Let’s cut right to the chase and announce the winner of The Flavor Bible giveaway! As randomly picked on Random.org, it is #31, Carolyn Page. Her comment was “My favorite meal is pot roast, mashed potatoes and carrots. Cornbread also. Great dinner. Would love to have this book!” Carolyn, I will be contacting you by email. If you don’t see an email from me, be sure to check your spam-box. You may contact me either through the contact page on this blog or at my email address — tsgcookin at gmail dot com.
I often see bloggers write that they wish they could give away the prize to everyone who entered the contest. I know just what they mean. On the one hand I am so excited to be able to offer something to my readers, but on the other hand I am really stressed out about not being able to give this prize to everyone! Although I haven’t personally met a single one of you, I have come to know some of you through your comments and emails and I keep thinking what wonderful people there are in this world.
This isn’t the direction at all that I had planned to go with this post, but my heart is really full and I need to express some things that are on my mind. There are several things that have happened very recently, both in my personal life and in the world at large that have given me cause for deep thoughts.
As I reflect on the past 24 hours, I find myself nearly over-whelmed by the enormous variety of experiences, thoughts and emotions which I have had. There has been remarkable joy and remarkable sadness, volumes of both hope and despair, inner peace juxtaposed with tumultuous thoughts. In some ways it was an ordinary 24 hours, yet in other ways my life has been changed forever.
We live in a world turned upside down and inside out with hate and unspeakable cruelty; with violence and perversion and uncontrollable diseases. In the face of all of these things, how can we as individuals keep moving forward in positive ways? How do we cope with world and personal tragedies and remain (or become) productive members of society? I can only give you the answers that work for me.
- Prayer and gratitude. I pray a lot. I pray for help or hope or personal peace. Many of my prayers are simply a one sentence expression of gratitude — “Thank you, Heavenly Father, for this moment.” Seven years ago I was presented with a life altering health issue and I learned what it was to be terrified. I also learned about being grateful for even the most ordinary things — a warm breeze, my neighbor’s funny chickens, a tiny yellow autumn leaf, the way the sunlight made little flecks of sand in the concrete sparkle. Then there were the big things — the weight of a grandchild’s tiny body against mine as they snuggled up with me for a moment, the sounds of my family’s voices, the expanse of a starlit night sky, stillness in my soul, hearing a beautiful piece of music, getting to be a nurse. Each and every one of these things, and so many more, are causes for prayers of gratitude.
- Deliberate cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is often a choice. No, we won’t always be cheerful because some things in life are dark and gloomy and fearful. (Those are really good times to pray for strength and inner peace.) Nevertheless, I do honestly believe that we can find a way or a cause to express a measure of cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is directly related to laughter and laughter is healing. If I have to have wrinkles, I’d at least like them to be mostly made up of laugh lines.
- Service to others. Service is putting someone else before self. We often think of acts of service as being something huge or grand, but from my perspective, service is sometimes as simple as blessing someone’s life with a cheerful smile. I remember once when I was having a truly difficult day, a day when the sadness in my heart couldn’t have been heavier. I had bought a few groceries and had just finished loading them into the trunk of my car. As I turned to put the empty shopping cart in the cart return, a woman walked up to me, smiled and took the cart. “I’ll put it away for you,” she said cheerfully. That simple act of service from a complete stranger stunned me and the tears welled up in my eyes as I stammered a “thank you”. Since that day I have made a more determined effort to be aware of those around me so that I can offer small acts of kindness as well. The rewards have been substantial in the form of my own personal peace and happiness. Showing kindness is teaching kindness.
Those are the three big things in my life, the things that get me through each day. They are avenues to connecting in positive ways with others and the world around me. Making positive connections is one of the reasons that I enjoy blogging. I really like my little band of blog friends. I am grateful for your charity and goodness as expressed through your comments and emails. Your goodness shines through your writing. Thank you for helping to make the world a better place.