Simple Gifts

Before I can recall specific memories of time from my childhood, I learned this Shaker hymn written by Brother Joseph Brackett in 1848:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Last night, I was pondering the blessings of simple gifts I have received in my life. Among the myriad, I will mention but a few:

1. The Gift of Time. Occasionally, I am aware of individuals, who, by living with intention, carve out a section of time for me. Sometimes, this time is given in the form of sending a message, answering a question, or acknowledging a comment. Other moments, I receive this gift when a dear soul calls on the phone or visits. Each morning, I wake with a sense of the gift I have been given of another day to spend time as I wish.

2. The Gift of Choice. I am acutely aware each day that I have the gift of choice. I choose what I want to wear, where I will go (or stay), and how I will use the gift of time. I choose the relationships I will develop each day, the words I will write and read, the music I will hear. I choose to live and love.

3. The Gift of Being Clean. After the birth of a new baby, I remember a moment where my mother was returning from a doctor appointment not far from my home. She and my father, who was her driver, stopped by for only a few minutes. She said, “We can hold the baby while you take a shower.” As a mother of a new baby, I had been covered in bodily fluids from leaky nursing pads and diapers. I was so grateful for the blessing of taking a shower and for the gift of being clean.

4. The Gift of Being Able to Change. Other times, I have felt covered in the hopelessness of doubt–doubt in myself and my ability to go on, to move forward, to change. I have allowed myself the laziness of wallowing, not unlike the Prodigal Son. But I, too, have looked up, and through prayer, scripture study, and through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been given the gift of being able to change.

5. The Gift of Love. As a teenager, I was hyper-judgemental. I didn’t like that every outfit I saw, every person with whom I spoke, and every hair-do and purse and action was seen through a critical lens. I even looked at myself that way. The gift of love was lacking in my life. As I grew into a high school and college student, I began to cultivate feelings of love for others (though I still struggled with self-love and acceptance). The newfound happiness of loving instead of judging others was a great gift. Eventually, I decided I wanted to give that gift not only to others, but to myself. I struggled over years of praying and building uplifting thought processes; I spent many an hour along this journey in conversation with supportive friends. Within the last several months, my heart has changed toward myself, as well. I have gained knowledge that God loves me as I was, as I am now, and as I will become–even with my imperfections. I still have negative days occasionally, but overall, I can say that I do–truly–love myself. This gift is perhaps the most precious of them all.

Waiting for 10 o’clock

I have this rule. We call it the “10 o’clock rule” around our house.

Clock 10:00

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And, I am watching the clock, even as I type, for the numbers to fly onward toward this blessed time.

You see, we don’t have sugar–like hard-core, solid, sugar–until after 10 a.m.

Don’t ask me when the rule began.  I have no idea.  Somehow, I do recall that I read something to the effect of “if you eat chocolate when you crave it between 10 am-4 pm, you will be healthier.”  The 10 o’clock rule was then born for chocolate, and eventually defined to cover Skittles, Starbursts, soda, ice cream, and other varied sugary items.

Doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, and other such items are not included in the 10 o’clock rule.

And, I do have some banana bread on the counter.  I could get up, slice some, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds, slather it with butter and enjoy.

But the Skittles in my backpack that sit atop my computer desk area are so much closer…(29 more minutes)…and my body is probably still full from the delicious bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries and cream I had for breakfast.

(Too bad breakfast was several hours ago….)

Twenty-eight minutes.  Maybe I’ll work on my love songs playlist for our anniversary.  I’ve been enjoying that.

And I could start editing the novel I wrote last November.  I’ve got hours of work on that project.  But, of course, I would need some Skittles to even open the document.

And, it’s still twenty-seven minutes until 10 o’clock.

Maybe I should change time zones.

🙂

Home

This new video/song from The Piano Guys touched my spirit this morning.


Watching it brought to mind many phrases which talk about home.  Among some of the more familiar are sayings such as, “home is where the heart is” or “be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Even the precious Dorothy had power to click her ruby-slippered heels while saying, “There’s no place like home” to be transported back to her beloved Kansas.


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Through these thoughts, I began to question what the idea of home really means to me. Is home a physical place? Is it a feeling? Is it an entity all in itself that defies but embodies place, time, or feeling?


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I was born into a home on the east coast of the United States. When I was less than ten years old, our family changed houses (but not cities). I was concerned that I was leaving the familiarity of all I knew up to that point and all I connected with home. Though I was taking my loved ones and toys, my clothing and other belongings with me, I was leaving Pepto-Bismol pink walls of a room where I had slept since I could remember. I worried that my life would change. (And it did.) But I still had a “home.”


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Years later, our family relocated to another state. The culture was different; the surroundings were surreal. Still, I came to call that place home.


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As I have moved many more times throughout my life–both as a child and as an adult, I have developed a new definition of the word home. Home doesn’t mean toys or a blanket or pink walls or even a particular city or state to me anymore. I have learned that home is acceptance, friendship, faith, connection, comfort, peace, and love…wherever this path of life may lead.

Love…True Love

I remember laughing so hard my insides hurt when I first watched Peter Cook recite these famous lines:

I laughed even more when a dear friend of mine, who I dare say captured the essence of Peter Cook’s delivery of those lines, along with her own comedic flair, would recite those beloved lines.

“Wuv…troo wuv….”

Well, I am writing today because I have been considering “The Thing Called Love” (which, incidentally, was a movie I enjoyed back in the day but haven’t revisited for years). Before you go “blame it on your lyin’, cheatin’, cold, dead-beatin’, two-timin’, double-dealin’, mean, mistreatin’, lovin’ heart,” you might want to consider LOVE for a little while, too…and more specifically the opportunity or possibility for an eternal or timeless love….

I am not a big Twilight fan.  I haven’t read any of the books; I never waited in line or paid for a ticket to see any of the films.  I did, however, out of respect for cultural literacy, decide (maybe at about the time New Moon was released) that I would probably ClearPlay most of the films by the end of the series.  As of last night, I have completed watching the films (mainly due to one of my children’s unlikely fascination with the franchise)…and as I have pondered what I have learned and the attraction of the story, I have some thoughts to share.

I believe in eternal love.  I believe that relationships exist beyond this life, and that we can be with our loved ones again who are currently separated from us because of death.  I also believe in the immortality of the soul.  I do not, however, believe in the reality of vampires (no matter what history might say about Abraham Lincoln hunting them) :).  Still, I think the medium of vampire culture serves a purpose to paint a picture of a loving, supportive family, with couples who honor vows to one another.

Could our disposable society learn anything from these messages?  (Here I would like to insert my belief that I do support the option of divorce in particular circumstances…but I think people often throw away relationships that could be saved with effort and work much like they throw away their fast food wrappers and paper plates after dinner….)

I am also captivated by the story found in The Time Traveler’s Wife.  While I found the abundant profanity in the book offensive and skimmed over some graphic sex scenes, I felt compelled to finish the book.  As I read, the power of a committed relationship that did not bend to time taught me again and again.  Now, I do not believe in time travel (though I do find the Back to the Future movies highly entertaining).  What draws me to this story is the decision two people made to be together, to grow together, to live through challenges together, and to love each other fiercely.

I have heard that any two people committed to each other and committed to God can make a marriage work.  Not to say that some people aren’t more well-suited to each other…some are.  Still, committment is key in making a relationship work.  And, every day anyone in a relationship wakes up each morning and makes a decision to stay with that person (or not).  This decision may not be consciously made, but it is made nonetheless.  And the decision is yours to make your love…[a] true love that will stand the test of time (and maybe even eternity).