Sunday Morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Sunday Morning!

Sunday morning always seems to have a special feeling…whether I’m attending church, going to work as a nurse in the NICU, or enjoying a leisure breakfast with my husband, I love the unique pace of a beautiful Sunday.  More than ever before, it has become a day to reflect and take the opportunity to truly be grateful for all the many blessings I enjoy.  My cute hubby, who is a news junkie of sorts, has also deemed it a good news day–a much-needed break from the grind of the regular work week and a day to nurture our souls so that we can be better fortified to live our best lives.  For some time now, we have recorded the CBS news show, “Sunday Morning” that used to be hosted by veteran TV journalist, Charles Osgood.  The unique stories shared on this wonderfully produced program, spotlight the innate goodness found in most people and their genuine desire to serve and uplift others.  After all–when it’s all said and done…isn’t that what life should really be about?

Sunday Morning! Nurturing Our Souls!

“Wishing you a happy Sunday!  Let’s do what makes our souls shine!”  Steve Hartman on “Sunday Morning”

Taking The Time To Nurture Our Souls!

In today’s society, we tend to have the need to constantly push ourselves to achieve and always show strength–and while these are admirable attributes in and of themselves, we run the risk of making life more about accomplishments and less about being loving and doing more of those things that bring us happiness.  If you’re feeling a bit stretched to your limits–you just might find that any given Sunday morning is the perfect time to be a little introspective and take a personal inventory of the things that nurture your soul and create more joy in your life.  My husband is a financial planner and makes the analogy on occasion, that if you don’t make regular deposits into your bank account of life, so to speak, there will come a time when you won’t have anything left to withdraw.  Wise insight!  How then, do we go about nurturing our souls so we can open our hearts and be more caring?

♥ Count Our Blessings

It’s sounds a bit cliché, but perhaps one of the best ways to find more contentment and joy in our lives is to really recognize what we have to be thankful for…whether you write these things down in a journal or just take time for a moment or two of thoughtful meditation, acknowledging our blessings seems like one of the best ways to nurture our souls!

Sunday morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Most anything from generic spiral notebooks to small pocket planners work well for jotting down some thankful thoughts, but if you’d like a special gratitude journal, Rifle Paper Co. has a good variety of unique ones!  

It goes without saying, that a personal thank-you is always the best way to express gratitude!

Showing gratitude.

My mom always used to say, “Gratitude unexpressed is not gratitude!”

♥  Unplug And Look Up!

I know this seems to be the “catch phrase” of this generation, but with the influx of information from all the technology readily available at our fingertips, it does seem that more often than not, our eyes are constantly looking down at our phones or are affixed on some other sort of screen.  As I’ve made a conscious effort to put my phone away during those times that I’m playing with my grandkids or out for the evening our with my husband, I can vouch for the fact that a big part of nurturing my soul has come from looking up and being truly present in the moment when spending time with family and friends.  In fact, I’ve even gone so far as to find excuses to plan special occasions with family and friends, where we get together and socialize the old-fashioned way with fun games, good food and lively conversation.

Nurturing our souls.

I think every family has a few favorite games that they love to play together, but if you want some great ideas for some hilarious and technology-free fun, then check out the “Unplug and Play” game book by Brad Berger!

♥  Create A Home Sweet Home!

I’m a firm believer that your home should be that comfortable safe haven from the outside world, where you go to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most!  While I don’t necessarily adhere to overly strict rules when it comes to keeping a nice house, one of the first things I learned in nursing school is that a neat environment lends itself to our overall well-being!  The rhythm of a good weekend where equal parts of work and play are enjoyed, always serves to help me nurture my soul, especially when a little quiet introspection, while relaxing at home on a lovely Sunday morning is included!

Home sweet home pillow.

“A Sunday well spent…brings a week of content!”  Old Proverb

♥  Strengthen Our Body And Minds! 

All too often, we prioritize everyone and everything else in our lives except for time to care for ourselves, leaving us feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a result, we find we’re living in a state of chronic stress without fully realizing it.  Living this way can take a huge toll on our physical health, as well as our mental state of mind.  Recognizing that our bodies and minds…and ultimately our spirits are all connected, gives us a powerful incentive to do better at including some regular physical exercise and mindful creativity to help us live a more balanced and vibrant life style.  Taking time to do these things helps us to have a sense of inner peace, which is key to nourishing our souls.  Creating simple routines to include a little self-care is obviously a very individualized process, but taking care of ourselves is integral to being more fully present for others.

Nourishing our souls quote.

“A happy life is manifested in a more balanced union of the body, mind and soul.”  Tribute Journal

♥  Love More Fully!

Ultimately, when it comes to nourishing our souls, I think you’ll agree, that loving with a generous heart is what seems to matter most.  In her article, “Rx For The Soul” psychologist, Dr. Judith Rich, states that “the soul is here to learn to love it all, even and perhaps especially, those things the ego thinks are unlovable.”  Maybe by loving the unlovable parts of ourselves and others, we’ll see the good and decent parts of one another more clearly and our souls will find peace and a greater acceptance of people from all walks of life!

Nuturing our souls.

“At the end of our life, our questions are simple:  Did I live well?  Did I love fully?”  Jack Kornfield

As I close this post, I want to share a good news story by TV journalist, Steve Hartman, on a recent “Sunday Morning” episode.

Happy Sunday…and best blessings to everyone!

Sunday blessings

“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer!”  Bible Quotes

Now it’s your turn…what do you do to nourish your soul?

–Much love, Mary

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

There’s nothing I love more than seeing flags waving in a summer breeze, military personnel, both past and present, being honored, parades and family gatherings.

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but a tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  Adlai Stevenson

As patriotic, American citizens, we have a deep and abiding love for this great country.  We know America isn’t perfect–but we love it all the same.  How then, can we live every day in such a way that shows our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and contribute to our nation’s success?

Everyday Patriotism!

Real patriotism doesn’t mean we have to wait for a holiday or a special event to show our pride in America; it doesn’t require a red, white and blue dress code or fireworks.  Patriotism, in its truest form, should be discernible in our everyday actions…by the way we speak and in the things we do!

  • Study America’s History!

Learning about American history and what made us the strong, independent country that we are should be an ongoing venture.  I was lucky enough to have parents who discussed historical and current events at the dinner table and more often than not, they talked about political leaders with respect, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with their viewpoints.

There are so many amazing books dedicated to celebrating the American spirit and crucial turning points in our world’s history; read them together as a family.  (See some of my favorite picks here.)   My daughter recently introduced me to a new innovative book series by Lauren Tarshis called “I Survived” –about historical stories that are told through the eyes of boys and girls who lived to share their tales.  My two older granddaughter’s were quick to tell me how much they love these books.

I Survived book series

My husband and I recently watched a television program where a young girl shared the history behind the Gettysburg Address  by Abraham Lincoln, then she recited it in its entirety–watching her do this, inspired us to learn it too.  Doing things like this can’t help but make the rich history of the United States become more meaningful!

Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln.

Also, if you want to keep up to date with a brief overview of daily news headlines without all the usual political spin, I like the iPhone App Skimm.

  • Support Your Community!

Our local communities are obviously the most real and important part of America to us as average citizens, so it makes sense that getting involved in our hometowns and neighborhoods is a good place to start when trying to find ways to be active and contributing members of society.  At the very least, we can work to earn a good living to support our families, maintain our homes, and raise responsible children who recognize the many privileges that they are afforded by the cooperative efforts of the their city’s elected leaders and concerned local residents.

I always treasure the opportunity I have to engage in the voting process; attending caucus meetings gives you the opportunity to advocate, lobby and learn more about the candidates up for election and helps you make better decisions on the issues you feel will best support the overall well-being of your community.  In addition to elected officials, showing respect for police officers, firemen and others who put their lives at risk for the sake of their communities is something we should all be happy and willing to do.

Voting is a patriotic privilege.

“My vote is my voice…and the voice of all those who struggled before me so that I may have my voice.”  Lydia C. Obasi

I also found that volunteering and helping out at the schools my children attended was a good way to not only help their teachers, but stay informed about the curriculum being taught and how my husband and I could add to their learning experience.

IMG_6471

  • Work Hard, Serve Others!

Whenever my father would share stories about his parents, he always spoke about them and their tremendous work ethic with the highest regard.  As young immigrants from Norway, they had the utmost appreciation for a land that allowed them the freedoms to establish a family farm and business during the great depression of the 1930’s.  Despite their own meager circumstance at times, they were always quick to lend a helping hand to others in need and offered food and jobs when needed.

Early pioneer farm life.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but we can work to change a small portion of events, and the total of all those acts will be written in the history of that generation.”   Robert Kennedy

My parents also worked hard to provide a wonderful life for our family, while making sure that each of their children had a good education and were self-reliant.  It’s rewarding for me and my husband, as well, to see our hard work pay off as our son and two daughter’s work to achieve their goals and dreams in this great land of opportunity.

  • Above All…Be Kind!

American patriotism, at its best, is understanding that we are a melting pot, so to speak, of many ideas, cultures and concepts…let’s celebrate them by being kind.  Kindness is an expression of caring…even the smallest act or deed done for another person can make a life-changing difference.  The ripple effect of kindness is unity despite diversity, and a genuine desire to share what we have with others while being grateful for the opportunities we have to learn from one another.

When my husband and I first saw the video below about Preston Sharp, a young boy aptly known as “A Pied Piper Of Patriotism” –it reminded us once again, of just how far reaching a simple act of kindness can truly be:             

I hope our American patriotism may be seen as a chance for us to show kindness!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”  Brigham Young

May we each live so that we are always a blessing to America!

Please share how you would describe true American patriotism.

 –Mary 

A Blessing Named Elliot…An Adoption Journey!

A Blessing Named Elliot…An Adoption Journey!

As our family celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and expressed gratitude for the many things we have to be grateful for, I couldn’t help but consider the divine intervention in our lives that brought us a very special blessing named Elliot!

A Blessed named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

Elliot born September 28, 2016

“Babies are the beginning of a dream of possibilities!” Eda LeShan 

You might recall my daughter-in-law sharing her struggles with endometriosis in this past journal entry.  For those of you who have expressed love and concern for our family as my son, Jake, and his wife, Whitney, faced the challenges of infertility, I’m so thrilled and indeed humbled to share with you their adoption journey!

Our adoption journey began with trying to conceive for nearly five years without success.  Due to Jake’s career as a dentist in the Army, our road with fertility treatments included doctors and specialists in Oklahoma and Germany.  When our last IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment in 2014 was unsuccessful, without any explanation as to why, we felt adoption was the path for us to take.  It is amazing how right adoption felt as we made this decision together!

A Blessing Named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

“Babies are a link between angels and man!”  Author Unknown 

The process of finding an adoption agency, along with the subsequent paperwork and home studies, is overwhelming; it has its own set of challenges, but we relied on each other’s strengths as we worked through it all together.  The waiting period to be chosen was a difficult time, and the year and a half  it took seemed to have no end in sight, but our primary case-worker always said that when it is meant to be, it will be the right baby that will come into your arms.

A Blessing Named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on!”  Carl Sandberg

When you least expect something–that is when it is bound to happen…..and that is exactly how Elliot came into our lives!  Due to the time difference between Germany and our agency in Utah, we received the surprise of our lives at 2:00 am in a one sentence email with the subject line, “Great News!”  The body of the email read: “Birth mom and her mother want to place baby with you!”

Coincidentally, Whitney’s dad and mom were visiting at the time they received the email that they’d been picked for adoption.  When Jake and Whitney realized that they only had eleven days to prepare and be in Utah, the decision was quickly made to cut her parent’s trip short and book flights back to Utah with them.  They landed in Utah at 8:00 pm the night before Elliot was due to be born.  As they anxiously awaited his arrival the next morning, they spent the last few hours of their time together as just the two of them, baby shopping, going to lunch, and even getting pedicures.  When at last they received the text that their baby had been born, they rushed down the hallway of the hospital and knocked on the nursery door.

Throughout the adoption process, we often wondered if we would feel a connection with the baby right away or if we would feel as though he wasn’t ours, but those worries were quickly dissipated when the nursery door was opened and we saw Elliot for the first time–we instantly knew he was our son; we truly believe that God intended for him to be in our family.  As we drew closer and saw how sweet and small Elliot was at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 19 inches long, we’ll never forget how surreal and perfect that moment was in our lives!  Elliot stayed in the hospital for three days, and during that time we were able to pray for him and have him receive blessings to ensure his continued good health.  When the pediatrician finally gave us the green light to take him home, we couldn’t have been happier!

A Blessing named Elliot...An Adoption Journey!

“Having a baby is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body!”  Elizabeth Stone 

After Elliot joined our family, we were amazed at the outpouring of love and generosity from family and friends.  It has been remarkable to see the power that a newborn baby has to bring people together!  Each day is an exciting adventure and learning experience, as well as a blessing, now that Elliot is home with us.  We are humbled to be his parents, although the titles of mom and dad are still novel to us.  We want to express our gratitude to all those who helped to bring this joy into our lives.  Our goal is to ensure that Elliot will grow up learning that the Lord loves him and that he also has a birth mother who loves him, and that she made the ultimate sacrifice to place him with a family who will always strive to do everything within their power to ensure his happiness and give him every opportunity to grow and progress in this life!

A Blessing named Ellito...An Adoption Journey!

A Blessing named Elliot...An Adoption Journey!

(Two photos above via Green Apple Photography)

“It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from heaven love us!”  Charles Dickens

In closing, I’d like to say that it is so heart warming to see two wonderful people survive the ups and downs of this journey together, leading them to form stronger bonds of commitment to each other, making their ability to love their new baby, without reservation, so endearing!  There truly is no greater joy than watching your own children become parents!

All our best wishes to you, Jake and Whitney, and precious little Eli!

Have you had any personal experiences with adoption or know someone who has?  Please, please share any insights you might have on this amazing process

–Mary