Monday, November 24, 2014

The Attitude of Being Grateful in all Things, Even in the Hard Times

The Attitude of Being Grateful in all Things,
 Even in the Hard Times

The holidays are always a difficult time of year for those who have suffered loss.  It is so easy to go to the past and to think of happier days, focus on the loss, and spiral downward in self-pity.  This quote came to my inbox yesterday and it reminded me of an important principle...
"It's easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way.  But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?  Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation?  In other words, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances- whatever they may be." - Dieter F Uchtdorf
I can choose my disposition.  
I can choose my attitude.  
I can choose my focus.

Even though my life is not the picture perfect one that I long to have, I can find things to be thankful for.  When I focus on those things or my blessings, then I view life in a new perspective.  The gray of the day seems to wash away.  Things are clearer and I can find pockets of joy again. 

Here is a little snip-it from that same talk.  I love how he talks about putting down the goblet of bitterness in favor of the goblet of gratitude...

When I choose to be grateful, I find that sweet drink that is full of healing, peace and understanding. 

Is this easy to do in the beginning?
But, in the end IT IS SO MUCH EASIER.

That choice makes a huge difference every day that I make it, and the days that I don't are much harder to deal with.  

The challenge then is to find things to be grateful for everyday, not just around Thanksgiving.  In so doing we will free ourselves of many burdens and gain strength to reach out and do good in this world.  

Share some things that you are thankful for...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When Dark Clouds Hover and the Sky Seems to be Falling In

I am officially two years out.  Two years ago I couldn't see ever getting to this point. My children are doing well and I have much to be grateful for.  However, yesterday the sky seemed to be falling in...

Legal and financial concerns took over most of the day, and everything I tried to do seemed to have a road block.  It was really cold, well below freezing all day, which is unusual for Southern Missouri.  We forgot to undo our hoses so the problems started there.  The leaky faucet in the garage that I have been ignoring because we just put the hose in the driveway was now frozen and had to be taken care of.  A thousand dollar estimate later, I decided a bucket under the faucet could solve the problem for now.

A dark cloud hovered over me as I plowed through all of the temporal concerns. I listed more things to sell on craigslist... extra dishes and furniture that we need to get rid of in preparation for downsizing.  Everything has a memory, and I find the sorting and deciding what to keep very difficult.  I was dealing with everything okay until I found the baggie with my husband's watch....

It is the only thing that was returned to me from the crash.  The heavy metal band is broken and incomplete. The whole watch is scorched and encrusted in carbon.  The glass is cracked and blackened from the heat of the fire.  I took it out of the bag and turned it over in my hand... thinking of the arm that it had been wrapped around and everything that had occurred to leave this watch in this condition.
I openly sobbed...

Two years out... sitting on my closet floor... clinging to my husband's watch, all of the sorrow and pain from day one consumed me.  I was beside myself.  I didn't want to be here, doing everything that I had been doing that day.

I was having a funeral for my husband and 
my life all over again in my mind.

It was afternoon, and I still hadn't exercised or done my daily scripture study.  Getting caught up in the chores of life, I had neglected to take care of my body and my spirit, and I was feeling the impact of that. I knew I still needed to work on my seminary lesson for tomorrow morning,  and that gave me something positive to focus on, so I dried my tears and opened my scriptures.  (I volunteer to teach a junior/senior scripture study class every morning before school.) It gave me some relief, but still I felt the dark cloud.  Pulling myself away from much needed study, I climbed into the car to pick up kids and begin my nightly shuttling service.

I just couldn't keep the tears back, 
and my kids noticed that I was breaking down.  

My 15 year-old son had also felt the cloud of darkness descend that day.  It was as if the powers of darkness had distinctly determined to attack us and they were doing a pretty good job of winning. We grabbed an early dinner and jumped back in the car.  I wanted so badly to just climb into bed where it was warm and I could read something comforting.  The last thing I wanted to do was drive around all night, but I had no choice.  I just felt panicked and distraught.

My son tried to offer words of comfort, but I responded with a rant about my horrible day.

Complaining brought me no comfort and 
only served to pull me further down.

Exasperated and overwhelmed, I looked over at my son to see him praying, right there in the car.

He was praying for me.

My heart was softened.

The phone rang, and we were informed that his meeting was canceled.  I told him that I just really needed to go home and pray before our next stop.  We drove home and I apologized for taking things out on him.  I closed the door to my bedroom and wrapping myself up in a blanket.

I sunk down in tears near my bed... 
to pray... 
for the first time since this morning.

I sobbed through an explanation of my difficulties, then I apologized for my attitude.  Still I felt this heavy weight on my heart.  Then my mind turned to a hymn, and I included the words in my prayer.
"I need thee every hour..."
As soon as I said those words, the darkness literally lifted and left me.  The heavy weight disappeared.  I stopped crying and the panic left me.  It was replaced with this calm, warm feeling of peace.

I just sat there...
reveling in the feeling.  
Soaking up and absorbing the love and peace I felt.

I felt relief from the pain, and burden I had been shouldering by myself.
My heart was filled with gratitude, that God could and would do this for me....
me... just a another mom... a widow... trying to get through life.
I prayed and thanked my Heavenly Father for this respite.  As I did this, the distinct impression that my son was in the other room praying for me came into my mind.  I knew that my relief was in part due to the faith and prayers of my son.  I thanked Heavenly Father for him.  I thought back on my son's life and all of the difficulties and struggles that I have had with him both prior to and after his dad's death.  I thought of the worry and the effort that has gone into helping him heal.  I thought of the huge changes I have seen in him since July when his other brother left on his two-year mission for our church.  I saw how my older son's sacrifice in doing that was blessing all of us.  I felt even a greater measure of love and gratitude.

After I closed my prayer, I went to find him.  As we went out the door for another activity, I asked...
"Were you praying for me when I was in my room? "  
He said. "Yes, and in the car too."
I thanked him, gave him a big hug, and then I told him of my experience.  I described how the darkness had been lifted, and I attributed that blessing to his faith filled prayer.
I told him to remember this and to be confident that 
his prayers had power to work miracles.

I do not know what the devil was trying to thwart yesterday, but I do know that we can have power over him through faith and prayer.  I read this scripture in the car...
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."  Helaman 5:12

Turning to God gives us the power to overcome misery and wo.  
It does not take the situation away, but it gives us power to overcome it.

The take home message from my experience...

Whatever mighty whirlwinds are working in your life... please don't give up and please don't give in.  Hold on, have faith and turn to God and he WILL see you through it.  It happens to me over and over again. Even when I forget and it takes me a while to remember, as soon as I do, I can feel that peace again.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Remembering Scott Clarke and His Father Patrick at the 2 year mark

Remembering Scott Clarke and His Father Patrick
 at the 2 year mark

Two years ago, on November 10, 2012 I lost my husband and his father in a tragic plane accident. Scott was known for his generosity and his kind and thankful heart. In remembrance of him we would like to invite you to make a greater effort to show love and gratitude to the people you associate with this week. Thank your co-workers for their efforts, tell you family you love them, leave the grocery store clerk with a smile and a compliment. Scott lifted, served, helped, appreciated and loved so many of us. Now it's time to pay it forward. Please help us continue his legacy and to create in us our own. ‪#‎ShareGoodness‬

Love you Honey, miss you every day. So glad that Families are Forever