Sunday, June 30, 2013

Enjoying the Blessings of Good Health`

By Linda Grupp Boutin

Southern California has experienced a severe heat wave this week. Many have been shocked by the toll 105+ degree heat takes on their health. Indeed most of us tend to take our health for granted never considering the myriad items our bodies cope with every single day. In today's post I want to take the time to celebrate the marvelous workings we are blissfully unaware of every day of our lives.

How often do you consider your heart beating? We understand intuitively the importance of the continued work our heart does, but when was the last time you gave thanks for the organ that circulates night and day, awake and asleep, sending oxygen and nutrients to the most far-flung parts of you.

The heart is one thing, but how about the largest organ of the body? Do you even know what that is? I'm betting you give it little thought, but to a burn patient each piece of healed skin eases pain and decreases the risk of infection. It is the barrier that keeps you separate from all that surrounds you, good and bad. A primary function on a hot day is to keep you cool when your body knows to sweat so that the fluid evaporates cooling you down. If you stop sweating, then you know you'd better put a stop to your fun in the sun because with no perspiration you will quickly overheat to the point of danger. The body signals this to you by getting dizzy, nauseous, and you just don't feel well.

Then there are the lungs and respiratory system. Everything from the nostrils throughout the system work together to protect you and provide the oxygen fueling the systems of your self. And don't forget about the kidneys, thyroid, liver, not to mention the brain. All contribute vital functions that keep you feeling like you and ready to put your muscles to work to accomplish everything you do from typing to painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

So don't take all this for granted, but celebrate all the things your body and its organs allow you to do. Take a moment to thank the Creator for setting this very sophisticated system up and giving you one that works just about right most all the time. Without this gift, where would you be...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Opening the Magic Box

By Linda Grupp Boutin

Do you remember it? The waxy smell when you cracked it open that first time. Your eyes filled with colors unimagined begging you to try them on crisp white paper just to see them better. That wonderful teacher who demanded the big, 64-color box with the sharpener and a real gold and silver crayon. For me, it happened at the beginning of school each fall. Holding the precious recommendations of school supplies, inevitably a new box of crayons headed the list of needed items. Some years, only 8 or maybe 24 crayons might be required, but I could count on a new box of fresh, unbroken crayons.
Brand new set of 108 crayons!

Opening that box, I tried to keep the brand new smell, look, feel to those colors. I wanted to always return one of those soldiers to the position assigned by Crayola. Each vibrant shade and hue of the rainbow had a proper place in the box. Alas, it never lasted. Somewhere along the line, I needed more than one precious stick at a time. Where does this one go? How do I realign them to return to their proper comrades? Ah well, rearrange them now according to my preference, all the blues together, greens grouped nearby, purples near reds, oranges with yellows on the other side, and a white and black along the edge, easy to find.

Now to see what I could do with these magical tools that could transport me beyond the walls of the schoolroom. The Mediterranean Sea took on a deep blue hue, the boot of Italy green and dangling dangerously down into the water, France floating serenely above the sea with a combo of brown mountains and green valleys, Spain and Portugal taking up the position to the west leading temptingly out to the Atlantic Ocean...Or perhaps my glance might take me out the window into the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley. My picture always showed the splendor of those nearby hills in purple and blue hues. No amount of arguing could convince me to use an ordinary shade of brown or even green. My mountains shouted out to be painted in brilliant colors. Okay, so I didn't get an A in art, but I had a good time demonstrating my perspective on the subject.

Those magic boxes carried dreams inside, dreams of childhood, dreams of fame, dreams of acknowledgement of our small voices calling to a much larger world. No, though I loved my crayons, visual arts didn't work out for me. Instead I employ words to transport you to another time and place. I celebrate that words can be as vibrant and alive as the most fabulous of reds, the verdant greens, the peaceful blues.

But no matter what your medium might be, visual, fine or folk; writing, short or novel length; singing, gospel or modern, express that element in your soul you wish to share with the world. Don't critique yourself, just follow where the Spirit leads you. Some art explores the beautiful and easy, some brave ones look into our darker sides in a effort to illuminate that other part of the world. Either way, only you can sing your song, so trust it and celebrate that voice the good Lord gave you. By opening that magic box of insight inside you, you will make this world a better place to be because of you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Celebrating the Joy of Life

By Linda Grupp Boutin

Today a friend tagged me on Facebook. She said a particular video made her think of me ( I clicked on the link and enjoyed a belly laugh watching a video featuring this dog bounding through golden fields, jumping high in the air to clear the tall strands, disappearing again completely enclosed by the plants in the field. Considering I have a blog writing about my love of dogs and the antics of my basenjis, I can see the association she made with me. But I also must say that I envied that dog and his pure joy in life, leaping and jumping, celebrating all he saw around him.

I try every day to celebrate the joy in life because not a one of us has any guarantee that tomorrow will come. We take it for granted that we will have another day, and another, and another. But we all know that one day this life will come to an end. One time speaking with my 86-year-old father he told me that the first thing he did every day when he awoke was to thank God for keeping him safe and granting him another day. I took Dad's advice and try to remember to give thanks daily too. When we maintain an attitude of gratitude all that surrounds us takes on the aspect of a gift, which is exactly what all of life and what we have precisely is, a gift from God.

I love that a friend perceives me as a joyful creature. She knows many of the challenges I face with my health. These difficulties contribute to why I appreciate the day, no matter how tough it might be. Pain keeps me company, but so long as I keep busy I can keep it at bay until I go to sleep at night. Then as it tries to raise its ugliness and make me give up, I start to talk to God. Sometimes I can be eloquent with prayer, but when it's midnight pushing 2 a.m. more often I beg for His deliverance. Please Lord, just let me sleep. I know it will be better in the morning light...

And He does, and I rest, and in the morning I bound (sometimes) out of bed much as that dog flies through the fields. And each day when I can touch another life, in some small way or large, I know that every effort is worth it. Because in the doing, my life makes a difference. Today a young teen kept trying to ride his bike across the street. Being a busy Friday afternoon, all the drivers in their cars were too busy to stop and give the young man a chance to cross the street. I pulled up to the intersection slowly, came to a full stop and signaled him to safely cross. The cars going the opposite direction saw me stopped and gave him grace as well. I went on my way feeling like such a small thing can make another person's day, paying it forward in a simple sense.

So what about you, what do you need to celebrate with joy in your life? Health, wealth, a special friend, a cherished pet? Take that moment to give some thanks. There is no right or wrong way, just an opportunity to develop that attitude of gratitude. Embrace the moment and understand our interconnectedness and how that provides each of us the chance to encourage one another.