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







Thursday, August 30, 2012

Its a Beautiful World!

I live in a world filled with beauty!

This is probably not a surprise to other people, but I have often failed to take the time to look around me and see all of God's creations.  I suppose that I have taken them for granted.  I also guess that means that I have failed to be grateful for them!

Today I am truly grateful for the beauty of a blue sky, uncluttered by the smoke and haze caused by wildfires.  I have appreciated the uncloudy sky each of the last three morning as I have shoved myself out the door to walk.  Later in the day, the sky has not been nearly so beautiful as the smoke seems to returns. 

I have admired the beauty of the flowers that capture my eyes as I pass by.  Today I delivered something to a friend's home and was struck by the beauty of my neighbor's yard.  The grass was plush and green, well mowed, and obviously cared for  All along the sidewalk, flowers spilled from their beds perfuming the air with fragrance, delighting my eyes as well as my nose.

Trees are amazing!  I am so grateful for the shade they provide for me in the heat of the summer. They cool us off nightly as they blow gentle breezes through my open windows. They invite birds into the yard to fill the air with the rustle of their wings and the gentle notes they sing.  Robins, sparrows, finches, and hummingbirds have filled up our trees nicely.

There are plants in my yard that come up every year.  Year after year these perennials fill my yard with beauty and blossoms. Others fade with the first frost, but are easily replaced with the springing of the year.

Our raspberries were large this year.  We can never get enough, but we try not to waste a single one.  We found a place to pick raspberries this year. Tons of berries covered thornless bushes as far as the eye could see.  My kind husband and I easily picked until our baskets were full.  Golden raspberries covered several of the rows.  I was totally unaware that such a thing existed. They too were delicious.  Who knew!

Some of the plants in my garden are huge. I am thoroughly enjoying the squash, cucumbers, peppers, and potatoes, we are eating.  Last week the neighbor across my back fence shared their corn with me.  I shared squash, cucumbers, and peppers in return.  Nothing purchased from the grocery store tastes as good as fresh from the garden in my opinion.

The greatest blessing of all is that my hands did very little of the work that was required to keep our yard beautiful this summer.  I intended to mow the lawn two days ago.  But the mower and I had a disagreement and it won. So I have not mown the lawn once this summer!  My adorable son provided that service until he returned to Utah State last week.  My good husband has weeded. wattered, and tended the rest of the yard. 

I am so blessed to live in this world filled with God's creations!

Scriptures remind us that Heavenly Father created all these things to fill our world with beauty and bring us joy.  All these things also testify of His beloved Son Jesus Christ, who gave His all so that I might live.  As I walk among these things, I remember who I am and why I am here.  I ponder on the great love Heavenly Father has for us all and the gift of His Son.  And I thank them!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Surprise!

The truth is that I am not really good with surprises.  I have had many, many difficult and disappointing surprises in my life time.  Some of them were financially disastrous.  Some of them were personally disastrous.  Others were unexpected illness or death. And some of them were just another opportunity for embarrassment. I have plenty of embarrassing opportunities just flow into my life, like a river, totally uninvited. Who needs more embarrassing surprises?

I think I had forgotten what a nice surprise feels like, until recently when a few of them have found their way into my life.  How nice to remember that there are really, really good things in life!  I appreciate the reminder that all surprises are not disappointing and difficult. 

One of those pleasant and unexpected surprises flowed into our lives this week, carrying along joy and love. We had just spent over an hour listening to our son play his guitar for us.  We heard his music drifting through the house and followed it to his room where we relaxed and soaked in song after song.  It was so good!  I was sad to see it end.

Picking up a book, I flopped onto my bed to unwind for just a few minutes before starting the process of getting ready for bed.  I am not sure if I read a single complete sentence without being interrupted by knocking on our door.  No doorbell rang. Someone was actually knocking with our doorknocker.  Weird!

By the time I got to the front door, I saw my husband streak past me with my grandson in his arms.  I didn't get to hug him or say hello or even see his face. Just a blur of baby.  Still coming through the door were my sweet daughter and her husband, who we knew were traveling from San Francisico to Provo that day.  We had talked with them on their trek, glad to know that all was well during their long drive.

Surprise!

And it was. A wonderful, glorious surprise to see this little family we haven't seen since April.  We have missed them so. Even though many of their San Francisco experiences were very hard for them, many of them were sweet and wonderful.  They were so sad to leave behind their friends there.  I am so grateful that many reached out and encircled them in love.

Their little man has grown so.  It was delightful to watch him quickly explore this new territory, investigating everything in his path.  After a long day in the car, it must have felt like heaven to freely crawl anywhere he wanted.  He even checked out our stairs, a new opportunity for him.  We delighted in his baby chatter, clapping hands, mimicking behavior, and ball playing skills.  We adored watching him eat, listening to his fake cough, and overall cuteness.

It was so good to see how these parents love their little one.  To see that love also comes with discipline as he responded to their 'no' when corrected from time to time.  He clearly understood!  He went to bed like an angel.  No tears or anger.  He did however display both of those as his mouth full of choppers were brushed. 

We love our family so much!  They bless our lives everyday in countless ways.  We love sharing their joys and their sorrows. We love watching them grow and blossom, one by one in individual ways.  We learn so much from them and their examples.  We love the wonderful surprises that come to us through their goodness.

Today, I feel so blessed!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Wicked"

I love the theatre!

I had forgotten how much I loved being able to sit in a theatre and see a live show, until I found myself watching "Wicked" at the Capitol theatre in Salt Lake City.  Our oldest son and his wife gave us the tickets for Mother's Day and Father's Day this year.  I was so surpised!  Even though I knew that they were going, I never dreamed that we would be double dating!

"Wicked" was fabulous.  The staging and costuming were so great.  But of course the main characters made the show a hit for me. Both Galinda and Elphaba sang their hearts out.  They were animated and charming.  I couldn't imagine anyone creating these characters better. 

It is such a fun story and by the time the First Act ends, we were totally hooked. Time had flown by and we couldn't wait to return for the second half.  Our son wanted to give this evening to his wife.  And believe me she deserves it!  She is a great mom and works hard to take care of five busy, adorable children.  Job requirement for our son, make her life mighty demanding.  She deserved this special night out!  I loved hearing her laugh during the show.

But "Wicked" not only hooked her, it hooked him as well.  He walked into the theatre wondering why anyone would pay the ticket price to take children to see the show.  He walked out thinking that he couldn't wait until he had the opportunity to share it with them.  He could see that they too would love this fast paced, comedic, musical entertainment.  We could all picture their little dramatists adoring and recreating their night in the theatre, again after they had returned home.
I am so appreciative that we have been blessed with such wonderful children who are so good to us! Heavenly Father blessed us with the best!  Our family is so full of love, kindness, and goodness.  Our children look out for each other.  They text and talk often on the phone. We hear from our children frequently.  They visit when they can. They are good to us and I am grateful.

I believe that Heavenly Father wants us to live in families.  It is part of His plan.  I believe that he wants us to learn to love each other as much as He loves us.  I believe that in this life, we aren't meant to be alone, but to live and love together.

I am so grateful for my family who enrich my life in so many ways every day and for Heavenly Father who designed it to be so!

Monday, August 20, 2012

"The Savior Can change Anybody."

"The Savior can change anybody," my friend said. But then she added the qualifier, "when they are ready to change."

I absolutely believe that what she said is true.  The Savior has the power to make anyone better.

My friend shared with me an experience to back up her statement.  He daughter is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  She has had the opportunity to meet all kinds of people in all kinds of living conditions.  One of the people she has become acquainted with was a Devil worshipper.  He proudly proclaimed who and what he believed in to any and all who would listen.  The man read, believed, and faithfully followed the Bible of the Devil.  His countenance was dark and he dressed as they thought a devil worshipper might choose to dress.  This man's place of residence felt evil and creepy.  There was no desire for change in this man's life, that they could see.  He knew who he was, what he believed, and what he wanted to achieve, and he believed he was happy.

These young Sister Missionaries were very uncomfortable around this man.  They felt his dark nature.  But something in his life brought about a desire for change.  Recently he arrived unexpectedly at church.  He was unrecognizable.  No one knew who he was.  Not only had his attire and grooming changed, but his countenance was remarkably different.  Gone were the darkness and the creepy feeling.  There was light in his eyes, for he had discovered the Savior.

What a blessing it is to have faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and to be able to rely on the Atonement.  Only through His great gift can we find hope and the power for change that we so badly need in our lives.  None of us is capable of perfection in this life.  We are too human and subject to the desires of the flesh.  We make a mistake, regret our choice, and then find ourselves repeating the same mistake over and over again. 

The Savior wrought a mighty miracle that continues to offer a miracle for each and every one of us every day.  I cannot comprehend the great love of someone who would doe as He as done for all of mankind.

Words cannot express my great gratitude for all that the Savior has done for me.  Day by day I hope to demonstrate my appreciation, by following Him better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Technology

Technology has taken over our lives!  It controls so much of what we do and what we have.  It is intertwined with our choices and activities, and I know that I take it so much for granted.  So today I am saying:

I am immensely grateful for technology!

Last Friday, with no advance warning, one of our vehicles appeared to be deader than a doornail.  It was nearly 5:00 p.m. and we had to have both cars in working order for Saturday. My kind husband used our jumper cables to resurrect our misbehaving vehicle and took it to be checked.  A computer found nothing wrong with the battery or alternator.  Fortunately our car has been working since.  We don't know if we left a light on or a door open or if a loving Heavenly Father interceded with a miracle. I believe it is a miracle!

I received an email from my sister this morning.  I love hearing from her.  I just sit at my computer and read what she wrote several hundred miles away on her computer and sent to me. I love email!  I check it often.  I get emails that are important and many that are not.  I hear from my friends and family.  I even get pictures sometimes.  We have seen our grandchildren who are far away through pictures that just show up for me on my computer.  It is miraculous to me.

We are fans of skype so we can see and talk to our family, almost as if they were in the same room.  We have shared Christmas, birthdays, Sundays, and ordinary days.  We have watched our little ones grow before our very eyes.  We have seen little ones crawl, eat, and cry when we would have missed it all.

Family blogs have kept us in touch as well.  I read the latest family news and adore the pictures and videos. I have seen toothless grins, scraped up chins, battered shins, and winning swims.  I rejoice in their triumphs and shed tears over their hardships.

I pay bills on line.  I was a pretty late bloomer in this area but don't care to ever go back.  Just a few mouse clicks and a check hits the mail or on-line payment is sent.  I can check on my account anytime.  I can pay a bill anytime. 

I cannot imagine cooking without a microwave.  I haven't always had one so I do remember cooking without.  I love all my major appliances.  They make me smile with their hot meals, clean clothes, and frozen foods.

I love DVD's, CD's, and MP3's.  I love listening to music over the internet and can listen to anyone of hundreds of talks and inspriational messages on hundreds of topics. Thanks to my smart son, I downloaded the Beach Boys latest CD for a cool 99 cents.

I know that indoor plumbing is not considered to be new technology, but  I remember plenty of times in my life when there was none. It is a huge blessing to stand under a shower of warm water, washing away the dirt and the grime and the cares of the world.  I appreciate hot running water that flows into my kitchen sink. My dishwasher runs every day!

I have always been a bit behind in technology.  My computer is old and squawks at me sometimes.  None of my appliances are new.  But I am content with what I have.

Well mostly - I hear the calling of an I-PAD in my ears sometimes.  It beckons me with its options and tempts me with its function.  But it is possible that I could be content with a reader of some sort, but which one?  What do I want it to do?  What am I willing to spend? (Remember that free is my favorite price) Could I be content with black and white?  What size would be best for me? 

That puts me right back into Decision Dilemma!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Decision Dilemma!

Today I find myself facing some decisions.  Now for many people that is a situation which they can and do handle with ease. Others make decisions quickly and easily, never second guessing themselves for a second.  They move through their list of decisions quickly and effortlessly.

Not so for me!

While not every decision that I face is daunting and overwhelming, some just plain are. If I choose this, what will be the result?  Or if instead I choose that, will the result be this?  Which decision will have the best long term outcome?  Which decision will be the most convenient? Which decision will be best for this person.  How will each decision impact these other people?  And on and on and on.

I make a lot of decisions every day.  I decide to get out of bed.  (that is a tough one since I am snugly and warm and comfortable there)  I decide what to fix for breakfast.  While it is true that I don't decide what to cook for breakfast every single day, I think it is fairly safe to say that I make that same decision 355 times a year.  I am really tired of deciding what to fix for breakfast. 

Joy of joys, within a few hours I get to decide what to fix for lunch.  Only then to be repeated again for our last meal of the day. Then there are the decisions of when to take the meat out of the freezer.  When to start preparing the meal.  Timing is everything!  Will people have to wait for their food because I waited too long to start preparing?  Will the food be cold and soggy because no one came when the food was hot and warm.  Then, was the meal successful - in other words did anyone actually like it?  Who knows!  They may not say.  Should I cook this menu again?

When to take a shower.  What to wear.  How should I fix my hair today?  Will anyone notice if I don't wear my makeup?  What is the most important thing for me to do today?  When is the best time for personal prayer?  When will I get the most out of scripture study?

Should I answer the phone?  Do I want to answer the door? Who should I serve today?  Is it ok for me to read a little in a book today?  If I leave the dirty dishes for awhile, will anyone notice?  Do I need a nap today?  Would I enjoy a little time with a hobby today?  What should I clean first?  Which load of laundry needs to be washed first?

Any kind of shopping can also add to decision dilemma.  What should I buy?  Is this the best price I can find on this item?  Is this enough?  Is this too much? If I go to three other stores, will I save a dime?  Where shall I put it?  When is best to cook it?  How long will it last?  Does it need to go in the freezer?

Here is a big one: What would Heavenly Father like me to do today?

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
        Hymn #223 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

So today, I have some other, more complicated decisions to make. Maybe life changing, maybe not.  But the one thing that I know I have decided is:

Decisions are so hard to decide!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Priesthood Power

"I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" is the first line of a primary song that small children around the world sing with gusto and joy.  Their faces beam as they sing "I know who I am, I know God's plan, I'll follow him in faith" because they believe these words.  They can feel the Holy Ghost teach and bear witness of the truth of these words.  Their testimonies swell and blossom as they sing of the Savior Jesus Christ and their desire to choose the right.

Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has also blessed my life in countless ways. I have learned to pray, to fast, to serve, and to sacrifice.  I am learning to trust in my Heavenly Father and His plan for me.  The Savior's example and Atonement bless my life everyday.  Learning to listen to the Holy Ghost as he teaches and guides me will be a life long pursuit. 

The power of the priestood is woven through the gospel and the lives of its members in such a way that we may at times fail to recognize and appreciate its worth.  We believe that the priesthood is the power of God given to man to act in the Lord's behalf on earth.  Men who are ordained to the priesthood strive to learn of the Savior so that they can act as He would act, if He were here. Priesthood  duties include blessing of infants,  baptism and confirmation, healing the sick, administration of the sacrament, and blessings of the temple.  A priesthood holder is charged with the responsiblity to be prepared to use priesthood power at any time.  That doesn't mean he is expected to be perfect, only clean and worthy

Last Sunday I was clearly reminded of the power of the priesthood holders as I watched three of my sons, their father, and several other worthy priesthood gather in a circle and take our newest grandson in their arms to give him a name and a blessing that is personal only to him.  He was promised a life with a potential for greatness, based on his faithfulness.  His father expressed great love for this little one, so recently come from heaven. Through the power of the priesthood, insight into the soul and pre-existence were given to this infant's father as he saw the greatness and potential of his son.  He recognized the influence  for good this baby had already had on his family.

I testify that priesthood power is real!  It was given by a loving Heavenly Father to His children to guide and bless their lives.

I have seen it in action!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Season of Answered Prayers

Life has many seasons. I suppose that I am supposed to learn something different from each season.  And I try to.  But many of the seasons have left me clueless.  What was it that I was supposed to learn?

I have had many seasons when my prayers have seemed unheard.  I felt as if they bounced from the ceiling and reverberated around me as they crashed to the floor, laying there to die.  What was I to learn from these seasons?  Were my prayers ever heard at all?  Were they unheard because of my lack of worthiness?  Was it because they were selfish and prideful?  Did I need to learn to pray differently?  Were my prayers too trite and hurried?  Was I praying too sporadically?  Was Heavenly Father really there? Was He really listening - even though it felt that he was not?

I hope that during my lifetime I have learned a lot more about prayer.  I have tried to learn to listen better and to be more active in receiving inspiration as it comes through the Holy Ghost.  I have prayed that I would recognize the Holy Ghost better. So often I have not recognized that the Holy Ghost was teaching me, until it was too late.  Oh yes, so many disasters that could have been prevented, had I listened more closely and obeyed. 

My prayer has also been that I would be more obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  What good does it do to listen, if I am not willing to do what I am told? I guess it doesn't really make much sense to plead for inspiration and then when it is given say, "Oh, never mind.  I really don't want that answer.  Isn't there a better answer coming?"  I am ashamed to say that I am quite certain that I have done that very thing.

For several months I have been in a season of answered prayers.  I am so grateful and feel so blessed as prayer after prayer has been answered. Some of these prayers have been sent to heaven for days and weeks and months and years.  How wonderful to see solutions simply happen.  However, I have seen so many seemingly small and unimportant prayers answered quickly and effortlessly.

I am feeling so blessed!

I am feeling Heavenly Father wrap His loving arms around me, encircling my with His love.  I am feeling my faith and testimony growing.  My sense of security in prayer is increasing and I find my self recognizing answers more quickly as they come.  Answered prayers is awakening my desire to pray more, to ponder scriptures more, and pricking at my heart a little more.

I wish I had thought to keep a list of all my answered prayers.  But I did not.  I didn't quickly realize the season for me had changed.  

But I do now!

I still have many unanswered prayers.  My list is long and always growing and changing.  Life is still filled with many challenges, heartaches, and disappointments but they are softened by the sweetness of the season I am in.

I do not know how long this season of answered prayers will last for me.  But it is a sweet time and I am profoundly grateful to be experiencing it.  I am also looking for the lessons for me to learn through this season and reserving strength to carry me through the season that will follow.

I testify to the goodness of a loving Heavenly Father who has blessed me with this season of answered prayers. 

And I am savoring it!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kindness Exists!

Yesterday someone gave me a package of quilting pins. I know, that sounds pretty simple and perhaps mostly meaningless.  But to me it was huge and oh so kind. 

I was attending a quilting class, my first actual class to learn to piece quilt blocks.  I was pretty nervous and almost talked myself into not even going.  For me, the first time to break out of the comfort zone is always a bit intimidating.  A discussion regarding different types of pins began and I commented that some day I was going to break down and buy some different pins. 

I have used the same dressmaker's pins for years and years and years.  I didn't know that there were other kinds of pins.  I just kept using what I had. My mother-in-law helped my daughter and I on a quilt project some years ago and she had some pins with yellow balls on the top.  I couldn't believe how much easier they were for me to use and I knew that someday I wanted to buy some.  I admit that I am cheap, but it really wasn't cheapness that has kept me from purchasing new pins - just have never thought about it at the right time.

The owner of the store where this quilting class was being held looked at the pins I was using and brought me a new package of pins from her shelves and told me that she wanted to donate these pins to me. 

Pure kindness!

A friend called to visit with me.  We haven't talked in months.  What a treat!

Pure kindness!

A friend dropped buy for a visit.

Pure kindness!

Then, in visiting by phone with our daughter in San Francisco tears welled up in my eyes as she talked about the people who had been so kind to her.  I am so grateful for their kindness that tears flow again as I think about people who have gone out of their way to embrace my daughter who is far away from home. 

I wish I could tell them how grateful I am and say thank you!

Our daughter, her husband, and their adorable little man are in San Francisco for four months.  They live in a lovely apartment with very few of their own things.  There have been a number of apartment issues for them that have made it so hard for my daughter, but she smiles and goes on telling me how blessed they are.  She and her little man are alone for very long hours every day while her husband works to earn money for his family, except Sunday.  Even though there are many fun moments, there have been many long and lonely hours for her in a unfamiliar town filled with strangers.

Pure kindness!

I am so grateful that our loving Heavenly Father has brought many kind people into her life to check on her, give her rides, and include her, as an answer to my prayers on her behalf.

I am certain that Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers.  I am so grateful for his 'everlasting kindness' and the vision of kindness I have seen in others.