Friday, November 11, 2016

Kindness and Beauty

I'm so grateful for the kind and encouraging comments on my last post. We live in a world where there is plenty of ugliness and each of us see and experience things on a personal level that can be painful and challenging. But there are bright spots of beauty and kindness that make such a difference. Today I want to celebrate a few of the bright spots that have really helped me in the past couple months.

In response to a couple of my posts, I received a beautiful card full of such helpful and loving encouragement in the mail. It came all the way from England (at least I'm pretty sure the stamps were British stamps...) and included no return address or last name. Stephanie, if you're reading this, thank you so very much. Your wise words gave me added strength and perspective. Yes, things are not generally as bad as they seem when you're in the thick of something that seems impossibly hard. Yes, there are more things we can do about hard times and issues than we may initially realize (it is taking time and prayer and pondering and trial and error but I'm finding helpful things that I can do about some of the hard things I'm dealing with). And yes, once we get through something hard (or through a little section of something hard), the "new normal" can be really beautiful in its own right. Thank you thank you thank you for these important reminders. And thanks for the reminder that the kindness and concern of strangers is such a beautiful and inspiring thing.

Here's what I got in the mail:

In the midst of the the crazy long-days (and nights) of getting the Mom Conference together (wow, September and October were INTENSE - I spent pretty much every waking moment that the kids didn't really need attention working on all the little and big details of the conference), I was touched to have a beautiful basket of fall flowers delivered to my door courtesy of my always-thoughtful mom. Having those flowers right behind my laptop screen as I sat here hour after hour gave me a much-needed reminder of love and beauty in the midst of the tedious and consuming work that needed to be done. (By the way, things came together beautifully in the end and we had over 80,000 moms attend!)

At the close of the conference, we received so many emails thanking us for making this conference happen. This one brought tears to my eyes:

"I just wanted to thank you so very much for all the hard work and time you put into making this conference wonderful.  I am sure it was a huge thing.  I wanted you to know I saw the link on facebook about 1/2 way through the first day and thought I would just try it.  WoW! The first few videos I watched answered so many prayers and concerns I have been having.  I started crying! I stayed up til the last minute ran out to watch them all.  I cannot express how grateful I am to you all for being such a positive influence in the world for good.  I don't know how often you are going to do this but it is so very valuable! I will make sure to blast it out to everyone I know.   Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  And I hope that when you are having a hard day as a mom and wondering if you ever make a difference you will think of me because you made a difference in my life; probably forever."
-Kat Loiseau (Washington State)
Along with kindness, I'm so grateful for beauty. On the hardest days, there is a spectacular sunset or a gorgeous display of leaves or an extra-blue sky or a perfect little flower growing in an unexpected place to remind me that God loves me and He's watching out for me. Beauty is so intertwined with love for me. Whether it's the crunch of leaves underfoot and the golden shimmer of leaves above on a quick walk around the neighborhood, the sweeping grandeur of the scene at the top of a mountain, or a lovely sunrise as I drive kids to school, the beauty of nature always feeds my soul and reminds me of God's love and presence and the fact that He is there for me. It also offers me perspective and gives me a moment of "awe" - and awe helps us be kinder and happier (read this article or check out this podcast episode I did recently for more on why awe is so important).

I've been doing my regular weekly hiking with friends and the good conversations and beauty those hikes offer have got me through a lot. A couple weeks ago, I went down to Moab/Arches National Park with a couple good friends and enjoyed a day and a half of gorgeous hikes through whimsical landscapes where the red rocks contrasted perfectly with the blue, blue skies. We talked and talked about the deep and the simple and laughed and just had a perfect little get-away. I came back feeling refreshed on so many levels.


On Wednesday, I felt like I needed some serious soul soothing and time away from society after the craziness of the elections. So Oliver, Silas and I spent the day out on Antelope Island where practically the only living creatures we saw were bison and deer. We had such a nice time talking together as we climbed the highest peak (Frary Peak) on the island and the raw, stark beauty and 360 degree views helped me gain perspective and feel better about everything.

We left the island just as the sun was going down.

Life can sure be hard sometimes but when we look for the kindness and the beauty, it's there for us and can offer us great hope.


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