I Miss The Days I Never Knew

As I sit here on the eve of what could be one of the biggest changes to life as we know it (I’m currently referring to the nuclear threat of North Korea), I think on the gentle days of yesteryear.   The news today is so filled with fear, hatred and war that it has become extremely difficult for me to even read a headline at times.  I look around me at the people I love, the rolling mountains, the coral and gold sunset and my heart aches for the darkness in the world.  Though the world has always had evil in it, it has never been more prevalent than it is today.  This is when I begin to yearn for the days I never knew.

17990936_295069854256026_4216930148669620622_nAs a young girl,  I first read the book “Anne of Green Gables.” The character of Anne spoke to me in a way that few characters do. I WAS Anne…the curious, adventurous, romantic, slightly nerdy, but steadfast and loyal friend.  (Though I did lack Anne’s spunk.)  She was my heroine and how many times I wished I was living in her beautiful Green Gables set in the fields and woods against the backdrop of Prince Edward Island.

Of course she had her own set of challenges, but I compare them to what we see today and I shake my head in sadness. Her daily diversions (besides the farm duties) consisted of studying in her one-room school, gathering flowers in the woods with her friend Diana, thwarting off the teasing of Gilbert, or playing out the fantasies she read in books.

Our daily headlines consist of nuclear war, racism, disease, human trafficking, terrorists and more.  Yes, they had life-threatening illnesses and wars in distant countries, but I can only imagine the horror that the people then would feel in response to our world today. It seems almost unbelievable to see what the world has descended into.

Yet (and I say this strongly) there is still reason to hope.  Just like Anne’s courageous spirit led her to win over many trying circumstances, so we can also find courage to overcome the darkness in this world.  We may say like Frodo did in The Lord of the Rings “I wish that none of this had happened” and we may wish and yearn for the evil and darkness to disappear.  But we must rise up with the wise words that Gandalf said next: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

And therein lies the answer…what do we do when faced with the darkness?  That must be left up for you to decide, but as for me, I will continue to spread love, light and laughter wherever I can.  And I will seek for beauty and hope down to the last petal on the last flower in this world.

 

 

I Choose…

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Life is all about our choices.  Good or bad, our lives are in direct response to what we choose. Even our emotions and how we respond to a situation can be our choice.  This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and was given the opportunity to test out yesterday.

I was rushing about to get things ready to meet my sister and her family as we were preparing to go to the lake for the day.  I was looking forward to this trip as a lovely distraction to get my mind off a heartbreak I was going through.  It had not been a very good week and this was my one bright spot.

Now we all have our weaknesses and bad habits and one of mine is putting on cosmetics in a car while I’m driving, but I’ve done it for 30 years and NEVER had an incident (No, I still shouldn’t do it, but I wanted to make that clear.) Yesterday morning as I was driving to the store, I hurriedly put on the cosmetics to use as sunscreen for the day.  After arriving at the store and getting out of my car, a man approached me and began to yell at me for putting on makeup while driving.  He cursed at me and called me everything from irresponsible to ugly, referring to the fact that the “make-up didn’t help.”  He did this in the middle of the parking lot with several people passing us going into the store.

A multitude of reactions went through me from fear to shock to confusion.  I didn’t know what to say other than try to walk away from him and finally told him to mind his own business as I quickly strode off in the opposite direction.  It shook me up so much that I left without purchasing anything.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I drove to my sister’s house. My dear sister, seeing my tears, immediately wanted to track the man down and yell at him (bless her wonderful protective nature), but I said no, it wasn’t worth it.

As I drove to the lake with my nieces in the back of my car and listening to music, the tears still played about my eyes, but I made a conscious choice to focus on the good and not let a bitter man ruin my day.  I say this again…I made a conscious choice.  So I focused on the sun glistening through the pine trees.  I reveled in the lush mountain fields and the aqua blue of the lake as it broke into view.  I watched the kindness of strangers on the beach.  I laughed with my family, swam in the cool caressing waters, ate delicious food and relaxed on the sand simply glad to be alive in that moment.

Instead of allowing myself to give into pain, bitterness, anger and tears, I chose laughter, I chose light, I chose life and I chose love.  It was a small battle, but I conquered and my soul smiled.

To See Through A Glass Darkly

tumblr_lxckxdgzrs1qac6sjo1_400_large“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” ~1 Corinthians 12:12~

Some people have their lives laid out. They are excellent at making goals and sticking to them.  They know where they will be one year from now, five years from now and twenty years from now.  I have never been one of those people.

Yes, it is true that I have made long-term goals and stuck to them and seen them fulfilled, but how I was to get there was rarely clear.

In the past seven years or so, my path has been obscured by a continual fog.  I would try going one direction only to find that way was blocked.  Then I would try another direction and that would end up in a muddy mess.  I would backtrack and try another route, only to find that it also did not work. At times, a ray of light would shine through the fog and I would think “Oh yes, now I know what to do!”  And then, as in the past, that endeavor would also fail.

Though I do not often talk about it, discouragement, failure, sadness and depression have been my companions often on a daily basis.  I’ve watered my pillow with more tears that I want to remember.

Yet through all of this, I have learned one lesson: the turtle won the race through constancy, not speed.  So though I continue to struggle through the fog, I know I will ultimately reach the goals I have set for myself.  I still don’t know how I will get there, but I trust that I will.  I now see through a glass darkly, but one day I hope to be on the other side of that glass.  And one day…I will see those dreams come true.

 

The Power of a Song

Have you ever listened to a piece of music that was so perfect that it gave you chills every time you heard it?  The song “Bring Him Home” by The Piano Guys is one of those pieces of music. (Link below.) I could listen to it a thousand times over and never fail to hear the yearning and passion in every note.

Did you also know that this kind of music has the power to change even the most stressful moments into an atmosphere of peace?  Let me share an example.

The other day, I was taking the bus to run an errand.  As I got on, there was a mother and her teenage daughter just in front of me.  One of the passes didn’t work and an argument started up between the driver and the mother.  I could hear them talking loudly, tempers rising, as I climbed up the stairs to sit on the upper floor of the bus.  At that moment, another man was fighting with someone on his mobile phone and the entire atmosphere of the bus was tense and filled with negativity.  Taking the bus on the best of days can be challenging, but today it seemed downright difficult.

I looked down at my phone.  I had just been listening to that very song at home and wondered what the reaction would be if I turned it on.  I had heard someone the other day play a classical piece of music on the bus and not a word of complaint was said.  “Why not?” I thought.  I found the piece of music and turned it up and played it on my phone.

As the first notes of the song begin to play, I felt a little embarrassed, wondering if I should turn it off.  But no one said a word.  Instead, the passengers grew quiet.  The anger and negative atmosphere that had been there moments before seemed to slowly disappear with every beautiful note.  There was almost a sigh of relief and then as the song continued…reflection.

By the time the last haunting note faded out, there was a feeling of peace.  The anger was gone and with it, I do believe more than one heart was changed, even if only for a brief few minutes.  It seemed to be almost a miracle, but no, it was just a simple lesson.  Through the virtue of one song, I was reminded that love has a greater power than every other emotion.  And that is what is felt in every tender note of this song…pure and unconditional love.

Those Forgotten Flowers

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For several weeks I have walked out my front door and passed this spot, ignoring it as I ran off to work or other errands.  I was always looking up at the gloomy, overcast skies and huddling under my coat racing for warmth seldom noticing anything around me.  Then just a few days ago, I stopped in surprise as I looked down and saw these small green shoots pushing up through the ground.  January 28th and there in front of my eyes was the first glimpse of Spring.  Though I was still in a hurry, I smiled to myself knowing that there would soon be colorful blossoms gracing those stems.

I thought a lot about those forgotten flowers throughout the day.  They had been growing silently for weeks…breaking through the hard soil, steadily upward through the frozen crystals, seeking the distant rays of a January sun.  Everything in the cold, harsh winter world should have stopped those flowers from growing, but there they were nevertheless.

I began to think about the dreams in my own life and how they had currently seemed at a standstill.  It was as if my world had been put on pause and the dreams I yearned for would never come to pass.  But those tiny green shoots reminded me that even when I’m not looking, there are forces swirling around me that are constantly bringing change.  One might feel as if one is not making progress, but just like those forgotten flowers, the obstacles are being overcome step by step.

It is a good lesson to remember – even when we think our lives are at an impasse and the walls will never fall, miracles are occurring every day even if we can’t see them.  Just like a flower growing under the snow.

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Stille Nacht – A Small Miracle

From the very first time I heard this version of Silent Night, it has affected me as very few other songs have done.  There is something so pure, so holy, so other-worldly about it, that every time I listen to it, it seems to fill me with a desire that I can not explain in words.  Many times in my life, this song has reached out to me in varying places and experiences.

One of my most poignant moments was the year I was a sophomore at college.  My family had moved far away from me: from Utah to the Seattle, Washington area.  It was the first time I had ever lived away from them and homesickness hit me hard. I had moved into student apartments and had five female roommates.  Three of them seemed to dislike me from the moment I walked through the door and the bullying, snide comments and criticisms started just a few days later.  I did my best to just stay away from the house as much as possible and frequently only went home to sleep, shower and change clothes.

 

Because of this treatment, few students looked forward to their Christmas break as much as I did at that time.  When finals were over, I gleefully found a ride up to Seattle and anticipated a Christmas with my family, especially my parents and my sisters.  I daydreamed about the shopping, baking, wrapping and get-togethers we were about to have. All of my family would be there, along with in-laws and baby nieces and nephews. I relished the idea of love and kindness and fun to be shared.

But all family holidays have their difficulties and in the midst of so many people, children, illness and other unexpected challenges, I felt rather forgotten, lost and yes, alone. Though it was good to be with family, I still felt something missing. That joy I always felt at Christmas seemed to escape me.

Christmas Eve came and all the adults were hurriedly finishing the wrapping and cooking for the next day.  Everyone was tired and began to snap at each other.  Having just lived through months of bullying, I couldn’t handle it and I put on my coat and slipped out unnoticed for a walk. It was about 10 pm and not a soul was outside.  I walked slowly down the main street to the dock overlooking the harbor. It was so still that it seemed almost unreal…like a painting.

And then it came from a nearby house…the quiet notes of Silent Night.  Almost like the distant chimes of bells playing softly over the water, they were the only sound that could be heard.  It was then that I realized the song was for me…a gentle reminder that I was known and loved by the Savior of the world.  I was not forgotten, I was not lost, I was not alone.  By the time the song was finished, I couldn’t hold back the tears.  The thick snowflakes landed on my cheeks as I looked up at the sky.  I whispered “Thank you” and felt such love embrace me.  The sacred peacefulness of it seemed to fill and heal every part of my aching soul.  The miracle of Christmas had arrived.

The knowledge of His love gave me strength to view things in a different way.  Instead of it being all about me, it became about the Savior and His example of selflessness.  Did it mean that everything changed and the rest of that year was perfect?  No. But it gave me valuable insight into how much I was loved by the King of all Kings helping me to see others in that same light.

Dear friends, it is my wish this Christmas that the spirit of this season will come quietly into your lives and heal your aching hearts and lift your burdens…just as it did for me on that night so many years ago.  Merry Christmas to you all!