What I Learned This Winter (Awards Edition)

Yesterday was the official first day of spring. Instead of bemoaning the end of winter (which I have been known to do), let’s celebrate with a little end-of-the-season awards ceremony (just like the Oscars, only without the movies, celebrities, fancy dresses and political statements).

Best Substitute for Flowers on Valentine’s Day

As much as I love long-stemmed red roses, I told Randy that I’d rather receive a present I could keep for Valentine’s Day this year. So, along with a lovely card and the customary (not to mention mandatory) box of chocolates, he presented me with my new favorite houseplant: a Ponytail Palm.

For me, the thought that goes into a gift is almost as meaningful as the gift itself. And, oddly enough, the fact that the Ponytail Palm reminds Randy of my hair pushes the significance meter sky high on this one.

Best Social Media Instructors

You may recall that Lilly spent one of our recent Mom Tickets helping me post my very first photo on Instagram. Since then, she and Molly have guided me in the ways of this platform, to the point where I can usually publish my own pictures without any help from anyone. (That’s a big accomplishment for me.)

Lilly is well versed in proper Instagram protocols (though so far I’ve mostly resisted her desire for me to find some reason to tag her in every single picture), while Molly (who doesn’t yet have a cell phone of her own) is my go-to gal when I forget the next posting step (again).

They’re both great teachers when it comes to stuff like this. (I think they get that from their dad.)

Meantime, I’ve come up with my own personal Instagram philosophy that includes only posting scenes that make me laugh, tug at my heart strings or bring me joy (including the latest blooms in my flowerbeds). If that appeals to you and Instagram is your thing, I’d love to connect with you here.

Best Quote from Long Ago

Speaking of social media, Randy recently ran across a quote by a French political philosopher from the 1700s that is so relevant to today’s society it’s almost eerie. Chew on this one for awhile:

“If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”—Montesquieu

Best Sound Mixing in Our House

Aside from parents reading to their kids (or vice versa), books and noise don’t really go together. But at my house this winter, the sounds of reading were in the air—and I couldn’t have been more delighted about it.

Soft piano music (Christmas or classical, depending on the season) playing on the living-room stereo. Molly’s light-hearted laughter as she comes across a funny part in her new book series and pauses to read it out loud to Randy. Lilly on the couch, engrossed in whatever library book happens to be nearby and always—always!—crinkling the plastic cover as she reads.

Be still my happy heart.

I expect there are those who need absolute quiet in order to enjoy a book. Clearly, I’m not one of them.

Best Song for This Season of Life

I’ve been a bit sporadic when it comes to posting a new Song of the Month regularly, but music continues to nurture my soul in important ways these days. In particular, I just can’t get enough of the following tune from Casting Crowns. The overall message is profound, and there are specific lines that literally take my breath away every time I hear them.

If your heart is in need of an encouraging lift today, please take a moment to listen to this.

Best Musical Surprise

I have one daughter who thrives in spotlights of her choosing and likes to stay so busy I can hardly see straight, and another who thrives in the shadows with lots of margin. And white space. And down time. And sleeping in. (You get the idea.)

Anyway, I had no idea second daughter was planning to participate in the upcoming middle school solo and ensemble festival until her older sister mentioned something about it in passing a couple of weeks ago.

Wait, what? Molly’s doing what?

Sure enough, she and her best friend had been diligently practicing their clarinet duet every morning before school. She was up a half hour early the day of the contest, and appeared to be the picture of calmness that evening as she ate supper and got herself ready for the big event.

I knew she had prepared well, but I could barely keep the tears back as I watched her perform. She was so composed, so grown-up looking. The girls played well together, earning a top “one” rating.

Then we came home and Molly scarfed down an entire second supper. Apparently, playing your clarinet in front of a judge, your parents and your big sister requires a great deal of energy for someone like my sweet girl.

Best Quote from a Modern-day Newspaper

We didn’t have a television when I was a kid, so I grew up reading the daily newspaper. Even all these decades later, fetching the paper from my driveway is an integral part of my morning routine.

It’s probably an understatement to say that newspapers these days are not what they once were. I’ve come close to canceling my subscription many times, but one of the things that keeps me coming back for more is the sports section. I’m not an athlete, but I am a fan—one who loves to read sports stories.

In early January, our entire metropolitan area was gearing up to watch the Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL playoffs. As part of its coverage, the Kansas City Star published a poignant feature on our team’s beloved former coach who is now battling Alzheimer’s.

I’ll close this quarterly recap with a quote from that story that continues to resonate in the deepest chambers of my heart and mind:

“Life is a journey of one step at a time: You pick one foot up, you put it on the ground. You pick your other foot up, you put it on the ground. And you just continue to do your thing.”—Marty Schottenheimer

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, #HeartEncourgementThursday and Grace & Truth.

34 Responses to What I Learned This Winter (Awards Edition)

  1. Aimee Imbeau says:

    I am so glad I’m not the only one who asks a kid for help with Instagram! I seem to do things the ‘wrong way’ a lot on that platform;)
    Thanks for sharing this post on Grace and Truth. I love that Casting Crowns song, too.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ha … you are definitely not alone in that, Aimee! Both my daughters are far more knowledgeable about Instagram than I am, and one of them isn’t even on it yet! I am loving it, though … much more fun than I thought it would be! 🙂

  2. Susan Shipe says:

    Lois, you write exquisitely – I very much enjoyed this quarterly wrap-up and this quote: “Life is a journey of one step at a time: You pick one foot up, you put it on the ground. You pick your other foot up, you put it on the ground. And you just continue to do your thing.”—Marty Schottenheimer
    Yup, he kept doing “the next thing!”

  3. What a great way to be attentive to your very own life. It so easy to rush past all the little blessings in our quest to get it all done. I need to do this for sure.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Hi Ginger! I started doing these quarterly wrap-ups last year and you’re right … it has helped me pay more attention to the little things that bring me joy and make me think. 🙂

  4. It’s crazy how kids are so smart with technology, isn’t it? My son who is 6 can do everything with the mouse on the computer and the Ipad that I remember struggling to learn how to do when my family got our first computer when I was 12 years old.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I know what you mean, Rosanna. When I have a problem with any electronic in my house, the first person I go to for help is my 12-year-old! My older daughter is all about the social aspects of electronics, but the little one is all about how they work (fortunately for me)! So glad you stopped by last week. 🙂

  5. Way to go on Instagram! If I ever open an account there, with my daughter’s help!, I’ll follow you! And I love your plant. So pretty. 🙂

    You’ve learned all sorts of things, Lois. Good for you.

  6. Liz says:

    Love it! Just keep doing your thing, one step at a time, Lois! Oh My Soul is a favorite here, too! Blessings!

  7. Brenda says:

    “Just continue to do your thing.” There’s something calming about that phrase, isn’t there? I like that and the happiness quote, too. So fun to read the Winter Awards. Very creative. 🙂 I always enjoy your writing style, Lois. Thank you for sharing your words. (And, that ponytail palm–how cute is that? 🙂 ) ((xoxo))

  8. That ponytail palm is so lovely! What a beautiful gift idea. I’ll be happy to see you on Instagram too. And yes, watching our kids grow into their gifts and get all independent and amazing – that’s a heartstring that gets tugged around here often. Thanks for sharing what you learned, friend. Love it!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I like how you put that, Tiffany … “watching our children grow into their gifts.” It’s one of my favorite parts of being a mom, I think. I hope you have a beautiful evening!

  9. Hi Lois,
    I love this best of post and I love the ponytail palm — I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it or seen one but how adorable is that!

    That is too funny that you didn’t even know your daughter was practicing for a musical festival — talk about living without drama and taking things in stride — a big plus for her and for you! 🙂 And oh, I love it that you haven’t yet canceled your newspaper subscription, too! xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Valerie, I hadn’t really thought of Molly’s way of doing things as “living without drama,” but you’re absolutely right! She’s got a good head on her shoulders, that one. And yeah … Randy lobbies every year to cancel our subscription but so far, I haven’t been able to let it go. As I say, you can take the girl out of the newspaper office, but you can’t take the newspaper out of the girl! Hugs, friend!

  10. This made me smile, so thank you for brightening my day! See you on Instagram!

  11. Ruth says:

    I love your stories of your daughters! And that song is really deep; I don’t remember having heard it before. So, thanks for sharing it!
    Happy Spring! 🙂

  12. Lisa notes says:

    Aw, I used to get Mom Tickets! 🙂 I probably still have a stack of unused tickets. I wonder if they’ve expired…. Sometimes one of my daughters would include an expiration date. ha.

  13. Trudy says:

    Oh Lois, there is so much here. I love the Ponytail Palm, and I smiled to think of your husband being reminded of your hair. I love the stories of your girls, too. I was so touched by the quote Randy found and the other one by Marty. And the song? Yes, truly profound. “Let Him show you how you can lay this down…” He can breathe life into our dry bones and one day we will be dancing. He can turn our ashes into beauty. Thank you for all this encouragement today! Love and hugs to you!

  14. Lesley says:

    This is a great round-up, Lois. I love the quotes and the Casting Crowns song is one of my favourites. I play clarinet too so I love the story of your daughter surprising you with her performance and that she and her friend did so well. I haven’t ventured onto Instagram yet, but maybe one day…

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Lesley! That’s cool that you play the clarinet–are you in a group of some kind? I started out on clarinet in fifth grade but switched to bassoon in sixth. I was never very good, but stayed in band until I was a junior in high school. Always wished I had stuck with clarinet, though … As for Instagram, it is much easier than I thought, and actually kind of fun. 🙂

      • Lesley says:

        I play regularly in a wind band, and in an orchestra from time to time. I studied music so try to keep it up when I can.
        That’s great that you played bassoon too. My hands would be far too small for that but I love its sound!

        • Lois Flowers says:

          Lesley, my younger sister has a degree in clarinet and one of my older sisters is a professional oboe player, so I have a lot of admiration for people like you who have instrumental talent! 🙂 My fifth-grade band directed wanted me to switch to bassoon precisely because I had long fingers … unfortunately, that’s about all I had going for my bassoon endeavors! Like you, I do love how it sounds, though! 🙂

  15. Lois, your creative presentations get me every time. I love your mom heart and the way you share about your girls! I’m also trying to figure out Instagram now that I’ve joined the smart phone club- someday, like Michele said, we might just figure it out. Hopefully before the next new trendy app takes over, haha! Also- I LOVE that song, was blaring it yesterday in the car.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Bethany. And congrats on joining the smartphone club! 🙂 At the risk of sounding like a 15-year-old, what kind of phone did you get? More importantly, do you like it?

  16. Fun to read! I’ve been fiddling around with Instagram as well . . . sigh. So I went over and followed you, and maybe we’ll get it figured out together . . . someday?

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yeah, Michele … one more thing to occupy our time, right? But it has been kind of fun so far … I like taking pictures of things that make me smile and then coming up with a few short words about them. It works out a different part of my brain than writing blog posts! 🙂

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