Showing posts from 2012

The Best of Now and Here

No longer forward nor behind I look in hope or fear; But grateful, take the good I find, The best of now and here.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) American Quaker, Poet, and Abolitionist

As I was getting ready for church this morning I was reflecting on this past year and how quickly the months have flown by. It's been a remarkable year, though things haven't always gone the way I thought they might. That's the challenge of placing expectations or time frames on things one can't control -- when things are different you have to learn to adjust.
I was raised to have goals in life - things to work toward and accomplish. At an earlier time in my life I fared pretty well at achieving many of those goals. When my health deteriorated and I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted, it was easy to look back with longing for that which I felt I had lost. Reflecting back from time to time is good, but looking back with longing limited my ability to look forward. I learned to look f…

Not all Those Who Wander...

Not all those who wander are lost.  J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973); Writer, Poet, Philologist, University Professor
I inherited my wanderlust tendencies from my father. I consider it to be one of the greatest attributes he has given me. I am rarely content to be stuck indoors -- be it work, school, or at home. After a while I have to get out and get into nature. Living in East Tennessee, that often means heading to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or one of many state or local parks. But really, any road or path that piques my curiosity will do as long as I am exploring.
Daddy used to call it "getting lost."  He'd pile all us kids into our big Plymouth station wagon and say, "Let's go get lost." Translated, this means let's go to an area that we sort of know, drive down roads we've never been on before, and see what we can discover. We rarely ever got truly lost, but we saw things we might have missed had we opted to not go down the road less travel…

Gratitude Day 26: Sunsets

A few weeks ago I expressed my feelings about watching a beautiful sunrise, but I feel the same way about a gorgeous sunset. I was reminded of this while driving home from Kingsport on Saturday afternoon. As I rolled down I-81 the sun descended from the clear blue sky above into the low-level clouds and smoky haze (from wildfires) near the horizon. It was a cold, low humidity day making conditions perfect for a colorful sunset -- and colorful it was! My only regret was that I was not in a position to get off the interstate and snap some photos of the glorious scene.

A stunning sunset always reminds me of the blessing of adversity in life. Watching a sunset when the sky is clear is nice, but not especially beautiful. The right combination of clouds and sky are required for a spectacular sunset, one filled with a rainbow of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. Similarly, it is the challenging times in life that help me appreciate the sweet times, the good people, the beautiful things.…

Gratitude Day 25: Handel's "Messiah"

I was in high school the first time I participated in a performance of George Frideric Handel's immortal work, the Messiah. I vividly remember the rehearsals in the auditorium of the old University of Tennessee Music Building. The conductor wore a lavender dress shirt. The university choir was on stage. I was behind a cello in the orchestra pit while my sister was on the opposite side playing the violin. The cello part was easy compared to what the violins were playing.

My next experience came after college. In those days the Knoxville Oratorio Society sponsored an annual Messiah sing-in at the Bijou theater. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra was on stage and members of the choir were scattered throughout the hall by section. Patrons were encouraged to bring their own scores and sing along as they wished. I was an alto in those days and having never sung the Messiah before, I wandered aimlessly and butchered things royally in my attempt to sight-read the music. It was fun, but I ne…

Gratitude Day 23: Bunnies, Goats, Alpaca, and Sheep

What do bunnies and goats, alpaca and sheep all have in common? The answer is one of my favorite things and something I'm very grateful for -- yarn. Yes, yarn! I started knitting a new hat this afternoon using a hand-dyed yarn from a Tennessee artisan, Miss Babs. The yarn was so soft and the colors so rich, I just had to smile at what was moving through my fingers. I can't wait to tug the finished hat over my ears on a cold day in the mountains. It will make me happy and warm.

There are more breeds of sheep than I can count, but there is nothing more wonderful to knit with or to wear next to your skin than a finely spun merino wool. Ditto for cashmere, which comes from a special breed of goat, or baby alpaca, or soft angora from a fluffy rabbit. The gift of fiber from these animals is well-represented in my yarn stash. My drawers are filled with hand-knit socks, hats, mittens, and shawls. They were a joy to knit; they are joy to wear.

There's nothing better than knitting w…

Gratitude Day 22: Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning and reflecting back on all the things that I've experienced this year. To say that it has been a year filled with abundance would be an understatement at best. I am overwhelmed by my many blessings and am truly grateful to a loving Heavenly Father for his merciful care.

After a long healing journey, this has been the year I started to come back to life. It's been a miracle to feel the essence of who I am reemerge. I have been able to go places and do things I've never done before or  wasn't sure I'd ever do again. I've made countless new friends and deepened connections with old friends. How wonderful it is to be free to go and do and be the person God created me to be. I have a long way to go and some major life goals yet to achieve, but it's nice to be able to see significant progress. I am so grateful!

Gratitude Day 21: Family

I've shared many of the little things I'm grateful for over the course of the month, but today I want to talk about a big thing -- my family. As I have gotten older, I have become increasingly aware of just how blessed am I to be a part of the Plaas family. My parents have been married for 55 years and have been devoted to each other my entire life. My brother and sisters and I were loved, cared for, and taught well by both parents. I always knew my family would be there for me no matter what happened in my life -- and they have been. Being a part of an eternal family is a special thing and I am grateful for mine.

Gratitude Day 18: Little Stuff

When I think about being grateful, what comes to mind first are the big things in life -- family, health, education, a home, my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think about the big things all the time and routinely express my gratitude for those things to my Heavenly Father in prayer. Over the course of this month I've tried to focus on the not-so-big things that I have been blessed with. My life is so full that it would be easy to overlook something small unless experience reminds me that I need to be thankful for that which is small.

A recent experience by my neighbor reminded me I should be thankful for hot water. My neighbor had an issue with her central heat/air unit which required installing a new unit. When the utility company came to inspect the work, they found a natural gas leak and immediately shut down all gas to the home. My neighbor had no heat and no hot water for days until corrections could be made. Blessed with a functioning heating…

Gratitude Day 17: Second Chances

Very few things in life are guaranteed. We have ideas, ambitions, hopes, dreams. We make plans that fail. We hope for things that don't happen. We make mistakes. Separating illusion from reality isn't always easy as some things aren't obvious, especially when we try to make choices or judgments when we don't have all the facts. In short, we aren't perfect. When things don't turn out quite as we hoped or when mistakes are made, it 's good to know we get a second chance to do better. We never have to be stuck with our mistakes if we are willing to do the work to overcome them.

Repentance and forgiveness enable second chances, where both the one who erred and the one adversely affected by the error get the chance to make amends and try again. The atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to repent. Being followers of Christ demands that we forgive ourselves and others. I'm grateful for my second chances. I'm grateful for those who have patient…

Gratitude Day 14: Small and Simple Things

I was visiting with a friend last night and we were talking about an adorable little girl that we know from our church family. We shared our respective experiences on how this child had touched our lives, not by anything major, but simply because she was who she was. I thought back to the countless smiles and cute remarks that had melted my heart, how much this little girl resembles her mother, and how I could see the impact of a loving family and nurturing home environment in this child's demeanor. In short, the cumulative effect of a lot of little things brought out the best in this child of God. She is beautiful in every way.

Children are good at noticing little things. It doesn't take much to please a child. Simple things are often the best things to a little child. As adults we tend to focus of the big things. In our busy lives we fail to take time to notice little things, let alone be grateful for them. One of my favorite scripture verses from "The Book of Mormon: An…

Gratitude Day 12: Grace

I was editing some sunrise photos last night and thinking about all the times the scriptures use the sun or light as a metaphor for Jesus Christ. This morning I did a topical search for my scripture study and was impressed by the power of the imagery of the sun in holy writ. The sun, the moon, the stars are all things the children of God can understand as they are a part of our everyday lives. I was especially impressed by this verse:

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalms 84:11

Following the Son, the Light, is how Christians are supposed to live their lives. I try my best, but I frequently fall short. I'm grateful that the grace of Jesus Christ is there for me, to make up the difference between my efforts to walk uprightly and the perfection of the Father and the Son. I'm grateful to know that through faith, obedience, and grace all that the Father has will be mine…

Gratitude Day 11: Service and Sacrifice

Gratitude Day 11: Service and Sacrifice

Unlike many of my friends and extended family members, I have never known what it is like to have a father, brother, son, or daughter serve in the military. I know Veteran's Day holds meaning for these friends and family members that I cannot begin to comprehend. I am grateful for the military service of my brother-in-law, cousins, and nephews - most of whom served or are serving in the US Navy. For them, the message of The Navy Hymn means much more than I will ever know. I am grateful for all who have served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore sh…

Gratitude Day 10: Knoxville, Tennessee

Last night I attended the first University of Tennessee Men's Basketball game of the 2012-13 season at Thompson-Boling Arena. I love the experience of going to basketball games: Wearing orange and white, singing "Rocky Top", smiling at the antics of our mascot Smokey, moaning at bad calls from the officials, cheering loudly when local star Skylar McBee hits another signature McThree point shot, laughing at the awkward moments captured by the KissCam during the under-8 timeout during the 1st half. Yes, I love it all.

Perhaps the thing I love most about going to the basketball games is arriving at the arena, situated adjacent to Neyland Stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River. From the street level on Philip Fulmer Way one has to walk up a switchbacking ramp to the plaza level and the entrance to TBA. From this vantage point I can follow the river all the way to downtown. At night the lights on along the waterfront reflect in the river and the heart of Knoxville seems …

Gratitude Day 8: Gifts and Talents (11-8-12)

Gratitude Day 8: Gifts and Talents
I was knitting with friends yesterday at The Yarn Haven. One was working on a complicated cable project, another was knitting a sparkly shawl, and I was working on a colorful beret. We were talking about l ife and supporting each other as we knit. I thought about what a blessing it is that God endowed each of his sons and daughters with gifts and talents to make our own lives more enjoyable and to bless the lives of others. I am grateful for the gifts I have been blessed with. I am also grateful for the gifts you, my friends and family, possess as they bless my life so much. Thank you!

"For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
"To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby."
Doctrine and Covenants 46: 11-12

Gratitude Day 7: Hope (11-7-12)

Gratitude Day 7: Hope
As a Christian I have always believed in faith, hope, and charity. Personally, I find hope to be the most challenging to understand and embrace, yet hope is the very thing that has been an anchor to my soul in times of
 adversity. I am grateful to know that there is always hope, no matter what life may bring.

"As near as I can tell, hope is light. It is a light within us that pierces the darkness of doubt and discouragement and taps into the light (hope) of all creation -- even the Savior.
"Hope, in a word, is the Savior. Hope is a part of the deity in us that attaches us to the Savior. Don't let that thread be cut. No matter how tenuous or thin it might be, there is always hope."
~~John H. Groberg

Gratitude Day 6: Freedom (11-6-12)

Gratitude Day 6: Freedom
On this election day, I am grateful for the freedom I experience as a citizen of the United States of America. I am blessed to live in this place where I have a voice in choosing government leaders and can influence
 the laws that are enacted. I know this freedom exists because of the firm beliefs and sacrifices made by countless Americans over the centuries. I salute those who gave their all for my freedom.

"Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written." Ether 2:12 The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Gratitude Day 5: Light (11-5-12)

Gratitude Day 5: Light 
For many years I worked in an NICU that had no windows to the outside world. In the winter I went to work in the dark, drove home in the dark, and never saw sunlight once in between. I began to crave natural light. W
ith my growth as a photographer I have a whole new appreciation for the light an it's impact on how I view the world. As a Christian, The Light holds even more meaning. I am grateful to no longer be in darkness, but embrace the light every day.

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12

Gratitude Day 4: Prayer (11-4-12)

Gratitude Day 4: Prayer
The events of this Sabbath Day have reminded me of just how grateful I am for the power of prayer in my life. What a blessing it is to know that a loving Father in Heaven hears all my prayers and answers them in His  way and in His time. I have come to depend on this divine communication to sustain me in all the activities of daily living. Praying with and for others blesses my life. Likewise, others have shown their love and kindness by offering prayers in my behalf. I feel that love and power and am very grateful for it.

Gratitude Day 3: Reliable transportation (11-3-12)

Gratitude Day 3: Reliable transportation
I did an all day excursion to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina yesterday. I needed a day to get away and let go of some stress. In the process I put 240 miles on my new car, aka "S
now White." I was so grateful to have a car that didn't mind curvy mountain roads, gravel, snow, ice, and slow Florida drivers. If you've ever been stuck with a broken-down vehicle and no alternate transportation or even just had your car in the shop for a day, you know what a blessing it is to be able to go where you need to when you need to get there.

Gratitude Day 2: Sunrise (11-2-12)

Gratitude Day 2: Sunrise.
To some this might not sound like much -- after all, the rises and sets every day, right? True, but for more than 10 years of my life I never saw the sun rise because I was so ill I couldn't get out of bed early en ough in the day to watch. Because of God's healing miracles not only do I get to see the sun rise, it has become my favorite time of day to be in the mountains. I've seen countless stunning sunrises this year and this morning's was no exception.

"Fiery Foothills"
Sunrise over the Great Smoky Mountains as viewed from Foothills Parkway West
Copyright 2012 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved

Gratitude Day 1 (11-1-12)

Gratitude Day 1: I am grateful for music.
I've been working on plans for church music through the Christmas holidays this morning and am reminded of just how grateful I am for the powerful influence of good music in my life. I'm a classical
ly trained musician with a strong preference for choral music - my first love. I know the blessing of singing in and listening to great choirs. My favorite choir is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

Please enjoy this video of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and know that God has you in His hands today.

Welcome and Gratitude Day 9: The Smoky Mountains

Over the past two years I have focused my creative energies on developing my skills as a nature and landscape photographer. I have been sharing the results of my travels and camera-clicking primarily on Facebook, but narrative space on Facebook is limited. Many of my FB friends have been encouraging me to  expand to a blog. I resisted at first, but have come to realize that I really want to write a new blog. I am grateful to all those who have been my friends, cheerleaders, and supporters of my creative activities. I hope to share a bit more with you now that I have the space to do so.

With the arrival of November, I began a series of Gratitude posts to express my feelings during this season of Thanksgiving. I can't turn back the clock to the beginning of the month, but I will try to post as many of them here as I can. I'll start with today's message:

Gratitude Day 9: The Smoky Mountains
I was seven years old when my family moved to Tennessee. It wasn't long before we ma…