Each day, we have a choice: rise and whine or rise and shine. Some might say am I humbly grateful or grumbly hateful. Eternal optimist that I am, choosing gratitude and seeking for the silver lining in every cloud is my forte.

“Turbulent times” is an understatement. The year 2020 has thus far been a roller coaster ride to equal the most terrifying experience even seasoned theme park riders concede to.

The pandemic is not over. It thrust individuals and families into the biggest national upset since Auburn’s 99-yard punt return in the 2013 Iron Bowl against Alabama. The year is still full of twists, turns and surprises so fasten your seatbelt.

The enemy wants us to worry about the future so that we can’t enjoy our present. Relish each moment, because they will never come your way again — and besides, he’s a liar.

Political debate including the surreal riots, lootings and lawlessness are your call. But I will say that when my grandson got activated for riot control in another state, leaving his wife and three little ones at home, I was overcome with a wash of the emotions resurrected from 1967 when my own husband was activated for the same thing while I awaited the forthcoming birth of our second child, alone with a 2-year-old.

Life has been tough on so very many folks from every circumstance. However, as any optimist worth their salt would, I desire to seek for the good.

Social media got me through the first couple of months under quarantine, despite all the whining and complaining that kept people at home with, heaven forbid, their families. Oh, my!

Now social media and the news have become major disruptions to any semblance of peace unless we learn to turn them off and take a break. My rapid scrolling skills have broken new records. Negativity abounds everywhere outside my four walls and disrupts the serenity that faith instills. If you feel that way, please, turn it off and take a break. Open the scriptures and pray to invite that peace back into your life.

A trend that has not gone unnoticed for me is that many of those who complained the loudest at the onset now recognize the blessings of home. Those with young children have rediscovered the joys of parenting themselves rather than leaving it to day care. In droves, they now find joy rather than the drudgery they used to complain so loudly of. They are getting to really know their little ones and eagerly watch their development.

Others have expressed the peace they feel as they have cleaned, organized, decluttered, planted, created, fixed up and actually now enjoy being at home. How refreshing in this addictive, fast-paced world.

Social media is being flooded with photos of beautiful flowers, plates of beautiful prepared-from-scratch food, drive-by birthday celebrations, innovative entertainment ideas, home and garden improvement projects and so much more. The ever-present negativity and anger is still present, but many are learning to ignore it. How liberating!

The mundane brings a sense of continuity. New horizons open in previously unimagined ways. It gives us pause to reflect and renew as we learn to enjoy the more relaxed pace of yesteryear.

Hard-copy books are being read and enjoyed. Projects long put on hold are being completed with much satisfaction. Becoming reacquainted with spouses and children is a great blessing, rather than the curse some believed at the onset.

Personally, I have enjoyed the more relaxed approach to housework and personal grooming. The freedom to simply stay home and be ugly is emancipating.

With a few other close family members, we hold a weekly church service in our home followed by the renewal of a wonderful tradition called Sunday Dinner. Remember it? Fond memories awash my soul as I recall the past. We have resurrected them into our weekly routine, and everyone eagerly anticipates and salivates reminiscent of the good old days. Oh, please, help us to keep this one alive when life returns to some semblance of pre-pandemic days.

It has not escaped my notice that many more actually count their blessings instead of their problems. More kindness and understanding has come to many, while only anger and bitterness bubble over in others.

A great man once said, “Ingratitude is among the worst of sins.” Ponder that. It’s true. When we recognize the tender mercies the Lord bestows upon us each and every day, we can say with true gratitude in our hearts that he never fails us.

Another great man said, “No misfortunate is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.”

Regardless of where you find yourself in these trying circumstances, try to remember that the sun will rise tomorrow and whether it is above or below the clouds makes no difference. Cultivate the habit to shine rather than whine, because the former brings happiness while the latter steals it.

— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.

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