Thankful for Joyful Moments…

Sun setting over Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont

     One morning while on vacation in Vermont, my husband and I sat in silence drinking our morning coffee—a delicious dark roast blend from the Vermont Coffee Company. Ron was doing research to find a just-right duffle bag. I was reading a book I found fascinating about the Enneagram.

      Taking my eyes off the page in order to swig a sip of coffee, I glanced over at my husband and thought, I sure do love this guy!

      Ron and I have been married over 40 years, and the scene I just described isn’t un-familiar. I call times like this, moments of companionable silence. For me, they represent joyful interludes in the everyday activities connected to marriage.

     Joyful moments are gifts to the soul. I love the way Brene’ Brown describes them as “gracefully strung together…”

     One recent Saturday, I enjoyed joyful moments with several people who are dear to me.

     In the morning I met my daughter, Angie, for a latte at Starbucks.

     Then, the two of us picked up a take-out lunch and enjoyed pleasant lunchtime moments with my mom and Angie’s Grandma Kathy. Mom is at a stage in her journey when she loves reminiscing about bygone moments.

     During the day, I spent a few minutes visiting with each of my two sisters.

     Later in the afternoon, I headed to a different Starbucks to enjoy a decaf Americano with my younger daughter, Sarah.

     You may have noticed, my memorable moments are often experienced over a cup of coffee!

     I never want to minimize how precious it is to share joyful moments with my beloved spouse, family members or cherished friends.

     I also never want to take for granted the privilege of special moments spent with God.

     For you who’ve read my blog any length of time, you know over two years ago, I was introduced to contemplative spirituality, which is changing radically the way in which I connect with God.

     Inspirational moments spent practicing disciplines of solitude, silence, lectio divina and most recently, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are being “gracefully strung together.” As a result, I know my soul is being transformed. Trust, gratitude, and faith in God is increasing.

     Moments matter, and I thank God for them. Moments may be experienced while walking in the beauty of nature; sharing memories with an aging loved one; chatting over a cup of coffee; glancing lovingly at your spouse; or sitting alone quietly, simply BEING with God.

In New England, magnificent houses of worship are plentiful. We saw this beautiful church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

     I am thankful for you and pray you may be blessed with many memorable moments…

Sue Reeve

Staying Thankful in the Storm…

The weather was chilly and windy as we watched the sun set over Lake Champlain, a large freshwater lake with shores that stretch from Vermont—where we were—into New York and Quebec, Canada.

     During our New England vacation in October 2019, many days were stormy. As I said in my last post, I realized early on I needed to choose my attitude about the less-than-ideal weather conditions. Was I going to be grumpy or grateful? An ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ begins with a decision.

     The first time I learned about the power of thankfulness to literally change brain chemistry was at a conference several years ago in Seattle, Washington. The event was designed to assist participants learn ways to help victims of violent crimes. One presenter told the large crowd about a significant research project.

     Individual brain scans were done on a group of people dealing with mild to moderate clinical depression. One segment was prescribed an anti-depressant medication; the other was instructed to write down each day five different things for which they were thankful.

     Follow-up brain scans showed the act of documenting thanksgiving was as effective as medication! (Caution: Always consult with your physician before altering medications.)

     Even though God wasn’t highlighted in this presentation, I listened with amazement, thinking how marvelous it is when modern science confirms the truth of ancient words of Scripture. The Bible makes references to thanks around 100 times.

     As I looked at our recent vacation photos, I recalled times when my preoccupation with difficult life circumstances prevented me from seeing the beauty of God’s love.

     There have even been times when I’ve doubted God’s goodness and questioned whether God hears my prayers or even cares about my personal storm. These musings cause me to wonder.

How often have I missed seeing God’s grace because I was so focused on menacing conditions or my unmet expectations?

How many times has my grumbling been so loud that I’ve been unable to accept the Spirit’s willingness to still the clamor in my soul?

A boat firmly anchored during the storm on Lake Champlain.

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning, an English poet from the Victorian era, describes poignantly how we often relinquish the holy for the mundane.

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;[1]
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

     As I pondered a prayer to conclude today’s post, my mind returned to the words of this simple, yet profound childhood prayer:

Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, GOD, for EVERYTHING!

Stowe, Vermont

During this month of Thanksgiving, I pray we will see the beauty of God’s love, and thank God no matter what…

Sue Reeve

  1. See story of burning bush in Exodus 3

Standing at a Thankfulness Crossroads…

     In Monday’s post, I told you my husband and I just returned from a two-and one-half week vacation to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. For over a year, we’ve been planned to mark this milestone by enjoying the birthplace of U.S. history and the splendor of a New England autumn.

     Ron and I flew into Boston the afternoon of Wednesday, October 16th. A few hours later, an epic Nor-Easter blew into the region. The motel where we stayed rattled from the force of near-hurricane-force winds.

     Local news Thursday morning was filled with photos of huge trees, which had crashed into houses, smashed cars and made many roads impassable. Thousands were without power.

     We’d planned to begin the day of our arrival exploring Boston via the “T,” which is the name locals have given to the Boston transportation system. Instead, we used Uber to take us to dinner and then visited nearby museums on Thursday while winds still gusted around 40 mph.

     Storms often alter our plans!

     That storm set a new vibe for our entire vacation.

     While planning our special getaway, I’d envisioned hillsides, dense with deciduous trees decked out in brilliant autumnal tones of ruby reds, golden yellows, brilliant oranges and rich rusts, framed against azure skies filled with fluffy cotton ball clouds.

     Instead, autumn arrived early in New England this year. Peak colors faded prior to our arrival. The violent storm snatched many of the changing leaves. Skies were often filled with dark, menacing clouds. My least favorite weather element—wind—was plentiful.

     During the one full day we were able to discover Boston, I observed notable street names like Acorn, Commonwealth and Hanover. These signs reminded me our long-anticipated vacation may have placed me at an important thankfulness crossroad where I needed to ask: Am I going to choose the road called “Grumbling” or the path named “Gratitude?”

     Storms provide opportunities to choose thankfulness!

     After this awareness, making an attitude adjustment was a relatively easy choice. Choosing gratitude because vacation plans don’t turn out as envisioned is one thing. Other choices aren’t nearly so easy.

     Life often deals us hands that are painful and puzzling to play. Options may involve:

          disappointing decisions,

               painful possibilities,

                    crucial, uncomfortable conversations, and

                         adjustments to a ‘new normal.’

     Because I meet with many folks who are hurting, and frankly, because I am simply part of humanity who lives with the reality of changing human conditions, I encounter transition quandaries almost daily.

     I will never minimize how desperate and energy-draining some situations are for those traveling through them.

     Despite the difficulty, however, I’m convinced God has given us free will to choose whether we will grumble about our circumstances and resist accepting difficult changes or prepare to take each arduous step with a faith-filled, grateful heart:

Despite the storm, I can choose an attitude of gratitude!

Prayer: Dear Lord,

Even though the circumstance through which my friend journeys is difficult, I pray You will give him or her the strength to choose the pathway of thankfulness. Please, Lord, bless my friend with glimpses of goodness each step of the way.

Amen

One of the “glimpses of goodness” we experienced on our recent vacation. The night skies were clear, so Ron drove to a nearby meadow to practice some astrophotography techniques. I hope you can make out the Big Dipper’s spectacular reflection in the pond.

Blessings to each of you…

Sue Reeve