Monday, November 16, 2009

Having an attitude of gratitude

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. I like it better than Christmas. Some people think I'm crazy but I don't care what they think. It gets my dander up when I see Christmas marketing coming earlier and earlier each year. So each year I try just a bit harder to spread my love of Thanksgiving a little farther and to a few more people.

Why do I like Thanksgiving so much?

I like Thanksgiving because it reminds me of all the things that are important to me. Autumn is my favorite season. I love to watch the trees change color. Just the other day I slowed the car just so I could watch the leaves swirl across the road. It was beautiful and I didn't want to just drive on and miss that. I sometimes become so busy that I forget to notice the beauty of this Earth. It is the time when I start curling up in front of the woodstove with luxurious yarns and wooden knitting needles. I also like Thanksgiving because I love the food. I come from a family of good cooks. My Great-Aunt Erna made the most delicious yams in the world. I studied diligently under her watchful eye to perfect this one dish. People who hate yams love these yams. Period. I haven't met anyone yet that could pass them up once they tasted them. They are a luscious concoction of red yams, butter, brown sugar, fresh orange rind and juice, and marshmallows. They aren't your typical yams. I doubt that I could write down the recipe for someone. You'd just have to stand in my kitchen and watch me make them. That is the way I learned and it's the only way to truly get them right. If I had watched my Grandma Mildred a little more closely I could have discovered the secret of her perfect Lemon Meringue Pie. I keep toying with it and it's still not quite right.

But the real reason I love Thanksgiving is because for a full month I can focus myself and my family on gratitude. This year we have a gratitude journal with a page for each person in the family. Each evening before bed I ask them what they are thankful for that day. Just one thing. I write them down and on Thanksgiving Day I plan on pulling it out after dinner and showing them all the wonderful things in our lives. Just like other people I have problems. Some days it feels quite heavy. Taking the time to thank the Lord, even when things are heavy, softens and changes my heart.

I attended a Relief Society class a few years ago that changed my prayers profoundly. The teacher challenged us to try offering prayers of only gratitude, asking for nothing. I tried it and I was humbled by the difference in my whole outlook that day. I don't have a set schedule for offering this kind of prayer but it is definitely happening on a regular basis. Just this morning I offered a prayer of only gratitude. What a beautiful difference it made in my day! There are some areas of my life right now that are very challenging for me. Heart things. My prayer of gratitude this morning lightened some of those things. Not permanently but temporarily.

Sometimes the burdens I carry are lightened most when I offer the Lord my gratitude instead of my worry. I'm sure that's because when I take those few moments and start listing my blessings my worried heart starts fluttering it's wings trying to reach for hope. And when I can find even a glimmer of hope I feel able to put one foot in front of another a little longer. In Proverbs 31 it never mentions that she has problems but I'm sure she did. What I see is that she was busy using her talents to help her husband and others. She was mindful of continuing on in her duty. And in doing that which was hers to do she found joy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I love the Sabbath

On Friday night we watched Fiddler on the Roof. My children had never seen it and I haven't seen it in years.

I love the preparation Gilda gives to the Sabbath. She is reminding everyone to "hurry, so you're not late for the Sabbath!". Yesterday I made it a point to prepare everything so that we would be ready for the Sabbath. It always amazes me how much nicer the Sabbath is when I put the preparation in to it. I wish our Sabbath began at sundown. Maybe when I'm an old widow I will do it that way. It is such a wonderful time of day to me. The Jewish people always begin their Sabbath with prayers and a special meal. What a wonderful example!

I recently re-read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is my favorite in the whole Little House series. I love Almanzo's mother. She is a wonderful example of a Proverbs 31 woman. There is one thing, though, that I don't like. I don't like how all they did on Sunday afternoon was sit. They weren't allowed to do much of anything. Almanzo sat on a chair for hours. I realize they were interpreting their faith in their way but I'm thankful I'm not the one stuck sitting on a chair for hours.

I have tried to approach the Sabbath with reverence. I'm quickly seeing that when I put in the preparation time I am able to do just that. Everything is laid out and ready to go. A nice meal is planned (one that is not too labor intensive)so that there is a spirit of rest about the whole day. When I am able to approach the Sabbath without a rushed and harried feeling I feel closer to the Lord. I can hear His voice more clearly.

Many times I will choose to nap after Church. Not always though. Today I'm going to rest for a little while but then I'm going to sew. I haven't had the opportunity to sew in a very long time. And I really enjoy it. I believe that observing the Sabbath can be done in many ways. I prefer quiet activities that invite meditation, prayer, and reflection. When I am mindful of this I find myself more able to start the week on a good note.

I would imagine that the Proverbs 31 woman took care to prepare her household for the Sabbath. I've already written in to my schedule for next Saturday, "Prepare for the Sabbath" so that I can enjoy the next Sabbath as much as I'm enjoying this one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Prepare every needful thing.....but first your heart

For the past few days I have been putting together a Home Management Binder. For many years (more than 20) I have used a day planner. For the last year or so I've been lugging around my planner but not really using it. I have explored different layouts and still nothing was working.

In the past I had put together a FlyLady Control Journal but I wanted more. Then I found some examples of different women's Home Management Binders. Voila! That's what I had been looking for.

The most important section that I was needing to add was the Inspiration section. In my busy life it is easy for me to forget to be soft and approachable. I can be quite a drill sergeant if given the opportunity. The Inspiration area of my Home Management Binder is where I am putting all the little reminders that I find in quotes, sayings and stories. When I feel my heart hardening I just flip through those pages and remind myself of the things that are most important.

And when I have my attitude and my heart in the right place I am more able to apply Proverbs 31:26...

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."

Friday, November 13, 2009

The right path...

For many years I have spent time pondering the example given to me in Proverbs 31. In my 20's I flitted from idea to idea as I sought understanding about my role as a woman. I stumbled around looking for a reasonable template to measure my life by.

Then, the Lord led me to Proverbs 31.

I believe that the Lord knows me better than I know my self. I believe that I have a unique mission to fulfill while I am here on this Earth, a job that no one else can do. A job that He needs ME to do. I have found great peace in this passage of scripture. The more I apply these things the more peaceful my spirit becomes.

I have become more encouraged in the things of the Spirit. I have become more convinced of my personal connection to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I have become more of who I want to be and less of who I don't want to be.

As part of my journey studying Proverbs 31 I spent time visiting other blogs and websites on being a Godly woman. I have enjoyed everything I've found. And I realized that I wanted to be a part of the "conversation", so to speak, about this powerful passage of Scripture. I look forward to having a place to put my thoughts about all that I am learning.

A place of my own as I seek the Proverbs 31 life.