"Joy doesn't simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."
Many years ago, I created a "Joy Box." My friend, Bonnie M., shared the idea/concept with me, as I recall. The name was cute, it rhymed with Toy Box, and so I latched on to the idea. I saved and stashed a variety of things with the idea that if, or most likely when, a bad or sad time occurred, looking through the Joy Box would rejuvenate my state of mind, or attitude. Actually, simply accumulating items brought joy.
Recently in one of my "purge modes" I opened my Joy Box. It overflowed with stuff and had even more piled on top of it. Maybe there are some things I can let go. The cards, notes, and letters from people who no longer are with us on this earth were especially precious. Reading their words and sentiments in their own penmanship, some especially beautiful, brought joy.
Notes and letters from former students made my heart smile. These included notes of thanks, sharing what they were doing, or planning to do in their lives. Even a few poured out their hearts... because they felt comfortable and safe trusting me with their most personal thoughts.
There were cards and notes of many kinds from family, friends, and colleagues - congratulations, encouragements, thinking of you kinds of messages, to name a few. It crossed my mind if I took the time to chronologically order everything, it would be like a timeline journal of 25+ years. Wow!
Confession - It was a pleasant activity, but I did not remove much during that purge project. In fact, what I did take out were pages or clips of inspiration that I'd cut out or jotted down - even some duplicates! These were moved to my "Inspiration" file. It's just hard letting good stuff go. But then, joy and inspiration are good things to hang on to. Can't argue with that!
"We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty; some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box."
I've always been a fan of quotes. As a kid I was intrigued with a book my mom had, Five Thousand Quotations for all Occasions, copyright 1945. That book is now part of my personal library.
Recently in my perpetual purging project, I attacked an overstuffed file folder titled, "Inspirations, Words of Wisdom, etc.," that I've shoved things in for many years. Ironically, I found duplicates of several quotes. Not surprising, really.
After sorting and categorizing, I selected three from one pile that seemed to have sentiments appropriate for 2020, in my humble opinion. The crayon box quote above gets used often in classrooms. It promotes cooperation, acceptance, and understanding in an environment where everyone is different in many ways. It's a reminder to be kind and that we all need to learn, live, and work together.
On a more global scale, John F. Kennedy once said, "World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor -- it requires only that they live together with mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement." Hmmmmm!
The third quote from Samuel Johnson is short and sweet. "Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not."
As I think about the state of our union dealing with the COVID pandemic, political pandemonium, and social unrest, it seem more kindness would go a long way. Just sayin'! Funny thing is that in my regular day to day interactions, I see and experience much kindness and many kind people.
Often, I've heard the Henry James quote, "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." What a great concept!
If you have a favorite quote, I'd love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a safe and healthy Labor Day weekend.
"Imagine you are a letter traveling through time. What message do you want to convey to your readers?" ~Theme of the 2018 International Letter-Writing Competition
The other day I read a piece by author Amy Peterson that brought about some interesting thinking. She shared the prompt from the 2018 International Letter-Writing Competition, quoted above. Truthfully, I was unaware of this contest for young people ages 9-15, even though it's been around since 1971, sponsored by the Universal Postal Union.
I first thought about a young person needing to decide if their letter would travel back in time, or ahead to the future. How would they frame their thoughts so a reader in another time would understand their message? I wondered what message a young writer would actually want to convey. What would you want to say?
Then my mind jumped ahead to 2020. What message would a young person want to say about 2020? Would they share thoughts similar to the cartoon, or meme, my husband showed me a few weeks ago? It depicted a scene from the movie, Back to the Future, where "Doc" tells Marty McFly to never set the DeLorean to 2020! It's good there are those who can find humor during challenging circumstances to give others a moment of lightheartedness. Or would they focus on how COVID-19 has impacted their young lives and the world? Or would they discuss their thoughts on the social issues and unrest in our nation? Would they write letters of despair, or encouraging words? My guess is there would be letters reflecting many aspects of what we're living now, which one day will be considered history.
Reading to find out more about this contest, I learned that themes are announced many months ahead of the deadlines. Participating nations conduct their own competitions, and then each submits their country's one winning entry. The 2020 International competition deadline was on May 5, 2020. The theme: "Write a message to an adult about the world we live in." What would you want to say?
Amy Peterson, "Time-Traveling Letters," Our Daily Bread, August 9, 2020
"I never thought I'd see the day..." ~Dr. David Jeremiah, from his book and sermon series by the same title
On May 18th, I posed "What Next." Reflecting on the past few weeks, I can honestly say I could never imagine the events that have taken place across our country.
Many times I've just been speechless! Sad over wrongful, senseless deaths. Anger over those who caused the deaths. Disgust over folks instigating violence in the midst of peaceful demonstrations that are meant to bring attention to needed changes for the betterment of our society. Many acts of violence, rioting, and chaos stirred up by mercenaries and others who care nothing about the "cause," but are in it only for money, or whatever their reason. The lootings, shootings and destruction of small and large businesses, and buildings - private and public - are also senseless. And let's not forget the vandalism to statues and monuments - the reminders of our nation's past, some good and some bad. Either way, they remind us of where "we" once were, where "we" have come, and even as a motivation for where "we" need to go as a country. Lisa Wingate's historical novel, The Book of Lost Friends, says, "It's part of our historical reality." I highly recommend this book which is set in the post-Civil War era.
I'll always remember a quote from a high school history class: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana) If these memorials are destroyed, how will the past be remembered? And what example is now being demonstrated for young children?
"Normal is Just a Setting on Your Dryer" ~ Patsy Clairmont
It seems like a long time since my last blog. But on the other hand it doesn't feel that long at all. So much of life has slowed down during quarantine from what used to be normal. In many ways, days, events, COVID-19 news, directives and rules all tend to scrunch together.
As 2019 merged into 2020 we heard reports about Coronavirus "over there." We thought and hoped, "Keep it there!" But, it didn't. Humph.
Some of us have had many weeks of quiet sheltering in place, while medical professionals, first responders, and other essential workers have been closer to exhaustion. Hopefully down the road they'll get their well-deserved respite.
Cancelled appointments, postponed meetings, delayed gatherings, and online church services have resulted in amounts of uncommitted time from what was normal. Time moved at a slower pace. Time to do things long procrastinated like Honey Do lists and closet cleaning, to name a few. Some sewed face masks for friends, family, and medical personnel. That's something no one imagined several weeks or months earlier. (I made 38, but I heard of a woman who made 1,000!)
Now that we had this time of sheltering, slowing down, and staying at home, I have to wonder what will happen next. As states and businesses begin to open again, will folks take off like a shot cramming their schedules and days to their old normal levels? Or maybe folks will reassess to establish a new slower paced normal. I guess time will tell.
What are you thinking for your new normal?
Continue to stay healthy and safe! And I will admit I'm counting down to my next scheduled hair appointment!
"Thank you so much for speaking so beautifully and gently to the hearts of children." ~Cameron Bellm
Last week I shared "Prayer for a Pandemic" by Cameron Bellm. After getting her permission to post her prayer on my blog, I sent her a message that I had some thoughts about adapting her prayer for children. She urged me to go for it. After writing "When and Then Prayer," I ran it by Cameron, received her encouraging words, and am now posting it on my blog.
WHEN AND THEN PRAYER
by Lynda Boucher
When I can't be with all my friends,
Then help me remember people who have no friends.
When I'm healthy, loved, and safe,
Then help me remember people who are sick and alone.
When I have to stay home and do school,
Then help me remember teachers preparing my lessons.
When we have to call off our vacation and stay home,
Then help me remember people who have no home.
When we can't get everything we want at the store,
Then help me remember people who don't have what they need.
During this time when life is so different than ever before,
Then help me do what I can to make someone else's life better.
I can make phone calls, write letters and stories, send email,
Read to someone, play games with my family, and
Stay safe and healthy!
PS- I recently read a suggestion (I wish I could remember where) about having kids keep a journal during this time when life is so different. It could be a few words, or many. It could be pictures or drawings. It could really be anything that fits their learning style, or whatever they're inspired to do on any given day, to express what they're thinking, feeling, or experiencing. Many years from now, this will be history to show to their kids and grandkids.
"Thank you for praying with me!" ~Cameron Bellm
The other day I read a prayer-poem a friend posted on Facebook. Perhaps you've seen "Prayer for a Pandemic" by Cameron Bellm, which she recently wrote. Very timely and inspiring for such a time as this. I'm sharing her words here, with her permission, in case you haven't seen it, heard it, or read it. You will also find it on Cameron's blog, Krug the Thinker, at
Prayer for a Pandemic
by Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Stay healthy and safe!
"It's like watching The Notebook." ~ Deb Marshall
A couple times on this blog I've mentioned Alzheimer's, my mom's fight with the dreadful disease, and a friend who walked every step on that long path with her precious husband. (Long Story Short - 4/16/18; On My Heart - 3/11/19)
A few days before Valentine's Day, TA's final chapter ended. Since then, I knew I wanted to share something with you. I've processed and mulled over what to say for days. Actually, as I started this, I still wasn't exactly sure where it would end up. Just let it flow, and then figure it out.
Eleven months and two days was TA's time at a care facility, first in Assisted Living, and then Long-Term Care. He began Hospice while still at home, which carried straight through to his final day. (Hospice staff really are angels here on earth, IMHO.) What a blessing it was that someone from Hospice spent each night by his bedside so the family could rest at home when it was clear his days were numbered.
Long before Alzheimer's stole his memory, he and his bride, my dear friend, planned and arranged to donate their bodies to science for medical research. In my head, I imagine how wonderful it would be if the scientists studying his brain made an important discovery about Alzheimer's that would lead to groundbreaking treatments, understanding, and an eventual cure! I told my husband I think a decision to donate your body to science is admirable, and I need to find to more about doing it.
I've been friends with LouRae (LRA) and Tom (TA) since the early 1980's. We've been through many things together, and she and I have a special sisterhood. A most precious memory I have of them on this Alzheimer's journey is even in his final days whenever she would put her face near his face, even if his eyes were closed, he knew it was her and would pucker up for a kiss. That's the sweetest thing! And it's a true testimony to the powerful love they shared, and the legacy of their marriage and life together.
"Everyone was dancing and laughing. Good time!" ~Night to Shine guest
Friday, February 7, 2020 was another awesome Night to Shine prom for special needs people worldwide. This year 721 churches hosted over 110,000 honored guests. The NTS website reported 215,000 volunteers helped make this a very special night. Wow! There were proms in all 50 states this year, as well as 34 countries. Ohio had 42 proms, and here in northeast Ohio 13 proms took place.
This was the third year our church hosted the prom. It's the sixth year since Night to Shine started in 2015, a ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation. Once again it was a very successful and fun time for all, with many memories made.
After each guest checked in, they met their Buddy for the evening. Flowers, hair stations, shoe shine stations, and a limo ride to the red carpet, all before a delicious dinner. Lots of pictures - candid and posed. Karaoke was again very popular, to say the least. And the dance floor was always full. This year the DJ threw out a "dance off" challenge between the Chick-Fil-A cow and the Texas Roadhouse armadillo, who have joined the fun each year. It was quite a spectacle that everyone enjoyed. I'm still giggling at the sight. (-:
Pastor Jody shared he had an opportunity to stand at the door as guests departed. He was overwhelmed and blessed with all the positive and encouraging comments and hugs of appreciation for the event. Many guests have attended all three years. For some it was their first time. I'm thinking they will come back.
All the decorations are now down and stored until next February. And that's when we'll do it all over again. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and work. We have an amazing NTS coordinator who handles the details with grace and peace. But she will say it's a "God thing" and all the folks who pitch in to get it done to make it happen.
"It was the very first present I had ever received. It was the best day of my life."
~Tanya, Shoebox recipient
Operation Christmas Child has been a project for our family for several years. We've filled shoeboxes with gifts, returned them to church, which were then taken to a local drop off center. This year, our church became one of many drop off centers that opened last Monday, November 18th. My hubby and I volunteered some of our time, energy, and in some cases, "muscles." The first delivery we literally "hit the ground running" with 311 shoeboxes. But we got through it, and it paved the way for the rest of the week, which ends today.
Later today, 100+ cartons of shoeboxes will be transported to a designated collection location. Last night when we left, the total was 122 cartons filled with 1,808 shoeboxes. These cartons will be loaded with others in a semi tractor-trailer rig for delivery to an Operation Christmas Child processing center in North Carolina. There are eight processing centers in the US, where shoeboxes get inspected for harmful/hazardous items. Monetary contributions and donations defraying shipping costs are removed, and boxes are taped. Millions of shoeboxes get shipped for distribution to millions of children around the globe.
It's when shoebox gifts are given to children that the real blessings begin. I believe some quotes from shoebox recipients can express those blessings far better than anything I can say:
"It's hard to put into words what that box meant to me. It really changed my life." ~Lejla
"When I got my box, I wondered what I felt in my heart that made it beat so fast." ~Nastia
"I took each item out of my box one by one. I wanted to rejoice for everything." ~Andy
"When I got my shoe box, I heard the words I love you for the first time in my life." ~Dominika
If you packed a shoebox this year, or sometime in the past, you've been a blessing. Thank you. If you've never done it, keep it in mind for next year. I'm betting you'll feel the joy in a box!