Tag: gratitude

The Great Key!

When you fall in love and marry, there’s no way to know what’s in store. No way! You can’t know till you get there.

Don and I were deeply and passionately in love over fifty years ago. We raised seven kids, and they are great people, but it wasn’t easy. We had some significant bumps in our marital bliss road. It shakes you up a bit. But we weathered those years, and with a dollop of joy, laughter, and forgiveness, we all came out OK. Don and I were still intact as a couple and we still deeply and passionately loved each other.

The years passed, and the things that you can’t know till you get there sneaked up on us – financial worries, adult kids and their issues, aging, health, energy differences, stress. They all took their toll. One night I was grieving a bit because we’re not the same. Our relationship cannot be the same. Sometimes it feels like two people who care about each other living independently in the same house, sort of like roommates. I talked to God about it because I want to remain deeply and passionately in love with this man even if we’re here together for 60 or 70 years. This isn’t the first time I’ve been in this place and gone to God for help, and I suspect it won’t be the last time. Then a miracle happened.

I got an Echo dot three years ago. I tried everything I knew how to do, but I couldn’t get it to work. It sat in a cupboard. This week my sister came, we got it out, and she tried to get it going. No luck. The next morning there it was on the counter, my daughter saw it, and after an hour of figuring out the kinks, it worked.

As we ate breakfast, we listened to the music of our time- Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Mama’s and the Papas, Sonny and Cher, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Monkeys, Barbra Streisand. I was having a hard time getting stuff done because I kept stopping to dance. We laughed a lot. Smiles just seemed to happen over nothing. During lunch, Don and I gazed across the table at each other. I sang the lyrics, and he cracked old jokes. It was fun.

Later, as I was cutting kale for the dehydrator, he gathered me up, and we danced around the kitchen for a short moment, as Don’s ability to move is compromised. Wow! That felt so wonderful. We haven’t been able to dance for some time. Then I returned to washing kale. As I worked, I thought about Don, how funny he is. How handsome he is. What a great question asker and problem solver. An all-around good guy. A keeper, as we used to say.

Then in a moment, I was overcome with such a feeling of love I began weeping. It’s all still there; deep and passionate love. It will always be there, but sometimes it disappears inside life, illness, work, stress. But if we focus and ask God for a small miracle, it resurfaces to save us. God is good. He loves Don and me, and we love each other. Such a gift. Such a blessing. Such a life!

Is That the End of the Story?

I know you think this is the end of the story, but this is where it gets real! You probably think it was the music and the dancing that brought the spark to the surface. But it wasn’t. Remember that talk I had with God? I didn’t just complain about loss, age, passing time, etc. I asked what I could do to feel ‘in love.’ Not only “I care” or “I love you,” but ‘in love.” If you’ve been there, then you know what I am talking about.

The thought that came to my mind was to look for every good thing I could see about this man I have spent over fifty years with and then tell him. I did that, many times because his gifts and good qualities aren’t hard to find. But they are easy to take for granted and let pass by unappreciated.

The Great key.

With every kind word and compliment, my heart softened towards this man I care for and love. I changed. Not him and not our relationship. Me! When you add that kind of heart softening to a bit of music and a quick dance around the kitchen, well, you can’t help but get magic.

When we look for the good, when we speak the good, when kindness is at the top of our mind, it makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a crazy day with kids or a day between two aging souls. The result is the same. Magic and miracles!

When you have children, there is no way to know what’s in store. No way! You can’t know till you get there. If you have a day that isn’t going well with your family, give it a try. Pick the one person you’re feeling the most annoyed or frustrated with or that you feel the most distant from. Look for every good thing and then mention it to them. I can just about guarantee that by the end of the day, your heart will swell with tenderness for this soul that only a few hours before was causing you grief.

Their behavior might not change, but you will. Your heart will soften. Your way of being with that one person will be kinder. You will see differently. It will make a difference.

It’s all about gratitude. Gratitude is the great key to overcoming what is bugging you right now. I have this saying on my bedroom/office wall: “When you complain, you will remain. When you praise, you will be raised.” I know this is true, as I experience it regularly. I experienced it this week in my kitchen while chopping kale. : ) You can experience it too, and practicing this little exercise will not only change you, but it will also improve your whole family. Give it a try.

Addendum

It has been a few days since the miracle and Don, and I are still connecting in small ways. We are talking more softly and listening more intently. Saturday afternoon, while our granddaughter Maggie watched Mother Goose Playhouse, we held hands and danced in place for just a moment. : ) If I keep focusing on his strengths and gifts and keep thanking him for them, it will last.

But life is busy, crazy, and sometimes overwhelming. We will probably find ourselves moving apart again, but when that happens, I will pull out the ‘practice of gratitude for this one soul’ and have another miracle.

Gratitude is a practice, and so it requires ‘practice.’ Practice it in your home and then let me know what differences it makes. : )

Give this article as a gift to someone else who needs a Gratitude Practice. : ) 

Christmas Dresses – A True Story

A true short story, written by Mary Ann Johnson years ago when her children were young and she was remembering

Christmases past.

NaVon, my mother, just 23 years old.

The heater made a steady hum as it singed the small bits of pine I had placed on top. I’d never seen one like it until we moved into the new house. It was brown, shiny, and huge. It wasn’t as homey as Grandma’s Ben Franklin, but it was warm and didn’t create clinkers, for which I was grateful. The pine was mother’s idea. She liked the smell the needles gave off as they slowly turned brown.

Mary Ann Johnson, age five. Pay attention to the buttons!

I was five years old and Idaho Falls was cold and windy. Inside it was warm and cozy. There were six of us and the house was small. I saw it years later and small was a generous word for it. At the time it seemed perfect.

Christmas was coming and as it always did during that season, the sewing machine was humming away. Pieces of black velvet and red taffeta littered the floor. I noticed the buttons first; the most beautiful buttons in the world, shiny white with rhinestone centers. Those buttons were a treasure sewn on a cardboard square. I would have paid at least a quarter for them, a vast sum hidden away in my bank.

But the buttons weren’t for sale. They were going onto elegant dresses that my sisters and I watched take shape until I could hold back my curiosity no longer. “Mom, are the dresses for us? Can we wear them?” “No”, she replied. Who else would they be for?

Our father-made cupboard.

With patience, she explained that there was a family who needed help making Christmas special. We had so much she said. She ticked our blessings off on her fingers. I remember the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had never had a beautiful dress like that, never a dress with buttons that shone like stars.

As the days passed, the emptiness in my stomach was being filled, for as my mother sewed, she poured into me a feeling of gratitude for blessings received and a spirit of giving. She made me a co-conspirator. I cared for the baby, played quietly and picked up those lovely scraps so she could continue to sew.

Soon the dresses were finished and gone. The gifts of love had been delivered. Then my mother began pouring charity into the empty place that the actual departure of the dresses left. “Now girls, when we go to church, you’ll see those dresses on three other little girls. Don’t say a word. We want them to feel happy and proud. This is our special Christmas secret. Remember that it’s important for people to have dignity and be happy.”

We three, Cindy, Shirley and I turned our young faces to her and beamed. We trusted the words of our mother. We knew we could keep the secret. I had a feeling of joy in my stomach. Emptiness no longer lingered there.

Our father-made rocking horse.

Christmas night was torture. Every child has felt the pangs of anxiety; will the doll be there, the train, the blocks? Every child has felt the excitement; how can I wait; how can I sleep? Sleep stayed away for a long time.

It was still dark when we raced to mom and dad’s room. They arose slowly – too slowly! finding slippers and waking the baby. Then there was the interminable wait as dad lit the tree and turned up the heat. Finally, we were free to run pell-mell into an ecstasy that would last all day.

What a wonderful Christmas!

 

What? I stopped short. There they were those buttons attached to a black velvet and red taffeta dress. What a surprise and joy.

As I sailed into church later that day, I was wearing a prized gift but the most precious Christmas gift I received that season was carried in my heart; gratitude for what I had, the love of sharing and charity for others. This gift, given to me by my mother so many Christmases ago has made all the difference in the quality of my life. Thanks, mom!!

Also, a thank you to my dad who is now gone. He made wonderful toys with his own two hands. We had them for many, many, years and they delighted all nine of us children.

Merry Christmas.

Sixty-Eight Thanksgivings and Counting!

In two months I will be sixty-nine years old and my husband will be seventy. I contemplate that and I am amazed and astonished. It makes me smile with pure joy. Can you even imagine such a thing; to live this long! What an amazing thing to accomplish!

Next week is Thanksgiving. My sweet husband will be hovering around me like a moth, giving me little kisses, hugs, and small touches as I make the pies. That is a tradition

SWEET SWEET PIES

Back when we had just ourselves and our seven children we had at least 2 pumpkin, 1 cherry, 1 apple, and a lemon meringue but as we added spouses it grew to include 3 pumpkin, 2 cherry, 2 apple, the lemon meringue, a pecan, and a chocolate cream.

This year as I bake I will be thinking about past Thanksgiving days while we were raising seven children. I realize that this year is decidedly different. Past days were about family being together, having enough food, laughing and feeding pie to the neighbor kids and those brought home from college.

This year there is a new feeling. Don and I are both feeling the magnitude of what we have created in our almost seventy years.

When we married we were 21 and 22 years old; fresh, innocent, foolish, full of wonder at each other and the possibilities of life. At just shy of seventy we are no longer fresh, innocent and hopefully not as foolish, but I think we are still full of wonder at each other and the possibilities of our life together.

Can you imagine how it feels for us when we are with our family? As we look over our seven children and see wonderful, well adjusted, kind, loyal and intelligent adults it is remarkable. And now we have a bevy of spouses.

Added to our children and their spouses are thirteen grandchildren. They are all still fresh, innocent and full of the wonder at the possibilities of their lives. They are young, only three have passed eighteen.

When Don and I are in our mid-seventies, just a mere six years from now some great-grandchildren will most assuredly have been added. Can you imagine how that will feel? We are filling the world with beauty, loyalty, and kindness, it is our greatest achievement. This year we see it clearly, through older eyes and we can barely contain the joy of it all.

Family, it is the height of what we create in this world, the only truly enduring thing, that which should consume our most treasured hours. Parenting is a big job. It can feel overwhelming and can often feel as if we are failing. But there are some simple adjustments in our thinking which can help us use the time we do have with our children to better advantage so that our relationships are stronger and sweeter.

 

All We Have Are The Relationships

We Have Forged

As I eat Thanksgiving pie this year they will be sweeter than ever before. Despite the difficulties of raising a family, learning to parent, learning to be a good spouse, making a living and all the rest I am content and I thank Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that I have been so richly blessed.

At the end of the day, all we have are the relationships that we have forged –healthy or unhealthy, strong or weak, good or bad. This is especially important to remember when building our family relationships. Simple things, done consistently over time, lead to amazing success in the home.

Here’s wishing you a very wonderful holiday season. And I hope you will take a bit of time to learn how to strengthen your family relationships without breaking your time bank. Get your free chapter HERE.

Your shares are the greatest compliment. : )