Was anyone else outside this morning at 4:40?
Our little dachshund, Lady, decided to tell her mamma it was potty time at 4:40 AM today. So a very grumpy, sleepy-eyed mamma obliged and carried her outside so she could take care of her business.
While she searched for the perfect spot, I managed to get the sand out of my eyes to be blessed with a beautiful moment. Up in a gorgeous, midnight blue sky was a huge, orange moon that looked like it was sitting on the western horizon. I stood there a few moments after Lady had completed her task basking in the beauty of the moon.
Later in the day I wished I had been awake enough to have the presence of mind to go get my camera and try to capture the scene. But alas I didn’t.
Even still, the view seems to now hold a permanent spot in my memory as I sit here this evening in blissful remembrance.
My beautiful moon lesson hasn’t escaped me. It was a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of inconvenient, uncomfortable, unpleasant, difficult, boring tasks, duties or situations, there can be beauty that is not to be missed. Beauty that reminds us that the bad in our experience will pass and the good will remain — as sure as the moon will be out again tonight!
It was reading a magazine article speaking of home décor that reminded me again to appreciate what I have rather than what I don’t.
The writer said, “I have a back door, for example, that can only be opened or closed if you know the right push, shove, tug, slam, lock-twist technique….My house is full of things that are not as they should be.”
I couldn’t help but feel I was reading a feature story about the house I’ve lived in for over thirty-two years! Considering I’ve spent most of those years looking forward to moving out, it’s hard to believe I am as content and comfortable as I now am. Actually, I’m ready to take on a remodeling project for another house we’ve inherited, but that’s another story.
This story is about how gratitude has the power to broaden our vision and help us see options that are obscured by a limited point of view.
Several years ago an artist friend was visiting our little farmhouse and pointed out various unique features – details that I had never appreciated or valued. I eventually realized that I was too consumed with focusing on what I didn’t like to notice anything that I did or could.
The miracle in this story was how gratitude helped me to see present possibilities and completely altered my view of not only my little farmhouse, but my entire life.
With Thanksgiving in the not-so-distant future, my magazine writer wrote, “So this Thanksgiving, do not fret about the perfect turkey or the perfect table or the perfect house. Instead, give thanks for all the things in your life that are made somehow more interesting by being old, broken, missing, or otherwise slightly off. It’s what makes a house a home.” (Letter from the editor, Coastal Living, November 2013
I can remember times in my childhood when I didn’t have a house to live in. But whether I was living out of a car or old trailer, I always felt I had a home. That’s because home was where ever my mamma was. Or maybe it was because my mamma knew the secret for making any place feel like home.
My mamma approached every situation we were in with certainty, expectancy, and creativity. She confronted each challenge step by step, being grateful for and valuing any progress – whether big or small. She never became daunted by any single task that was required. She never took her eye off the ball – her goal, her destination, her dream. This is because she was certain she could accomplish her goals.
Mamma has always said it was imperative to appreciate every step of progress and to never fail to recognize what is good in your life and what you do have.
Indeed, my mamma taught me that when I view my life through the lens of gratitude, I will be able me to see what is there instead of what is not.
My mamma has always been right!
I begin this message on a somber note and I’m not sure where it’s heading. I have three older brothers. The brother closest to me in age is seven years older. And it’s this dear brother who seems destined to pass on before the rest of us as he now lies in a hospital bed waiting for that moment to arrive.
My sadness of losing this beloved brother is based upon agonizing images in my mind that are crying “what shouldn’t be and what should have been.”
I know that these images and thoughts will serve no good purpose and are some I need to come to grips with eventually. But I’m having great difficulty in doing that today. So I’m writing in an effort to convince myself I guess.
Certainly, there have been other times in my life when I’ve struggled with regrets of what might have been. But those times were usually about my own life and I would come to realize I could still make changes, move forward and do things differently.
It is a whole other story when you’re looking at the end of life for a loved one and you can only see a life story filled with actions and decisions that scream what should have been. “He’s too young,” my heart sobs. “This shouldn’t be,” my heart laments. There was so much potential not reached, talent not utilized, passion not directed in the way it was meant. In the past year or so he spoke to me about new dreams that break my heart to know he can’t fulfill them.
I’m trying to believe his spiritual life will go on. But at the moment, I’m not finding solace in that hope.
What is building in my heart and soul is a growing determination to make the most of my own life. To stop waiting for another day or for tomorrow or for another year to do the things I dream of. I don’t want to reach my end of days and think what should have been or what I should have done. And I really don’t want my loved ones to look at me and think the same.
I’m also becoming more passionate about not missing opportunities to say or do whatever could or should be said or done.
I missed my brother’s last phone call to me. If only I could hear “Hey baby sister!” a few more times. I remember our last normal conversation very well. It was months ago actually and I recall having the feeling that I didn’t want it to end.
Have you ever been on the telephone with a loved one and the whole time you were anxious to get off because you had other things you wanted or needed to do?
My advice to you is to always be present in your time spent with those you love. To not be mentally distracted by what is often inconsequential details of your life. Nothing is probably more valuable to you than the time you spend with someone you love. So relish and cherish those times. It could be your last spent with that someone.
I’m so very grateful now that I didn’t hurry my last long normal conversation with my brother. I know now it was a gift.
Maybe that’s my answer today. I’m going to think about my brother as a gift in my life. And gifts of times spent together can’t be taken away. Their memories remain forever…
My last photo with my brother Gary – Summer 2011
P.S. I’m adding a P.S. note to my previously published post! I am also reminding myself RIGHT NOW that my brother is NOT gone yet and I’m going to STOP grieving for him as if he was! I’m going to focus on his presence in this moment and letting him know how much he is loved!
I’m tacking on a final sad note a few days after my original post to say my dear sweet brother, Walter Gary Moody, passed on this morning, October 5, 2013. Not sure what more I will publish in the future about my brother, but I will tell you here that I’ve began a journal recording my earliest memories of the brother who was seven years old when I was born. And these memories are making me smile!
Listen up, princesses!
You are the woman of God’s creating—made in her image. Your innate nature includes the qualities of poise, confidence, strength, courage, compassion, love. Be true to yourself.
Happiness is found in being who God made you to be.
You can do it. Your thinking is your most powerful weapon. Use it. Follow your heart. Don’t hide your light and love. Be the spiritual self that God intended. Don’t be shy. Be yourself—freely, unconditionally, and fearlessly. You’ll be much happier if you do.
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One day an email landed in my box that inspired me. It told about a group of students who were asked to name what they thought were the Seven Wonders of the World. The wonders that received the most votes included Egypt’s Great Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Panama Canal, Empire State Building, St. Peter’s Basilica, and China’s Great Wall.
But apparently one student had trouble finishing her list, stating she could not make up her mind because there were so many to choose from. The teacher encouraged her to share her list aloud with the other students to see if they could help. She read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, to feel, to laugh, and to love.”
This unexpected list was followed by a poignant reminder—“The most precious things in life cannot be built by hand or bought by man.”
This student listed “wonders” that I never thought much about until one day a few years ago when my husband and I took my friend, Shirley, for what turned out to be her final jeep ride.
Riding in the jeep was not a big deal to me, perhaps because it was “old hat” as some might say. But Shirley, then in the final stages of her battle with cancer, noticed details I never had and she relished every moment of her ride. I was captivated by her adoration and reverence for what she was seeing and by every breath of fresh country air she took in so gratefully. She passed on a few months later.
My jeep ride with her taught me lessons I will never forget. I discovered colors in the sunset I didn’t know were there. I learned that each of our cows has its own distinct bellow and some have really long eyelashes. I noticed that the deeper the hole you drive over, the harder your laugh will be. I found that looking out over big Texas pastures reminds you of the broad expanse of God’s love. I was informed that gazing at the horizon when the sun is setting fills you with a peaceful sense of the infinity of life.
How do we keep our sense of wonder?
How do we maintain our appreciation of all the everyday miracles that compose our day?
How do we never overlook the blessings that make up each life moment?
Even to ask such questions is a good beginning. Pausing to ask these questions also requires pausing to explore for the answers. Our sincere desire to cherish life is a prayer in and of itself—and one that will be answered.
As I learned in my jeep ride, the more acutely aware we are of what and who shares our days, the more meaningful and satisfying life will be. Savoring and mindfully using any of the wonders of sight, hearing, taste, touch, feeling, laughter, and love will guide you to even more of the wonders that God promises for her beloved children.
Start right now—this very moment—and keep yourself in a constant state of awe, admiration, and respect for every ordinary and extraordinary wonder in your day. You don’t want to miss anything. I sure hope I don’t.
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“When you need a time out, go to the beach,” is my mamma’s lesson 12. As I wrote in my book, Mamma has always been a big believer in taking “time outs.” Since I’m fixin’ to do just that, THANK GOD, I couldn’t help but dream about what I hope to experience when I get to my spring break destination.
These past couple of years have been filled with some doozy challenges I hope not to repeat anytime soon – or rather I hope to never repeat! Two surgeries, for example, are two TOO many in a lifetime much less in a year. But my health woes are not the half of what has weighed heavily on my heart. And I know you have your own troubles and certainly don’t need to hear my dreary list.
So I’m moving on to reminiscing happier days. My mamma and I made countless trips to the ocean, often driving a thousand miles to get there. Sometimes we drove all night even if only for a weekend. The beach was her favorite place to “time out.” Whatever the reason, a trip to the beach picked up her spirits and gave her the rest and encouragement she needed to keep moving ahead with her life and goals.
Indeed, there is something calming about listening to the ocean waves crash and enlightening about gazing at the endless ocean horizon. Problems that seem huge and unsolvable become small and fixable as I soothe my feet in the infinite grains of cool sand. Yes, the seashore is my favorite “prayer closet.”
But I can’t always head to the beach because it is still about a thousand miles away. Thankfully, there are other opportunities to be alone and quiet. It might be a candlelit bath, a walk in the country side, a drive to a nearby lake, or just shutting my office door and closing my eyes to ponder how much greater God’s love is than any problem I’m facing.
But this time……I’ll be closing my eyes oceanside!
May you find your “beach” where ever that may be this spring break week and every week in the year ahead!