Saturday, February 26

Reading Hour

I also feel uneasy about setting everything else aside to "merely" read. I know all of the good that comes from reading: setting an example to my children for a love of lifetime learning; my own lifetime learning; knowledge and literary edification; sharpening the saw a la Stephen Covey...all that jazz.

Even so, I still have to actively stifle Guilt - with a capital 'g' - every time I indulge.

But stifle it I do. This week I picked up Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for the first time since I was twelve. It took me slogging through the first chapter, and then I was hooked. I am also incredulous that I read it when I was twelve. I certainly didn't "get" it than. I am devouring it now.

I am thankful for a husband who is patient with my reading style, which is to obsess over my book and read it compulsively to the exclusion of all reality until the book is done. It helps that I am a fast reader. It helps that he loves books, too. It helps that I brought Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay home from the library for him this weekend.

We have spent a lot of our time sitting side by side on our bed, equally engrossed in our respective book. we used to do this all the time when we were newlyweds. But now we have seven children. So, today, we have taken turns being the parent on duty. We have also benevolently ignored our children for responsible stretches of time.

Thus far, no one has starved, drowned, run away, or been abducted by aliens. And the house has not burned down. He is almost done with his book, I am not even half way through mine. Good thing I am a quick reader.

I am grateful for good books, a good husband, good kids, and the unparalleled pleasure of reading hour(s).

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, February 25

Winter's Last Hurrah

That's my mother's phrase. I grew up hearing it: "Let's hope this is Winter's last hurrah." Of course, I grew up in the Rocky Mountains, so she usually said it in March, not February.

I'm not particularly happy about the five inches of snow. But I'm not complaining. I really do hope it is Winter's last hurrah. Particularly after the balmy, beautiful days we had last week. Either way, February is almost over. Spring is coming, I know it. And the snow has pointed out many things I am thankful for:

I am thankful for beauty. Five inches of snow is much easier on the eyes than brown, brown, dead, muddy, and brown.

I am thankful for safety in travel. Lots of people I love have to be out on the highways. Even though I don't have to go anywhere, I am thankful for the safety of those I love.

I am thankful I don't have to go anywhere.

I am thankful for children who are willing to come work with me in the kitchen. Whenever a snowstorm hits, I get the urge to go bake something. Several somethings. Walking into a warm kitchen full of lovely smells and yummy eats sooths the soul when nasty weather is raging outside.

I am thankful for online recipe contributers. Don't laugh. Hundreds and hundreds of people have taken the time to type up their favorite recipes and share them online with the world. And I love it. I love being able to plop down, type what I've got a hankering to bake into a search engine, and have dozens of recipes to choose from. Our grandmothers were never so blessed!

I am thankful for fuzzy socks. I hate cold feet. I love my warm, comfy fuzzy socks. I miss them during the Summer, and always smile when the weather turns and I can pull them back out. Really, I am thankful for all the small, warm comforts of winter: fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, snuggling under poofy blankets, the irresistible warmth and comfort of a fire in the hearth.

So, I guess I am grateful for Winter's last hurrah. It helps me count my blessings.  I will be glad when Winter really is over, but I know that I will be looking forward to it by the end of August.

What have you been blessed with today?

Wednesday, February 23

Pay It Forward

For days, it seems like my husband and I have been waiving at each other as we pass, running this way and that, accomplishing great deeds and domestic responsibility. I was hoping for a nice evening at home today, as the Young Men's activity started and ended early.

While he was gone with the Young Men, the phone rang. It was - yet again - someone wondering if they could borrow my husband's skills/tools/time/know-how. I promised to tell him they had called. On the inside, I didn't want to. I was feeling selfish and thwarted and sulky about it. Even so, I relayed the message. My husband smacked his forehead, exclaimed that he had forgotten to follow up on a promise to help, kissed me good-bye, and hurried out the door.

More sulking.

It was past bedtime when he got back. I had diapered and pajama'd everyone, the lights were mostly out and only a few stragglers left to tuck in when he walked in the door. It's not him, I'm glad he is so intrinsically useful. I am very glad he is so willing to help, and so chronically service-minded.

I'm conflicted, let's just leave it at that.

Anyway, he walked in the door, and plunked a HUGE jar of gourmet jelly beans down on my nightstand. It was a thank-you from the family he had been helping. They don't have the skills/tools/time/know-how my husband has. But we don't have a stash of gourmet jelly beans.

My heart was softened. I'm pretty sure people know how I get feeling. I am not good at suffering in silence. But just having it acknowledged, that feels really good. And the jelly beans are yummy.

Not that it's about the jelly beans. It's the concept. When one cannot pay it back, one can always pay it forward. I am grateful for paying it forward, for payment in kind, for kindness returned.

What have you been blessed with today?

Tuesday, February 22


As February ebbs into March, everyone at my house is feeling the pull of sunshine and the hope of green growing things. In running errands, I ended up in the grocery store with my daughter. We didn't find what we were after, but we left with a pot of blooming hyacinths all the ones, my favorite color.

I love the bulb flowers that bloom first each Spring. We used to live in a house that had crocus flowers planted in the front lawn. We never knew where they would come up first, but it was a joy every Spring to see them pop up, seemingly at random.

I put the hyacinths on the dining table, where I could see them and smell them all day. Have you ever smelled hyacinths in full bloom? They are heavenly! Pretty soon, you could smell them throughout the whole house. My daughter and I are trying to figure out where to plant them.

I was a little worried that my husband would see it as an extravagant purchase (because it was! bulbs of any kind in full bloom in February come at a premium price!). But he didn't. He walked in the door at the end of the workday, took one deep breath, and sighed with happiness. I think he has the "Spring is coming soon!" bug, just like the rest of us.

I once knew a woman who had lived in Panama for four years. She said she never appreciated the change of the seasons so much as when it was hot and humid and green all year long. I though about that statement many times over the years, mostly because I have often wished to live in the perpetual blooming summer of the tropics. I think I can see what she meant. One of the great joys of my life is the change of the seasons. There are things I like about each one. And each one can get pretty old, and I begin to look forward to the next season.

I loved winter. I am ready for spring. I am grateful for the change of the seasons. I am grateful for the always-the-same, always-new feeling I have each time. Come on, spring!

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, February 21

Help Anyway

Today, I assigned my son a cooking project. He didn't want to do it. But I asked, and he did it. He did his best. But it didn't turn out, anyway.

We are both quite disappointed about it. But neither one of is is mad at the other one.

I am grateful for a son who helps me even when he doesn't want to, who doesn't do a sloppy job just to show me how unhappy he is that I asked for help. And who doesn't lord it over me when he is right and I am wrong.

I am thankful to know that he will help me again next time. Because there is always a next time. And sometimes he is willing to help; sometimes he is not. But he helps anyway.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, February 20

Sing Praise

I love to sing. I am not as good as it as I would like, mostly because I am an alto who cannot read music, so I am stuck singing the melody. Sometimes that's OK, but often I wish I could sing a lovely harmony.

Before we were even interested in each other, I would attend FHE with my husband's family, for many reasons, but mostly because they always sang together. In four-part harmony. I loved it. As the years have rolled on, they don't do it as much. But once in a while, when everyone is together, they bust out the hymn books, and my mother-in-law turns on the organ (yes, she has an organ at her house!), and we all sing our hearts out.

This evening, we were together with several friends from Church. We ate snacks and talked about all sorts of things. And then, someone sat at the piano, and we pulled out some hymn books, and everyone started singing. We sang whatever hymn anyone wanted to sing. I stood at the back for most of it (my baby was being a little fussy), reading over someone's shoulder. One lady pulled up the text of the hymns on her iPhone, and I sang along with her, too.

It was heavenly. I love to sing, to sing loudly with friends, and I love to sing hymns. I don't think one can sing too many hymns. I have so many favorites. It is easy to sing when I am singing praise. My belief in God is very sure. I want so much to see Him again someday. I don't think all we do in Heaven is sit around and play harps and sing. But I do hope we get the chance to do it on occasion. I am thankful for the lift that singing is to me, especially when it is such uplifting singing as the hymns of praise.

What are you blessed with today?