Blue Planet Christmas

20151221_162541One of my favorite ornaments on our tree is one we bought for our friend, Sung Ho – An M&M Elvis.  He was an IU student and a friend of our oldest son.  When he was unable to return to Korea for the Christmas Break, he spent a few days with us.  It was meaningful for our family and we are richer for it; however traumatic it might have been for him!

Each year, as we decorate our tree, this ornament reminds me of those days spent with that young man and his gentle spirit and kind heart.  He has a family of his own now and is making his way in the world and I couldn’t be happier for him.

I am grateful for Sung Ho and the many others who’ve entered our lives for a season…and will engage us in the years to come.  They help enlarge our perspective of the world and make it possible for us to engage the global community.  They teach us about life beyond our four walls and help us understand that our way is not the only way.  People like Sung Ho, Ayumi, Chijioke, Zhang, and many more have enlightened us, loved us, and guided us into a better understanding of our interconnected life on this tiny planet.

#ayearofgratitude

Quiet, Hidden Places

2015.12.15 Hidden PlacesEarlier this year we had the opportunity to visit Galena, IL and a fantastic Inn at Irish Hollow.  The property is dotted with quiet, hidden places all tied together by well-maintained paths.  I’ve been to very few places as beautiful as this property.  There are few oases as special as these hidden alcoves.

One especially wonderful location is a rusty bridge abandoned to traffic years ago.  In place of tractors and pickup trucks, the bridge now supports a wonderful  20-foot wood plank table, benches, chairs, cabinets, a wood stove.  Oil lamps glow atop the rustic furniture.  Christmas lights hang lazily through the overhanging tree branches and add a elegance and charm.  A muddy brook babbles softly under the trestle and cows chew on their cud, silently watching the festivities occurring overhead.

The only downside was the 7.5 hour drive to find this place of wonder.

However, we are truly blessed when we can find a special place a little closer to home.  For some, it might be that special chair in the quiet corner of the den.  For others, a quiet evening in the back yard, listening to crickets and song-birds as the sun sets.

I’m so grateful for those special places in my life – those quiet, wonderful places:  My own back yard, the sandy beach of Lake Webster at Epworth Forest, a majestic woods in Randolph County, and even that chair next to the fireplace.

I’m thankful for those places and many, many more.

#ayearofgratitude

The Season of Advent

2015.12.14 AdventThere is something about this holiday season that really touches my heart and soul.  The lights, the sounds, the smells combine to rekindle my fondest memories.  They activate warm feelings and take me on a wonderful sentimental journey.

I am most grateful for this time of year.  There is only one thing that would make it better and that would be a few inches of snow on the ground…but not too many people would agree with me on this point.

Today, I am grateful for the season of Advent.  It is a time of preparation.  It is a time of joy, peace, hope, and love.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

#ayearofgratitude

Robert Downey, Jr.

2015.12.12 Robert Downy Jr.Okay.  I’ll say it.  I like Robert Downey, Jr.

It’s not a man-crush thing.  It’s just that I respect this guy.

Years ago he was having a hard time.  Years ago he made a few mistakes.  Years ago he lost his way.

Some might have given up.  Some might have stopped all-together.  But those bumps in the road didn’t stop him.  Instead, he got help.  He turned it around.  He moved forward with both his life and his career.

I am grateful for my friend, Bobby (as I like to call him when we’re alone).  He is a reminder that even in those times of life when I’m down and out, there is grace and hope.  Even when I’ve made poor decisions, when I’ve acted carelessly, when I’ve struggled, I am not necessarily at the end of my rope.

#ayearofgratitude