One of the best things I ever did was buy a digital camera for myself.  I carry it with me often and it has become a tool in my hand to help me see the beauty that is all around me.

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Loveliness isn’t always the first thing that strikes me.  It’s still cold and bleak and muddy out here.  The back yard is riddled from vole damage.  My son was angry with me this morning because I hadn’t finished to the laundry quickly enough.  Don’t I know that he only has three pairs of pants that fit him?  Actually I didn’t know that and gently explained to him that I thought that all those other pairs of pants in his closet were still acceptable.  I can choose to think about any of these negative things and it will affect me.  If my focus is on the temperature or on the mud getting tracked into my house or my son’s outburst I will feel unhappy and become a complainer.  I don’t want to feel unhappy or complain so I choose what I think about.  I do have a choice.  I can control what I dwell on.  When I go out with camera in hand, I look for beauty.  I spy things through the lens and try to capture what I see.  Instead of looking at the mud I look to find footprints of recent furry visitors.  In place of being depressed by the ravages of winter I look for the signs of life.  Are there buds on the trees?  If so I can rejoice knowing that soon things will turn from a monotonous brown to vibrant greens of many hues.

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Really, I choose the same when I am indoors.  Rather than focussing on all that isn’t in my home, I look at what is.  Even the mud on the floor is a reminder that my kids are healthy and that they’ve been playing outside.  It’s not such a big deal to clean up.  Even an outburst from one or both of my kids is an opportunity to master patience and to kindly discuss how things can be made better.  It’s a reminder to me and them that if we work together the problems don’t have to persist.  It’s also a lesson in how to deal with things that are troubling us.  Is throwing a hissy fit really necessary?  How about trying to calmly explain the problem and suggesting a solution instead?  Where there is no obvious solution we have an opportunity to pray and perhaps learn from suffering.  I can’t fix everything and even my best plans don’t always work.  Do I have to get depressed about that?  No.  I have a choice.  I control what I think about and what I think about determines my mood.  Learning to let go of the negative and embrace the positive (in Christ, there is always a positive to embrace) I am becoming a happy person.  My circumstances aren’t always amazing,  but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be amazingly content.

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Even the worst of situations can help form more Christlike behaviour.  It depends on my choice.  I can carry my circumstances like boulders and be weighted down with them or I can lay them down at the foot of the Lord and use them as  stepping stones to move on.  I am realizing more and more that sometimes that is what is needed – simply to move on.  I can get stuck and be stubborn insisting that a certain trial lead to a certain result when all the while Jesus wants me to lay it down, trust him and simply move on.

I have a file folder of beautiful pictures I’ve taken over the last couple of years.  I look at those photos from time to time and it brings me joy.  I haven’t travelled much, most of what I am wearing comes from used stores, I’ve never had a manicure or a pedicure, I don’t have a successful career and maybe I never will, I have two boys approaching puberty and I’m living in a time of “global economic meltdown”.  Does that mean I can’t be happy?  No, it doesn’t.  I live in a beautiful country, I have enough clothing to wear in every season,  my hands and feet are beautiful au naturel, I’ve had the privilege of being an at-home mom, I have two healthy, growing sons and I’ve always had enough to pay the bills.  Those are reasons to rejoice.  My pictures remind me of that.

Not happy today?  Check what you’re thinking about.  You do have a choice and how you choose will make all the difference.

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