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







Monday, January 30, 2012

Gratitude

Today I need to be grateful!  With the reality of car repairs, a new printer, a new vacuum, Christmas, travel and taxes staring me straight in the face, our finances currently seem very stressful.  Our cash flow is suffering severely and I can see that we need to take a long hard look at where our money goes and how we can make some changes in how we use our money. 

I was mostly unable to sleep last night as the weight of all of this came crashing down on me.  My mind would not stop going over and over and over the same concerns, looking for insight and inspiration to come. 

And it did not!

Things don't really look any different this morning, but as I put our breakfast on the table I was overwhelmed with gratitude that we have food to eat.  As we knelt at the side of the bed to pray this morning, I was profoundly grateful for the bed that I tried so unsuccessfully to sleep in.  I was reminded that we are safe and warm in our home with a myriad of modern conveniences.

I was reminded how blessed we are to have running water and I can choose whether it comes out of my faucet hot or cold.  I can drink clean water to my heart's content whenever I want it.  My delicious shower reminded me again, how grateful I am not to be crossing the plains, waiting for a freezing river somewhere to clean up in.

I am grateful for indoor plumbing in general.  I have done all the outhouse investigation I need as far as I am concerned. 

I am addicted to electricity and I don't want to live without it ever.  When our power went out a few months ago for a number of hours, I realized how dependent I am on this blessing.  How would we cook or stay warm? 

I appreciate a friend who called to see how I was yesterday when she was struggling with her own life challenges.

I am so grateful for my husband who works so hard for us so that we have all that we need.  I am so grateful to have my wonderful family who strive to do all the good they can in the world.  Even though none of them live very close by, they bless me every day by who they are.

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves us and blesses us.  I am grateful that I can get down on my knees and pray to him when I need answers or peace or comfort.  I am grateful to feel his presence in my life through the power of the Holy Ghost.  I am grateful for The Savior Jesus Christ who Atoned for my mistakes and missteps.

The financial challenges are still here this morning, unchanged and unsolved - yet I am so blessed.

Today, I choose to be grateful.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A

As the plane rolled up to the gate my husband leaned over and mentioned that he felt like bursting into the theme song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie Oklahoma.  We had arrived!

We had purchased tickets for this trip months earlier and suddenly we were on the ground anxious to see our family.  I had not seen my daughter or any of her family for just under a year but for my husband it had been much longer.  We expected Caden would remember us and welcome us but were unsure about Eli and really concerned about Ande's reception.  To her, we were total strangers and we knew that she really was attached to her mother.

As we drove from the airport, Eli offered us crackers and water and seem totally concerned that we were comfortable.  He clearly knew who we were and chatted freely with us about anything and everything that popped into his three year old mind.  His concern and conversation quickly put me at ease.

Petite Ande also readily accepted our attentions.  One of her favorite things to do was climb the stairs with anyone available chasing after her. We all took our turns as she would quickly crawl to the stairs again the instant she was returned to the bottom.

I loved our trip to Oklahoma!

I loved the science museum where we all played for a big half of one day.  The live science show was way fun, educational, and totally unexpected. 

I loved the afternoon we spent at the memorial for the bombing at the Murrah Federal Building.  It feels like a sacred and holy experience to walk there and see what is left after terror reigned. The weather was beautiful as we leisurely strolled around the site.  Sorrow fills the senses as one realizes the tragic end to life that occurred so quickly and so needlessly.  Why do people hurt other people?

I loved going to church with our little family and hearing how loved they are by their friends and neighbors.  I loved hearing how talented our daughter and son-in-law are and how they make a difference for so many in their corner of the world.

I loved driving around their community, seeing the sights as we visited with each other.  How fun it was to go to Pops on Route 66 and see the display of hundreds of different kinds of soda pop.  We devoured french fries and onion rings and sampled soda.  We checked out a big, red, round barn as well. 

We also devoured Krispy Kreme.  The little eyes devoured watching the donut making process the entire time we were inside the building.  Eating the donuts was great - but watching our little ones watch the machinery was the real treat.  Keeping in mind that our daughter who is the queen of sneaking vegetables into the food her children eat - this stop was totally for the rest of us who savored every mouthful of unhealthy deliciousness.

But mostly I loved connecting with our family.  We miss them so much.  I loved playing games and singing songs.  I loved hearing my daughter read and explain the Book of Mormon to her kindergartener before he went to school and hearing him discuss it with her.  I loved tickling and dancing to Dance 3 with my little men.  I loved watching Disneyland videos that my grandsons wanted me to share.  I loved watching my grandchildren take baths.  I loved the lengthy discussion of Moses with my grandson.  It reminded me that I need to learn more to catch up!

Oklahoma is plagued with extreme weather at times.  Tornados and earthquakes and ice storms and blizzards - but oh, how I love Oklahoma!

I was reminded that family is what life is all about.  And because I have the best family in the world.  I am truly blessed!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recipe Exchange

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to particpate in an email recipe exchange.  I have done that twice before and never gotten a single recipe.  I really debated with myself about participating but decided to go ahead and try it again.  I received two recipes by email, which fell far short of the expected number.  The good news for me personally was that both recipes looked useful and appealing. I have tried only one and found it simple and delicious. 

I have many jars of fruit in my food storage so I was anxious to try this recipe.  I will make it again and many times!  For the two of us this is a large dessert, so I will be cutting it in half the next time I make it just for us.  I also think that for us I will consider cutting the sugar down and see how it turns out.  It was plenty sweet with sugar already added to the fruit when it was canned and we don't need that much sugar in our diet. 

I wish I had this recipe a long time ago!  This would be a good dessert to take to a neighbor or as part of a meal for a family that needs a little boost.  For me the ingredients were ordinary and on hand.  You could also easily substitute commercially canned fruit.

I used a quart of pears.  It made a yummy breakfast!

Apple (or Peach) Cobbler

6 TBSP Butter
1 Jar of fruit
1 C Flour
1 C Sugar
3/4 C Milk
2 TBSP Baking Powder

Melt butter in 13x9 cake pan in oven while preheating oven to 375.  When butter is melted, remove pan pour jar of fruit all across the bottom of pan.  While waiting for the butter to melt, mix all other ingredients together (you can also add cinnamon or vanilla to taste).  After pouring fruit into pan, pour the batter over the top and bake in the 375 oven for 20-30 minutes.  (I like to sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the batter before cooking to give the top a little bit of crispiness).  You can enjoy as soon as the fruit cools enough to not burn your tongue!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Miracle of the Shrimp

As our son's birthday drew near, I asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner.  Things were pretty rough for us financially at the time and I probably feared his answer.  We lived a very simple life and ate meals mostly prepared from our food storage.  We never went hungry, but gourmet food was certainly not a part of our lives. 

My husband worked construction.  We had moments when construction boomed and our income rose significantly.  But it often seemed that the lean months far outnumbered the months of plenty.  We adapted as best as we could to this lifestyle by being frugal during the feasting time, saving as much money as possible and storing basic food commodities.

Shrimp! That was what our sweet young son wanted to eat on his birthday.  I have no idea what I said or how I reacted.  I hope that I was externally calm and did nothing that would indicate the inner turmoil I felt.  I simply did not have any money to buy even a gallon of milk.  How could I purchase shrimp for a birthday dinner for our little family of six?  On the other hand, I had been the one who had started this tradition.  I wanted him to feel special on his birthday.  I couldn't let him down. 

I had no idea what I would do. 

At the moment,  it looked like there was nothing that I could do, except pray.  And pray I did.

The day before our son's birthday, the doorbell rang.  I answered the door to see the husband of a dear friend standing on my porch.  He handed me a smallish grocery bag and mentioned that his wife had asked him to drop this shrimp off at my house for her.  Stunned, I stammered out my thanks to him as he walked away. 

How did my friend know?  I couldn't remember telling her, yet I must have. 

We celebrated this birthday with shrimp! 

There is more to the story.  This man who stood at my front door offering a grocery bag with shrimp, was also unemployed and had been for a time.  They were struggling financially just as much as we were and I knew that.  I have no idea where they got the shrimp or what they may have sacrificed to get it.

More than two decades have passed and to this day I am not sure that I ever told my friend my need or not.  I don't remember that we ever talked about that.  All I could think to do was be overwhelmingly grateful to my Heavenly Father who knew my need and to my friend who listened to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost who prompted her to share in their own dire circumstances.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Best News About Birthdays!

My sweet USU student who is still home for Christmas vacation offered to fix me dinner on the actual day of my birth.  Since I had a party in Pocatello two days earlier - this was a total bonus.  Just having him here brings me comfort and joy.  He provides me with a feeling of security and peace.  He has a calming peaceful nature, so being around him is always a blessing for me.  He is easy to please and get along with.  So to me dinner was frosting on the cake. 

All of my children are great cooks.  I wish I could take credit for that but the truth is I cannot.  They all like to cook and surf the web, magazines, and cookbooks looking for recipes.

Dinner was wonderful!  I loved his baked lemon chicken and pasta with a creamy spinach sauce.  I also received a second birthday cake.  Yummy!  Raspberry filled with cream cheese frosting.  Probably not a calorie in the whole cake.  My husband commented that the raspberries really made the cake.  While that is true, the combination of the ingredients made a delicious end to the dinner.  I didn't want to dilute the flavor of the cake with ice cream.

By the end of the day, each of my children had wished me a happy birthday, by phone, in person or over the internet. What a blessing it is to have a family who is so filled with love and kindness.

My spouse also wished me a happy birthday with presents and kind words.  The kind words meant the most to me.  I love to hear loving, uplifting words from anyone, especially from the people that I really care about!

Sweet friends wished me happy birthday by phone, email, facebook, and in person. One dear friend arrived with a homemade treat and a hug. She knew just what I needed. Another brought a jar of homemade peach jam.  How did she know that would be such a wonderful gift for me.  A book on CD came from another.  How kind these dear friends are, not only for remembering my birthday, but for listening to me and strengthening me throughout the year.

To top it all off - the Jazz won their basketball game!  Of course the outcome matters less to me than the other members of my family that I watched the game with on tv, but it is always a lot more fun when they win.

My sisters both wished me a wonderful day.

Another friend arrived with a visit and a gift the day following my birthday.  What a treat.  Her visit and the message on the card inspired me to become a better person. 

Our van is fixed but our vacuum cleaner is not.  It is probably terminal and will be going to the heaven where broken vacuums go.  I still find the evidence of the candle disaster in my kitchen.

My birthday was again celebrated in the home of our distant Oklahoma City family. How sweet to have two little boys who I rarely see hug me and wish me happy birthday with hand drawn cards and gifts.  How kind my daughter was to help them with these cards and to carefully select gifts of things that are her favorites to share with me.  What a treasured memory for me to tuck away in my heart when I am so lonely for my daughter and her family that I can hardly stop the tears. 

Today, I feel that I am truly blessed!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Good News About Birthdays

My children may feel much the same as I did about childhood birthdays.  I realize now that I really didn't do enough to make them feel important in so many ways including on their birthdays.  I wish I had given more parties and more presents and more fun.  I wish I had known how to feed them more of the message that they were important to me and that I cherished and treasured them.

I believe that at the time, I did try to make their birthdays special.  I learned to decorate cakes so that they always had a cake that looked better than a plain old frosted job.  I made trains, cats, and cookie monsters.  They were certainly not professional - but I loved doing that for them and seeing their faces as they saw the cake ablaze with candles. They chose what they wanted for their birthday dinner and as much as possible I delivered.  There was never a birthday without presents, family, or love.

Even though a myriad of disasters have arrived again around my birthday, there is much for me to be grateful for. That is the good news.

I spent a wonderful day with my family who live in Pocatello who invited me for a birthday celebration two days before my birthday.  We were greeted by grandchildren who were thrilled to see us.  I was hugged and kissed and smothered in melting ice cream and cake crumbs.  I read stories and rocked and cuddled children who freely offered their love for me.  We played with balloons, surrounded by birthday decorations.

We were fed on delicious food provided by this financially struggling family followed by cake and ice cream.  Two of my grandchildren helped these old lungs blow out the candles.  We visited and shared and watched our grandchildren play and enjoy life. I was blessed with a gift from the heart - socks!  How did they know?

After the candles were blown out, my son said that he wanted to use the candles that relight, but his wife said that he needed to be nice to his mother.  I honestly believe that I would have been just fine with trick candles and we would have all laughed together - but my daughter in law made my day with what she said!
By the time we gathered to head for home, I felt loved and special.  I could not ask for anything more.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Bad News About Birthdays

My memories about my birthdays as a child are not that great.  I heard often enough that my birthday was not convenient, just a few days after Christmas.  I heard that there was no money left after Christmas for presents or for celebrating.  Indeed that was how it always felt to me as well.  It was an afterthought. I don't remember getting presents.  Maybe sometimes I did and maybe sometimes I did not. 

I think I always had a cake.  Maybe there was more, but not much.

I found them disappointing and I think I even believed that since the day of my birth was so insignificant, I too was insignificant.  I don't think I ever had a birthday party until I was about to graduate from high school.  I remember once inviting someone to come to celebrate with me for my birthday and quickly learning that was wrong. I didn't understand why that was wrong then, but I understand better now.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the birthdays of my siblings.  Maybe I would have noticed that theirs were the same as mine.  I have always thought that they were not.  I have always believed that they were treated with parties and presents, because their birthdays were not so close to Christmas. Perhaps even because they were more valued and important than I.  I remember seeing photos of my siblings with people surrounding them at their birthdays.

As an adult, I have again found some disappointments associated with the day that reminds me that I came to earth. Someone important in my life even told me to my face that there were too many other important things going on the day of my birthday and that it would be inconvenient to fit my birthday in, so could we throw in something in a just a few minutes.  It was almost ten o'clock the night before my birthday when this suggestion was made.  I was completely devastated. This person could not understand why I felt bad at all. 

Somehow I attract disasters around my birthday.  This year began with a terrible disagreement with someone very important to me followed quickly by a very melty, scented candle tipping off the candle warmer all over the floor, fridge, counter tops, and cupboards. The clear understanding that my vacuum cleaner is dying and will need to be replaced was soon followed by the expense of major car repairs.

Now, don't get me wrong - I really don't need presents!  I don't need lots of stuff or money spent on me to acknowledge that I am remembered.  I am just as happy with a card, phone call, a visit, or a hug.  I am such a tightwad, that it really concerns me in many ways if money is spent by people who can't afford it to buy me a thing.  I have enough things!  I don't even need the cake and feel totally embarrased and stupid when someone sings 'Happy Birthday' to me.

I also do not want to besmirch my parents.  I really believe that they did the best they could in raising their family, because Heavenly Father told me that through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

Recently I chatted with my sister over the phone and she said something that was profound for me. Her recollections of birthdays as she was growing up were similar to mine.  I was surprised! She remembered that birthdays weren't a big deal to our parents.  Maybe we were all treated very much alike and I just didn't see it.  Maybe no one's birthday was particularly important!

I am so grateful that she shared her remembrance as it allows me now to ponder on my long held perception that because my birthday is insignificant to others - I am insignificant.

Could that perception be wrong?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Love You Mother

A recent experience brought this poem to mind.  It was not an experience with one of my children, but it has caused me to think about my own behavior and my own choices.  I have wondered how well I am doing at demonstrating my love for others.  I am pondering how empty my words may seem. Am I like John or Nell?

It has occurred to me as I have thought about this poem, that perhaps Heavenly Father might feel a bit like this mother at the end of a day if I have been off to play and forgotten His goodness and His everlasting kindness to me.

Is he relieved when I have gone to bed for the night that He no longer has to listen to me tease and pout or moan and groan and complain? 

Which Loved Best?
by Joy Allison

"I love you, Mother," said little John.
Then forgetting his work, his cap went on.
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving his Mother the wood to bring.

"I love you, Mother," said little Nell.
"I love you more than tongue can tell."
"Then she teased and pouted half the day,
Till Mother rejoiced when she went to play.

"I love you, Mother," said little Fan.
"Today I’ll help you all I can."
To the cradle then she did softly creep,
And rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then stepping softly, she took the broom,
And swept the floor, and dusted the room.
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and cheerful as child could be.

"I love you, Mother," again they said.
Three little children, going to bed.
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

New Year's Resolution - Become more like Fan!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Contentment

At times I struggle with contentment.  I may feel restless, lost, unsatisfied with life and yes, even bored.  I have heard others say that they never get bored and don't understand how anyone could get bored when there are so many things that they want to do.  Others have even told me that they have a total lack of patience with the boredom of others. I take a great risk confessing this because that was often my own attitude when little people being raised in my home were bored.  My solution was to offer them the opportunity to do household tasks.  Amazingly, their boredom quickly vanished into thin air. 

Perhaps my lack of contentment comes from the opportunity to do those same household tasks, day in and day out. I cook somewhere around eighty-five meals every single week. That also means that my kitchen must be cleaned up during and after meal preparation at least that many times each week.  That resembles somewhere around 4400 meals a year.  Worse than that is coming up with what to cook for each of those meals!  Even though there are only two of us now, it has not always been so. There were eight of us for a long time.  Of course one also needs to add in the shopping all those meals entails.  Add the joy of budget shopping here to brighten the road.  To be fair, my husband does a large portion of kitchen clean up duty as well.  I wonder, how many kitchen cupboards and drawers do I open and close every single day?

My laundry hamper never remains empty for more than a few heartbeats.  I used to do a minimum of twenty loads of laundry per week.  I should be thrilled to only do five or six right? It isn't like I have to wash clothes on a rock in a stream either.  I have an automatic washer and dryer.

I really hate to see my bed unmade, so add that my bed gets my about 360 times a year. Consider the continual dusting, vacuuming, and general tidying up.  Boring, right?

Sometime ago, I began to pray to ask for more of a feeling of contentment in my life.

I live in a small community where entertainment and shopping are very limited. What a treat when I got to spend a couple of hours in a large city with a mall during the Christmas season.  I wandered aimlessly from store to store looking at all there was to see.  Being alone, no one else controlled my agenda and I just browsed freely. I picked up a few items to see them more clearly, checking the price on only a few.  I wandered through a lotion store and sniffed fragrances until my smeller said, 'enough.' 

And then it hit me, right smack in my face.  I didn't need a single thing from any of these stores.  I didn't want anything in any of these stores.  The most amazing feeling of contentment poured into my soul.  The peace that came with that feeling of complete contentment was overwhelming for me, and totally a gift from Heavenly Father and a direct answer to my prayers.

I confess that the feeling of total contentment did not last for days. Now I am better able to recognize that it exists and I can choose to invite it into my life more readily which for me is a  huge blessing. 

Today, I choose to feel contented!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Miracle of the Oranges

We had too many oranges. It was shortly after Christmas a number of years ago and I had wondered what to do with all the leftover oranges.

One evening, as I vacumned out my bedroom closet, the impression came to take the oranges and give them to two specific families.  I, as is fairly common for me, ignored the prompting and continued to vacumn the closet floor.  Again the impression came to divide the oranges and take them immediately to these two specific families.  This time, I was also impressed that I was to take my daughter with me.

I immediately turned off the vacumn and went to look for my daughter so I could invite her to go with me for a ride.

I don't remember the exact words that became our converstaion but I had the sweet experience of discussing the power of the Holy Ghost with my daughter.  I was able to share with her the impressions that I had to share these oranges with two particular families.  We had a lengthy discussion about the different ways the Holy Ghost talks to us. I have spent my whole lifetime trying to understand how the Holy Ghost speaks to me.  Sometimes I recognize that I have not listened well, after the disaster occurs. I shared some of those not so good experiences with her.

I had no idea if either of these families even liked oranges or would be happy to receive them.  I only knew that the Holy Ghost had clearly told me what I was to do. 

The converstation was sweet and powerful, as the Holy Ghost testified of truth to each of us.

As it turned out, my daughter had been a babysitter on many occasions in each of these homes.  She was welcomed by each of these children who loved her.  I was welcomed because we are friends.  The oranges were also welcomed by many hungry mouths.

They were only Christmas oranges,  yet so much more.  They filled the mouths of little children who lived in financially difficult circumstances.  They let the mothers of these children know that not only did a neighbor care about them, but that their Heavenly  Father was aware of them.  They knew that He had sent us through the power of the Holy Ghost.   I have the treasured memory of  that evening with my daughter sharing our experiences with the Holy Ghost.

This transformation from too much of something became instead The Miracle of the Oranges.