel a sense of accomplishment because they’ve invested so much.

So with a deep breath and a prayer in my heart, we push forward with our choices for next year.
And oh, how I hope it will all work out!  Through the grace of God, I know it can.

Jennifer

Standing Out

Something about this yellow tulip caught my eye and my heart.

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There it stood, in the middle of a huge planting of almost spent red tulips.

But it was yellow.
And just beginning.

It made me wonder:  did they do that on purpose?
Was it a yellow bulb that somehow ended up in a bag of red ones?
How did it happen?

I love the way the yellow tulip stands out.  Somehow it is more beautiful because it is different.
And having it there makes the whole picture more beautiful, as well.
If it had been a planting of all red tulips, I would have admired it from afar, but one yellow tulip in the center was what drew me away from the sidewalks to the edge of the scene.

I thought of life.
I’d like to stand out like a yellow tulip.
But sometimes I’d like to blend in like the red ones.
And perhaps, to some, the yellow one is a drawback instead of a standout.
Perhaps someone thought it was a shame when they saw it.
It’s interesting that the yellow tulip didn’t bloom when the red ones did.

I remembered my cherry trees, how they stand side by side and yet have their own schedule for growth and blooming.
Like people.

I guess life gives us all  the chance to experience both colors, to learn what can be learned from standing out AND blending in.
I hope we all can have the sense to use good judgment and know when it is time to ditch the red crowd and stand alone, to stand for something worthwhile, something true.
And the more we influence others for good, the more we are surrounded by goodness.
Isn’t that the point?

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