Gratitude and a busted microwave

When I was a teenager, my parents’ microwave broke. It seems odd to me now, but I distinctly remember feeling surprised when my dad went out that weekend and bought a new one.

microwave_212022

I imagine I’d reached the age where I realized that things cost money, and perhaps begun to have my eyes opened to the fact that there were lots of things that some people couldn’t afford.

A microwave seemed like a big expense, and when dad came home with a new one, I realized, probably for the first time, that my parents were rich. Not filthy rich, perhaps, but comfortable rich. I remember saying to dad, ‘Wow, it’s pretty amazing that you can just go out and buy a new microwave. Some people couldn’t do that.’

I’ve been reminded of this many times over the years when I face unexpected expenses. Last Friday my car wouldn’t start. Within an hour the RAA had come and I had a new battery. The $170 was an expense that was very inconvenient and I felt like getting annoyed, but then I remembered to be grateful.

I will still eat this week. I will still pay my mortgage and I still bought the shoes I needed. Many people can’t do that. I have to remember that any time I receive a bill I can afford to pay, it is a time to be grateful.

A Love Affair with Letters

Photo Credit: AusPost Ad Campaign

I’ve always loved letters; real ones of course, on real paper written with a real pen. As a child I had various pen pals. We used to send each other stickers and cheap necklaces, cramming as much into the envelope as we could, anticipating the day when the reply would arrive; a treasure in the mailbox.

In high school, my friends and I used to write each other letters; copious sheets of A4 note paper, containing secrets about boys and folded into tiny packages to be passed discreetly beneath desks.

As email rose to power the traditional letter gradually faded like a flower, and I would hardly know how long it’s been since I received one, that is, until last night.

Church was about to start when a long-time friend of mine handed me an envelope. Accustomed to receiving various birthday invites at church, I quickly opened it, only to discover two sheets of lined paper torn out of a notebook, covered with hand written words. Even before I read it I was touched. After I read it, I was speechless. This friend had taken the time out to write me a letter of encouragement; telling me that she was thinking of me and of ways in which I had inspired and encouraged her, and she’d done it, quite intentionally, by hand.

I was reminded, once again of the beauty of this almost-lost art.

This week, why not encourage someone with a hand written letter? I’m going to.

Winter’s Silver Lining

20130626_110930 - Copy

I really don’t like winter. I think there might be a slight international misconception that Australians don’t have winter. I can assure you that we do. While our whole country may not get entirely shrouded in snow, we get plenty of it in some areas.

Just last week we had a rare snowfall just outside my city, and the chilly days that followed have reminded me that the next stop south from where I live is Antarctica.

20130626_154625

I dread this time of year, but there is one great blessing amongst all this. We get to see the sky. Unlike some countries, we are not subjected to a months-on-end existence under an oppressive blanket of cloud.

Yesterday morning I drove to work beneath a cobalt blue sky with the sun shining through my windscreen. It might be cold, but blue sky is not uncommon here in winter, and it really lifts my spirits.

20130724_153606

Sometimes the sunshine confuses the jonquils and lilacs, and they bloom early; fragrant beacons of hope reminding us that spring will come.

Living in the driest state of the driest continent, where we tend to believe we’re drowning if we get three days straight of rain, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to still have dry sunny days, even in the middle of winter.