Christmas: A Season of Hope

Christmas: A Season of Hope

When I originally started my blog, it was a way to practice my descriptive writing. I never expected anyone to read it nor that it would develop into what it has. But as each inspired piece of writing has come out of me, I realized that most of what I wrote was about Hope.  As I have come through this 8 year journey since I began my blog, I have found many ways to endure difficult times and crises in small, everyday ways.

Every year for the past 9 years, I have had the same Christmas wish.  I won’t reveal what that is, because it’s too personal to me, but I will say that it has not yet happened. Yet every Christmas finds me gazing on that one star and making that one whispered wish.  Why?  Because Christmas is the season of Hope.  Hope that those promises made to us long ago will come to pass.  Hope that when we wake on that sacred day, that we will find some hint of our most treasured and beautiful desires coming true.

There are times I feel that it will never happen.  I lose faith…I lose hope.  Yes, it’s ironic that the woman who writes about hope sometimes feels it slipping away from her.  But we are all human, we all have our good and bad days.  And had I never experienced disappointment, how could I know the joy that comes from a hope fulfilled?

I can say that every time I come to the end of my rope, something happens to give me the strength to keep going.  It might be as small as a hug to something as large as an unexpected financial gift, but whatever it is, I see it as Heavenly Father’s way of saying “I’m aware of you, little one.  I know you’re struggling, but I am here.  I will not fail you. Be still and know that I am God.”

So here I am…still and quiet, listening, waiting and yes…hoping.

Merry Christmas my beautiful friends! May you all find your dearest hopes come to pass this New Year…

 

The Season of Light and Gratitude

The Season of Light and Gratitude

(There will be more installments of my adventures to come, but for now, my heart simply couldn’t hold the joy of the season inside any longer!)

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When I think of Thanksgiving, I also think of Christmas, because the two holidays are so completely intertwined.  Not in the materialistic or commercial way some people think, but because of the dear meanings they hold to me.

girl and tree

Dealing with a bit of jet lag and waking up at 2 am, I couldn’t get my mind to shut off.  Having recently returned from England, I was already full of happiness after seeing my family again after a month. Though I laid there trying to sleep, I found myself humming a Christmas song and feeling like a child full of excitement. 

Nope, there would be no sleeping for me.  I threw back the covers, pulled out the Christmas decorations, put on the music (quietly so as not to disturb my upstairs landlady) and began to put them up feeling a bit giddy.

Season of Light

With each unwrapping, I couldn’t stop smiling.  Every ornament and decoration held beautiful memories of family and friendships and love.  I hadn’t opened this particular box for several years and I had forgotten.  I put on one of my favorite Christmas CD’s and the familiar music brought tears to my eyes.  I felt joy bubble up inside of me and could only describe it as pure gratitude and love.

The Savior and the child

Gratitude for nature in all of its glories.  Gratitude for my own small home and the peace I feel every time I open the door and step inside.  Gratitude for each and every miracle of love I have received over my lifetime from my family and friends near and far.  And most of all, gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, whom I celebrate with joy and wonder this season.

How could Thanksgiving not be interwoven with Christmas?  A grateful heart finds joy in giving and a giving heart finds joy in selflessly serving with love.  For the recipient, the act of love warms their lives with gratitude.  The circle is complete.  So for those who wish to put up their Christmas decorations alongside their Thanksgiving decorations, you are really just celebrating the joy that comes from the Season of Light, Love, Gratitude and Giving.  What could be more wonderful than that?

Night and Thanksgiving

Sometimes It’s Just Air…

The other day while running errands, I noticed the tire on my car was a little flat and went to fill it with air at the gas station.  There was another woman there filling up her tire and as I waited, I noticed she stopped and would shake out and rub her hands as if she was in pain.  I paused, because some people don’t always like to be helped.  But after watching her shake her hands out a second time, I turned off my car and went and asked if I could help her.  She said “Yes, please!” And so I filled up her tire for her.

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She explained that she had neuropathy in her hands from cancer.  My mother had neuropathy in her feet from diabetes and I knew how painful it could be.  She used to describe it as sharp needles of pain. I was glad I could help and after wishing her a nice day, she thanked me and left.  I thought no more about it.

The following Sunday, while sitting in church, we were encouraged to get up and share our feelings about Jesus Christ and other spiritual subjects if we felt inspired.  It’s called Testimony meeting and we have it once a month.  For some reason, though I don’t normally, I felt inspired to get up and share what had happened and talk about service to others as a way to light the world in dark times.

After I sat down, another woman stood up and said “I have the second half to Melissa’s story,” and she went on to describe that it was her friend who had been the cancer survivor! They had met at lunch just after my experience with her and she had talked about how grateful she was for the woman that had showed up when she needed help.

jesus-healing-blind-man-1617342-wallpaperThe woman spoke about how our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are in the details of our lives.  I sat there in awe (as did most of the rest of the audience) and couldn’t help the tears from flowing freely down my cheek.  I realized again how important our lives and everyday cares are to our Heavenly Father.  I thought about the numerous times someone has served me: an inspired call when I was lonely or feeling discouraged, a gift of money when I was broke, a knock at the door with some Christmas chocolate when I was craving chocolate just at the moment…and the list goes on.

inspirational-teens-STUN-homeless-Christmas-giftsWhat better way to celebrate Christmas than with random acts of love and kindness?  You can be the angel to someone else if you just listen to that little voice inside of you.  Sometimes it’s just a hug, a smile, a kind word offered to someone having a hard day, extra change, a listening ear, a pair of shoes, a shoveled sidewalk, a conversation with a lonely person and sometimes…it’s just air in a tire.

Sending my love and hugs and Christmas wishes to you all! 

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Counting My Blessings – Happy Thanksgiving!

(Dedicated to my mom who loved Thanksgiving and who taught me to be thankful for the truly important things in life like family, love, nature and Heavenly Father.) 

It seems appropriate to be discussing blessings during Thanksgiving.  The above song is from the movie “White Christmas”, but the words are timeless.  It was during an especially difficult day that I remembered this song.  As I listened to it, the words were like a lullaby soothing my soul.  I used to watch this movie with my mom and it has grown more dear with each passing year.

As I have struggled with the daily challenges of life, I have tried to remember to “count my blessings” or look for the positive in my own life.  Even on my worst days, I will look up at the stars,  and be thankful that I can see them.  When “my bankroll is getting small” and other events are worrying me, I take this day to simply remember all the positive that I have in my life: joyous memories, the ability to see a sunset or watch a storm roll in, to travel to incredible places, to hear exquisite music, to taste delicious food, to have friends around the world and most of all, to share in the warmth of  family and loved ones.

Dear friends, I hope you will do the same. On this day, let us be thankful for the good in our lives.  It takes only a few moments, but it will bring a smile to your face and a lift to your soul.  Even when your cares press in upon you so much that you feel like you can barely breathe, if you stop and think about it for a while, you will begin to find the blessings.  They are there, like small gems waiting to be discovered.

So tonight, as I lay there falling asleep, I will be counting my blessings instead of sheep…and I’ll fall asleep counting my blessings.

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(Though this post was written a few years ago, it’s been changed just a bit and the message is just as important now as it was then.)

Thank Heavens for Spring!

I took a walk today for the first time in weeks.  What prompted this little jaunt you ask?  (Ok, maybe you don’t really care, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Grin)  The sun came out today after weeks of fog, smog, freezing cold and snowy storms.  The first whisper of Spring drifted through the air.  Instead of bundling up and feeling the cold every time I walked outside, I could feel a breath of warmth today.

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Tendrils of spring through the frozen snow

After Christmas is over, I tend to become like a bear and hibernate until the temperature peeks above 50 degrees.  I don’t like winter.  As a child, I loved to play in the snow, but as an adult, I will take rain over snow any day.  I appreciate the picturesque snow right up until Christmas, but on December 26th, I begin to yearn for spring.  This winter has been harder than most.  I remember on Saturday wishing I could just get in my car and drive south just to see some sunshine!   The Februwearies have been hard at work on me this year.

blooming flowerBut fortunately, Spring peeked it’s head out today.  The snow was melting and green tendrils of wild grass were pushing up through the soggy, brown leaves.  The pigeons were out in number flocking past me as I startled them, the swollen stream rushed happily by and the sound of children’s laughter and shouts surged through the air from a nearby hill. Families on bikes and joggers passed me as I ambled along the wet path.

It seemed almost as if the world was coming outside again to greet the return of nature’s version of hope. There are no flowers yet and most of the grass is brown and muddy, but the rays of the sun caressed my cheeks and I felt that unspoken joy that comes when you feel the burdens of a long trial begin to lift.

And that is my favorite part of Spring…the reminder that at the end of a long, dark trial, there is light.  I’ve found that if I can just hold on long enough, and push through the gloomy days, the promised light returns.  I lift my eyes to the skies and my soul is renewed.

Finding that light in our lives can often feel like a never-ending struggle, but for today, I held out my hand and nature took it and squeezed in return.

Little girl

 

 

The Ghost of Me

(My most recent attempt at a poem.  I hope you enjoy it.)

Glyn Baker [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Ghost of Me

I found you…

In the most unexpected of places

In forget-me-nots in wild spaces

In a blue dress drying in the open air

And the simple words of a humble prayer

In silver hair bands intertwined

And the happy sigh of a contented mind

In pink-flowered pillows

And the purr of a cat

In the grace of the willows

And a black, velvet hat

In the passing scent of lilacs in the air

And the warm embrace of another’s care

In the sun-filled rays of inspiration

And the stormy winds of imagination

I found you again…

The little ghost of me

And I found once more

A joy in the journey.

The Strength to Change

I believe I hold the Guinness Book of World Records for the most moves in 25 years. (Ok, just a little sarcastic humor for you, I don’t really hold the record…I think.) What I am saying is that if anyone knows about change, it is me.

As we begin another New Year, most of us start contemplating our lives and we begin to take stock of our current situations.  Are we where we want to be in our lives?  Have we accomplished everything on our “bucket lists”?  I imagine that most of us will answer “No.”  Isn’t that what New Year’s resolutions are all about?  We dig deep into our lives and unearth what is wrong and set about what it will take to make it better.

Yet to make things better, we need to incorporate change in our lives…and let’s be honest, change can be scary.  No matter how badly we want something, the steps that we need to take to get there can be daunting to say the least. It takes courage, faith, a sense of adventure and yes, a great deal of strength to change.  Whether you are changing your place of residence, your relationship, job, or simply changing something about yourself you don’t like, it takes a strong person to change.  It takes strength because it is uncomfortable at best, painful at worst.

A friend of mine wrote the following beautiful description on her blog, speaking about a current situation she is going through:

“Surrounded by a growing city of stacked cardboard boxes, I’m pretzeled on the sofa, staring out the window, watching it pour. I had to do this, start building this city of boxes. I cry my heart out to the storm-wet streets and weeping trees, not because I wanted to find someone else, but because I needed to find myself.  And maybe that sounds more like selfishness than salvation.  But the streets and trees, bearing witness to my many a tearful walk, know better.”

http://thewordpirate.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/rain/

bird in the rain

One of the most painful changes we can make is ending an unhealthy relationship. I would know as I’ve been there.  It took the death of my mother to open my eyes to my own life.  Just days after her death, I pondered my relationship and how unhappy I was. I realized that I didn’t have that many years left to live and I thought “Am I going to spend the rest of my life being miserable?”

I had grown comfortable in my misery.  It was easier for me to accept the status quo than face the unknown of being alone.  I wasn’t sure if I could muster the strength to take a leap into the darkness, because I knew I would face loneliness and pain…and cause pain.  Was I being selfish?  Or was it more selfish to stay together and continue to make each other unhappy?

As I pondered these questions in the darkness of the night, I fell to my knees and poured out my heart to the heavens.  And somewhere in the darkness, I found my strength…and I moved forward with my life.

Please understand that I’m not advocating divorce.  I think marriage is one of the most beautiful gifts that any man or woman can experience.  I believe that real love exists…I know it does.  I believe that sharing your life with someone who truly loves you can be a little bit of heaven on earth.  And I still hope for that kind of relationship for my own life.

But oh…if I could shine a light on anything, it would be this: sometimes you have to sink to the depths of sorrow to rise to the heights of joy!  The sweetness of learning to love yourself again, of finding laughter free from all pain, and above all, finding love that builds you up instead of tearing you down…all this waits for those who take the step into the unknown and find the faith to change.  And maybe that step into the darkness will ultimately be a step into the light.  You won’t know until you try.

Don’t be afraid.  You won’t do it alone.  Here…take my hand.  We’ll take that step together into the light…

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