This book was picked out by our Karen Clayton Taylor before she died. Her daughter brought the book which had been wrapped by her husband Dave to me (Peggy Willis Sherard) about a month ago. It was  just like she was trying  tell us to enjoy life.  I have typed most parts of the book here for all to enjoy reading.   The book I believe will change the way I look at life I hope it does the same for you.  Happy Reading!

Abundance is ...
     not how much I own but how much I appreciate.
     a pink and lavender sunset sky.
     the smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
The art of abundance is not about greed or selfishness.  The art of abundance is about celebrating life RIGHT NOW, this minute.  It is a way of looking at the potential your life holds-the little blessings to be thankful for now and the gifts that God wants to give you, if you'll open your heart to receive them.  It's about being enthusiastic about life every day, not just on the rare occasions when everything seems to be going your way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Abundance is
     wildflowers in a mason jar.
     the stars on a clear night
     creating something special out of the ordinary
     the look of wonder in a two-year-old child's eyes.
     the first lick of an ice cream cone.
     cows in clover.

Abundance is creating something special out of the ordinary.

I first started consciously practicing the art of abundance a few years ago.  My parents had always shared their delight in small things - the view from the front window, the comings and goings of birds and wildlife, the pleasure of flowers on the table and well-cooked food, the joy of reading - but it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized how rich their lives have always been in celebrating the small abundances of life.

Abundance is:
     a rich red oriental rug.
     a vase full of roses from the garden.
     watching the seasons change outside your window.

     I also learned how to react to life differently.  It didn't come all at once.  I didn't suddenly wake up one day and say."Gee, if I'd just see the glass as half full instead of half empty, I'd enjoy life more."  I learned incrementally, one small lesson on top of another small lesson, with the big picture coming slowly into focus.
     Once I began to look at life through a more positive lens, I found I had more energy and was able to enjoy the opportunities that came my way because I was no longer blinded by my fear.  I could say "yes" to life.  I learned that creativity grows in feelings of abundance.  And I discovered that my thankfulness for current blessings made me aware of other abundances that I might otherwise have blindly overlooked. 

Abundance is:
     having enough for today.
     a warm bed to fall into when you are tired.
     pink lemonade.
     freshly picked red strawberries and rich white cream in a cobalt blue bowl.

Light tomorrow with today.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Abundance is :
     ivy and morning glories in a vacant lot.
     being able to say "yes"
     being able to say "no"
     a sunny day when you expected stormy weather.
     the first page of a new novel from a favorite author.
     a full moon playing hide and seek with the clouds.
     nurturing a tiny seedling.
     bath time for little ones.

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous.  That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor

Paul Hawken

Abundance is ...
     taking the long scenic route home.
     pigeons flying into a church bell tower.
     a cat purring on your lap.
     freshly popped popcorn
     the face of someone who has survived the storms of life with faith and gratitude.
     a dance studio full of eager little ballerinas.
     a box of crayons and a clean sheet of paper.
     a bouquet of fresh flowers and a vase to arrange them in.
     a piano recital where parents are as nervous watching as the children are proforming.
     an old hound dog dozing on the porch
     a pair of warm hazel eyes.

A New Way of Looking at Life

      In some ways I consider practicing the art of abundance as a way of practicing the art of seeing.  Artists train themselves to really look at the world around them.  And they don't see through everybody else's frame of reference.  They discover their own unique vantage point and then express what they've seen in creative ways.
     That's what this little book is all about.  It's a visual aid, a spirtual tool for learning to look at your own life in healing, creative ways.  it is a way to cultivate opportunity for observation and practice the discipline of simple thankfulness to the Creator.  When I practice seeing and experiencing my life through the lens of hope and gratitude.  I find that life expands in new and unexpected ways.

     Practicing the art of abundance means looking at the world as it is, right in front of you, not as you think it should be.  It is a way of letting go of expectations and letting what is, what already exists, speak to you in a new way.

Abundance is ...
     the velvet petals of a newly opened flower.
     chicks in an incubator.
     maternity ward.
     tall, tall redwoods creating a hushed mountain cathedral.
     a pink rose surrounded by a constallation of baby's breath.
     an art gallery full of paintings.
     an afternoon in a meadow with canvas, easel, paintbrush-and butterflies!
     the first daffodils of spring.
     white clouds dancing across the sky.
     paying attention to the moment here and now.
     the swish of clear, clean water from a faucet.
     a windowbox of purple and gold pansies.
     a slice of moon in a cold winter sky.
     crisp, shiny apples on a fall afternoon.
     an exercise class to stretch and tone your body.
     a white wicker chair on a shady porch.
     a pure white mountain peak rising above wildflower meadows.
     fireflies twinkling like stars on the lawn.
     the salt-smell of an ocean breeze.
     a hawk making lazy circles in the sky.

If you want total security, go to prison.  There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on.  The only thing lacking... is freedon.
Dwight D Eisenhower

     Anyone who has taken a look at the zillions of different kinds of bugs or fish or birds or trees or landscapes or noses or animals is reminded of a world so filled with diversity and glorious variety that it becomes obvious our minds cannot contain all that God has created.
     The art of abundance is opening my eyes to see what God has lavished on me every single day that I am still breathing.  Seeing His abundant surprises at every turn, I am able to open the door to hope and be released from fear, limitation, poverty, and diminished expentation-because God is bigger than my little boxes.

Abundance ...
     a butterfly landing in an outstretched hand.
     rich brown soil turned and waiting for seeds to be planted.
     changing cloud patterns in a bright blue sky.
     a card in the mail from a friend.
     renting a three-hanky romance video and having a good cry.
     making plans for a summer vacation.
     a hooked rug your mother made especially for you.
     a squirrel skittering down the side of a tree with a nut in its mouth.
     licking the beaters.
     a lazy summer afternoon.
     crayon yellow and orange day lilies.
     a fresh spring breeze coming through the bedroom window.
     bare feet on a summer day.
     honey on whole wheat toast.
     a long, sensuous kiss.
     red Jell-O wiggling in a yellow bowl.
     a vegetable stand at harvest time.
     the sun breaking through the clouds on a gloomy day.
     being early for an appointment.
     church bells ringing on a Sunday morning.
     cherry and apple blossoms in the spring.

     If we did but know how little some enjoy of the great things that they possess, there would not be much envy in the world.
Edward Young

Abundance is..
     friends knocking at the door
     a dog lying on the grass, waiting for you to scratch his stomach.
     Japanese lanterns around a patio.
     a fluffy bath towel
     a cup of tea and a moment of quiet.
     a favorite teddy bear who survived childhood and now has an honored place       in the home.
     a tender touch where it hurts.
     sunset behind a mountain peak.
     the laughter of good friends.
     starlight after a storm
     a bag of groceries
     electricity being restored after a storm.
     Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest  to bear are those which never happen.
James Russell Lowell 
Over the years, I have found that when I practice the art of abundance, I say "no" to my fears and live in today's provision.  In the process, I am able to believe in tomorrow's unseen provision, and I am receptive to new and beneficent influences in my life.  I know this works.  In the long run, I don't really know exactly how it works.  But I don't need to know how anymore.  I don't need to have all the answers.  I just need to receive the help the God wants to offer me today.
     The art of abundance provides a way for me to open my heart to receive whatever gifts the day itself wants to bring.  When I am faithful to doing that, life showers me today with so much more than I could have believed possible in my doubting yesterdays.

Abundance is...
     The sound of rain on a roof that doesn't leak.
     a book of love poems.
     a colorful fruit plate:
     earthworms tunneling in the dirt.
     the first warm day of spring.
     freshly laundered clothing
     weeds and wild things growing in a field.
     lying on your back on the grass and counting stars.
     little yappy dogs barking with crazed frenzy as they protect their territory.
     the aroma of his aftershave and the scent of her perfume.
     new shoes.
     families picnicking in the park on a sunny Saturday.
     a colorful kite flying high in a windy March sky.
     someone to kiss goodnight.

Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive.
One must never, for any reson, turn one's back on life.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Celebrate the Abundant Life
     As you master simple, practical things to nurture abundance, you will discover new avenues through which you can receive and enjoy and be thankful for the gift of life.
     Venture forth and develop your own creative response by seeing the small gifts life gives.  I can almost guarantee that if you take even one baby step, you will find a response in the universe, an embracing and a joyous welcome from the Father to a prodigal child who has wasted so many precious hours of life worrying about what was lacking and being blind to the loving abundance all around her.
     God bless you as you begin your personal pilgrimage into the kingdom of abundance.  Come celebrate the abundant life!

May your laughter be from God.
Irish Proverb

Abundance is ...
     children and puppies rolling in the grass.
     citronella keeping bugs away on a summer night.
     a door that opens to let you in.
     macaroni and cheese when you want comfort food.
     a rest stop on a long hike.
     a Little League baseball game on a soft spring afternoon.
     a fresh coat of paint
     an hour before it's time for bed.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
Charles Dickens

     Celebrating abundance is the best antidote I know of for fear;  fear that whispers there won't be enough for tomorrow, fear that hisses "things will never improve," fear that dominates and tortures, telling you that your're helpless and God has forgotten you.  Don believe it.
     Start looking at what you already have.  Start with basics like,  "I'm still breathing."  Make a game seeing how many positives there are in your life.  Then start counting the little things,  the tiny joys a moment can bring.  Open your eyes to see the wonder of the world you live in.  I call this the "Abundance is ..." game.  Here is a sampling:

Abundance is ...
     a cool breeze on a summer evening.
     a song to sustain you through a dark night.
     blue jays fighting over the birdseed in a bird feeder.
     ginger cookies that snap.
     the opening chords of the Hallelujah Chorus.
     warm hands on a cold winter day.
     someone who asks how your're doing (and really wants to know!)
     the smell of a steak sizzling on a neighbor's barbecue.
     a cat basking in the sun.
     a can opener that really works.
     a white church steeple against a bright blue ski.
     a flock of geese wringing their way south on a sunny fall day.
     the first day of a long vacation.
     the feel of a fine tool in your hand.
     the sharp smell of fallen pine needles.
     the opening scene of a favorite movie.
     all the different noses on all the different faces in the world.
     walking into a public library.
     a busy airport.
     browsing in a fabric store.
     when you get more than you anticipated.
     sunlight creating rainbows as it shines through a crystal prism.
     an understanding friend.
     dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.
     a thankful heart.
     (make up your own)

Start playing this celebratory game by looking at your life.  It's not only the little things to be thankful for.  It's the things that illustrate potential.

Abundance ...
     is a full tank of gas.
     a tree loaded with apple blossoms.
     a telephone line that's connected.
     flour, sugar, butter, salt, eggs, a recipe, and a kitchen to bake a cake in.
     a smiling four-year old.
     a box full of kittens.
     an hour to play in the park on a sunny day.
     the first day you feel better after having the flu.
     a crocus peeking its head out of the snow.
     the little, tight, green bud of spring.

     Never underestimate the power of celebrating little things.  Greet each moment and become aware of what is happening around you.  A soft breeze caressing your skin and ruffling the pages of your book.  A blue sky outside the window.  Or the sound of rain making a murmuring background to your thoughts.  The fact that you're enjoying a pleasure, however great or small.

     Clean clothes.  A hot bath.  A smile from a stranger.  Lunch hour browsing in the shops.  A quick sandwich on the run.  Crusty bread.  Crisp salad.  Salty olives.  The car starting on the first try.  A red carnation sitting jauntily on the desk.  Daffodils and paperwhites displayed in the florist's window.  Kids laughing as they get off the bus in the afternoon.

     Look and listen.  What are the sounds of your life today?  The swish of water from a faucet.  Silent snow falling on a fast-whitening ground.  The crack of icicles in a spring melt.  The drone of lawnmowers on a summer afternoon.  The clink and tinkle of ice in a glass.  Voices murmuring at tables in a restaurant.  Frogs croaking by the creek.  A child whispering in your ear.  Leaves in the wind.  A plane flying overhead.  Music on the stereo.  Sweet silence.

Abundance is   having ears open to hear the music of life.

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness.
Saint Augustine


Go ahead.  Invest in yourself.  Take time to read a book, go to the park, watch a sunset.  Buy something that makes you feel special - a small bottle of perfume, a single rose, a favorite magazzine.  Call a friend and make a date for lunch.  Replace your ratty underwear with some new colorful delights.  Buy a vase for your desk and a fresh flower at the beginning of each work week.  Go buy some gourmet coffee or tea.

Invest in tomorrow today.  Take a class, redecorate your bedroom, read a helpful book, learn a new skill - think in terms of lasting investments that will bring you joy not only in the immediate present but also over the long run.

     I like living.  I have sometimes been wildly, desparingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand  thing.
Agatha Christie

     Let yourself have fun.  Go ahead, a little frivolity never killed anyone.  (I've heard of worrying oneself into an early grave.  But I've never heard anyone say, "She was just so FRIVOLOUS it killed her.")

     Get real.  Life is a series of little moments.  Make the most of your moments by having some lighthearted fun.

The true object of life is play.
G. K. Chesterton

Abundance is ...
     a wiggling, tail-wagging puppy.
     learning how to ride a bike.
     air conditioning in a hot climate.
     a pure white seashell you discover on the beach.
     the courage to try something new.

The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one.
Elbert Hubbard

Take some risks.  Try something new.  Don't always play it safe.  Whether it's as simple as taking another road home or as complex as going back to school to get your degree, an element of risk is always involved with adventuring into new territory.  Don't let life become a boring rut, always doing the same old thing.  Did you know that the physical symptoms of fear and excitement are almost exactly the same?  Think about that the next time something makes your heart beat faster.  Will you choose fear?  Or will you choose excitement?
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Create special moments now.  Sometimes it seems like we spend our lives waiting for tomorrow.  "when I get enough money I'll...  "When I have a better house I'll...  "  "When I find someone to love I'll... "  "When I retire I'll..."  It is so easy to lose sight of the fact that we only have today.  There are no guarantees for  tomorrow, only promises that God will take care of us.

We die daily.  Happy those who daily come to life as well.
George Macdonald

Abundance is...
     being alone in a crowd, but not lonely
     inviting people to a party.
     a party of two anywhere.
     a class in a subject you're interested in.
     having tea with friends.
     knitting needles and a ball of yarn.
    a bicycle, a sunny day, and an open road.
     trying on hats, just for the fun of it.

Hunger is the best sauce in the world.

Don't worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will take care of itself soon enough.  Let what this day brings - tears or laughter - be what you focus on.

     Watch young children.  When they play, they are entirely in the moment - this ice cream cone, this crayon and paper, this tetherball game, this time with my friends.  Children hold nothing back.  Look at a toddler learning to walk and discovering the world.  Think of a child's eyes on Christmas morning.  Give yourself a gift by celebrating the wonders of daily life.  You never know what small surprise packages will arrive.  Let the little child in your heart become an explorer again.

Abundance is...
     wind chimes in a garden.
     a warm sweater on a cool day.
     sharing a popsicle.
     a cherry on top!
     coffee at a bohemian campus hangout.
     little girls giggling at a slumber party.
     the taste of fresh-picked raspberries.

Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment.
Pearl Bailey

Enjoy the view.  Whether the big goal is reached or not, we can enjoy the journey.  Make each moment count.  Try to be aware of the sensory experiences of existence.  Be mindful of the taste, feel, sight, scent, and sound of the things you normally take for granted.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Isodore of Seville

My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.
William Shakespeare

Abundance is...
     a baked apple, fragrant with butter and cinnamon, swimming in cream.
     the cry of a seagull whirling and wheeling in the wind.
     the smell of coffee brewing.
     a song in the night.
     making beautiful music together.

The art of the melody can never be put down on paper.
Pablo Casals

Dost thou love life?  Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin

Abundance is...
     a screen door that keeps the bugs out.
     a cat peering in at you from the screen door it climbed on.
     a pot of homemade soup bubbling on the stove.
     taking the time to do it right.
     decorating a birthday cake with sugar flowers and Happy Birthday
     a lamb frolicking in a meadow.
     a dewdrop-spangled rose.
     a little girl in a big red coat with bright cobalt blue cap  and mittens.
     one small step at a time.
     a robin's next with an egg that looks like a piece of sky.
     seeds that sprouted in a clay pot.

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
Abraham Lincoln

Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.
E. B. White

     When in doubt, believe the best.  Whether it is for your future or about the people you know, believing the best brings back the best.  It's almost like sending a radio message out to the universe,  "You can trust me to appreciate the good gifts you're sending!"  A little seed of gratitude can one day grow into a crop of blessings.

     Instead of allowing yourself to be so unhappy, just let your love grow.  God wants it to grow; seek goodness in others, love more persons more, love them more impersonally, more unselfishly, without thought of return.  The return, never fear, will take care of itself.
Henry Drummond

Abundance is...
     enough money for today's bills.
     the barns at the state fair.
     a friend who believes in you.
     sunlight slanting through the trees.
     an organic garden where weeds and bugs also are allowed to grow.
     crickets singing in the summer heat.'     
     Warm cement under your feet on a cool evening

Count your blessings.  It's a simple thing to do, but very effective.  I write down five things each day to be thankful for.  I do this just before bedtime.  Even a rough day can have its blessings - sometimes the fact that it's over!  I often go back and remind myself of how much I have enjoyed each day and what a privileged being I am to enjoy the gifts God has so richly given.

He who is plenteously provided for from within needs but little from without.

A well-spent day bring happy sleep.
Leonardo Da Vindi

Abundance is...
     waves washing on a sandy shore.
     a grateful heart.
     the lights of home in the darkness.

Dare to fantasize!  Dare to think without limitation.  Get free and crazy with this.  Ask yourself questions like:
If I could do anything for the next 48 hours (no limitations) what would I do?  Fly to London and see The Phantom of the Opera?  Go skin diving in the warm blue seas of Tahiti?  Fly to Paris for an elegant dinner? Climb a mountain?  Go for a mad shopping spree in the Mall of America?  Curl up with a good book and a whole chocolate cake?  Discover a cure for cancer?
     If I had ten lives to live, what would I be?  A ballerina?  A fireman?  A cowgirl?  An interior designer?  An Olympic swimming or skating champion?  A mad scientist?
     Give yourself a part of that fantasy now.  Ask yourself what small part of that fantasy can you re-create in your life.  You may not be a prima ballerina, but you can buy a ticket to the ballet or take a dance class or read a book on ballerinas.  You might not live in Paris, but you can have a cup of coffee and a croissant at a local cafe.  If you want to write the Great American Novel but you haven't written more than thank-you notes and grocery lists in the last year, it's time to take a creative writing class at your local community college.
     You may find you're satisfied with one small affirming gesture.  Or you may discover that one thing will lead to another and launch you on an unexpected adventure that takes you places you never expected to go.  A journey can begin with one small step.

     Dreams of the future offer us clues to what we want in the present.  I've lived in many apartments, but I've always dreamed of having a beautiful home with lots of space and gracious decor.  So I learned to create little gracious spaces, even when I lived in crowded and tiny apartments.  It's good practice for that dream house, and it gives my life the pleasant touches I long for without depending on some future dream.

     I would love to dress up and go to the symphony or theater in London.  So I dress nicely to go to a friend's house or out to a small club or theater in my home town.  I buy season tickets for the symphony in the nosebleed section.  I rent a video to learn something more about opera, or Beethoven, or touring London.  I don't sit and complain about what I don't have.  I create!  I look for small fuffillments, incremental joys.

Abundance is...
     playing dress-up with friends of any age.
     watching professional dancers performa a passionate spectacle of art, discipline and pure glorious energy.

     Listen to music that moves you.  Buy season tickets to a concert series or invest in your favorite CDs.  Give yourself permission to explore new kinds of music, go to concerts and special events, learn how to play an instrument, join a choir, and take time to give yourself the gift of music.
     I am fortunate enough to live in a town where I can go to listen to music any night of the week.  Nashville is a music mecca where the best in the world come to play and sing.  Not only are there concert headliners, but there are clubs that feature yet-to-be discovered songwriters and artists.  Many, many of these are free.  I go out often and enjoy all types of music.

     No matter where you live, there is music available somewhere.  You can make your own music, too.  Enjoy the music of the world that surround - crickets, wind, children, and all the sounds that make life here on earth so rich.

Abundance is...
     an orchestra tuning up.
     the chuckling of a little brown creek.
     listening to birdsong on an early spring morning.
     a little girl dancing around the living room to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony.
     your favorite song on the radio instead of another advertisement.
     sitting high in the balcony with a friend and sharing the music.

To know of someone here and there whom we accord with, who is living on with us, even in silence -- this makes our earthly ball a peopled garden.

Clean out your closets.  There's nothing like seeing all the stuff you've accumulated to remind you of how much you already have.  Give away good used clothing and other useful items to deserving charities.  Let someone else enjoy what's been hiding unused in your closet.

Life begets life.  Energy creates energy.  It is by spending oneself that we become rich.
Sarah Bernhardt

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up
Mark Twain

Buy one small impractical thing, like a single fresh rose for the table by your bed.  For few dollars, you can  buy a rose and fern from the grocery store or florist.  For the next few days it will remind you of the mystery of growth and change, breathing beauty into your first waking moments and those right befor you go to sleep.

Abundance is...
     fresh flowers and candles on the dinner table.
     anything chocolate.
     cotton candy clouds and buttercream skies.
     a year's subscription to a favorite magazine.
     a colorful silk scarf that was too beautiful not to buy.
     white gloves and pink taffeta.
     a lighted Christmas tree in a neighbor's window.
 This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Take time to pamper yourself.  This is especially important if you spend a great deal of time nurturing others.  Your well will run dry if you don't give yourself permission to fill it.  Your body needs rest.  You need to bathe and wash your hair.  Make necessary personal care as much of a luxury experience as you can afford.
     You may not be able to take a sensuous bubble bath every day, but as an occasional treat, it can't be beat.  Keep packets of bubble bath or bath beads on hand.  For a few dollars, you can have the home version of an expensive spa.
     Lock thebathroom door.  Light some candles.  Run the bath water and luxuriate in the scented warmth.  You deserve it.

Abundance is...
     water running into the tub for a fragrant bubble bath.
     a trip to the hairdresser for a shampoo, cut, and style.
     breakfast in bed
     a twenty-minute walk in the fresh air.
     getting your annual checkup.
     the virgin surface of a newly opened container of ice cream.'     a thick towel wrapped around a wet body.

Take time to pamper someone else.

     Abundance is...
     a backrub.
     a thank-you note.
     bathtub toys for the kids.
     a rose and an encouraging card for a friend.

Always be kinder than necessary.
Sir James Barrie

There are three ingredients in the good life:  learning, earning, and yearning.
Christopher Morely

Abundance is...
     a smile and a wave.
     pouring tea from a fat, white teapot.
     having enough to share
     a fish at the end of your line.
     a long walk down a country road.
A man wrapped up in himself makes a small bundle.
Benjamin Franklin

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only turn in.
George Washington Carver

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Time is an education for eternity.

     Sit and watch the grass grow.  There's a popular saying that goes,  "Sometimes I sits and thinks. And sometimes I just sits."  Sitting still is good for your soul.  It is an antidote to the "hurry, hurry, hurry" sickness of our times.  Our utilitarian society pressures us to be constantly busy and productive.  But the "busy and important" syndrome is death to the human spirit.  We are not wired to be constantly on the go.
     Start a revolution!  Take ten minutes to sit back and  let the world soak into your pores.  Take a course in the art of "being" by watching cows in a pasture.  Stop and listen - you might even hear the voice of God speaking to your heart.
     Go to a bakery.  Smell the glorious scent of fresh baked goods.  Look at all the different kinds of breads, rolls, pastries.  Buy something and take it home to eat.

     Man is a very comic creature, and most of the things he does are comic - eating, for instance.  And the most comic things of all are exactly the things that are most worth doing - such as making love.
G. K. Chesterton

Abundance is...  friends who think you're a big cheese when the rest of the world thinks you're small potatoes.

     Shop at a tourist trap.  Go ahead.  Don't be ashamed.  Pretend you're a tourist in your own home town.  Search for the tackiest thing in the store.  Look for something clever that you would never have thought of making.  Find ideas for discovering special things about your home town (or, if you visitng somewhere, for discovering new things about a new place).

Abundance is...
     the crack of a bat meeting a ball.
     a town full of tourist traps during the tourist season.

     Visit a shop that carries spices and herbs or gourmet teas and coffees.  Buy an herb or spice to try in a new recipe.  Experiment with a new coffee or tea, then share your discovery with a friend or loved one.

Abundance is...
     knowing you can buy something even if you decide not to.
     vintage lace.
     a holiday parade.
     flags on the Fourth of July.
     scissors, glue, and construction paper.
     a brown speckled trout swimming in a clear green pond.

     Gather fall leaves.  See how many different kinds of leaves you can find.  See how many different colors of leaves you can collect.  Find a pile of fall leaves to swish your feet through.

     Search for pussyvillows in the early spring.  Look at frost patterns on a winter window.  Carve a jack-o-lantern out of a brilliant orange pumpkin.  Play a game of volleyball on a summer lawn.  Celebrate the moments that each season brings.

     Sunday dinner with roast chicken, green peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, and ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.
     getting off work early.
     a freshly ironed shirt.

     Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness and its power of endurance - the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will persevere in it longer, than the sad or sullen.
Thomas Carlyle

     Slide down a snowy hillside on a sled or you backside.  Roll in the grass on a dry sunny day.  Take regular walks outdoors.

Abundance is...
     store windows that display the delights within.
     the wind blowing through your hair.

     Pet a dog.  Stroke a cat.  Put out a birdfeeder in winter.  Watch an ant make its way across a sidewalk.  Enjoy a nature program that teaches you about the wonders of the animal kingdom

Abundance is...
     a curious cat.
     Canada geese in flight
     a full dog dish.
     butterflies against a blue, blue sky.

     Look through a telescope. A microscope. A kaleidoscope.  Put your rose-colored glasses on and seek the beauty, wonder, and wildness of this ever-changing world.

     The telescope makes the world smaller;  it is only the microscope that make it larger.
G. K. Chesterton

Abundance is...
     voices blended in close harmony.
     bugs around the porchlight in summer.
     a merry-go-round at a county fair.

     Watch an old Laurel and Hardy movie.  Or a Buster Keaton movie.  Or a Charlie Chaplin movie.  Or a Three Stooges movie.  Or a Jerry Lewis movie.  Get the picture?

Abundance is...
     a friend to laugh with.
     ducks on a pond.
     ducks waddling on land.

Life, it seems to me, is worth living, but only if we avoid the amusements of grown-up people.
Robert Lynd

     Take a walk outdoors.  Look at the sky and the passing clouds.  Celebrate the seasonal changes.  Observe the wonderful variety of nature, of the beautiful creation God set us in.

In those vernal seasons of the year when the air is 
calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness
against nature not to go out and see her riches,
and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.
John Milton 

Oh Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
William Shakespeare

Abundance is...
     a rainbow arching across the sky.
     a bride dressed in white.
     a field of daisies.
     a lace tablecloth.
     walking across campus on a crisp fall day.
    the wind in the sails of a sailboat.

Look at old photos.  Remember the good times.  Forgive the mistakes.  Thank God for the people He has brought into your life.

Abundance is...
     baskets full of memories.
     a photo of your parent's wedding.
     a sepia picture of Main Street America circa 1909.

Read a good book.
     My favorite books have helped me discover the abundance in life, and many of them have literally been life-transforming for me:

     The Hidden Art of Homemaker by Edith Schaeffer
     The Supper of the Lamb  by Robert Farrar Capon
     The Adventure of Living  by Paul Tournier'     
     Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar
     The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron'
     Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle'
     Pilgrim at Tinker creek  by Annie Dillard
     A Thomas Merton Reader  edited by Thomas P. McDonnell
     The Message by Eugene Peterson
     Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson Sr. & Michael W. Benson
     The Book of Common Prayer
     Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
     Reflections on the Psalms  by C. S. Lewis  
     A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
     The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
     Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
     Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard'  
      The Art of Eating by M. F. K. Fisher

Abundance is  a  shelf packed with your favorite books.

     Plant a seed.  Plan a garden.  Poke a hole in the ground, stick a seed in, and watch it grow.  It doesn't matter if you have a tiny pot on an apartment deck or windowsill, or a big old fashioned garden; watching things grow is good therapy for the soul.  It reminds us of forces deeper and stronger than us.
     Take a trip to a botanical garden or your local plant nursery and revel in alll the good growing things.  I have a favorite local nursery and florist that has gorgeous displays all year round.  It lifts my heart to see a spring garden in the heart of winter - and to buy a pot of paperwhites for my coffee table.  The fragrance of spring is sweeter in winter.

Abundance is...
     an omelette made with fresh herbs.
     polishing a silver tea service and heirloom silver spoons.
     a planter full of blooming annuals.

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth's loveliness.

     Go to an airport, a mall, a train station, a busy street.  Sit down.  Watch the parade pass by.  Count noses and see how many different noses there are on all the different faces.
     Go to the zoo.  Look at the animals.  Look at the people.  Think about God's infinite variety.
     Go to the public library.  Browse through the books on bugs.  The books on boats.  The books on fishes and life in the ocean.  The books on stars.  The cookbooks.  The biographies.  The crafts section.  The literature section.  The children's book section.  I am always delighted and distracted by all the funny and amazing things people find to write entire books about.

     homemade fudge.
     an afternoon in a hammock reading a trashy novel (admit it, you like a good trash wallow every now and again!).



     Subscribe to a favorite magazine.  Take the time to read it when it come each month.  

Abundance is...
     a travel poster that makes you dream of blue skies, exotic flowers, and faraway places.
     the swish of taffeta, the sheen of silk.
     a double mocha latte with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
     silver and crystal shimmering in candlelight.

Splurge!  Treat yourself to a wonderful meal at a good local restaurant.  Don't forget to read the menu and savor how many delights you have to choose from.
Abundance is...trying a new flavor of ice cream.

Don't splurge.  Sometimes we fill our lives with too many things, too many activities.  Take a day off to simplify.  Fast.  Don't do any of your usual activities.  Don't buy anything.  Don't watch TV.

Abundance is...  a hot meal ready to eat
     a beckoning trail.


    It must be obvious to those who take time to look at human life that its greatest values lie not in getting things, but in doing them, in doing them together, in all working toward a common aim, in the experience of comradeship, of warmhearted 100 percent human life.
W. T. Grant

     The races of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other.  From the time the mother binds the child's head till the moment that some kind assistant wipes the brow of the dying, we cannot exist without mutual help.
Sir Walter Scott

Abundance is...
     teaching a child about gardens.
     a cool hand on a hot forehead.
     offering encouragement instead of objections.
     respecting others' dreams and differences.
     listening to a three-year-old explain his world to you.
     a warm shoulder in a cold world.

Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.
Calvin Coolidge

God has given us two hands - one to receive with and the other to give with.  We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.
Billy Graham

     Spend a few hours with a friend, a loved one, or a child.  Make a protected time for just the two of you.  Do something fun, something relaxing, and something that gives you time and space to talk about life.

Giving is the secret of a healthy life.  Not necessarily money, but whatever a man has of encouragement and sympathy and understanding.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Give what you have.  To someone it may be better than you dare think.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Abundance is...
     a tickle and a cuddle.
     telling stories, enjoying good food, and sitting around the table laughing.
     the good Samaritan who helped you fix a flat tire.
     a compliment on how you look.

     Wrap a present.  Buy small gifts to surprise others.  Don't wait for birthdays or holidays.  Sometimes the most wonderful gifts are the unexpected ones.  Give a gift that says,  "This isn't because of any obligation, but just because I think you're wonderful."

All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin.
Lord Byron

The smallest actual good is better than the most magnificent promise of impossibilities.
Thomas Babington MaCaulay

Abundance is...
     finding the perfect gift for someone you love.
     a handful of wildflowers.
     children's drawings hanging on the refrigerator door.
     hugs and kisses at a family reunion.
     a jigsaw puzzle to put together.

Volunteer.  Give yourself to something that matters.  Donate to a good vcause or give a few hours of your time to a cause you care about.  Ask yourself, "How can I give back?"
      Whether it's serving at a soup kitchen, teaching Sunday school, doing a Fun Run to raise money, tutoring students, or knitting socks, we all have something to offer.  A friendly, helping hand; an encouraging smile; a willingness to help someone else - all these gifts, when given with no strings attached, bring their own rewards.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937

Be not anxious about what you have, but about what you are.
Saint Gregory the Great

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Mark Twain

We cannot live only for ourselves.  A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and along those fibers, as sympathetic theads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.
Herman Melville

Abundance is...
     a full glass of ice water.
     a Christmas food drive.
     all the different faces we see every day.
     bedtime stories for children.
     high heels for a very special occasion.
     a wink and a smile from a handsome man (or a pretty woman).

A joy that's shared is a joy made double.
English Proverb

Our most valuable possessions are those which cvcan be shared without lessening - those which, when shared, multiply.  Our least valuable possessions, on the other hand, are those which, when divided, are diminished.
William H. Danforth

Abundance is...
     giving a friend room to grow.
     a lighthouse defying the restless sea and guiding the traveler home.

Write a thank-you note or a letter to someone who mentored you or taught you or helped you along the way.  Let that person know what he or she has meant in your life.

When someone does something good, applaud!  You will make two people happy.
Samuel Goldwyn

The best portion of a good man's life.  His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
William Wordsworth.

Abundance is...
     having someone say, "Yes, you can!" instead of "yes, but..."
     good memories.
     someone to walk along the path with you for awhile.
     a funny card.
     a friend to laugh with.     
     someone who cares enough to worry about you.
     pictures of family and friends.
     a mother cuddling her daughter.
     a father playing catch with his son.
     having a choice
     an understanding friend.
     having a shoulder to cry on.
     being a shoulder for someone else to cry on.

It is astonishing how little one feels poverty when one loves.
John Bulwer

Abundance is...
     the first football practice in August.
     a sympathetic friend to listen and pick up the pieces when you fall apart.
     a cloud with silver linings.
     a full punchbowl.
     the little wild roses that grow near a saltwater beach.
     helping a toddler explore the world.
     a golden wedding anniversary.
     rubbing noses as a sign of affection.

The fragrance of what you give away stays with you.
Earl Allen

The Abundant Life
     Life is not a march, it's a dance!
     Sometimes I'll find myself looking at life as if it is some big formula that I must solve.  In so doing, I turn life into a march when it is meant to be a dance.  Life is not neat columns of soldiers marching in lockstep to a prescribed order but an elegant interweaving of free choice and adherance to an ordered, yet changing, pattern.  It is couples walting round the floor, dresses swirling, toes tapping, hearts singing.  It is moving together, then apart, then together again in an exquisite movement that is as natural as breathing in and out.  Changing tempo, adjusting steps, learning new intricate combinations of patterns, whirling round the room with joy and lightness and laughter-we dance to the music of life.  It's a social grace, not military order.
     Watch trees sway in the wind, or kittens playing, or a brook babbling under a bridge.  Listen to the music of life, watch the earth turn through the seasons.  Even our very molecules dance with being.  Dr. Candace Pert, a neuroscientist who has been in the forefront of biomolecular research, says about the receptor molecules of cells, "We like to describe these receptors as'keyholes,' although that is not altogether a precise term for something that is constantly moving, dancing in a rhythmic, vibratory way."
     Life is rich, complex, and mysterious.  Celebrate the organized chaos of choice, energy, and simple elegance that makes up the dance of life.  We are more than the sum of our parts.

We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.
Sir Thomas Browne

The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly.
G. K. Chesterton

Abundance is...
     the whisper of trees swaying in a summer breeze.
     the incomparable perfume of sunshine, fresh air, salt water, and Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir forest.
     a morning to sleep in.
     something wonderful to get up early for.
     a pencil flying across a piece of paper as words and ideas spill and tumble out.
     a Mona Lisa smile.

The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years.
William Wordsworth

Abundance is   friends who share the same dreams and goals.

We all find time to do what we really want to do.
William Feather

     Give yourself the gift of time.  Time alone, time with friends and loved ones, time to do something you love, and time to grow.  Sometimes our minds know the changes we need to make but our hearts haven't made the transition yet.  Like a garden through the year, understand that you, too, have your seasons of growth and your seasons of rest.  Be patient  with yourself and with God.  Believe me, he will make your garden grow.
     Celebrate what you can do and be patient with what you can't do.  Trust that all will work out and that even delays may be part of the plan.  You don't have to do everything at once.  Take baby steps.  Not giant leaps.  And let your heart lead the way.

To plow is to pray - to plant is to prophesy, and the harvest answers and fuffills.'
R. G. Ingersoll

Abundance is...
     terra cotta urns full of pink geraniums and blue ageratun flanking the entrance to your home
     ripe southern peaches dripping with juice and flavor.
     kissing a baby's cheek.
     a frog choir singing in the swamp.
     the sun going down like a ball of fire in the west.
     kids in a toy store.
     a Japanese garden.

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Abundance is.... the funny names of small towns -
Bucksnort, APuyallup, Twisp, George (Washington state), Red Boiling Springs, Hungry Horse, Tallapoosa, Boring, Humptulips, 

Abundance is...     
     meeting a friend for an evening get-together.
     the first crisp day of fall.
     freshman orientation day on a green, green campus.
     the music of "Pomp and Circumstance" as graduates parade up the aisle to receive their diplomas.
     peeling enough apples to make a pie.

It all goes by so fast...Oh earth, your're too wonderful for anybody to realize you...Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Man is meant for happiness and this happiness is in him, in the satisfaction of the daily needs of his existence.
Leo Tolstoy

Abundance is...
     the bend of a bird wing.
     a slice of Death by Chocolate cake
     rain after a long dry spell
     laugh lines instead of frown lines in an older face.
     a sunny day picnic in the park.
     a place to put your feet up and relax.
     a healthy young woman in a bright yellow dress.
     a flag popping in the wind.
     lights twinkling around the neighborhood at dusk.
     hot chocolate after playing in the snow.
     the head of someone you love on the pillow next to you.
     sand between your toes.
     a little one to tuck in at night.

The happiest life, seen in perspective, can hardly be better than a stringing together of odd little moment.
Norman Douglas

Nine requisites for contented living:
     Health enough to make work a pleasure.  Wealth enough to support your needs.  Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.  Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.  Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.  Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.  Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.  Faith enough to make real the things of God.  Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concering the future.

Abundance is...
     someone saying "yes" to your request.
     a dog and two kids rolling in the grass.
     running through the sprinkler.
     a bowl of Mom's potato salad.
     a collection of anything (seashells, baseball cards, perfume bottles, books, bottle caps, antiqeue nutcrackers, stamps 
     when the ball goes in the hole, the cup, or the basket.
      a kitten sleeping on a pillow
     a Thanksgiving turkey just out of the oven.
     the gifts and the potential God has given you.
     a freshly sharpened pencil.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.
Isak Dinesen

Abundance is....
     a plane twinkling across a purple night sky.     
     little kids in Halloween costumes.
     fresh basil and summer tomatoes.
     wind blowing through your hair.
     the first bite of supper when you're hungry.

If you are content, you have enough to live comfortably.
We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.
Robert Farrar Capon

I am still learning.

Those who dwell amoung the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
Rachel Carson

Abundance is...
     a young smiling girl in a pink jacket.
     bare brances again a winter sky.
     cherry cheeks and rosy noses.
     a cherry hello.
     music in the distance.
     a smile from a perfect stranger.
     golden maple leaves carpeting a forest floor.
     a jack-o-lantern grinning at you from a doorstep.
     a comfortable chair.
     a cat purring in your lap.
     weeds and wild things.
     little kids and mud puddles.
     the potential of every child born on this earth.
     snowflakes in a snowstorm.
     the graceful curve of a fragrant white lily.

The best friends are those who know how to keep the same silences.
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
Anne Frank

Today is for itself enough...
Mary Shelley

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost