Sunday, February 06, 2011

Thankful Thoughts

A couple of years ago I began a post entitled “Thankful Thursday.” I was motivated to write this weekly post by bloggers who wrote regular gratitude journal entries on their sites. Their thoughts were often poignant and sweetly personal. As a result of their musings my heart was made more grateful, and I became more appreciative of my own blessings. In time writing my own gratitude post helped me to look at things with a more positive attitude and a more thankful heart. Eventually my “Thankful Thursday” post went by the wayside, but I’ve decided to re-institute it as a weekly post that I'll publish on Sundays. I'll call this post "Thankful Thoughts."
At the end of each week I will answer one or more 
of these three questions...
1.) What surprised me this week?
2.) What moved me this week?
3.) What inspired me this week?
By concentrating on these questions throughout the week, I know I will start and end each week with a more grateful, happy heart and a more positive outlook on life. So, let's get started...
What moved me this week?
I have a friend who I love and admire. Colleen is kind, thoughtful, a good listener, faithful and faith-filled, trustworthy, cheerful, beautiful (both inside and out). Truth be told she's one of those people who possesses a litany of wonderful qualities and characteristics that most of us can only hope to acquire in time. She also has Multiple Sclerosis. She has never, however, allowed that disease to define her. Often when Colleen is in your presence, you find yourself forgetting about the disabilities and the struggles she faces on a daily basis because her demeanor reflects such happiness and contentment. Still, life is definitely not easy for her.

Last Sunday I was walking with her through the hallway at church on our way to another classroom. I could tell she was having a particularly difficult time walking that day, so we progressed slowly down the hallway chatting as we went. When we got to the room there wasn't space for me to sit next to her, so we ended our conversation and I sat in the row behind her. We arrived in the room a couple of minutes before the class was scheduled to begin, so we chatted with people next to us as we waited. Soon after being seated I noticed my friend and her "neighbor", a recent widow, with their heads together in whispered conversation. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but this sweet little widow had drawn a handkerchief from her purse and was dabbing her eyes. Colleen's arm was wrapped around her shoulders, and I could tell she was offering love and support. I was moved. I suppose Colleen knows better than most what the arm of a friend can mean to one in need, but she often moves me with her outward expressions of love and concern for others. 
What inspired me this week?
I love a certain someone whose birthday was last week. She is one of my beautiful daughters-in-law.  Ever since I’ve known Mia she has loved her birthday. And I mean “Loved!!!” In years past instead of celebrating the day of her birth, her birthday celebrations were a month-long extravaganza. It always made me smile. This year, however, things changed, and her actions inspired me greatly. Each week Mia sends out an email to those she loves. This is what she said in this week’s email:
This year we were a little more compact with (my birthday) celebrations. We really only went crazy for a week instead of a whole month. ... I guess I felt like my birthday madness had become tiresome even to myself. A person can only handle so much gluttony. 
So for most of the month I sort of let it go, didn't make everything about me and what I wanted. Then last week I was reading on a blog about a girl who did a service based birthday. She did a random act of kindness for every year that she was old… I thought the best way to celebrate my birthday would be to attempt to do 33 (gasp!) random acts of kindness or intentional acts of service.

It was magical. There is something so profound about getting outside of your own head and paying more attention to those around you.

Then Mia went on to list 30 random acts of kindness that she performed for different people that week. She concluded with:

It felt wonderful to try and find nice things to do for others. It made me more patient, and I smiled more at the kids and strangers. I tried really hard to get all the way to 33 but didn't quite make it. I will prepare better next year and hopefully make it all the way to 34. 

This girl inspires me in countless ways, but I love how she celebrated her birthday this year in service to others. She's inspired me to do something like this for my birthday in May.


Bunny said...

Oh my what an uplifting post. This is sure thought provoking. I suddenly realized that if I celebrated my birthday (and this is a wonderful idea) I need to start now and my birthday is the end of November. I will be 70 then. I think the world would be a better place. Thanks for this post.I used to do more of these acts of kindness when I was younger. I should get back to it.

Julie said...

What a wonderful tradition for a Sabbath Day. Thank you for this idea and for sharing yourself with us.

Tins and Treasures said...

Good Morning, Suzanne,
Your friend, Colleen, sounds like a very special person, indeed.

And your are lucky to have had your son bring this beautiful young woman into your family. I like the idea of performing random acts of kindness at the time of one's birthday. I will have to devote the entire month of June, as I will be 55!

Thank you for sharing these inspirations.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday ~Natalie

Taren said...

Wow! What a small world. I was reading your post and thinking how inspiring it was. By the way, I love the birthday idea.....I might have to do that this year. Anyway, I was thinking about your friend Colleen and realized my sister-in law is from CO and has a mom with the same disease. Her maiden name is Bunker. She must have been in the same stake as you. Funny how small the world is in the church. I know a few women like your friend and only hope to come close to being so lovely. Thanks for sharing!

Renee said...

I love you DIL too! She's such a good friend.

Mia said...

Awww thank you Suzanne. You are an amazing and loving Mom-in-law. You inspire me more often than you could possibly know. And Colleen is someone I too admire and love.

Taren said...

How funny! That is totally them. Becca married my brother in law. She is a sweetheart!

Carolynn said...

I love Mia's idea. you've got me thinking....