Simple Gifts

Three weeks ago today, I clipped a sprig of Dusty Miller from my front flower bed.  I was inspired by a photograph I saw in the winter issue of Life Beautiful magazine.  It is a spritual, inspirational magazine.  Even if the content doesn’t interest you, the photography will.

What a simple, rather non-descript plant this is, but what a work-horse in the garden.  It doesn’t scream, “aren’t I lovely” when you walk by like my roses or hydrangeas do.  But, rather says I am the filler, the base to your centerpiece.  In fact they say you should have three things in your flower pot during the growing season — a filler, a spiller and a thriller.  Dusty is a filler.

Despite the 17 degree weather we’ve been experiencing it is still growing strong in my garden.  Even after three weeks in a bud vase on my end table, it still looks as fresh as it did the day I picked it.  It cost me nothing, and yet three weeks later it is still smiling up at me from my $4 vase I picked up in Frederickburg recently.

It is just one of the simple gifts that God gives me everyday, if I just stop long enough to enjoy it.   God is my filler, my work horse, my centerpiece.  If I let Him, he will make all my days easier and lovely.  I just have to choose to get out of His way.

It reminds me of the old Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” by Joseph Elder (made popular by Aaron Copland)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

The Happiness Project — February’s Well Read Bee

This month’s book pick is the The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.  You can get a look inside at the book at

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

What I like most about Gretchen’s book is that she designates each month to a specific area to work on to achieve happiness:

January — Boost Energy
February – Remember Love
March — Aim Higher
April — Lighten Up
May — Be Serious About Play
June — Make Time For Friends
July — Buy Some Happiness
August — Comtemplate the Heavens
September — Pursue a Passion
October — Pay Attention
November — Keep a Contented Heart
December — Boot Camp Perfect

Here’s a quote in her book from Robert Louis Stevenson that I think we should all try to remember —
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”