"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8







Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Blessing of Family

The Christmas tree is boxed up and stored away, along with its ornaments and the other decorations that change the way our home looks for a season.  The New Year is knocking on our door, soon to be let in. 

I ate too many of the holiday goodies.  I stayed up too late every night.  I spent too much money.  I made too many messes. I have too many leftovers. I also didn't clean enough.  I don't know if I gave enough hugs.  I don't know if I gave enough kind deeds or words. But all in all:

It was an amazing Christmas for me!

It was amazing to me because of my family.  I hope everyone in the world truly believes that theirs is the best family in the world.  I do!

On Christmas Eve, all of us who lives close enough to gather spent time together.  My home was bursting at the seams with love and laughter.  We visited and ate and enjoyed each other.  For me the highlight was the time we spent singing together.  We have never done enough of that.  Everyone in my family sings very well.  As I sat at the piano listening to their voices blend, I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for my family and that choked up feeling kept me from singing with them.

What a joy to sit with so much of my family during Sacrament Meeting on Christmas Day.  Our little people choose to wait until church was over to open their gifts.  What a brave decision for ones so young, but it fit our day perfectly.  Everyone seemed to be grateful for each gift they received, right down the the socks and underwear.

Distance currently prevents us from all being together for the holidays, but the miracle of technology allows us to see each other over Skype.  For a time, we were able to share our lives with each other face to face.  Our grandchildren love to talk to each other just as much as the adults.  This blessing of being together, filled my heart.

It is easy to give if your circumstances provide you with considerably more than what your family needs.  At this season, many in our family are struggling financially and yet, my heart overflowed as I saw them give and share with each other out of their small cups in creative and wonderful ways.  There were so many gestures of goodness towards each other and so much love and concern. 

What better gift could any mother receive anytime?

I am feeling so blessed because I KNOW that I have the best family in the whole world!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

All over the world Christmas is celebrated by those who believe in the Savior Jesus Christ and His infinite and merciful Atonement. We do not all choose to celebrate this day exactly the same.  Some countries have celebrations steeped in tradition others do not.  The same applies to families.  For some it may not seem like Christmas if any one of dozens of traditions is forgotten.

I am currently hard pressed to recall many long standing, set in stone traditions for our family.  As the seasons of our lives change, so do our traditions.  As distances increase, we are able to see less of our family during the holidays.  As financial conditions fluctuate, travel, gifts, and menus will all adjust accordingly.

We do gather with as many of our family as possible.  Thanks to skype, we should at least be able to 'see' everyone over the holidays.  We eat ham for Christmas dinner, along with mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls and other delicious goodies.  Essential also are the olives.  We are no respecter of olives, we require both black and green.  We will have stockings filled and presents under the tree.  We will awaken and arise whenever little people pester us adequately.  We will read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

We will also plan to do these activities:
*bake sugar cookies
*sing Christmas Carols
*take a drive to see the lights
*play games
*eat clam chowder for Christmas Eve supper
*visit Grandma Great
*not go shopping on Christmas Eve
*see lights on temple square in Salt Lake City
*read some of the wonderful Christmas stories (I love "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" - but don't have anyone at home to read it to anymore during December)
*clean the house
*put up the outside Christmas lights


Any or all of these may happen, but I don't think anyone will feel Christmas is ruined if they do not, for being together is what we really want and need.

The one tradition that is never changing is our faith and testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and His unbounded love. Our testimonies are tried and tested all year long, yet we hold on dearly to them as we strive to become more as He is, one choice at a time. We believe in a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to let us come to the earth and learn from this great university how to become as He is. We believe He had a plan for us which we embraced with joy. We believe that His Gospel can be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, currently led by President Thomas S. Monson, a prophet of God.  We believe He speaks for God today as did the Prophet Joseph Smith who was an instrument in restoring the Gospel as well as translating the Book of Mormon.  We believe the Book of Mormon is true and teaches us more about Christ and His mission to help rescue us all. 

We may not be totally bound up in Christmas traditions, but through the Sealing Power accessible only in Holy Temples, we are truly bound together.

What greater tradition could there be?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lights Went Out!

My favorite Christmases as a child involved my favorite cousins. They lived in Richland, Washington which is a long drive from where we lived. For a time, we would take turns driving to each other's homes for Christmas. It was such a long drive that I am certain that our parents tired of hearing "are we there yet?" But the drive was so worth it. I loved being in their home.

Maybe part of it was that it was so totally different than my home in so many ways. They had bedrooms upstairs, we did not. I remember sliding down the steep carpeted stairs, thinking that this was way fun. Of course, if we were caught by older wiser folks, that was stopped. I didn't understand why then, but I do now. They had a big, unfinished basement where we could create and play for hours, without interference from adults. I recall more candy being available as well. But the truth was I had a grand time with my favorite cousin, Valerie.

Perhaps my most memorable Christmas with my cousins took place in our own home. It was totally unplanned and unexpected and I cherish its memory today.

As Christmas Eve approached, we were all busy doing our own thing. I suppose we were 'playing' something when the electricity went out. I don't remember that being a particularly common occurrence in our little town at that time. I do remember that we all expected that it would be for just a few minutes and we would all be able to return quickly to doing what we had been doing.

As time passed and the darkness outside deepened, our totally electric home began to take on a chill. Gathering candles and flashlights became a more immediate priority. Mother, being a very organized and prepared person, also had oil lamps burning brightly before the darkness outside was complete.

Blankets were the next order of business. The temperature dropped like a rock. We huddled together under blankets and handmade quilts on couches, chairs, and on the floor. For a brief time, contentment came as warmth returned.

But what does one do without electricity? There were no lights shining on the Christmas tree. My mothers traditional holly garland with the glowing red berries was darkened. Worse than that was there was no television, radio, or records to listen to. Suddenly this seemed like the worst possible Christmas ever!

I do not remember who it was that started the singing. I just remember our living room filling with Christmas music. We sang for hours. We began singing acapella, but soon someone was at the piano taking requests. Others took their turn at the piano as well. Our home was filled with the sweet sounds of voices joined in praises to our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son.

We are a family who love music and there are many gifted musicians among us. Our singing that night was beautiful and harmonious, tying us together as a family, and also tying us to the Love of God.

Had the lights remained, we would not have gathered as we did. We would have carried on doing our own thing, and missed the opportunity to join forces in praise and rejoicing.

The darkness of Christmas Eve created a heavenly sounding choir that I will always treasure. It created a bond for my favorite cousins that I long to hold in my heart. It created a feeling of peace beyond measure for me. It strengthened my testimony of the real meaning of Christmas and who the Savior is and what He has done for us all. Perhaps more than any other Christmas, I learned what Christmas was really all about.

All because the lights went out!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Concert

We love music!  I believe I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my mother who provided me with opportunities for music appreciation as well as lessons to develop musical aptitude.  This may be shocking, but I didn't always appreciate those lessons and the practicing they required.  One of my piano teachers commented that I was a mighty good faker.  Not necessarily a compliment - but helpful when one accompanies other musicians.

My three month old grandson already has favorite songs including "I Love to See the Temple," "I Am a Child of God," and "Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree." Another grandson, older and slightly more musically experienced just performed flawlessly at his first piano recital.

What a treat to get to hear and see our favorite USU student participate in the Christmas Concert sponsored by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Institute in Logan, Utah.  His face beamed with Joy and his smile always lurked near as he sang with his whole heart and soul.  His love for music was clearly evident through the entire program.  It was apparent to me that he had prepared well and was now giving his all as he shared his testimony of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ through music.

I am so proud of him!

There were very few empty chairs in the venue which had been prepared by the students to accommodate about 900 attendees, which is totally amazing when you also know that a packed house was entertained the previous night.  Entertainment actually began about twenty minutes before the concert with singing, dancing, and silliness.The audience was captivated by this teaser of things to come.

The concert was a delightful mix of new and familiar songs, with touching stories of Christmas miracles and sacrifices adding to The Spirit of the evening.  Each song was performed with precision and skill. Truly the Holy Ghost was present to testify of truth and bring the Spirit of Christmas into our hearts. Each concert performer obviously gave all they had to the success of the evening. Each choir conductor earned applause and gratitude for their efforts as well.

It was a fabulous concert and a highlight of my Chirstmas season!

I am also proud of my two sons, who made the effort to bring their own sons to the concert to support their brother and uncle. I appreciate their wives and families who allowed them to come to share in the joy and accomplishment of one of their own.  It was a long drive, but these two little boys behaved themselves as a gentleman would and inspired me to be a better grandmother.  They waited patiently as the venue was dismantled by those same student hands who had so recently and carefully assembled it. 

Also lending support were one of my husband's brothers and his wife.  We were so happy that they joined us for the evening and accepted our invitation to join us for dinner afterwards as we celebrated with our favorite USU student.

Nothing could make a mother more proud than to spend an evening surrounded by such amazing people whose presence reminds me that I am so blessed!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Details

I don't really want to control the whole world, I just want to control my little corner of it. I don't really need to orchestrate what goes on if Africa, Brazil, or Mozambique. I really do care a lot about what goes on that affects my family. There are moments when things seem to spin so totally out of my control, that I can hardly figure out how to hold on until the spinning stops. It is hard to know whether one is coming or going or where one will land. How one lands may also be a minute by minute mystery.

The more people that are involved, the more complicated it may be to totally get a plan together, at least in our family. By the time the plan is created, it may have been changed and recreated innumerable times. Occasionally, the plan may be flawlessly executed. Often it is not.

Last Saturday night, our handsome son that attends Utah State University was the center of our planning. He is participating in the Institute program there sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has been singing with the choir there for two semesters with devotion and gusto. He loves it! This opportunity has been a huge blessing to our whole family. The Institute Christmas Concert was last Friday and Saturday nights.

Our whole family would love to be in attendance at this concert, but time, distance, and funding make it impossible for many. Planning for attendance began weeks in advance. As Saturday drew near, many loose ends remained and I began to feel concerned about the outcome of support for our son, who had gone to great effort to invite and provide tickets for us. As the level of stress and concern continued to rise, I realized that I was praying for the wrong things and needed to come to understand what it was that I really should be asking Heavenly Father for. So I asked.

This wonderful son has spent hours and hours and hours sitting through plays, concerts, dance recitals, and parades as he watched and supported his siblings.  My desire for him was to feel that same measure of love and support that he so willingly and uncomplainingly gave to the rest of us.  I didn't want him to feel unimportant, unloved, or unsupported.  I wanted him to instead feel of our love and concern.  I wanted him to see us celebrate in his success with him.  I wanted him to know how important he is to our family.

When I realized that truly my goal for my USU son was to feel truly loved and supported, I knew how to change my prayers. Instead of asking for things to go my way, I asked for exactly what I think I was supposed to be asking for in the first place, that our son would feel supported. The stress level truly began to decrease, as I turned all of the other details over to Heavenly Father. 

I hope my prayers were answered for my USU son.  Someday he may tell me, yet he may not. The truth is, I felt my prayer was answered for me, and I learned another valuable lesson about Heavenly Father's love for me and the power of prayer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Heart Like His

Sister Virginia H. Pearce taught me about creating a heart more like the Savior's.  I have thought about this a lot as the Christmas season has drawn closer.  I have wondered if I am like Christ at all.  I think perhaps I have been so busy going through the motions, that I have forgotten the motivation.

What things inside my heart would be troublesome to my Savior if He came with a stethoscope to look deeply into my heart today?  What would He see that would make Him feel sad or perhaps disappointed in me?  What would be present that would offend Him or even break His own heart?  What would He see that would be embarrassing to me or cause me to shrink from His presence.

Self evaluation is not usually a time of joy and rejoicing and can leave me feeling quite disappointed in myself.  It is a necessary process for me to engage in, if I want to make the changes required to become more as the Savior Jesus Christ is.  It can be daunting to know where to begin at times, but on other occasions the starting point stares me squarely in the face.

I am a firm believer in charity!  I have always wished that I could open my front door one morning and find a beautifully wrapped package sitting on my welcome mat.  I would rush to open the gift the minute I had it inside my house.  Inside would be the gift of charity and I would embrace it with open arms.  I could then simply check charity off my list of things to work on.  I would have charity.  No more effort needed in that direction. 

Would that it were that simple. The scriptures teach that we should pray for charity with all the energy of our heart.  I have heard others say don't ever pray for charity or patience because you will receive trials that teach those principles.  Now, honestly who needs more of those kinds of trials in their life?  Those things come at you full force on any given day and in any number of ways, totally uninvited.  So, if I really need charity, and I do, what is the answer here?

I confess that I have atually prayed and asked for both charity and patience.  Does that mean that I am half a bubble off of plumb? I truly believe that those are things I need.  I haven't seen them for sale in any store or even over the internet.  How then do I acquire them?  To my knowledge, I have never seen anyone hand either charity or patience out in church meetings.  No one has every offered me a cup of charity or a pound of patience. I would have snatched both of those up in a second.  I would  gladly drink down a cup of charity or add a pound of patience.

I also struggle with this question.  Where does charity end and being someone's doormat begin?  How many times do you exercise patience while someone continues to mistreat  you before you have the right to stand up for yourself?  How do you know when someone has crossed those lines? How does one show patience and charity to oneself?  So many unanswered questions.

I would like to offer a mighty change of heart to Christ as a gift this Christmas season.  But I realize that I am far from that goal. I wonder, will I ever have my heart anywhere close to being a heart like His? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let Him In

It happened again!  I didn't see it coming but there it was.  I could feel the tears lurking just below the surface, almost ready to spill.  I could hear the cracks in my own voice as I spoke.  I was just on the edge of a good cry. It took me a few minutes to get myself away from the brink to figure out just what was really wrong. 

Yes, I was tired.  I knew that, but that wasn't the whole problem. I knew that I wasn't sick. No one was pushing my buttons or doing anything to provoke me in any way.  I wasn't really upset about any one thing in particular that I could think of. What was going on inside my head?  Then the light dawned and I understood.  No, it wasn't any one thing at all.  It was everything!  I had wrapped my emotions around my "to do" list. I had done it to myself again!

After all we just celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas is only a few short weeks away.  There are always a million things to be done, or at least that is the way it may seem.  But why had I done it to myself again? 

If the Savior Jesus Christ came to my home to spend some time with me,  I think that where I live and the condition of my housekeeping (or lack there of) would disturb Him far less than what is going on inside my heart and my mind.  I know that wrapping my emotions around my "to do" list in indicative of any number of things, but one thing it tells me is that my focus is out of whack and it is time to adjust my vision again.

I am no busier than anyone else and much less busy than many. The things weighing down my to do list are all important, but none of them is life threatening.  Many of the things on my list are for other people, yet I agreed to do them.  If I have chosen to do these things, why would I be upset about doing them?  Even to me, that makes little sense. 

I am truly grateful to have things to do! I don't want to sit around and read all day, even though I find reading a wonderful past time.  I love music, but I don't want to play the piano for eight hours every day.  I love movies and televsion, to a point.  There is much more personal satisfaction that comes from doing a variety of things. 

As I pondered on how I had allowed myself to get so caught up in the things waiting to be done, I also found that my scripture reading was slim to non-existent again and my personal prayer was a bit lack luster.  I had allowed myself to loose focus on some of the things that matter most and was cutting down on my spiritual nourishment.

No wonder I was out of focus!  How could I feel the Christ in Christmas if I was not letting Him in?  He will not force, manipulate, or demand that I make time for Him. He will wait to be invited.

My Christmas tree is still in the box and the same can be said of the lights and decorations.  But today my heart is at peace, because I have made the choice to invite the Savior to walk with me.

It is up to me to let Him in.

Monday, December 5, 2011

If The Savior Came to My House Today

If the Savior Jesus Christ came to my house today, there would be no Christmas lights or decorations for Him to see.  My Christmas tree lies in a box, on the top shelf of the storage room. There would be no brightly wrapped packages or stockings hung nor the smell of homemade Christmas goodies.  It is still early in the Christmas season, yet many have already enjoyed their Christmas tree and decorations for many days.

I don't suppose that would upset or offend the Savior, and perhaps it would not indicate to Him at all that I am lacking in Christmas spirit.  I hope that it would not be a thermometer of my faith and testimony to Him that I am slower than most to bring out the worldly expressions of holiday cheer.

I wonder what things He might see and hear if my home would be His visiting place today.  I wonder what things would be disappointing to Him. Would my unmade bed or my overflowing laundry hamper cause concern?  Would dirty dishes and unwashed windows bother Him?  Would my messy room of unfinished projects, unsorted papers, and other misplaced miscellanea disturb Jesus?  Would the dripping faucet or the worn out carpet or the clutter in my closets cause Him sorrow?

Somehow these things don't strike me as things that would be upsetting to the Savior either. 

Would He open my oven or my fridge to see if they had been cleaned recently?  Would He peer into my pantry and my cluttered kitchen cupboards and rebuke me for their disarray?  Would He declare my food storage to be totally inadequate? 

I don't really think so.

Would I be rebuked for the books on my shelves or the music I listen to?  I actually think I choose literature and music quite carefully.  Would my choices of decorations on my walls be of concern?  Probably not.  What I choose on the television or on the computer are probably not of huge concern either.

So what would I want to hide if the Savior was coming to my house today?  What would I not want Him to see?  What would I want to get rid of that would be offensive for Him to see inside my heart?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Friend's Miracle

Miracles, large and small are around us everywhere.  My friend shared her miracle with me. In 2003 she went to see her doctor because she had been having bad headaches for about six months.  She passed them off as 'tension' headaches until her husband insisted that she see the doctor.  She had experienced several different kinds of headaches, including one that she described as rolling from her forehead to the back of her skull. Her doctor immediately scheduled her to see a neurologist the following day.  After a myriad of questions and testing, the neurologist's diagnosis did not feel comfortable, so she scheduled herself for an MRI.  A week later, having completed the MRI, my friend returned to work, only to be called immediately to return to her new neurologist's office where she saw her tumor for the first time. On the MRI she could see a white tumor about the size of a kiwi in her brain.  The neurologist explained that the tumor was blocking almost all the spinal fluid, causing the brain to swell.  He explained the need for immediate surgery. If the tumor were to grow as little as one-one hundredth of its current size, all spinal fluid would be blocked causing coma and death.

Shock overcame my friend and her husband as they looked at the tumor and listened to the neurologist. Perhaps they needed a second opinion.  The neurologist was fine with a second opinion, but expressed concern that death could happen before a second opinion could be obtained.  Calmly my friend returned to work and explained her situation to her employer, who could not believe she had come back to work at all. 

She did not want to have the surgery!  Somehow she convinced her husband that she was ok and he let her talk him into waiting to return to the hospital for the surgery prep. She managed to convince both her husband and her busy employer to let her finish her work day.

That night my friend received a priesthood blessing through her husband's hands.  This blessing told her that it was not her time to die and that she should do all that the doctors suggested to regain her health.  My friend had resigned herself to the fact that she was going to die and had made peace with that. But when her husband told her that he could not make it through life without her, my friend decided that it was ok for her to die, but that it wasn't ok for her to not try to survive for her husband who loved and needed her so much.

The next day the preparations for surgery began. The ten hour surgery, requiring two surgeons, was scheduled for the first thing the next morning, just the third day since the tumor was discovered.  During the surgery, the tumor hemorrhaged, which would have been fatal if only one surgeon had been present.  The surgeons also learned that even just a few hours of delay would have been fatal for my dear friend.

My friend spent 6 days in the ICU following surgery, one day on the regular hospital floor and then home.  She recuperated for a week at home and returned to work.  Many concerns were expressed about the possibilities of side effect from this surgery, but they didn't arrive.

She prayed fervently during her recovery.  My friend expressed to me how grateful she is that not only did she survive this experience, none of the myriad of possible side effects complicated her life.  Yet, she wonders why she survived when so many do not. 

Recently my friend encountered another difficult health challenge.  Instead, this time her husband fell victim to the surgeon's knife.  In some ways I think this was harder for her, yet her faith did not waiver. She was willing to trust Heavenly Father totally and completely. She accepted that it would not be easy, but her faith would not fail her even if the trial carried her to the very brink of her endurance.

I am so grateful to have this friend who sets such an example for me.  I feel so blessed to watch her faithfully carry on through her trials.  I long to feel the kind of faith and trust that she has. Her life blesses and enriches mine.

We are so blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who blesses us daily with miracles in all their varieties.  Some are large and in our faces.  Others are smaller, harder to see.  I pray each day to have my vision tuned to the right channel to witness them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Blessing of Family

Late last night, we said goodbye to our last family member who spent Thanksgiving with us.  It was sad for me to know that he would not be here when I got up this morning.  I will miss him terribly along with all the rest who warmed our home with their laughter over the last few days.  We shared fun, food, and a few tantrums and tears.  Our often quiet house was turned into more of a home as family members gathered together.

What a blessing it is to have a family! 

When our first son was placed into my arms, I had no vision of a time when our family would be as it is today.  How could I know that this one, small boy would be the beginning of so much in our lives. What started out as a couple and then three has grown to twenty-six wonderful people.  What a blessing to me to be surrounded by such amazing family members who I call my friends.  I am so fortunate to be in their company.  They teach me so much as I watch them interact with each other.  I am so grateful that my family want to come and visit us.  I am also immensely grateful that they want to be with each other.  A mother could not ask for more than to have a family who love each other and want to bless and strengthen each other. 

What a joy to have small children who run into my arms for hugs and kisses. I don't think a a grandmother can ever get too much of that.  We played Simon Says and Button, Button Who Has the Button.  The clay and coloring books were enjoyed as well as paints and Red Light Green Light. The first thing to disappear were the Snickerdoodles in the cookie jar. 

We ate everything in sight. We feasted on the tradtional turkey and dressing with all the trimmings.  We devoured the pickles and olives and pies.  Tears were shed when the last green olive was gone. No one noticed that the rolls were made from dough that had been left to rise a bit too long.  No one noticed that there was no centerpiece on our Thanksgiving table, because the platters of food left no room. 

Many hands prepared the food we ate.  Small hands helped snap green beans and make the pies.  They set the table and carried the food.  All those hands large and small stayed to help clean up the kitchen when our feast was done.  

Because of distance, it has not been possible for our family to be all together for many years.  It makes me so sad that we live so far apart.  I feel such a loss that we can't share each other's lives more readily.  I am green with envy of those who have their family over often because they live so close.  But thanks to telephones and computers, the distance shrinks a bit.  I am so grateful that those who are not near, have friends and family to share their Thanksgiving with.  What a blessing to be surrounded by friends and family wherever we are.

My house is quiet and sad this morning and I think my dishwasher is breathing a sigh of relief. My washing machine is humming as it spins water from the remaining towels.   Here and there are reminders that we have been blessed to have our family close by for a time.  And a tear flows from a corner each of my eyes as I miss them all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude

I would have been a terrible pioneer! I have no doubt that I would have whined, moaned, and complained every step of the way.  I fully believe that I would not have been one of the lucky ones who died early in the trek.  I would have loudly suffered each and every day until the end, when the Salt Lake Valley was in sight.  Then I would have croaked.  I would have missed the valley entirely.

I do not like many of the things that pioneers had to endure; hunger and thirst, blasting wind, bitter cold, or freezing water.

I may not have everything I want, but I want everything I have.

I love a hot shower.  It revives and rejuvenates me. My mood improves the minute I step under the refreshing spray of water.  I love the feel of my hair being washed and conditioned and my body cleansed.  I step form the shower into a nice warm bathroom and grab a soft towel to dry myself.  I grab moisturizer for my face and q-tips to clean my ears.

I have a drawers and a closet filled with clean clothes.  I can choose what I want to wear.  Will it be tidy and neet or comfy and sloppy?  I get to choose.  I have a whole drawer filled with socks - yes many have holes, but again that is my choice.  Would a pioneer care if their myriad pairs of socks had some holes?

My clothes are clean because I have an automatic washer and dryer.  I often tell my washer how much I appreciate its labor. You see it was told by a repairman it was on its way out over two years ago.  It doesn't look too pretty and it sounds rough, but I am grateful that it does the job.

I appreciate my stove, oven, refrigerator, and freezer. I adore my microwave.  We bought it earlier this year when our previous one died and went to microwave heaven.  I use it every day we eat! I lived with out a dishwasher for many years.  I really don't like to unload it, but I can because my body is healthy.

Our house is warm and comfortable.  At times it is not large enough, but when I clean it, I am grateful that there isn't more to clean.  We have more than one tv, a computer, cd, and dvd players.  We have books to read and a piano to play.  Our windows may need to be cleaned, but they let in the sunlight heaven sends our way.

Our cars are not new, but they get us where we need to go.  We can buy gas to fill the tank.  That has not always been the case, so I am grateful.

I do not live alone.  My husband works to provide for us and then comes home at night. 

My children are living far away.  I miss them but we talk on the phone.  We email and skype.  Communication is amazing.  My grandchildren accept me.  They greet me with hugs and smiles and some can't wait to talk with me and tell me about their lives.  I get to play with them.  They send me pictures and drawings. 

My parents are gone and I miss them.  But I still learn from them and appreciate their lessons and sacrifices for me.

My Heavenly Father blessed me with a beautiful world to live in.  Blue is my favorite color and I see His love in the color of the sky.  Purple flowers catch my eye every time.  Yellow ones too.  Freshly fallen snow in the dusky twilight makes the world look clean and pure.  Rain chases away the dirt of the world, the sorrow of the soul, and makes the world smell wonderful.

The Savior Jesus Christ loved us all enough to atone for the mistakes we would all make.  None of us is exempt from sin and error.  The Atonement is just as universal for those who choose to embrace it.

The list of blessings is long and I appreciate them all.  I can't think of a single one I would willingly give up, including the miracles of technology that we take for granted in our day.

With all these and more, you would think that I would have nothing to complain about.  Not so!  I still manage my fair share of griping and bellyaching. 

Imagine how much worse it would be if I had to be a pioneer!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reverence

My  93 year old friend frequently teaches me.  He was animated as he expressed his displeasure over the lack of reverence in the chapel where he attends Sacrament Meeting.  Passion filled his voice as he talked about dedicated temples and the reverence members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints display there.  It baffles him that members of the church don't have that kind of reverence in chapels that are also dedicated to the worship of our Heavenly Father.  "Our chapel sounds like a beehive," was his comment.  He wants so badly to share his testimony and teach what he knows to others who seem to be clueless.  He told me that he plans to stand and teach about reverence in the chapel when he bears his testimony next Fast Sunday.

We talked at length about reasons why church members may forget to be reverent. We are supposed to be a happy people.  We should be joyous!  Yet the chapel is really not the place to visit and take care of business.  He also expressed with fervor that the bishopric who sit on the stand should also be quiet. The congregation have no idea why the members of the bishopric are talking to each other.  They only see smiling faces, visiting, and laughter.  If the bishopric can laugh and visit, why should we be quiet? We talked about the young children who wiggle and giggle. He was quite offended at teenage boys who poke and prod each other, disturbing all who were able to see their antics.

I sat alone with my children for a number of years as my husband served in callings requiring him to sit elsewhere.  At times I found it difficult to just keep my children quiet.  Reverence was illusive.  I made it my policy that we would only tromp out of Sacrament Meeting twice.  My troop was enough of a distraction to others and I was unwilling to turn our going in and out of the chapel into a spectacle. 

I spent many a Sacrament Meeting in a cultural hall or a classroom or even in the kitchen, confining a wiggly, noisy child.  I was trying to teach that they were much better off in the chapel than they were alone with me, somewhere else in the building.  Some Sundays brought success, but many did not.

My friend served as a Bishop for nine years, many long years ago.  I asked him how his children behaved in Sacrament Meeting while he was the Bishop.  "I got down off the stand and took them into the hall and gave them a spanking,"  he said. 

I laughed to myself, picturing this in my mind as he continued, "They knew that I meant what I said and how I expected them to behave."  It must have been fairly successful as all these children are currently devoted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints.  

Our leaders have been encouraging us to be more reverent in our ward as well.  I am certain that it is well past time as our chapel also sounds much like a hive of buzzing bees.

I appreciated my wise friend who reminded me that;

"Reverence is more than just quietly sitting:
Its thinking of Father above, 
A feeling I get when I think of  his blessings.
I'm reverent for reverence is love."
                                                                                                         Children's Songbook, page 31

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Miracle of Weather

October is a cold month, bringing frost and snow where I live. It is the time to clean out the garden plants, either before or after they freeze.  The leaves are painted by the frost and begin to drop to the ground.  The sun still shines but there is a definite bite in the air.  The wind intensifies, swirling the leaves from yard to yard and into the streets to dance.  Jackets become the norm and coats often make their first appearance on the scene.  There may be nice days, especially early in the month, but it is rare that Halloween doesn't find us eating soup or chili and covering costumes with coats and hats and boots and gloves.  I have often wondered why we bothered with cute costumes which we so frequently covered in their entirety.  We typically stopped trick or treating, not because our children thought they were tired or had enough candy, but because they were cold.

It is in October that we sometimes have discovered that the heater in one or more of our cars isn't working. It is not a pleasant discovery, but is definitely painful to learn while on an extended trip somewhere.  October is cold.

Our newest grandchild was born in September in Utah.  Because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we choose to use the power of the Priesthood to provide a blessing for each new baby that joins our family.  It is a spiritual opportunity and we like to gather as much of our family around us as is possible to offer support on these occasions. It is common that these Baby Blessings occur as part of our Sacrament Meetings, but it is not necessary.  They can take place in a Bishop's office, or a home, or even in a hospital.

Sometimes it is difficult to select a time that works for the majority of the family who would like to attend. A number of dates may be passed around the family for consideration.  It is common to reschedule the date a couple of times until the best possible date is selected.  This was the case for this last family opportunity to gather and give our Greyson a name and a blessing.  The final date was October 30.

Family members may travel several hours to attend a baby blessing.  Some may travel across town. Sometimes the group is small and other times it may be in the dozens.  Because we want to spend as much time together as we can, we usually choose to eat together after the baby blessing.  This can be logistically difficult, depending on your living circumstances.  If you live in a small apartment, cramming dozens of people into your house to eat does not sound like a fun time. Parks are a great alternative, if the weather cooperates.

Because these are the current circumstances of our Utah family, we began to pray for good weather.  It became part of my daily prayers.  I even told my son, who also lives in Utah, that he was in charge of the weather.  I know it sound quirky, but every time I have told him he was in charge of the weather, the weather was perfect.  I don't really consider myself to be superstitious, but I do believe in covering the bases!

On October 30th we gathered in Sacrament Meeting for this sacred and special day.  All the Melchezidek Priesthood holders in our family stood in the circle, surrounding our little angel, as his father gave him a name and a wonderful, personal blessing.  What a spiritual opportunity to hear this worthy priesthood holder express his love for his new son and ask for the blessings of a loving Heavenly Father to pour down upon him.  How sweet to ask for help to be a good parent with the knowledge and capacity to lead this little boy through life.

We gathered at the park to celebrate.  The weather was beautiful!  I wore a light jacket until it became to warm for me to be comfortable.  It was almost impossible for me to believe that it was nearly Halloween. 

Heavenly Father granted us a day of warmth and beauty, not only spiritually but physically.  Weeks later, I am still grateful for the miracle of the weather!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Kindness Don't Have No Boundaries"

Recently I read "The Help" written by Kathryn Stockett.  I know, everyone else read it a long time ago.  It is now a movie.  A number of friends and family members told me it was a good book, so I immediately put in a request for the book at my public library, sometime last year.  I never heard a word about it from the library, ever.  Our library is small and it is not unusual for it to take months to get a book, everyone else wants to read it too.  I have also gotten a book quickly on a few rare occasions. 

I am cheap!  I do not buy books for myself.  Not only do I choose not to spend the money, I don't have bookshelf room anymore. I use my library and a few friends occasionally share their books with me.  My sisters loan me books from time to time.  So I waited. Low and behold one day when perusing the library catalog, a copy of "The Help"  was available.  Because of the wait list, I had to read it without renewing it.  For me that is a challenge.  My common pattern is to renew every book every possible time.  It is very rare that I don't renew a book at all.

My only regret was that I had not read the book before I had children.  I learned so much about life and the things that I didn't do so well.  It opened my eyes to so many things. Even though I did not grow up during the time of the story or in the area where the characters lived, the principles of respect and kindness are universal.  How we treat each other and how we raise our families isn't confined to one location or community. 

I learned a lot while parenting.  My children still teach me.  They are better parents than I am.  I believe that and I hope and pray for that.  They are the future and they are teaching the future beyond.  Better parenting is necessary for a better tomorrow.

I wish I had told each of my children every single day that they were in my home:  YOU ARE KIND,YOU ARE IMPORTANT, YOU ARE SMART.  Those words are true.  Each of my children is each of these things, but I don't think that any of them heard it enough from me.  I should have gotten in their faces and told them over and over.  I missed that chance! 

Perhaps they will not miss the opportunity to tell their children these words and other words just as powerful.  I hope that they are daily feeding these precious little ones a diet of loving words.  You are special.  You are amazing.  You are honest.  You are a good friend.  The list is long and delicious!  One of my great joys is that each of my grandchildren is being raised by loving parents.  None of them are in a situation where day care is part of their lives.  As good as day care may be, no one loves a child as a parent does. No one.

To any of my children who may at some time read this, here is my message to you.  YOU ARE KIND!  YOU ARE IMPORTANT!  YOU ARE SMART!  It is true for each of you.  Let it roll around on your tongue as you say it to yourself.  Don't these words taste sweet?  Listen to the words as you hear yourself say them for me.  Do they sound powerful?  Swallow them to the very core of your being. Do they fill your soul?  Plant them in your heart.  How strong will you let the tree grow?

Probably everyone who has read "The Help" has their own personal likes and maybe dislikes about the book.  I suppose that everyone didn't love it. Perhaps some found other things in the book to dislike or to praise but how can you argue with a statement like this:

"Kindness don't have no boundaries."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is the Condtion of Your Heart?

How is your heart doing?  I don't mean physically but spiritually. 

Recently I listened to "A Heart Like His"  on CD.  Even though I had read this book by Virginia H. Pearce several years ago, I was reminded that I need to be more aware of the condition of my heart.  She teaches that when our hearts are soft and open, we will be more aware of others in the course of our daily lives. She participated with a group of women in an experiment to see if they could actually change their own hearts and make them more like the Savior's heart as they lead ordinary lives.  The challenge was that they were not to go out of their way to do grand things, but to just look for ways to be more open hearted in their daily lives as opportunities presented themselves.

My phone rang and a ward member assigned me to deliver a meal to neighborhood family.  I considered myself to be busy so was planning to quickly hang up, but I didn't.  Instead I asked her how her life was going. For thirty minutes she told me about her challenges. Words spilled out so quickly that I had a hard time keeping up with them.  When she realized it was time for her to be somewhere, she told me that she wished she could talk longer. I wondered if that conversation made a difference in her life that day.

One Sunday as I headed from the chapel, I stopped a moment to ask a sister who appeared to me to be having a difficult day how she was doing.  And she told me.  Her burden was great. I learned that her newest grandson was born with a heart that was completely turned around and faced a number of major heart surgeries.  Her son and his family had already been blessed with a child with incredible physical challenges.  He was hospitalized for months after birth. His family had not held him till he was nearly a year old.  Now, another major challenge for her family.  I was glad that my heart was open to listen to her trial.

Early one morning I walked into the breakfast area of a motel in Provo, Utah. One other person was already eating breakfast.  She asked me what book I was carrying.  My initial inclination was to keep the visit brief and open my book to read, since I was on a deadline to complete the book or return it unfinished to the library.  Instead my new friend and I had a wonderful, lengthy visit. Her life amazed me.  At the beginning of this year she and her sister set off on a journey to visit America. Her sister had to return home, but she had carried on, driving around the country to specific sights and spending a month in each place.  She was on her way to her last destination and would be home by Thanksgiving.  She LOVED all the places she had been and the kind people she had met.  She is currently writing a blog and will write a book about her year when she gets home. She is way more than 20 years my senior.  What a treat to learn from her.  I could have easily stuck my head in my book (which I loved) and missed that opportunity.

The condition of my heart needs improving!  Is there anyone out there who wants to share this experiment with me?  I want to become more aware of the condition of my own heart as a tool to be more aware of the hearts of those around me.  None of these experiences required anything but a little time.  I didn't bake cookies or deliver a casserole.  I didn't babysit someones children or clean someones home.  But each made a difference for me. 

Are you up to it?  Can you take the challenge?  What is the conditions of your heart?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leprosy

Our grandchildren do not live close to us.  The shortest drive to visit any of our family is close to an hour and a half.  Time with each of these little darlings is precious and limited.  I love each and every one of them and appreciate their differences and their similarities.  I am excited when they want to visit over the phone or on skype.  Once in awhile I receive a phone call from one of them with a bit of news.  What a treat!

I am still learning to be a grandmother.  I often wonder what other grandmothers do with and for their little darlings.  I remember my grandmothers and they way they interacted with me as a child.   I think of the things my mother did when she was grand mothering.  And I listen and watch others around me with their grandchildren. 

I am always looking for new ideas and new ways to interact with my grandchildren on a more personal level.  I have made individual birthday presents for each one of them for the last two years, and am currently searching for a new idea for next year. 

The lack of time also means lack of influence, which may be a good or bad thing in many circumstances.  But I want my grandchildren to know me.  I want them to know they are important to me.  I want them to know I love them.  I want them to know that Heavenly Father loves them.

Recently we make the trek to visit one of our families and celebrate a birthday.  What a treat to be invited and to also be able to go!  It was a wonderful evening.  It felt so good to be embraced and fussed over by each child.  They were glad to see me! 

We ate cake and ice cream, played with the dog, opened presents, played with the toys, and even soaked in the hot tub.  But the memory that lingers is a conversation with my granddaughter in the first grade.

She brought something to show me.  It was a small piece of crochet work that she had done.  Her friend had taught her how.  It looked quite good for a beginner.  We talked about it for a minute.  I was so proud of her.  I was older when I learned to crochet, and I never have gotten all that good at it.  But I do make a mean leper bandage!  I do mean, mean.  Sometimes they look pretty rough!

Brooklynn's crochet piece looked like the beginning of a leper bandage and I told her that it did.  I asked her if she knew anything about leprosy.  She did not.  So I had the opportunity to teach a little about leprosy and why people make leper bandages today.  I was able to to teach about the miracles of the Savior Jesus Christ, who healed people of leprosy in the Bible.  It was just an ordinary conversation of just a few minutes.  Yet, in those minutes I was able to share in an inconspicuous way my testimony of the life and mission of Christ.  I was able to teach the truth of miracles.  I was able to influence my sweet granddaughter who sat like a sponge soaking it up. 

For me, this was my own little  leprosy miracle, and I am grateful!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Go Ye Now in Peace"

Tears flowed unbidden from my eyes as I listened to the last song sung by the Utah State University Intitute Choir at their recent fireside held to encourage missionary work.  Our son is a member of the Institute Choir and this opportunity has blessed not only his life but ours.  It has provided us with opportunities to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ taught in word and song.  We have watched with great joy as he has blossomed with the opportunities this choir has provided for him.  Our hearts have been touched each time we attend a fireside.  We are grateful that Heavenly Father loves us and has provided these opportunities for our growth as a family, and especially for this son, whom we love.

We were spiritually fed as we heard new converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints share their testimonies.  They shared their conversion stories freely.  Standing by each convert was a friend who influenced them and helped them find truth and light.

Each song touched my heart.

After the closing song sniffling was frequently heard among the chairs in the large venue as the fireside closed with prayer.

After the fireside, we talked briefly with our son.  He had sung this song many times before in rehearsal and fireside settings.  His comment was, "I have never heard that song sung like that before."

We are so blessed to have opportunities to be taught by the Holy Ghost.  I am grateful.

Here are the words of the song that still touches my heart today.

"Go ye now in peace and know that the love of God will guide you.
Feel his presence here beside you, showing you the way.
In your time of trouble when hurt and despair are there to grieve you,
Know that the Lord will never leave you, He will bring you courage.
Know that the God who sent His Son to die that you might live,
Will never leave you lost and alone in His beloved world.
Go ye now in peace.
Go ye now in peace.
Go ye now in peace."
                                               Joyce Elaine Eilers

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Truck

"I traded in my truck," our son said casually in the middle of his list of things happening in the lives of his family.  I was sure that I hadn't heard him correctly.   He loves that truck!  I couldn't imagine that he would ever trade it in, until it was nearly dead or he reached sudden wealth.  It was a green, two seater so that he could take his whole family in the truck. They went fishing and hunting in that truck.  The went gathering chokecherries and huckleberries in that truck.  Max, their  large, black, hunting dog rode in the back of that truck to our home more than once.  He drove that truck to graduation when he received his pharmacy degree. We had loaded up that truck with boxes, clothes, and toys when they moved just two short months ago.

He loves that truck!

I think I am weird.  I don't emotionally attach to vehicles quite like most people do.  Yes, I do like them to look nice and new and shiny.  I do have some favorite colors of cars and no, I don't really want to drive a vehicle that is put together with wire and duct tape, but mostly I just want to get into them, start the engine and go and do what I need or want to do.  We have done the undependable car thing to death. I don't want to do that anymore.  But the truth is I don't fall madly in love with vehicles.  But I knew that our son had a very deep and personal relationship with his green truck.

When he finished his list of mostly ordinary, everyday happenings, I asked about the truck, certain that I had misunderstood.  I had not.  He had traded in the truck on another vehicle more than a week previous.  Why, I asked him.

He simply explained that for about two weeks he had the feeling that something was going to go wrong with the truck. No idea what, where, or when, just something was going to happen and it was time to get rid of the truck.  I can only imagine the sense of mourning and loss that must have accompanied those impressions. 

He loved that truck!

When he explained these feelings to his wife, she suggested that maybe they should consider having their friend, mechanic take a look at the truck and see what was going on.  Maybe it wasn't so bad.  Maybe it could be fixed.  Maybe it wouldn't be too expensive.  Though it was a good and logical idea, he simply could not ignore the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  He told her that the way he felt, he would never feel comfortable driving the truck again, no matter what the mechanic found.  He just couldn't.

So he traded in the truck and moved on.  We will never know what would have gone wrong with the truck.  We will  never know the annoyance or expense of whatever may have come.  Perhaps it would have been worse than inconvenience.  It might have been tragic or even life threatening.  But we will never know.  Heavenly Father sent information to him through the Holy Ghost.  It wasn't loud or shrill.  But it was powerful.  Our son had his agency to ignore the feeling that came to him or to obey.  He could have put it off for weeks or months, until it was too late. 

No, we will never know what happened to the green truck.  We will never know when, where, or how something will go wrong. But it doesn't really matter does it. You know, it makes a mother so proud to know that her son listened and obeyed the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Because, he loved that truck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do You Ever Feel like Job?

Do you ever feel like you could relate to Job in the Bible?  I guess that there are times when it feels like I have given my all, everything I could possibly give, to make something work out well. Maybe I even gave more than I was asked or maybe more than I even felt was reasonable to give.  Knowing that I had given all I had to give, it seems reasonable that whatever I have invested my time into will go really well. 

And then it doesn't. 

Sometimes these things happen when no one knows that it has happened.  Whew!  At least I don't have to add embarrassment to this disappointing situation. Occasionally other family members or friends will be aware that somehow, things went way wrong.  Well, the hope is that they love me enough to overlook my current disaster.  Or perhaps they are just so used to my 'current' disasters that they shrug it off and just add it to the list of things I am already accumulating..

Then on occasion there are those so very public, humiliating, and embarrassing situations.  Maybe you know which ones I mean.  The ones when I wished I could disappear into thin air or fall into a hole into the floor.  Sometimes moving immediately to a new town even seems like a totally reasonable solution.  The last thing I want to do is to talk to anyone on sight.

Running to the closest exit is the best one can do to escape. 

I don't think I am really a total coward, but who needs to have other people remind me of what went wrong.  I don't need to see the laughter on their lips or even the sympathy in their eyes if they think that I am totally pathetic.  Tears are already close to the surface.  Any reaction from anyone from horror on one end of the scale to sympathy on the other will cause tears to leak from my eyes. 

Who needs that in public?

Crying at a funeral or as one shares sacred testimony seems totally acceptable.  I would just as soon not of course, but it doesn't seem to add humiliation to the list of indiscretions. 

Some years ago, I played the piano for a couple to sing a duet in Sacrament Meeting.  They worked so hard on their song.  I recorded the accompaniment so they could sing to it over and over as they traveled in their car. We spent several hours rehearsing in my home as well for their 3 minute offering.  As they sang their song in my home the last time, it was really beautiful. They had learned it so well and their voices blended in wonderful notes of harmony.  I was so proud of their accomplishment.  They were too.

Later that day as they sang in Sacrament Meeting, this sweet, tenderhearted sister fell apart.  She succumbed to fear and could hardly sing a note.  She stood there and cried. Giant tears of terror spilled down her face.  After the meeting she was surrounded by the loving, sympathetic arms of friends and neighbors.  Again, her tears streaked across her cheeks. 

I guess my recent disaster in public really doesn't stack up to the trials of Job, but I wonder why it happened.  I wonder what lesson I can learn from my experience.  No one has said a single word about my mistake and certainly I am grateful for that, because I too would have shed bitter tears of embarrasment.

And who needs that in public?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spanish Miracle

I have a wise friend who is 93 years old.  He frequently teaches as I visit with him.  He isn't trying to teach me, it just happens as he shares the stories of his life.

Today as we visited he shared a miracle with me.  He didn't say, "Let me share a miracle with you"  or anything like that at all.  He talked about how many members in his family had served missions in countries where Spanish was the language spoken. Four of his five sons served in Spanish speaking missions as well as many of his grandchildren. 

Then he told of the miracle.  He couldn't learn the Spanish language.  It seemed to be impossible for him.  He tried and worked and struggled, but the language did not come.  He wrote to his mission president and told him that he felt that he needed to be assigned to another area where English was spoken because he was not capable of learning the Spanish language.

His mission president wrote to him asking him instead to read Nephi 1:7 every morning and every night for two months and then to write back with his report.

My friend read "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  He read it again and again, night and morning until he wrote back to the mision president in two months that he could speak Spanish fluently.

My friend completed not only this mission, but a second mission with his sweetheart many year later in Puerto Rico.  She, by the way, never did learn to speak Spanish.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Do You Spell L-o-v-e

What is it that means Love to you?  Is it a shiny present with a huge bow?  Maybe it is words spoken in kindness.  Love may thrive when you hold the hand of that special person in your life or in any gentle touch shared with another.  Do you feel love when you read a poem or a thank you card written by a friend, a child, or a sweetheart?  Perhaps you recognize love when someone demonstrates their feelings by doing something for you that requires a sacrifice of their time.  It could be that phone calls, texts, and emails speak words of love to you. Maybe love feels like lots of little things done everyday by someone you care about.

Many years ago a busy mother of many children was asked by her spouse what she wanted for Christmas.  Her reply was immediate and simple.  "I want my oven cleaned."  On Christmas Eve, her very skilled, successful, well paid, professional husband had his head stuck in her oven scrubbing away.  My friend felt loved.

My sweet sister once told me that her husband put a bouquet of flowers in the shopping cart as they bought groceries.  He told her that they were for her as they landed in the cart.  She said that she wanted to just throw them in the garbage.  To her it showed no forethought.  It didn't feel like love to her.  Perhaps it was the way it was served!

Recently a  friend shared this wonderful story.  "My husband did something so sweet for me yesterday. He had the day off and had a few projects he wanted to do. He got them all done in the morning and I asked him what he was going to do with his afternoon? He said he was just planning to watch movies and enjoy a rare day off. I was pleased that he could relax and not have to think about anything. He rarely has opportunities for that. When I got home after work, he was very excited to gauge my reaction to his afternoon's work. He had mowed the lawn. He knew I had been planning to do it after work one day this week as it had been neglected for a couple of weeks. I was touched that he would do that for me when he could have just relaxed. Sometimes it is demonstrations like this that show love. I would rather he had done that then to give me flowers any day. It reminds me that love can be shown through even everyday actions. Showing love for others does not require grandiose demonstrations."

One of the challenges of this life is to learn that we don't all feel loved in the same ways.  It is a learning process to understand what it is that speaks the language of love to us.

Another  challenge is to recognize how we serve love to others. 
How do you spell L-O-V-E?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Power of Choice

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10  In this Bible verse, the Savior Jesus Christ promises us a life filled with abundance.  That means more than enough, ample, and plenty.  How did I so easily slip into believing that there is never enough to go around?  When did it happen? 

For me the bigger question now becomes, how do I change it?  How do I stop thinking scarcity and start thinking that I have enough of everything?  How do I come to a place in my soul where can I truly trust and believe the words of the Savior?  How do I place fear and insecurity on the altar and let them disappear, being replaced with faith?

Scarcity thrives on competing and comparing.  I am smarter or taller or thinner or richer than you are.  I could do it better than you.  Scarcity rejoices in criticizing.  Why did you do it that way? And scarcity loves to listen to us whine and complain.  Do I really have to do that? 

Stephen R. Covey calls these behaviors cancer; complaining, competing, criticizing, and comparing.  If that is true, than I am sick indeed.  I may be so sick that I am in need of emergency surgery.  These need to be radiated out of my heart and mind. 

I think it would be easier to call a physician and hand him a scalpel to cut out all these tumors.  Unfortunately that is not the process of changing ones heart.  I must be the one who irradiates these cancers from my own soul. 

Recently I was asked to take dinner to a family who was struggling with an illness.  As I arrived with food, the entire family was lounging around, watching me carry in the meal I had spent many hours preparing.  My mind started to complain.  Why did they need this meal?  There were at least three healthy people there who could open a can of soup or something.  Then I recognized what I was thinking.  I was not proud of my thoughts.  I was asked to provide a meal, that was all.  I was not asked to deliver it with a load of judgement and criticism.  My attitude changed immediately and I gained minimal control over my thoughts.

What a challenge it is to control ones own mind and emotions.  How unruly they become at times. 

"The power of choice is the key to moving from scarcity to abundance," said Stephen R. Covey.  Those words feel powerful to me.  But how do I do that on a moment by moment, choice by choice, day by day basis?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Scripture Reading

As I bustled around my kitchen molding a loaf of French bread this afternoon, I realized that I had not yet read my scriptures today.  I had been out visiting teaching and was anxious to return to one of my myriad of uncompleted projects.  I started heading towards a quilt in my basement thinking that now was a perfect time to take a few  more stitches before it was time to finish cooking dinner.

Again, the impression came that I had not yet opened my scriptures today.  As I started to brush the thought from my mind, I remembered my prayer from earlier in the day.  I asked Heavenly Father to help me to do better at daily scripture reading.  I also asked for help to pay closer attention as I read since my mind frequently wanders from the printed page.  I also prayed that I would find greater understanding as I read from His words.

I turned away from the quilt and turned towards my Book of Mormon.  Sweet words of Nephi caught my attention as I read of his vision of the tree of life.  I read of Mary and the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.  I read of Christ's baptism and His life teaching  among His people.  I read that He would perform miracles among the sick and unclean.  Nephi talked of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. 

I came so close to missing those moments with my scriptures today.  The Holy Ghost reminded me that if I prayed for things, I had to do my part.  I clearly understood that it would do me no good to ask for Heavenly Father to help me with scripture reading if I was not willing to pick up the book and open it for myself. 

After I closed my Book of Mormon and set it down, I wondered how many times would I be prompted to read my scriptures, if I was unwilling to do my part.  At least for today, I don't need to know the answer.  Yet, I still wonder.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helmet Safety

Help promote helmet safety.  Check out this facebook page.  Come sign the banner or like them on facebook.  One click can make a difference!

facebook.com/tuckitinthebucket

Monday, October 10, 2011

Enough and to Share

Last year our garden was a bit pathetic.  We ate all that we picked ourselves because it was so sad.  Even the usual overabundance of zucchini eluded us. I always wish that we could plant a half of a zucchini plant.

I reminded myself that at least we had followed the council of the prophet to plant a garden. 

Because of weird spring weather, our garden was planted way late this year and we wondered at our foolishness to plant at all. Our cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash have nearly overrun us a few times and we have searched for recipients (or is it victims?) of our bounteous crop.

One day as I delivered a box of surplus produce to a friend I received enlightenment from Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

The last couple of years have taken a large toll on our finances and at times caused me some concern and emotional distress.  I have continued to pray for financial blessings for us and our family and pondered whether it was a season for me to return to work, a frightening possiblity after so many years at home.

One of the phrases that I have used in my prayers is "enough and to share." I have said it often, not so  much that it would seem thoughtless and repetitive, but frequently.  We never know when or how we might be called upon to share, so that phrase seemed appropriate.                             

In my finite mind, that meant money, cash, bucks flowing into our lives more readily and easily.  For months I have waited and watched for this increased cash flow to pour into our lives.  The truth is that I haven't yet seen that happen.  We do have enough to take care of ourselves.  I just spent a small fortune at a local grocery store to stock up on case goods to replenish our dwindling supply.  We have heat, water, and electricity.  We can put fuel into our cars to go where we need to go.  Compared to millions around the world, we are rich beyond compare.

Yet, where is the Money?

As I carried my box of produce to share, the words were clear and sweet in my mind.  Look, you have "enough and to share."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everyday Miracles

I have been trying to change my vision.  I am looking for the miracles and blessings that are part of everyday life.  Somehow I lost the ability to see them, waiting for the big, grandiose miracles that we all pray for. Now I see miracles every day. Some of them are obvious and others smaller, more difficult to see.

Recently a dear friend was asked to sing a sacred song in Sacrament Meeting. She asked me if I would be willing to accompany her on the piano, and because I care so much about her, I gladly agreed.  We met one afternoon to take a look at the four songs she was considering singing. 

We enjoyed the visit, perhaps almost too much, and procrastinated looking at the music until our time together was nearing an end.  I loved visiting with her and learning about her life.  I saw her courage and her faith and felt of her love for our Heavenly Father.  It was great!

Reluctantly we moved to the piano and pulled out the music and began in earnest to decide which would be the grand prize winner.  Generally people have already selected their song and my responsiblity is simply to play for them.  This time, my friend asked my honest opinion in advance, and again after each song she sang.

My friend has a beautiful voice.  It is sweet and clear.  It resonates with power and testimony. 

I was unfamiliar with the first song she sang.   I loved its message and the melody wrapped itself around me.  I wondered if this would be the right song. 

She sang the second song, a stirring arrangement of I Am A Child of God, familiar, yet unique.

The third song was also written for children and spoke volumes about the Savior Jesus Christ.

After my friend sang each of these songs, we talked briefly about them.  I found it interesting that neither of us had a strong feeling about any of the songs.

As I played the last song, the feeling in the room changed.  By the time we reached the chorus, I knew that this was the right song for her to sing.  I was certain. I needed to be careful how I gave my opnion, after all, she would be singing and the decision was hers.

A few moments of silence followed the last song before my friend spoke. She knew this was the right song.  The Holy Ghost had clearly witnessed this to each of us.

I am grateful to a kind and loving Heavenly Father who blesses me with miracles every day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Did You Fill Your Bucket?

The speakers are gone and the music has faded.  How sad it is that the General Conference for The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has ended and we all return to the real world.  For two days we have had the opportunity to dip our buckets into the well of wisdom of Prophets, Apostles and Church leaders.  Some of us may only get a few teaspoonfuls, but others may be lucky enough to fill their bucket over and over and over again.

I visited with three of my sons over the weekend.  Two of them have small children who occupy a great deal of their free time.  Amazingly enought they expressed frustration at the limited amount of time that they were able to listen to conference. I remember well those days.  I was always anxious to receive the Ensign with the conference messages so that I could actually know what conference was about.

Our other son was able to participate more actively in conference and was able to tell me which talk was his favorite. 

We have children who live far away from the center of the church, but through modern technology they are able to receive conference over the internet in their homes.  The blessings of technology continue.  At this moment, my internet is playing conference for me.  With a few clicks of a mouse, I can access any and all of conference in my home over the internet.  By the end of the week, messages will also be available in print. 

What a miracle to have the technology to allow us instant access to the word of God.

http://lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2011/10?lang=eng

What was your favorite part of General Conference?  Please share your ideas and thoughts with me!

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Borrowed this post from Betsy Love.  Maybe someone that reads this can help!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Boy with a Mission-and a GREAT need

I know a boy, a very handsome boy,
who happens to be a miracle. His name is Isaac Sneed. He just got his mission call for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My family got to be there when he read the letter that explained where he will be serving. He is going to the Romania Bucharest Mission and reports to the Mission Training Center in Salt Lake City on Dec. 14, 2011.  




Let me back up about 11 years, a time I remember well. Isaac's mom, Theresa Sneed is my best friend. Her son started complaining about his "tummy". You know, the kinds of complaints all kids have. Only his ache never went away. 




Long story short--he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. This cancer is almost always fatal, and most children who get this kind of cancer are diagnosed by the age of 2.  By the time it is discovered, the cancer usually spreads to the point of no return. Through a miracle, his tumor was completely intact and the doctors were able to remove it. Isaac was 8.


As a result of his treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplant), Isaac's suffers from significant hearing loss.

So why am I writing today? Because Isaac needs hearing aids to be the best missionary he can be. Learning a new language is challenging for a normal missionary with a set of good ears, so you can imagine what Isaac's challenge will be with significant hearing loss. 


The cost of hearing aids is approximately $6500. His parents are currently without health insurance and cannot afford to purchase them. If you have a heart, and I know you do, would you please make a donation to get them for him. Every little bit helps. So far $110 has been collected in his behalf. But that's a long way from the total we need. Even small amounts add up. You can go to any Chase bank and deposit funds. The account number is: 2996079725. 


Thank you for your generosity and Christ-like love! Your donation may remain anonymous if you'd like.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We Are So Blessed!

Ok, I must admit that I didn't attend the General Relief Society Meeting for The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I was out of town with family members.  I did not hear President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's message until after my last post.  A kind friend prompted me more than once by email that I needed to make his message a priority.  She was right, I did.  So much of what he said confirmed my belief that we should not be comparing and competing with each other.

I appreciate President Uchtdorf's council to be kind to ourselves.  I believe that he is right when he reminds us that we are often much kinder to others.  We forgive the people around us when they mess up, yet mentally replay our mistakes over and over until they are firmly imbedded in our minds and we think we deserve the firing squad.

His council to carefully consider the kinds of sacrifices we make also touched me.  It is probably pretty accurate that we have all made some less than stellar sacrifices, and then wondered why we didn't reap great rewards from them.  What a kind, wise man! 

If you haven't listend to this talk, please do.  His words are inspired. His words are powerful!

https://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/forget-me-not?lang=eng&media=video

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comparing

The scriptures teach us that the earth is full and there is also enough to spare, yet the world teaches us that there is never enough. Often we also hear that we are not enough.  We aren’t smart enough or tall enough. You can never be to skinny or to rich.  Everyone else is more talented than I am and certainly others have more creativity. 

I really believe that comparing myself to others doesn’t help me feel better about myself or my life, but I seem to be so very good at participating in the comparison program. 

Here are some questions that I ask myself from time to time to see how I am doing on inviting scarcity into my life:

Am I comparing what I have to what others have and judging them because they appear to have more or less than I do? 

How much of my conversation to others is spent in faultfinding, criticizing, and comparing?

Do I say things like:  I don’t have enough time?  I never have enough money?  We don’t have a good enough car?  I have a lousy job?  I have crumby friends?  My relatives don’t do enough for me?

Am I spending valuable time complaining about all the things I don’t have to myself?  How about complaining to others?

When I hear of someone else’s success, am I truly able to rejoice with them or do I start saying things like, “they had it so easy?” or they don’t deserve that? Or why didn’t I get that?

When someone makes more money than I do, do I rejoice for them or do I find other ways to criticize them to make myself feel better?  Do I place expectations on them about how they should use their money and then criticize them when I don’t see them spend their money the way I would?

Stephen R. Covey said this,

“People with a scarcity mentality believe there is only so much to go around-only so much love, praise, money, and certainly not enough corner offices.  If one person gets a big piece of pie, that means you have to get a smaller piece.  And offering anybody a slice of pie results in less pie for you to enjoy.  They also believe that competition is an integral part of human interaction, that winning involves beating, and that rank and status (who has it and how to get it) are important things to be concerned about.  Thinking this way causes people to act out of deficiency: trying to make themselves appear better by comparing. Criticizing, complaining, and even competing with those who are around them, leading them, supporting them.”

Do we realize that the more we practice the principle of scarcity, the more time and energy we spend thinking about scarcity, the more time we spend comparing what we have to what others have, the more we invite scarcity into our lives?


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are You Getting Ready?

I love watching the semi-annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I eagerly await the opportunity to enjoy being fed spiritually in my own home, sometimes wearing my pajamas.  It seems like such a luxury to turn on my television and hear the voices of prophets and apostles as they teach me what Heavenly Father wants me to know.

I confess that I have not always appreciated the spirituality that conference brings as much as the break from regular church attendance and the laziness of the day.  I also remember the many years that my children made it difficult to learn from General Conference.  It was often difficult just to hear some of the talks over the din of small, noisy children who were definitely not thrilled to be watching my choice of television programming. Our family tried a myriad of methods to entice these little ones to be quiet, including out and out bribery.

I find it amazing that during every general conference there are talks that seem like they were given just for me. When there are millions of members of the church listening to conference, how can there be things that seem to apply so perfectly to my own situation?

I can't wait until the talks appear on lds.org so I can listen to the talks again or be able to print them and begin to study the inspired words of these men and women who have studied and fasted and prayed, that they will be able to teach the truths of our Heavenly Father. Sister Sheri Dew spoke about the overwhelming task of preparing to speak in General Conference.  It is work!

The truth is that I have found that it also takes effort for me to prepare myself to receive the messages from General Conference.  Praying for those who will speak to me seems very basic, but often General Conference sneaks up on me and I realize that I have nearly missed that opportunity.  Just as important is praying for me.  My mind and heart need to be open and prepared to receive.  Dropping the attitude of being too busy all the time helps me be more focused. I find that feeling stressed out by the cares of the world impedes my ability to focus and learn.

Preparing my home is also important for me.  I don't focus well in clutter.  I am easily distracted by messes and projects in my physical world just as I am in my mental, emotional, and spiritual realm. Errands need to be taken care of and grocery shopping done. Meal planning helps and food preparation needs to be quick and easy.

Right now my mind is cluttered with unfinished projects and temporal choas.  Since General Conference is October 1st and 2nd, I guess I better take my own advice and get busy getting ready for conference!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Was it Really Good Advice?

Our stake president was quite concerned about appropriate use of the internet and spoke about it from the pulpit as well as in personal interviews.  On two separate occasions, he asked my friend if she knew what her children were doing when they were on the computer.  He also asked if she knew what her husband was doing when he was on the computer and internet.  Even though her computer was downstairs, she thought that she had a pretty good idea what each member of her family was interested in and therefor what they were doing on the computer or on the internet.  The stake president counselled that she should always know what her children and her spouse were doing on the computer.  My friend tried to be more aware but also not to be a overbearing about her families computer use.  She arranged to be around the computer more, trying to watch over and protect her family.

Several years later after their children were gone from home, in a discussion between my friend and her husband, my friend reminded her husband of the advice of the stake president. At the conclusion of this discussion, my friend's husband agreed that the stake president's council was good and promised my friend that he would not be on the computer anymore when she was not in the room with him.  My friend had not asked for this commitment but appreciated it and felt good about this decision.

The next morning, my friend's husband jumped out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and headed straight for the computer without dressing, leaving a surprised wife upstairs.  My friend was shocked and confused when this occurred. Her mind flooded with unnawered questions.

What was really going on here?  Was the stake president's council really valuable to her husband? Should she expect him to keep his agreement with her?  Was it really a big deal?

As I have pondered this experience, I have wondered about how seriously we take the advice of our church leaders. If their advice is good, what do we do with what they teach us.  How long should we ponder the words of our church leaders, before we accept them into our lives?

What advice would you give to my friend?  What do you think - Was it really good council after all?