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







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