Growing in Gratitude: “The hills are alive”

There’s just a chance that we will receive a sprinkling of snow tomorrow.  Can you believe it?  It’s April for goodness sake, but I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised.  I’m fairly certain the first snow fall I experienced as a child happened around Easter.  [smile]

Looking out at the verdant mountains and blue sky surrounding our little valley I’m not as convinced that these predictions will come to fruition.  The only snow that seems likely to fall tomorrow are the rest of the white petals from our Bradford pear tree in the front yard or the fading pink  petals from our neighbors cherry blossom.  In the last week the hills have come alive with color.  The grey spindly winter branches are all beginning to show signs that after this long cold winter spring is actually on its way.  Along with the signs of spring, I am increasingly aware of the impending arrival of our sweet little one.  Kicks that are not my own are getting stronger and more frequent in my growing round abdomen.  More posts about our little one are for sure coming in the future, but for now I’ll close…

Today I am grateful for the colorful hills surrounding our valley that hold the promise of spring.

-Margaret

[An addendum:  blame my pregnancy brain for forgetting that I had this ready to post last night and not doing so until today.  Looks like the forecasts were true at least in part.  Freezing rain seems to be a real possibility today.  Praying that warm temperatures come back soon and that the beautiful spring blossoms won’t be affected by this late freeze.]

And suddenly we can see the mountains!

Great gusts of wind have accompanied the colder temperatures and suddenly we can see the mountains!  [smile]

I knew “the Parsonage” was perched on a ridge encircled by soft mountains, but we haven’t been able to see them until now.  Directly behind our house is a little wooded area that has been a vibrant green until just a few weeks ago when it mellowed into the yellows and oranges of autumn.  Now that most of the leaves have fallen the outlines of the mountains beyond our little valley/hamlet/cove/holler are visible through the spindly winterized trees.

With every change of the view through our living room window, I think to myself, “This is it! This is my favorite and the most beautiful!”  And several weeks later another phase of the evolving tapestry appears and I can only sigh, “Wow!”  [smile]

Living in Appalachia as fall turns into winter, I feel like I am discovering the changing of the seasons again for the first time.  I think my senses are always heightened in the fall because so much change happens so quickly, but this year living in a new place I feel even more ready to detect the beauty of each little change and surprise that awaits. How wonderful it is to experience the beauty of this created world!

-Margaret

11 Questions: Who inspires me the most?

Day 2 of the 11 question challenge and I fear that I’m already stumped. [smile]  Read this question and tell me it doesn’t give you pause.

2. Who inspires me the most? Think about the one person you most want to emulate. Who is it? Now what is it about their story or character that draws you to them? …The person you want to be like the most tells you a lot about who you hope to become.

I mean really one person.  Just one person who inspires me.  I am overly blessed and like the gift of great friends, I am fortunate to have many people who inspire me.  Rounding out the top of the list are my grandparents, parents, and in-laws. Each of these incredibly special people have taught me so much simply by being their authentic selves. From them I have learned that it is better to give than receive.  I have seen them open their homes to the world.  I have heard the stories of their perseverance to work to provide for their families and the stories of the stances they took against injustice.  I could do little better than channel a bit of their work ethic, love for family, faith, and passion to help others.

-Margaret

 

11 Questions: Do the people I’m surrounded by bring me life?

There is no more denying it… I am about to leave my twenties behind and journey into a land unknown, a new decade.  In 11 short days, I will be 30!  [wince… I mean smile]  Truthfully, I’m not very worried about turning 30.  I love my current life situation and when I look toward the future I am excited about all the new adventures waiting ahead.

That being said I am still a bit sad about leaving behind my twenties. I’ve loved being a 20 something.  I’ve felt more comfortable in my skin… more empowered… more inspired… more excited about the future… more in love… and mostly more me in this decade than any other. [smile]  I don’t think when I turn 30 any of these feelings will magically disappear, but I feel a little of the sadness I felt when I was leaving behind high school for college or college for the wide world.

The whole big birthday coming up has me in a mood for reflecting and a few months ago I ran across an article from Relevant online that provided the perfect inspiration.  It’s a list of “11 Questions Every Twentysomething Should Ask.”  Follow the link for the full article.  So for the next 10 days (while I’m still a 20 something) I’ll try to answer a question a day.  The first one is easy:

“1. Do the people I’m surrounded by bring me life?… Are your friends anvils tied around your ankles or jetpacks helping you fly? Your life will resemble the lives of your closest friends—does that fact excite you or freak you out?”

The answer is a resounding “YES!”  I am incredibly blessed to have many intelligent, kind, faithful, and all around good people who are my friends.  Their drive is inspiring.  In terms of friends I’ve hit the jackpot! [smile]  And my closest friend/husband well, he’s just the bees knees.  Daily I am amazed by the blessing of living with him and learning from him.  Today is actually the second anniversary of our first date.  October 1, 2011 was just about the best day of my life because I began a conversation that has really never stopped.  [smile]

So yes my friends bring me life and that life is full of peace, hope, passion, service, joy, and love!  Friendship like that is the greatest gift.

-Margaret

Through my kitchen window: “Zine-urs”

Last week on a quick trip to Lowes for some sandpaper for a project I’m working on, I picked up a hanging basket of zinnas for half off.  The bright yellow-orange blooms were irresistible and I knew they’d add a pop of color to our still in progress front porch and lawn. We decided to hang them just outside the window above the kitchen sink which makes cleaning up after our meals a lot more fun.  [smile]

I love zinnas.  They are bright happy flowers and they remind me of my grandmother Bertha Nell, who I’ve always called “Mom.”  Mom and Pop were my birding and gardening grandparents.  Each summer without fail their mostly vegetable garden was decorated with several rows of zinnas, which my Mom called “zine-urs.” [smile]  A tour of the garden plot was never complete without a walk around/thru the zine-urs that I remember being as tall and taller than me by the end of the summer.  Mom always spoke with such pride about her zine-urs and rightly so her patch of the flowers rivaled any late summer garden spread in Southern Living Magazine.

When it was time for us to leave, Mom would always insist that we take a rainbow colored bouquet home along with as many ripe tomatoes as we could carry.  Inspired by the bouquet whose stems were wrapped in wet paper towel and tin foil, Sarah, Rachel, and I would giggle about Mom’s extra syrupy Southern pronunciation of the colorful blooms for at least half the ride home. [smile]

Mom and Pop are still living but haven’t planted zine-urs for several years.  They are now living in a graduated residential care community where they don’t have a garden plot.  But even though I’ve not actually heard her say zine-urs in years Mom’s is the voice I hear in my head each time I look out my kitchen window at the basket of yellow-orange flowers greeting me.

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Cooler mornings

The weather is changing.  All around the Tri-Cities this morning communities were waking up to temperatures in the upper 50s and forecasts for sunny days in the low 80s.  It’s not even September and still 28 days away from the autumnal equinox, but fall is almost here.  I can feel it and even caught of glimpse of it’s approaching glory yesterday when Caleb spotted a tree whose leaves were beginning to change– from bright green to yellow and orange.  Though calendars show that fall marks the beginning of the end of a year,  fall feels like a time of new beginnings.  Perhaps its because we’ve been students for so long and every fall marked a new school year.  Whatever the reason, the seasonal change that happens sometime between August and October feels ripe with possibility and promise.

If you couldn’t tell by my waxing philosophical outburst above, fall is our favorite time of year in the Fragwell household and any sign that it’s approaching is greeted with great fanfare.  [smile] This year the first cooler mornings are particularly exciting because they signal the start of my first full autumn in Appalachia.  I can’t wait to see the changing colors in a brand new setting and am already anticipating the beauty of the views surrounding “The Parsonage” that will only be revealed when the leaves begin to fall.

Today I am thankful for cooler mornings.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

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Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Blue butterflys on my nose…

Soaking in the sunshine.

Soaking in the sunshine.

We made it down the Creeper Trail with no flats, no blowouts, no injuries.  Well no injuries to our party of 6.  We did witness a emergency rescue of a woman who ran off the trail and into the creek.  It was pretty scary and a good reminder to wear a helmet and pay attention while riding.  Aside from witnessing the emergency, the day was a beautiful combination of sunshine, solitude, fellowship, butterflies, and ice cream.  [smile]

About halfway down the trail I was addicted.  Could you blame me?  We were riding thru some of the most beautiful scenery; it was downhill almost all the way; and did I mention the butterflies!  [smile]  A butterfly actually flitted by slightly grazing my face.  It was the exact blue of my bike.  Below are the promised photos from the day.

With our "hosts" Ernie, Gail, Vickie, and Gary

With our “hosts” Ernie, Gail, Vickie, and Gary

We started our ride in the rain and rode into the sunshine.

We started our ride in the rain and rode into the sunshine.

The bikes lined up and ready to go.

The bikes lined up and ready to go.

Finally a picture of the two of us.  I'm thinking this is a contender for our Christmas card! [smile]

Finally a picture of the two of us. I’m thinking this is a contender for our Christmas card! [smile]

-Margaret