This morning as I walked about my yard in the crisp morning air and admired the beauty of spring, I found myself thinking back to former days when bright spring days made school work seem dull and my children and I eagerly anticipated a picnic lunch break spent on the front porch as we soaked up the words of a good book along with the warm spring sunshine.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see Justin sitting in his wheelchair relaxed and content, his eyes closed to the bright sunshine that streamed across his face and sparkled in his auburn hair.  Jacob leaning back in a plastic green lawn chair with long legs stretched out across the porch, his face hidden behind a ball cap and dark shades, although he might appear to be asleep, I knew he was listening intently.  Jerrod could never make it out to the porch without some gadget or another; his mind and hands always busy – always tinkering and always learning.  And Jennifer’s spot was on the porch swing next to me, her feet dangling or gently rocking the swing.

Those memories of front porch time are precious to me, but those were also difficult days for our family. Days of hard work as we tried to maintain our place after the loss of husband and father and days of difficult decisions as I tried to decide the best course of treatment for Justin, but scattered across those hard times are hundreds of beautiful memories of happy moments that dot the landscape of my mind like a field of wild flowers.

In fact, a beloved memory can be very much like a dried flower stuck between the pages of a book, but its beauty lies in the memory of the moment, not in the flower itself. Like the flower, life has passed from the moment and if we continually dwell on the beauty of the past, our heart will wither and die like the flower.  We cannot thrive on the flowers of yesterday because beautiful moments are short lived.

To continually fill the vase of our heart with joy, we must continually be looking for fresh moments for which we can be thankful, even when we are in barren valleys and a long and rocky climb lies before us.  In fact, although barren valleys and rocky slopes are the places where we have to diligently search for those flowers in the crags – those moments of joy and peace that fill our heart with gratitude – they are the places where beauty stands out against the sharp contrast of the rocks.  These are the places where the fragrance of a single flower smells as sweet as a whole bouquet.

I am thankful that the road I travel today is not as steep or rocky as some I have traveled in the past, but I am also thankful for treasured memories stored up in times of steep and barren climbs, times now gone since the child who has left this home for a heavenly one will never return in this lifetime and children who have grown and gone may never again share my home or daily life. However, today I pick new flowers to add to my bouquet of memories as I watch the baby goats in my son’s herd bounce and play in the spring sunshine, share a hot drink on the porch with my daughter, enjoy technology that allows me to both see and visit with a son out of state, and delight in new birth at the barn with a son who is close.