Right Now

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I happened upon a blog post during a 30-day blogging challenge, and a short rabbit trail led me to Lisa Sonora’s blog/journal prompt “Right Now”. It’s simple, yet has somehow remained illusive over the years I’ve been writing and navigating writer’s block. It’s one of those moments when I feel like somebody opened the curtains and let sunlight stream into my usually dimly-lit room. Normally, I think light is overrated. Today, I like it.

Right now…I am listening to my daughter sing. Her voice rises and falls as she moves about the house, and I close my eyes for long moments just to feel it. Her voice has made me smile heart-deep for over twenty years now, and I could never imagine my life without it. Not long after she left for the dentist’s office this morning, I was startled awake by a dream where she was calling my name. I lay there chiding myself for worrying about her. She’s twenty! I sighed peacefully when she texted a few minutes later that she had safely arrived.

Right now, I am perusing photos of Mama. Aunt Vernell called yesterday and asked if I had a particular photo, and I said I would print it and send it to her. Talking to Aunt Vern is the closest thing to talking to Mama that can happen with her gone now almost ten years. Aunt Vern was the closest to Mama of all the sisters, and so much like her it’s hard to describe. I plan to call my beautiful aunt more often.

Right now, I am grateful for warmed-up leftover biscuits with butter and strawberry preserves. They remind me of my childhood, when Mama made them by hand in her big biscuit bowl. I have a wooden one of my own now, just the perfect size for a batch of dough that makes a dozen. I made homemade flour tortillas for the first time yesterday. I have some improving to do, but I’m optimistic. They made some pretty tasty grilled chicken fajitas for our little supper for three.

Right now I am watching the breeze sway the palm fronds just outside my office window. Muggs and her husband gave us a bird feeder for our anniversary and I’m hoping to put it up this evening in a location where it can be seen through both my office and the kitchen windows. The jays and cardinals have been swooping into the alcove often lately so I put a bowl of seed in the kitchen window sill, but the feeder will be easier for them to see.

Right now I feel grateful for these last few weeks of summer calm before school starts again, and I will be grateful when it does start and I get back into my study routine. The busyness fuels me, keeps me organized, makes me feel alive.

Right now I miss my husband and count the hours until he’s home again.

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The Discipline of Gratitude {Slow Down Challenge Day 5}

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Today’s challenge is living gratefully.

Three years ago I would not have been quite so familiar with this concept. Or, maybe I should say I wasn’t as chummy with it. I’ve always been grateful for what I have, always lived life humbled by the blessings I’ve received, the gifts I have lived. Gratitude comes as naturally to me as breathing.

But it wasn’t until I encountered Ann Voskamp that I really came face to face with gratitude as a way of living every single moment, the way living gratefully truly seems to slow time down. And slowing time down is something we all long to do–some of us more than others, particularly as we age.

“How we act when the worst stuff happens is correlated to our deepest beliefs about ourself and the world.”
— Jeff Goins

The challenge for today is to say “Thank you” for everything, including the inconveniences and annoyances. And presumably Mr. Goins does not mean it the way I sometimes say it, like today when the guy wouldn’t let me merge onto the interstate and I said something to the effect of, “Oh, thank you ever so much for not letting me in. I mean, that would have been FAR TOO NICE!” Ahem. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that isn’t what he means.

Saying thank you to the growth that happens when we are made to wait isn’t natural. In fact, it’s pretty hard to do. I’m not usually inclined to be grateful for delays.

I don’t wait well.

But I can easily see how what I do in the waiting times can define me in some fashion. Kind of like how willingly I give to someone who can’t give back. It’s a test of character, a test I have failed far too often.

But Lord willing, with some studying I’ll get better at it.

Chapter 3: Naming Gifts

It struck me as profound the way Ann writes of gifts becoming real when we name them. I love the way she brought us back to the Garden where God let Adam name the animals. Wow. He wasn’t just giving him busy work! He was allowing his creation to recognize the gift in each and every animal as he called it by its name.

This week I have been particularly awake to the details of hundreds, thousands of gifts within my immediate senses every moment of every day of life. The awareness is almost a hypersensitivity to everything around me, all at once, every minute. I can’t help but wonder if these are glimpses of what God feels like–only tiny glimpses, since (not being bound by time and space as we are) He knows all and is everywhere all the time. I wonder if Jesus felt this way, being human and God. That bears further thought. A lot of it, I think.

As I sat with my husband and daughter at dinner, I smiled thinking of Ann giving “Say Cheese!” new meaning and plunked my Nikon D80 down on the table next to my plate. This alarmed my table-mates none whatsoever, as they are becoming accustomed to such quirks, especially lately. I’m finding it rather beneficial having my camera nearby. Almost as handy as my journal and pen.

Seed: The naming of the gifts, as Ann described, intrigues me, thrills me, perplexes me. I feel compelled to dig deeper into the idea of recognizing gifts and their minute detail.

Water: I bought my One Thousand Gifts journal today. I plan to carry it with me in my purse. For Valentine’s Day, Steve bought me a new canvas purse/bag big enough to carry my journal and the book. He knows my heart.

Bloom: I’ve become pretty excited about the keeping of “the list”. Rosie asked me today if we could share the journal. I grinned at her and she explained that she was referring to the idea of having the journal open and available for anyone in the family to write in it. How perfectly appropriate for our family. So us.

Ironically, today I suddenly remember our old Family Journal I started back in 1992, a large spiral notebook we always kept on the coffee table for our family and friends to write or draw or doodle in. I went searching for it this afternoon and dug it out, dusted it off, and began to read back through the pages. 19 years of our family jottings in this tattered volume now beginning to fall apart with age and use and a couple too many moves. I laughed and even cried a little at some of the funny things the kids said. Family poetry, quotes, milestones, silliness…all of it a treasure.

So yes, I will share my journal with my family, leaving it open and inviting while we’re at home and carrying it with me in my new purse/bag when I go out. And one thing is certain, this awareness, this alertness, this gratitude that is quickly becoming inseparable from breathing, is only growing stronger by the minute.