Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself in 2015

A few days before the new year, big sister and hubby invited me to escape with them to Galveston Island. Although the weather turned rainy and cold before we left, the time away was exactly what I needed: Stress-free days with people who love me. It was also a time of inward reflection, counting blessings, looking forward—those things I do as one year ends and a new one unfolds.

During breakfast one morning, in the cafe downstairs, an older couple came in with a woman in a wheelchair. By all appearances, she was their adult daughter. About 40 years old, and very disabled. Her head was tilted to the right. Her eyes were opened wide, and her mouth never closed. There was no sign of understanding from her. No sounds of any kind. No movements. Just sitting and staring.

As the dad pushed her by our table, bumping into a few chairs along the way, he chuckled and said they were "used to that." My sister and I looked at each other. No words were needed. We knew how blessed we were with healthy adult daughters, living on their own.

Later that evening, in the lobby, a male trio played jazz music for guests of the hotel. A few feet in front of the piano sat the disabled girl in her wheelchair, her mother close by. 

At one point, the musicians took a break, and as casual chatter ensued, the piano player walked over and kissed the silent girl on the forehead. Only then did I recognize him as the same man who had pushed her into the cafe that morning, bumping into chairs as they settled in. Who would've known this gifted musician, spreading joy in such a masterful way, was the father of a severely disabled child? I wondered if I would be so strong. I think I would cry every day. But not this man. Somewhere in time, he had made peace with his challenging circumstances, and had moved on with his life.

As the music resumed, I was reminded of the Apostle Paul's instructions to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. He didn't say we should be thankful for all circumstances, but we are to give thanks in all circumstances. Even without a disabled child, giving thanks isn't always easy to do—we all know that. However, gratitude is a glorious gift we can give to ourselves.

Melody Beattie describes it this way: "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Chances are, life in 2015 won't be without heartaches and sighs. However, if gratitude can fill our hearts every day—sunrise to sunset—our lives will be full the whole year long. ♦

I'm linking to:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 ~ My Resolutions

Most of you know that I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions. As I blogged here last year, “A new year is no different than a new day. With every sunrise, new mercies appear, along with new opportunities to try harder and live better than we did the day before.” Wrongs can be righted. Transgressions can be forgiven. Bad habits can be released. However, a new year seems to give new promise to our hopes and plans and goals, so here are two things I am resolving to do in 2015:

1. Less texting and more talking.
2. Less Face-booking and more face-looking.

Call me old-fashioned, if you please, but I believe electronic "conversations" and “social” media has turned us into a bunch of non-conversationalists and anti-social people.

Just the other day, for instance, I went to the doctor’s office, and every person in the waiting room was staring at their phones. Predictably, not one soul looked up as I strolled in. Maybe they were uncomfortable with strangers, or maybe they wanted to appear important, or maybe they just didn't want to engage in conversation with an old woman in high heel shoes. Regardless, it made me a little sad to know that acknowledging each other is a thing of the past. But mostly, it fortified my gratitude that I wasn't raised in the digital age.

Sure, there are advantages to instant messaging, and instant information, but with all those options at my fingertips, I probably would've missed so many magical things—like lightening bugs after dark, and playing paperdolls, and jumping rope and hop-scotch on summer afternoons. Like lazy days at the library, piles of books at my side, immersed in the fascinating stories of Ribsy and Henry Huggins and Ramona and Beezus.

And later, as a mother, spending hours at the library with my daughter, seeing her break into a skip as she approached the front door, her eyes lighting up as she found old favorites, and scoured the shelves for new ones, and then watching her haul as many books home as the law would allow, often reading every one before the dinner bell rang.

And then there are my old letters. Ah. So many of them. From elementary school teachers, and family members while I was on the road, and sweethearts (and a few looney tunes) and friends. The excitement of receiving them, opening them, sniffing them, reading them and then tucking them away for later reading on another day. I mean, who prints out text messages for re-reading on another day? Anyone? For the most part, they are words quickly typed and words quickly forgotten. Maybe my offspring won't ever care to read words that anyone wrote to me after I'm dead and gone, but children of "texters" most likely won't have that option.

So, although resolutions aren't my strong cup of tea, I am resolving to make more tangible memories with those I love in 2015. Instead of endless texting, I'll stop and give them a call. I'll make time to see their faces and watch the wind blow their hair. To hug them. To look at them. To wrap myself in their voices, their laughter and sighs. Certainly, it won’t be as easy as sending text messages or checking out Facebook to see what’s going on, but it’ll be worth every ounce of effort I put forth, I have no doubt. The only issue I might encounter in my noble new year's resolve is getting someone to answer the phone whenever I call. ☺

I'm linking to Thought Provoking Thursdays at 3-D Lessons for Life.