Category Archives: Musings on Life and Beauty

Summer Check-in

seagull

July is on it’s way out, and the first emails for the new school year have begun trickling in.  I can’t believe how fast life has flown this summer.  We’ve embarked and returned from our trips, been a revolving door some weeks for children headed to and from various camps, had friends and family visit us.  We’ve had jam packed days and a few slow ones.  Lots of doctors appointments, mishaps, an important surgery, and plenty of unplanned repairs around the house.  Life is oh, so full.

Sonoraseaweed

Today my heart yearns for the beach.  We returned from my favorite place about 10 days ago.  I love the ocean.  Watching it, listening to it, walking at it’s edge.  I love watching my children play and discover and explore.  I love learning from it, being calmed by it, feasting my eyes on the color.  I feel like it’s the only place where I successfully slow down, which is perhaps why it’s such a sacred place to me.

Libbyray

This year my girls and I had so much fun walking the beach in the mornings at low tide.  We found amazing things, like a tiny octopus and these little rays all over the place (above).  We found sand dollars and seashells we’ve not seen before in that spot.  We marveled at the landscape of the sand during a very low tide.  We watched birds and crabs and discovered and talked.  It was perfect.

birds

I love sunset at the beach.  My grandpa never missed one.  He always made time to walk out and watch the sun disappear below the horizon.  I love the way the water and sky so often seem to mirror each other.  On our drive home the sky was spectacular in Utah, reminding me that if I can’t feast on the beauty of the sea every day, I can at least look up and marvel at the sky.

sunset

It went too fast.  Now I’m home and so immersed in the craziness of daily life that our vacation feels like it was months ago.  It’s been a week of remembering that I’m not strong enough for all that needs doing and that I have to rely on the Lord for courage and strength.  So many good things are happening, but at a pace I can hardly keep up with, especially peppered with the random (and sometimes intense) disappointments and struggles that are part of mortality.

There is a verse in Ezra chapter 3 that I keep coming back to…

“And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel.  And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” (verse 11, emphasis added)

And from Alma 58:10:

“Therefore we did pour out out souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us …”

That’s me!  I’m reaching out wholeheartedly for all of it: mercy, strength, deliverance.  It’s so awesome what He offers us.  Totally worth the effort.

Rebuilding

nightstand

I shared a little here, here and here about trying to change, stay changed, rebuild, dream, discover and rediscover myself.  I guess it’s a central theme in my life right now.  With the school year over and summer in our laps, it’s been good to examine things a little more closely.

I’ve always dreamed of cutting fresh flowers for my bedroom, so this year I took some peonies to the large vase on my nightstand.  A bit of beauty, a reminder to me that dreams come true, that dreams can be small as well as big, and that there is much to admire and be grateful for.

quote

I love this simple piece of artwork (purchased here).  It’s an integral part of having faith – not just faith that you’ll live through something, but that really awesome things are ahead.  Some days I struggle with this, and it’s not uncommon for a very deep breath to accompany my whispered reading of this quote.  I was reminded recently of an old favorite quote from Boyd K. Packer, “Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor.”  The peony, the vase, the quote, they are evidence of happiness in ordinary things.  So healthy for me.

books

I quit reading a while ago.  Aside from my scriptures and an occasional self-help style book, I’ve totally quit reading because I didn’t feel like I had the emotional reserves for it.  I couldn’t handle experiencing the highs or lows of another life in addition to my own.  Sounds dumb, but it’s true.  I have always loved reading biographies, found great solace and inspiration in them.  A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of John Quincy Adams and began reading it.  So far I’m enjoying it and it feels good to be reading again.

I must have needed some encouragement, because I also picked up my copy of Never Give In, a selection of Winston Churchill’s speeches, and have been reading them as well.  There’s so much to glean!  He wrote all of his own speeches.  One of his private secretaries during the wartime years said “In the case of his great wartime speeches, delivered in the House of Commons or broadcast to the nation, [Churchill] would invest approximately one hour of preparation for every minute of delivery.”  His grandson wrote of this, “Thus he would devote thirty hours of dictation, rehearsal and polishing to a half-hour speech.  Therein, no doubt, lies the explanation as to how they came to move the hearts of millions in the greatest war of history and why, even to this day, they have such emotive power.” (Never Give In, xxv)

What a reminder.  There is work to be done in all of our lives, work that isn’t glamorous or fun or easy, but doing it prepares us to face what lies ahead.  In his “Finest Hour” speech to the House of Commons on June 18, 1940 (just over 76 years ago now) he said, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say ‘this was their finest hour!'”

This speech reminded me of a quote from Billy Graham:  “Courage is contaigous.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”

Reading biographies, for me, is witnessing brave men and women taking a stand.  It stiffens my own spine, reminds me that difficult times are a part of mortality, and helps me “brace myself to my duties.”  I feel like I’m gaining a friend and being empowered to become a better me.

Rebuilding.  I’m glad to be engaged in it.

 

Home

lily

I spent the first half of my day scrubbing egg off the front of my house, and porch, and garage, etc. Feeling a little bit picked on, wondering why people do things like that, why it is that I get to be the one whose day is hijacked by someone else’s 3 minutes of “fun.”   The disgusting smell of egg, stacked on top of three days spent at hospitals and doctor’s offices for injuries and surgery pre-op appointments, broken air conditioning, all causing a week gone haywire, I was managing a pretty decent pity party.

Until I saw this beautiful lily opening up.  The bright yellow, the memory of how it came to be planted there, the perfection of it, softened my heart and I remembered what a pleasant thing it is to be outdoors in the mornings.  And then the lily made me remember the One who has been cleaning up after me, after all of us, every day of my life.  I began to wonder about times when my brief (or not so brief) lapses in judgment and performance cause Him additional pain and effort.  Pity fled and gratitude swept in to take it’s place.

beeinlavender

We’ve been out of town for a soccer tournament and a family reunion.  It’s fun to come home and see what’s changed.  The bees are hard at work in my lavender and I love it.  Time to begin the harvest.  Another blessing.

porchbench

Small things.  Regardless of the annoyances that mortality throws at me, even when it feels like the load is out of balance, I’m happy to be here.  Home is such a comforting place.

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