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







Monday, January 27, 2014

Seasons

Where I live, we typically have four distinct seasons every year.There may be some muddling of the seasons but we experience winter. spring, summer, and fall. Each season brings its own variety. Though some birds are certainly present in winter months, many fly south in search of warmer weather before the snows begin to fall. While there is an abundance of evergreen growth, still green in the winter; deciduous trees drop their multicolored leaves onto lawns, sidewalks, and roadways during the months of fall.

I suppose that life is somewhat like that for us. We have a season of spring with energy to burn and lessons to be learned. Somewhere along the way we reach the season of summer which for many encompasses a life of marriage and raising a family. As children age, move on into their own seasons, we find ourselves walking into the fall of life.  Eventually, if we live long enough, winter will come and find us.

Though I believe it is the plan of our Heavenly Father that our lives experience trials, struggles, and change, it can be difficult to face the changing seasons. I regularly visit a well seasoned woman, currently living in the depths of winter. Several recent falls have left her face battered and bruised. Yet when asked about it, she calmly responded that complaining about it would not change what is. What good would it do? A stroke has left her with hands that have little strength. A wheel chair is now her constant traveling companion. She cannot move from her chair or her bed without assistance.  How I admire her attitude and acceptance of the season she is in. She seems content.

I often struggle with contentment. Sometimes I wonder what it looks like or feels like. It seems illusive and hides from me or masks itself as something else. I am always on the quest for contentment it seems. I have wondered if it is a part of my inherent nature or a product of my environment and life experience. But I look for it and sometimes catch a glimpse or dance with it for a little while.

My season would probably be considered to be fall by most. In fact at times I consider myself to be a dinosaur because I have chosen so differently from the world. For the most part, being different is really okay with me. But on occasion, similar also sounds pretty comfortable.

Even though I am no longer in the summer of life, I still have things I like to do and projects to be finished. I am often content to be at home. But it is also good to be out and about, part of the world in its rushing, humming, and moving. Though not much of a mover and a shaker, I still like to contribute in my own small ways. Often one on one or in small groups. I have not given a world acclaimed speech nor written the prize winning novel. But sometimes I believe I make a difference for a moment or two for a sad and lonely soul or one burdened with life, feeling lost an alone.

I have never picketed for a cause nor shouted out my views to the world. I have instead chosen more quiet and unseen ways to try to make a difference in our world. And sometimes, I think that may be just as important in the eternal scheme of things. I find myself grateful for the kindnesses that come my way, even though to some they may seem small and ordinary. How nice it is that even small and ordinary things can lift my heart and brighten my day. Maybe, sometimes I can do that for another.

I think of the Savior Jesus Christ and how he ministered and served. Yes, He taught in crowds at the seashore, in the temple, and in the synagogue. But He also did so many thing for an individual, one at a time. Lazarus was raised from the dead, alone. He spoke to Mary and Martha and Peter individually. He blessed little children one by one. He was alone as He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane.

And I believe that even though Jesus Christ Atoned for all of mankind, I believe that He did it just for me. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

To My Children

My children are such a blessing for me. I am ashamed to say that I am certain that I have not told them often enough how wonderful they are and how I love them and appreciate them. I am also certain that I have not told them often enough how sorry I am for the thousands upon thousands of mistakes I have made and continue to make that have had a negative impact on them.

But they have grown up well in spite of me. Certainly not because of me. And I am proud of them all and grateful to have them be my family. They inspire me and teach me and motivate me. They are smart, kind, generous loving people. They amaze me with their goodness, their faith, their integrity, and their examples.

Each of these now grown children is unique. They came to this earth with their glory and their greatness. They are beloved children of Heavenly Father. And they are all doing everything that they can to be like Him. They have individual talents and gifts. They have different interests, hobbies, and skills. They have different financial situations and physical strengths. But they can all outrun and outwork me.

Each also has a unique set of challenges in their lives. They all live in different locations, yet they have each created a good life where they are. In essence, they are blooming where they are, creating friendships and associations, and memories. They lift, build, and serve others willingly and happily. It seems natural for them to give and help. They make a difference where they are, as well as for me personally.

As I listened to the words from the Book of Mormon, I was reminded of my good fortune as a parent. It is a blessing to have good children! I was listening to Lehi, an ancient prophet of God. Lehi was teaching his family, prior to his death. As he talked to his son Jacob, he told him that he new he had suffered afflictions because of the rudeness of his brothers. As I listened, I thought about Jacob's two older brothers. Laman and Lemuel were often rebellious. They sometimes caused concern for both their mother and their father. At times they were rude and mean to their younger brothers. Concern over the family wealth and their lifestyle, made it hard for them to follow their father Lehi, who was a prophet into the wilderness. Lehi mentioned his concern to them, yet they persisted in their attitudes.

I thought about Lehi and his wife Sariah. It must have been so hard for them as they tried with all their might to teach each of their children to love and serve Heavenly Father. I imagine that they prayed fervently for each of their children, pleading on their behalf to that God who had created them. Lehi received revelations and saw visions, yet these two sons were not interested in either. How hard that must have been for Lehi to see, and feel, and hear the rejections from his two older sons. Perhaps it cut him like a knife. How did Sariah feel? Because of her great love for them, surely she wanted them to believe.

How can a prophet of God teach and lead others, when his own sons openly rebel? Though it must have been hard for Lehi to hear the laughter and criticism of his neighbors, I wonder if the attitudes of his own sons hurt him more.

As I heard again the story of this family who lived long before Jesus Christ was born, I realized how blessed I was to have such wonderful, obedient, children. I did not have a Laman or a Lemuel in my home, ever.

What a blessing! Thank you Heavenly Father for my good, honorable, wise, and loving children.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Routine

Sometimes I get carried away with life and nothing seems to be normal. Things feel out of whack and disjointed for a season. It seems that way around the holidays for me. Many things are ignored to make time for other, more important things. Since there just does not seem to be time for everything, lesser things are easily ignored. As the holidays wrap up and 'normal' life returns, it appears that a screeching halt must come to letting so many things slide. I am making a list, which grows by the minute, of the things that now scream for attention.

And none of the long ignored household chores have found a place on the list yet. My bathrooms have not been cleaned since days before Christmas. And since there was extra traffic happening, they look a little scary. But they may not receive the attention they need for a day or two or more. Some tidying, vacuuming, and laundry have been done, thank heavens, and we have managed the daily dirty dishes.

I know many people who thrive on change. The more change, the better. It energizes and enlivens them. Change is a big motivator for them. So much so that they go looking for change and if they cannot find it, they will create it. Routine is ordinary and dull and deadening. Change fosters creativity.

On the other hand, some like order and routine. It feels safe and secure in a world filled with insecurity. When so many things spin out of control, there is comfort in a routine. Creativity cannot blossom in chaos. Clutter can be paralyzingly to the mind.

Either one of these people can be me, but mostly I am the person who looks at the disorder and finds myself unable to create, until I have removed the clutter. Sometimes the time and energy it takes to restore order is all the time I have and I am left without the time to attempt creativity. Frustration may follow. At times I am a bit envious of those who function differently, creating in chaos instead.

Someone in particular comes to mind, so different from me; thriving on change and creative in chaos. I asked her once how her mind could function so creatively when the world around her was in disarray. I explained that for me, if I needed to use the kitchen table for a project and it was covered in stuff, I found that the clutter found its way into my mind. In order for me to have clarity of thought, I would have to clean everything off the table and put it away before I could start whatever it was I wanted to do. As she used an arm to shove all the stuff to one end of the table, she explained that  this was not a problem for her. And she sat down to create.

Some projects simply seem to require also creating a rather large mess. In order to make a quilt block, I may need to pull out a multitude of fabrics in order to select colors that will work together. I may end up with dozens of pieces of fabric scattered around me. A few months ago, I added a border to a large quilt project. I chose to add small rectangles of fabric, about four inches by two and one half inches, in a scrappy border, using each piece only once. It took over sixty different fabrics. I had enough scraps to accomplish this, but the room I was working in looked as if a fabric explosion had occurred. Though I did not enjoy cleaning up the mess, I really like the border.

I also find it distracting to have too many projects going at once. I may flit from project to project, checking on the progress of each but not really making headway on any. This can be frustrating for me.

The holidays have passed and it is time to return to the security of routine. For those of you who also seek the safety of routine, you may understand. For those of you who thrive on change and chaos, cheer me on as I try a little to find creativity in clutter a little more often.