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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Patriarchal Blessing

Recently I had a truly wonderful experience.  One of our children prepared himself to receive his patriarchal blessing.  My plan for this son was that he would receive his blessing some time ago.  Instead, I had the opportunity to practice patience as I waited for the time to be right for him to receive his blessing.  It was a good reminder for me that we all have the gift of agency.  It was not up to me to control or determine when my son was truly ready to receive the blessing which Our Heavenly Father had just for him. 

This son has taught me so much and is truly amazing.  I appreciate his example so much!

For anyone who may not know what a patriarchal blessing is, here is a definition provided by Bruce R. McConkie.  “Patriarchal blessings contemplate an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient, and also, where so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life’s mission.”

In a way, a patriarchal blessing is personalized scripture; directions, instructions, and counsel for only one person.  A righteous holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood is called and set apart to be a Patriarch.  Through the power of the Priesthood, he receives revelation for each individual that comes to him for a blessing.  The blessing is recorded.  The individual receives a copy of the blessing to treasure, study, and learn from. 

I have been privileged to be with each of my six children when they received their patriarchal blessings at the hands of a worthy and prepared patriarch.  Each has been a unique and wonderful opportunity to peek into the character and the possiblities within each child.  Some of what I have heard was not new to me, because I had already spent years learning to know each individual.  But always, there are surprises.

I have witnessed four different Patriarchs pronounce blessings, including the one who gave me my blessing over forty years ago.  Each instance is similar and yet so different.

Our son had truly prepared to receive his blessing.  He had done all the things that the Patriarch had asked him to do as part of that process.  I  prayed ferventely for both our son and the Patriarch.  We attended the temple and fasted during the day previous to the appointment with the Patriarch who had also taken similar steps as he prepared himself to be an instrument in the hands of Our Heavenly Father to provide the blessing.

My experience was amazing and sweet as I listened to the Patriarch explain his preparation and the process of receiving revelation.  The room filled with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost as words of comfort, direction, and promise were pronounced for my son.

Patriarchal blessings are very sacred and personal.  We are very careful with the information we share and who we share it with. We don't publish our patriarchal blessings for the world to see.  We hold them close to our hearts. We ponder on the words and pray for understanding.  We rejoice in their comfort and direction.

My son's blessing is wonderful!  But of course it must be, because he is wonderful!

What a blessing and a miracle to know that Heavenly Father loves his children and desires to bless us in this way.

I am grateful!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Blessing of Friends

How does one measure the value of good friends?  Do you pour their kindness into a cup or place it on a scale to measure its weight?  How significant is the email or phone call that comes on a day that is dark and lonely?  Or the feeling you get when friends wish you a happy birthday or remember you at Christmas.  How about the friend that arrives at your door on Valentines' Day with a homemade heart cookie? What is the value of a friend who trusts you enough to confide in you or asks for your help in time of need?

One doesn't have to have a million friends to recognize that having good friends enriches life and gives courage to carry on when personal strength seems to be totally gone. 

A few weeks ago as I struggled with a particular facet of my life, a friend handed me a simple piece of paper bearing these words:

Wherever you are.  Whatever the circumstances may be.
You are not forgotten. 
No matter how dark your days may seem. 
No matter how insignificant you may feel.
No matter how overshadowed you think you may be.
Your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.
In fact, He loved you, with an infinite love.

-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

She had created it with beauty and added a graphic of a forget me not and put the paper in a plastic sheet cover so I could put it in my binder, at the front, and carry it with me whenever I was on this challenging assignment. I have looked at it many times. 

My friend saw my struggle and served me. 

My sweet sister and her husband, who I haven't seen for nearly a year, drove out of their way to visit. They didn't stay nearly long enough, but they blessed me.  As we visited, I saw the pure heart of my sister and I wanted to be just like her.  Her words and her example touched me deeply.  I wish she were my next door neighbor, so I could learn daily from her how to be kind and guileless.

I don't know how to measure the way good friends bless my life but I do know,  they make me want to be a better person!

Monday, February 20, 2012

True Confession

I hate to admit it publicly, but it is true that I really do not like exercise!  I really don't think I ever have.  My mother did not ever call me lazy to my recollection, but I felt like she thought I was energetically challenged.  She was so good at trying to find things for me to do and be involved in!

I am not athletically inclined.  I hated most everything about PE.  I was always close to the last to be picked for any team sport in class or on the playground.  I just was not blessed to be good at running, catching, balancing, and throwing. 

I have taken and enjoyed many a walk.  That would be my first choice of exercise, but weather often plays havoc with that. 

Unfortunately, a few years ago, I was also blessed with high blood pressure.  So I started taking the medication recommended by my physician.  The medication and I also decided that we didn't like each other.  For awhile I didn't realize we were disagreeing. I just felt crumby. I felt achy all over and dizzy and light headed.  Kind of like I had the flu all the time.  It wasn't until I literally passed out cold on the floor that I started to really wonder what was going on. Some days I felt almost like I just couldn't function. To tell the truth, I was a bit frightened.

A visit with my brilliant, pharmacist son several months later connected the dots. He kindly informed me that I needed to tell my doctor that the medication and I were on the outs.  Wimp that I am, I just quit taking the medication.

I tried taking the medication again - more than once.  Within two days I was too dizzy to stand in the kitchen to cook or clean the house. Does that qualify for hiring a maid?

I watched my dad walk for years to control his blood pressure and strengthen his heart so I stepped up my exercise.  I walk when the weather permits, but I make efforts to exercise indoors when it does not.

I would like to say that I love to exercise.  The truth is that I still have to talk and persuade myself into it, every single day. I don't love the sore muscles that inevitably come and I find myself looking for excuses to skip; drop in the barommetric pressure, new zit, broken fingernail, too busy, any sore muscle, or I just don't feel like it. 

I have not dropped a single ounce to my knowledge.  I don't need a whole new wardrobe because I am in such great shape.  No one else even notices a difference, except my physician.  My blood pressure is better. He sees no need to consider any medication at this time.

So I have learned the value of exercise, even though it hasn't changed me on the outside. 

As I write, my inner cheerleader is reminding me that it is time to exercise, but my excuse maker is also working overtime.

I wonder which one will win?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Act Don't React

I confess, I need help!

Perhaps no one else in the world has anyone in their lives who annoys, irritates, or pushes their buttons besides me.  Maybe there are no situations that drive you crazy that you find yourself in the depths of misbehavier, driven by anger or frustration with someone or something.  But I just did it again!  I reacted instead of choosing to act according to the principles that I believe in.  In fact, I think I hit a new low in reacting.  I truly know better.  I tell myself that I will not let it happen.  I will not be sucked in by someone's behavior or to a particular circumstance.  I walk around and tell myself  "act don't react" over and over and over. 

Then I fail again!

It is rather hard to not believe that I am not a very good person because I lack the control that I would like to have.  It is a huge problem for me and not just a minor flaw.  I really need to acquire the needed faith, discipline, or a magic wand. 

Where do I get one?

Many years ago my parents were in an elevator in London when my father was the victim of a pick pocketing.  Fortuantely he was unaware of the incident until the theives were no longer in his vicinity.  I think he would  have fought with them and lost.  He was livid.  He felt violated and angry.  For a time the trip was ruined and I believe he considered it was time to cut the trip short and go home.  For him, there was nothing that would bring peace or consolation.

My mother was blessed with a vision of her father who had long ago passed through the veil.  My mother told the story many times over the years before she died.  Her father taught her many things of great significance as he appeared to her in the middle of the night in the dark London hotel room.  Among those instructions were the significance of acting instead of reacting to our circumstances.

My father believed the counsel received in this vision and arrived at peace over their circumstances.  He proceeded to do exactly as my grandfather instructed and acted to acquire the necessary documents to complete their trip.  His anger subsided and many more wonderful experiences happened before the trip was completed.

I believe that the advice of my grandfather is good, sound, and wise and long for the ability to do it much better. 

I am soliciting suggestions, ideas, tools, etc from anyone. Please post a comment or email me with advice and suggestions because:

I need help!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gratitude Again

I never intended to be a blogger!

I have loved seeing my far away families on their blogs and that was all I intended to do with blogs, ever.  But last April as I listened to The General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Holy Ghost clearly told me that I was to become a blogger and was to testify of the good things of the world.  I was to write what I felt The Spirit prompted me to write.

Really me?

I started learning about blogging but life got in the way.  As fall approached, I thought perhaps that assignment had passed.

Not so.

Writing can be very therapeutic for me - but to put my words about my life out there is very risky!  Writing a novel or short stories or even a term paper sounds much safer.

I am grateful to each and everyone of you who make the time to read what I have written. Thank you!

Thank you for each and every comment.

Thank you to those of you who have shared your experiences with me.

At times, I wonder if there is anything in what I write that is meaningful.  At times, I have felt that perhaps, what I wrote made no difference for anyone.  And then one comment would come that would inspire me to write again.

I have always wondered if I would run out of things to write about.  Not yet!

However, part of my inspiration was that others would share more with me to write about.  I hope that if you are sitting on a miracle or wondrous experience or even a normal ordinary day happening that you will share with me.  I would love to share others life challenges and joys as well as my own.  It is definitely easier to tell someone else's experience than it is my own.

This week has brought a couple of very trying and difficult days for me, but as a few kind comments came my way about the things I have shared, I was strengthened.

Thank you!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Food Storage

My mother believed in food storage.

My parents married during hard times with little in the way of cash or possessions.  She was heard to say that they were so much in love that they didn't know how poor they really were.  Hunger was not unknown to them.

I don't know whether it was her testimony of following the prophet or the hard times that motivated her, but throughout my young life, we had food storage.  As I learned to cook, I would wander through the shelves of food she had carefully stored, trying to decide what to prepare.  At times the shelves were a mini-grocery store.

Food storage has literally saved our lives many times over the years.  When unemployment or illness has fallen on us, we were able to eat and feed our children.  We haven't always eaten well, but we have always eaten.

Recently my daughter in law shared with me her testimony of food storage. Amidst their financial struggles and hardships, she realized how blessed she was to be able to pull not only food but shampoo, toilet paper, and other necessities from her stored goods.  Limited resources stretch  a little further when you can reach into your supply and grab what you need.

Of course food storage doesn't just appear.  It requires discipline and effort.  It also requires cash.  For us it has meant that when times were pretty good financially, we stocked up on food and household supplies including soap and shampoo as well as laundry detergent and toilet paper.

We live in an area where a number of grocery stores have annual or semi-annual case good sales.  This is a great time for us to add to our supply and over the long term save money on what we purchase.  We try to be aware and prepared to spend extra money at these sales to fill our shelves.

Food storage also means canning and freezing excess produce we grow or are blessed to be given by generous neighbors. What we store varies from year to year, but we do try to preserve whatever we can.

Last September when our youngest grandson arrived, our squash plants were overflowing. I was in Utah enjoying time with my daughter and her little man.  My good husband asked what to do with the abundance.  He learned by trial and error the process of blanching and freezing zucchini and crookneck squash.  He did a good job and it is delicious!

We can't always stock up all at once.  Sometimes we can only purchase a few extra items each month to add to our supply.  A friend of mine always takes her grocery money for the week in cash.  At the end of the week, anything left over is food storage money.  No exceptions!  That works well for her.

There have been many times when we have eaten totally from our food storage except for fresh milk and eggs.

Thanks to the example of my mother, I believe in food storage!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Eulogy

Yes, it is true.  We have had a death in our family. Our vacuum cleaner gave its all for our floors.  Don't get me wrong, it vacuumed other things too.  It vacuumed out closets and drawers.  It vacuumed lint that was hidden under our beds.  It vacuumed cobwebs from our ceilings, light fixtures, and walls.  It often rescued our stairs and air grates from dust bunnies.  It cleaned crevices in windows and  nooks and crannies in cars. Our storage room was also the benefactor of this motorized suction machine.

It also removed crumbs from my kitchen counter tops for way more than a year. 

Yes, it is true.  I realize that not everyone uses their vacuum to clean off their counter tops in their kitchen, but mine truly did and on a daily basis.

When we purchased our home, it was in need of updating in many ways.  Unfortunately, we preferred to eat and have silly conveniences like water, electricity, and heat to spending our money replacing anything that was in any way already functional.  We had ugly, worn, chocolate carpeting in our living room and hallway. When I walked down the hall in high heels, I could feel the heel of my shoe slip through the worn out backing of the carpeting.  Our bathroom fixtures were pleasantly pink and our kitchen stove/oven was clearly coppertone. 

We replaced the element in our coppertone oven to keep our oven functioning, but replacing the stove burners was a more difficult and expensive task.  Eventually I had one dependable burner and one that worked when it felt like it.  We began shopping for stoves.  As we looked, one salesperson was totally convinced that we didn't know what we were talking about.  She was certain that we did not have a coppertone appliance in our kitchen or that our 'couldn't possibly be coppertone appliance' could be less than 30 inches wide, the standard size.

Well the long and short of it was that in order to replace this appliance, we had to either special order a replacement that was small enough to fit the hole at a rather significant expense or remodel a portion of our kitchen.  We choose the latter.

Once the new  white stove/oven was replaced , it took over eighteen months to get countertops to cover the rough, splintery plywood surface surrounding the non coppertone appliance.  I could not figure out anyway to clean this plywood surface that didn't leave me with shredded sponges, rags, and towels, and matching shredded hands.  Except to use the vacuum.

I used the vacuum until its dying moments.  I had clearly seen the signs of sparks jumping from the motor and smelled the smoky odor of something unknown burning itself away.  But the gutsy little thing continued to serve itself out.

I invited a friend to join us for the memorial service as we said goodby to this faithful friend, but she declined.

She did however write a touching eulogy to express her heartfelt grief at our loss.

Here lies Lowana's vacuum.
It was so brave.
Undaunted by her legend,
Her carpet it did save.
Though it was just one in a long line
Of vacuums much abused,
It did it's duty as long as it could
Until in dying, it refused.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Their Testimonies Raised the Roof

We are so blessed to live in a time when Prophets live among us!

That witness was again confirmed for me as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland entered The Spectrum in Logan, Utah and the crowd hushed and stood in reverence and respect at his presence.

The Logan Institute sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints invites members and nonmembers alike to come and learn about the Prophet Joseph Smith.  It is an opportunity to honor him and recognize how blessed we are to live in this dispensation when the gospel was restored to the earth.  The Prophet Joseph Smith was instrumental in countless ways in the restoration of the gospel amid intense scrutiny and opposition.

Elder Holland's words touched me deeply.  He reminded me how very young Joseph Smith was when he first went into a grove of trees to pray and saw God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  This single event not only changed the life of Joseph, but of so many around the world.  What an amazing thing to learn that God does still speak to man.  Much of the world no longer believed that in Joseph's day.  Even today, many dispute that prophets live and speak to man in behalf of Heavenly Father.

Elder Holland continued to remind me of major events that occurred during Joseph's young life.  What Joseph Smith accomished is nothing less than miraculous.  He translated The Book of Mormon as well as receiving current revelation and scripture, organized the church, restablishing with it ordinances and covenants long ago taken from the earth.

Joseph married and raised a family also fraught with illness and tragedy.  He led the Saints on numerous moves and treks and began the building of temples.  He established cities and armies and governments. 

Joseph did all this and more before he was martyrd at the age of 38.

Elder Holland had requested that the institute choir sing "Praise to the Man" at the conclusion of his remards. 

And sing they did!

The choir sang their testimonies with all their hearts and souls. The arrangement of this much loved hymm was new and meaningful to me.  It is difficult to describe just how powerful this hymn was.  It sounded as if it was sung with precision and perfection, as if every single voice blended in perfect movement and harmony.  Perhaps most of all, it sounded as if each of these young adults gave every ounce of all that they had to tell what they believe to be true. Perhaps an angel choir joined forces with these faithful musicians.

Because in this very large, very full sports arena, the testimonies of these faithful college students raised the roof!