Taking moments to breathe and be grateful

December 15, 2015

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've had a nagging feeling around the edges, telling me to slow down, get some quiet time, pray, and really have a contemplative Advent.

Christmas cards in the works . . . 
It's not happening, at least not in the way I'd like.

But then I think about Brother Lawrence, the 17th century monk who worked in a monastery kitchen in France.

He used the moments when he was scouring pots and pans to pray, to continually "practice the presence of God." I can do the same thing as I decorate, shop, wrap, and keep up with my regular chores. An Advent in the heart.

For instance, today in the mall, trying to quickly run in, make a return, and pick up one thing, I ran into lines and delays. Rather than fret about how much I had to do, and how much I'd like to get home and experience some of that contemplative time I'm dreaming about, I decided to notice the people around me. To smile at them, speak kindly, do an act of service (such as open a door), or pay a genuine compliment. And to notice and thank those who did the same for me. Such as the nice man who opened a couple doors for me at the Post Office, as I came across the parking lot looking like Gus the mouse in Cinderella (packages, like cheese, carried in my arms all the way up to my chin!).

The advice, "be in the moment," is good. To be still on the inside, even when I'm busy on the outside.


This morning I was telling my daughter I really needed to do a blog post (it's been a week!), but that I didn't feel inspired about anything in particular. (These fabulous blog home tours can sometimes make me feel a little intimidated as I look around at my slow-to-come-together decorating.) She suggested a couple topics. No, no, no . . . they didn't really speak to me.

"I have to be excited or inspired about whatever I blog about," I said.

"Well," she said. "You'll come up with something. That's one thing I admire about you, Mom. You're always really interested in learning new things and you're always getting excited about things."

What a nice compliment. I used to brush compliments off, but I decided some time ago to receive them graciously, as the genuine gifts that they are. 

So, with that as a springboard, I'll just list a few happy things that I've been excited about lately:

A lovely CD of Christmas carols gifted to us by friends

Christmas Tea by Twinings, with real cream and sugar, sipped while enjoying a mincemeat tart

Our youngest coming home for Christmas

The twinkling lights on the three trees we have up, and on the stairwell (yes, I decorate a lot)

Tiny little battery-operated twinkle lights scattered about the kitchen table and hutch

Lots of softly glowing candles

Money to buy gifts and food

Good health

Loads of books to read, crafts to do, crossword puzzles to work on, puzzles to put together, games to play

Plenty of wood for a nice, cozy fire every day

Dumb You-tube videos and Facebook quizzes which I always say I'm not going to waste my time on, but do anyway

A cozy bathrobe and warm winter coat

Handmade earrings gifted to me

The real reason for Christmas -- Jesus -- and that no amount of banning Him from the public square can take Him from my heart

I could list 100 more things that I'm thankful for and get excited about -- from the cheerful little chickadees at my feeder to my new raspberry-colored lipstick -- and still not run out of things.

The news is so depressing, and there are things in my life that are painful, but there's always something to be happy about. There's always something new and interesting to learn.

So, this turned into a little rambling post . . . Actually, the real reason I'm having trouble blogging right now, besides being busy, is that I'm still trying to figure out a new way to back up my photos. I've run out of space. So I can't share photos. It will take about 10 minutes to figure it out, I'm sure. When I do, it will be one more thing to be excited about.

Linking with No Place Like Home.


  1. A delightful post, so many things to be happy about you are truly blessed. Take care.

  2. Hi Deborah, Indeed you are blessed, as I also am. There is so much to be thankful for. Regarding blog storage, I pay Google a small amount every year for additional storage. Here is the link where you can check out and purchase google cloud storage: https://www.google.com/settings/storage
    Merry Christmas, Deborah!
    Hugs, Beth

  3. Deborah, you have plenty to be excited about and I like your attitude when you're out and about. I learned a long time ago that a smile can make someone's day. Standing in a long lineup and not complain about it is so much easier on that poor overworked cashier this time of year. And offer him or her a smile when you do get up to the checkout! If one has joy in their heart, it has to come out, right? This is the season to rejoice for He has come and He's alive and still working miracles among us.

    Now, if I could just finish up the mailing of my cards, finish up the baking.... There's always a nice cup of tea or coffee waiting to be enjoyed. Merry Christmas, my friend!


  4. Thanks for the inspiring post, Deborah. I confess that I too am guilty of squandering time on Youtube and Facebook. Hee!

  5. What a lovely post!

    This is what spoke to my heart **The real reason for Christmas -- Jesus -- and that no amount of banning Him from the public square can take Him from my heart.**

    Have a lovely Christmas, and inspiration, joy, peace and love fill your heart and life ~ FlowerLady

  6. You've listed many things to be thankful for Deborah and sometimes we need to stop and acknowledge them. Also to bring some peace and kindness to others around us during this often hurried time of year.
    Like Beth, I pay a fee to Google for extra photo space, especially important now that I host a meme.

  7. And a Spode mug (another blessing, I think)! Mine has straight sides. Elegance at Christmas, I do believe. Blessings on you, sweet friend.

  8. Well, you may think you have no inspiration for blogging but I sure did enjoy this post. It made me think of all the things that make me happy during this stressful yet wonderful time. Deb

  9. Hi Deborah, Well for not having a thought to post about, you turned out one that is beautiful and so inspiring. Yes, there is so much to be thankful for in the little everyday of life. Even being able to decorate and enjoy the view of pretty lights this time of year is a thankful blessing. I imagine your home is gorgeous with your eye for the details. I loved it when you said you used the time in the mall waiting to look around you at the people and smile, share a word, open a door etc. All these things are special to someone and you were placed there at that time for a reason. Maybe your smile was the only smile someone might see that day. You are such a dear heart and thank you for sharing this lovely post for Christmas.
    Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment. Have a wonderful week and next as we approach the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Blessings xo

  10. I love this post, Deborah! When Jesus fills our lives with his spirit, there is joy all around, seeing through new eyes, finding gratitude for things we never before noticed, gifts from the Father. May you have a blessed last week before Christmas.

  11. I love Bro. Lawrence and his lesson of the pots -- seems it reaches many hearts.

    Enjoyed your lovely post with its joy and contentment 'in the midst'.

    Wishing you a beautiful day...

  12. I loved reading about your Advent in your Heart, Deborah. Your daughter paid you the best compliment and I'm glad that you embraced it, my friend. Finding the good, even while in line, sure beats being cranky and grumpy. Thank you for blessing us with the list of some of things your grateful for during this lovely season. We all need to slow down and count our blessings, but mostly for having Jesus in our hearts.

  13. What a lovely post! I would like to think that kindness is contagious. It's all about the attitude of the heart. Thanks for writing what was in your heart today! P.S. And thanks to your beautiful daughter for encouraging you.

  14. Deborah...this is such a lovely post and a really great reminder to be grateful for some of things we just take for granted. Isn't it funny how sometimes just when we have no idea for a post, the Lord speaks one to us?! Enjoy your busy week leading up to Christmas...I am exhausted just thinking about everything I still have to!

  15. Hi Deborah,
    You are so right ~ thank you for reminding me. Jesus is the reason for the season and I must slow down and relax and remember what is really important. Your creative Christmas cards look lovely and you are much more organized than I am since I am not sending any this year. So nice when our dear daughters make us feel better. We are so fortunate to have children we love and that care about us too. Have a Wonderful Week! Karen

  16. Good thoughts. I have some recommendations for picture storage, if you are interested, but I won't put it here.

  17. These are beautiful thoughts, Deborah, and filled with the true spirit of the season. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush and pass by all of those small blessings we can easily take for granted. Your daughter is such a sweetie and I'm sure she learned her encouraging ways from her dear Mother. Thank you for this lovely reminder to slow down and take it all in. Hugs and blessings xo Karen

  18. What a lovely post, Deborah. Yesterday, I was in Philadelphia for tea w/my Culture Vulture friends (You know all about that from my previous posts.) and do some shopping. It was a beautiful day. In the train on the way home, while everyone's head was bent over his/her cell phone, I was looking at them, studying them and wondering about their lives. I did it openly and unabashedly, since I knew they would never lift their eyes to see me looking at them. I love to people watch, and, oddly enough, cell phones make that easier, since no one seems to notice you looking at them.

    Cheers, M-T

  19. Thankfulness never goes out of fashion and brings us joy . When I actually take time to list all I am thankful for I realize there is no end to blessings ,even in poverty and tragedy. I love this post !

  20. Well this post is more in the Spirit of Christmas than 50 fancy home tours put together :) Just sayin' :)

  21. What Deb said :)

    This season has been filled with so much bad stuff that a post like this make me feel the Christmas spirit, so thank you.

    I haven't posted all my decor yet either, so don't feel bad. We'll get to it when we get to it ;)


  22. Dearest Deborah,
    It sounds like you are feeling like I am... Every year it is harder and harder to stay focused on the Advent and Christmas season as the world around us is pushing THAT part way off. It hurts and it worries me as to where this world is going to end up with.
    It was easier in The Netherlands as the gift giving mainly is on St. Nicholas Day, on December 5/6. Christmas always was for the Family, human Family and heavenly Family. But sure they too are trying to push for the $$$ religion that has more power. Sad fact but what can we do?!
    Today after supper Pieter and I were discussing that at length. I'd made chocolates and used that for my blog post. Like you, I had not much that I felt like writing about. Also it is a slow time as everyone is so busy with their commercial obligations... Not us. We never ever have given in to the gift giving. We already do have so much compared to so many! We've done some gift giving for friends but also that is less and less. It should not become a burden to anyone. I'm afraid that way too many give in to it while deep down they have no means for paying for all those gifts!
    The need for real Peace in our world is more needed than ever as there is so much uncertainty for so many of us... Evil lurks around every corner it seems like.
    Just wholeheartedly I can underwrite your sentence: The real reason for Christmas -- Jesus -- and that no amount of banning Him from the public square can take Him from my heart.
    Sending you hugs,


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