Not so poor

I went to Walmart for a quick mundane purchase, and found this marked-down hibiscus plant. It brought beauty to our summer for many weeks, and now it's budding again. August, 2015

At Walmart for a quick ordinary purchase, I found this marked-down hibiscus plant.
It brought beauty to our summer for many weeks. Now it’s budding again. August, 2015

“Grace is not so poor a thing that it cannot present itself in any number of ways.”
Marilynne Robinson

Have you ever gone into Target or Macy’s or Piggly Wiggly with one particular purchase in mind, and been distracted by so many other fun or pretty or tasty things that you bought more than you intended, or forgot what you came for?  That happens to me a lot, and I thought of that when I read this quote by Robinson.  Maybe being distracted by abundance is not always a bad thing– especially when it isn’t costly.

We go through life with some pretty clear ideas of what we want, and often we do achieve the goals on which we focus.  It’s a powerful asset to have the drive and persistence to reach goals through diligent effort.  But there is so much more to appreciate and enjoy along the way, too.  It would be a shame if we are so intent on a few aspects of life that we miss the countless benefits that are free for everyone to enjoy, every day.

For those of us whose lives did not unfold quite the way we may have thought they would, it’s wonderful to realize that happiness can sneak in through doors and windows we didn’t even know were there; that grace stays with us in thousands of ways that can never be stolen. Whenever I am mindful of all the blessings that surround me (beginning with the lovely sound of birds early in the morning, and ending with a peaceful evening at home, or a full moon glowing in the sky) I understand that grace surrounds us all the time whether or not we are aware of it.

Today, grace will present itself to us in any number of ways.  Which will we notice, and savor?

34 Comments

  1. Amy

    I love the days when I make a conscious effort to notice the grace around me. The days where I am not so focused on what I imagine should be and just focus on what is around me. It is those days that I see the fox sneak through the yard or hear a new bird I hadn’t noticed before. I wish you many days of grace that you hadn’t noticed before. God bless you.

    • Hey, let’s keep a sharp eye out for that fox when I come to see you this week! I always seem to miss them. Jeff spots them but they are usually gone by the time I look. I think foxes are so gorgeous. I have had a grace-filled weekend and hope you have too!

      • Amy

        We will take a walk about mid morning if it is warm enough because that is when I can sometimes catch him in the drive. Hope to hear you are able to come one day this week. 🙂 Praying you get good news today. I love you.

        • We’ll have to be extra quiet so as not to scare him off. Those deer are already suspicious of me 😀 based on the “stink eye” they gave me one of the first times I drove down your driveway. We won’t get the results of Jeff’s latest scans until his oncology appointment on Monday. We’ll keep you posted.

  2. Barbara Roche

    Thank you for this post, Julia. I have just experienced exactly what you’re describing. I had set a course for some new work, and much to my surprise, I have veered onto a path that has led me back to my current work, but with a renewed vigor and excitement. All at a time, when just 3 months ago, I vowed I would never do what I am so excited to pursue now–that is business development for the company my husband and I run. I am happy I was willing to follow God’s call for me in this. Thank you for your inspiring blog! Barbara Roche

    • Hi Barbara, welcome to the comments section. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the blog. Isn’t it fascinating how we sometimes end up back where we weren’t expecting to return? That can be a sign that it’s really where we were meant to be. Jeff had never planned on spending his entire career in the Air Force, but a brief time in private practice after his first tour led us right back into the military, and looking back from where we are now, it’s clear to us that this was the best possible path for our lives. I wish you continued success filled with many rewards! Thanks for being here.

  3. I think you have dipped a toe in Grace this morning. This is profoundly beautiful writing. The phrase “distracted by abundance” is something we need to do more of each day. We seem to always focus on shortage and not see the world as abundant. It is and it will be more so if we give it our attention. I like this: “happiness can sneak in through doors and windows we didn’t even know were there; that grace stays with us in thousands of ways that can never be stolen.” Wow! That’s more powerful than you can imagine. I will keep this with me today.

    • Marlene, thanks so much. Your words are a great compliment to me, and they mean more than I can say. It’s sometimes hard to distill our life lessons into words, and if we have a clue that we have somehow gotten even a shard of the message across, it’s quite rewarding. I think you have great radar for the abundant graces of life, and it’s a gift that creates more happiness– for self and others– than almost anything else I can think of. As Misifusa says, Shine On!

      • Thank you, Julia. You are quite an eloquent writer and I’m sure at some time in the future, writing will be your vehicle. I realize you are carrying quite a heavy load right now but I think it will feed the writing and Grace will enhance it. I still have many of Misifusa’s posts to catch up on. I’ll get there.

        • Marlene, I hope you are right about my writing…in any case, I appreciate your being here with us! Giant hugs. ❤

          • I’m never wrong. Ask my last husband. 🙂

            • Marlene, your comment reminds me of how my younger brother refers to his second ex-wife as “my final wife.” 😀

              • Don’t get me wrong. The last one was a good man, just not good for me. I learned a lot about myself from him. Mostly that I’m no good at being the 50’s wife. I don’t do well in marriage. I told the last husband that it was about me, not him. Let him go with love. It’s my way to do things. No matter what they do, it always comes back to me. I know that doesn’t make sense. I’m open to love, just not marriage.

                • Marlene, marriage is definitely not for everyone. I’m glad you are able to understand this without resentment. I know others who took far too long to understand it, and as you can imagine, it can create lots of emotional damage to self and others, to keep trying (or pressure others to keep trying) to achieve what just isn’t possible in all cases. This applies to far more areas of life than marriage, too, as I see it. You are wise to know your own heart so well.

  4. Mary Elizabeth Tait

    What a lovely post and your examples mirrored my day. Stopping at Walmart with a list of household staples to purchase, I found a few little treats to add to my cart …..tucked between the tissue, laundry detergent, AA batteries, and Tylenol, was a roasted chicken to make dinner easier, the new issue of my favorite magazine, and a perfect birthday card for a 12 year old. A doctors appointment found me taking photos of blooming hibiscus! It was a day of grace.

    • Mary Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your day with us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could identify with the joys of tasty food, pretty flowers, a favorite magazine and finding the perfect card…all elusive at times, but there to brighten our lives when we least expect it! I’m happy my post struck some familiar notes. Thanks for being here!

  5. Carol Hoyos

    Yes indeed Julia, Our lives do take twists and turns we don’t plan on and in many cases don’t want. Conversely, the twists and turns my have taken us to delightful places we could have never dreamed. In the balance it seems to have worked out for the better…..if only we’ve paid close attention. I, like you Julia, are and have been in places neither would have wished to be, but giving me great comfort is John 16:33. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” AMEN‼️

    • Carol, as you can probably tell by the top right part of my blog page, that verse is one of my favorites, and what an abiding comfort it is. Trouble comes to everyone but we all have the choice not to let it win the day. Your comment reminded me of something I saw on television many years ago, that I have never forgotten. It was a TV movie starring my favorite actress, Tyne Daly, and she had a wonderful speech that I later learned was written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a writer for Sesame Street, who had a child with Down Syndrome. The piece has become a classic; it’s called “Welcome to Holland.” You may be familiar with it but even if you are, I recommend viewing Daly’s wonderful dramatization of it.

      • Carol Hoyos

        Yes Julia, I am aware of both. I can say with certainty that the verse is what kept me coming back day after day to your blog, until I was hooked.😉 As for the “Welcome to Holland” piece, I read that many years ago and it really does apply to many situations. What a wonderful way to look at places we hadn’t planned on being. Thank you for your continual uplifting blog. xo

        • Carol, I’m so glad you kept coming back! I’m so happy you like the blog.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I even love the word. Grace, so special. So often, the simplest things grace my life with pleasure, and I’m so thankful. Lord, never let me be “too busy” to notice. As recent as yesterday, I saw a young dad and his son sitting on a golf cart, enjoying a cone of ice cream. I needed to see that!😳 Here at the beach, it’s been “Spring Break”, boisterous, rowdy, loud, and much traffic all week. It just goes with living here, I know. This morning the singing birds replace the background noise of last night’s fireworks. More grace! 😉 That flower is so beautiful. I’m sure that you were delighted to see it budding again. I love it when that happens, often a surprise! I hope you’re enjoying a relaxing weekend. 🙏 Love, Sheila

    • Thank you Sheila, we did have a very nice weekend indeed. I spent a lot of time outdoors putting out plants and mulch until the rain came. Hey, when I finally do come down to actually sit on your Veranadah for real, remind me NOT to come during Spring Break time! Hee-hee. I never understood the appeal of noise and traffic. BUT, as you say, it’s all part of the package deal that goes with all the other very wonderful things. Thanks for gracing our lives! ❤

  7. Good morning, Julia and friends! So true, Ms. Robinson! I am delighted by the many expressions of grace that have been showered on and around me.
    I’m also one for buying the “rescue plants”at Home Depot or Lowe’s; you know, the ones that might not make it, so they’re on discount. Then I get to practice grace (or at least try)!
    God’s grace for today has yet to be revealed in its fullness, but a 60 degree day forecast in early April is a promising start (and will inspire yard work)!

    • Susan, I have found that I bat about the same with rescue plants as I do with the newer ones…maybe a statement of my lack of gardening skills, but I always get an extra-big kick out of buying the markdown plants and nursing them into vivid colors. It’s funny about plants; I’ve noticed that even from the same batch, planted in the same small area, some do much better than others. I suppose that’s the way of all living things. I hope you did get some time for yard work. I love it. It’s such a healthy kind of exhaustion to feel at the end of a day. This winter passed in a flash for us and it’s hard to believe it’s already springtime, but I’m not complaining!! Hope you have a great week ahead.

  8. As the great golfer, Walter Hagan, once said in referring to the demanding professional game he played: “You have to take time to smell the flowers along the way.”
    -Alan

    • I’m glad that there is a golfer out there who understood that. I always thought that the best part of golfing must be the ability to walk those beautiful courses. Not that I would know. The rebellious streak in me still longs to get out and take a walk on a golf course until I get tossed out or otherwise reprimanded. Now if that happens I can say, “Hey, Walter Hagan would approve of my being here!” Probably an incorrect inference, but at least it might throw them for a loop temporarily…

      • You’re a regular “Happy Gilmore.”

        • Alan, thank you (I think) — I have never seen the movie, but anyone named “Happy” is OK by me.

          • Happy Gilmore was played by Adam Sandler in a Golf comedy. He knew little of golf, so didn’t follow the conventional rules of etiquette, but he drove the ball a mile; and won.
            -Alan

            • Sounds like my kind of guy!

      • Excellent thought! I mean, who argues with Walter Hagan, right?
        I’ll definitely need to keep that quote in mind this season. Thank you, Alan!

  9. Truth, I’m rather envious that you’ve grown a beautiful Hibiscus and kept it alive long enough to re-bud this spring 😀
    Another truth? In the past, I hadn’t really taken time enough to count my blessings. To actually ‘think’ about good fortune. I don’t feel I took it for granted, but perhaps didn’t set to savouring it much. Maybe, I was too busy just trying to survive for a few years there? I don’t know, it’s all a blur. So then, along comes little Julia Denton, and zap, “snap out of it” (say it like Cher in the movie Moonstruck). Thank you for the gentle reminders Julia. Honestly, I’ve never been one to focus on the bad stuff for too long. Maybe it was growing up with boys, always crashing or smashing. I’m hearing Dads words, “are you ok? yah, you’re ok, shake it off”. I thinking pampering is a fairly new parental habit, there was NO pampering allowed in my youth. Dad never said, “suck it up buttercup”. But it was implied, LOL.
    Feeling blessed and thankful is a habit to cultivate then celebrate. You’ve helped me put life into perspective in so many ways. Lucky me xoxox K

    • Awww, thanks so much. Your blog was one of the first I ever visited and it became my Happy Place right away. I think those of us who grew up without a lot of pampering are the better for it, even if I do sometimes resent how UNspecial I felt most of the time. Life is full of bumps and bruises, and learning that early on is probably a good thing. About that Hibiscus…I left it out on the York deck a couple of weeks ago, and for reasons beyond my control, haven’t been back to it lately…I’m a bit worried about it! We’ll hope it’s still ready to flower next time I see it.

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