The old woman sat in front of the fire Her fingers tenderly touching the roses in the quilt Remembering the day decades ago When she taught her younger cousins The art of making paper roses. The excitement on their faces Was worth the tedium of the task Now years later Another old woman had returned the roses Slightly grayed as were they, entwined on the blue fabric A memory to share.
WHAT DO I WANT TO BE THIS YEAR? How do I see myself An artist? A writer? A quilter? A friend? A lazy old slug on a shelf? As the new year’s begining My canvas is empty. My fabric is washed and prepared. My pencils are sharpened. The papers are stacked. The ideas are buzzing about Creativity’s zinging The bells are all ringing Let’s get going is all I can shout! But—where shall I start?
My daughter is enjoying her school in England. It was hectic getting there and many problems came up to discourage her including being sent back before she even made it out of the airport. But she arrived minus her quilt for a year of studying medieval music. One of her adventures involved going out to Marks and Spencer’s to find a new quilt since she had to leave hers back in the States. She was walking back to her dorm carrying two pillows and a duvet when it started to rain and she got totally disoriented. Which way was she supposed to go to get home? Standing there in frustration, she heard the church bells playing Finlandia. This is a favorite of both of ours. We sing it as the hymn “Be Still My Soul”. Knowing that the bells were from the Minster and that the Minster was near the dorm, she could follow the bells home. The words of the hymn made her feel the love and comfort of Mom and Dad as well because it is one we like to listen to in times of stress. I like the second verse, which says
“Be still, my soul; Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.” Katharina von Schlefgel, b. 1697
Isn’t it a comfort to know that we all have things to guide us home. For my Eternal home, the temple is one of mine. I love to go. Others are the memories of things my parents taught me. For my physical home it is at the moment the Cheesecake Factory, but that’s another story. What is a guide home for you?
It excites me that my daughter is in the place where my great grand parents grew up. If she has time I would like her to go see some of the places my great grandmother saw while she was growing up. There is a strong feeling when one stands at the same place your family did. Over Thanksgiving we found the lot where my husband’s father lived 100 years ago. The house was gone but I could see how touched he was just to be there in the empty lot. The same thing happened to him when we visited Erie, PA and walked the streets of his mother’s childhood.
" As we participate in temple and family history work, we are certain to have the Spirit to comfort us in our challenges and to guide us in important decisions. Temple and family history work is part of our work of providing relief, or service, to our own ancestors."
I love to go dancing in December Slipping and sliding along the sidewalks Dipping unceremoniously into the drifts Making snow angels purposely or not. I love the flakes dusting the patio Ice layering the furniture The dead stems of summer past taking on a Glistening glow Come dance with me, or skate or slide or slip. Celebrate December on the move.
We took a drive over Thanksgiving through West Virginia. I loved the names of the small communities, Droop, Nicely, Hico, Narrows, Clover Lick, Cornstalk; but my favorite was when we found the road down to Opossum Hollow. I wondered what stories I could find in places like these. My name is Anna and I write stories.
When we reached the creek side, I noticed a mother and daughter wandering along the edge. The little girl was about four. She was wearing purple cargo pants and a fluffy pink jacket. Her skin was the color of latte and her doe eyes a beautiful brown. She kind of danced as she walked along holding her mother’s hand.
“Ouch Mommy!” “I have another pebble in my shoe.”
“Here, sit down on the log and I’ll take it out so you can put it in your pocket.”
“Why do I want it in my Pocket?”
“Would you rather have it in your shoe?”
“No Mommy!” Where do the pebbles come from?”
“They come from the trees.”
“You’re silly Mommy, Pebbles don’t come from trees!”
“Yes, A long time ago the giant Opossum for which Opossum Hollow was named, got angry at all the elves that were hiding in the trees, jumping out to scare the residents and visitors; and stealing from the opossum children. He put an opossum Hex on the elves, the elves parents and the elf’s children. “From this day forward for a thousand years, any elf who dares to jump out of the trees will turn to stone.”
“Well, that was mean! Do they ever turn back?”
“Yes, if they land in a child’s shoe, and if that child takes it out, puts it in his pocket, and takes it home, the stone will turn back into an elf.”
OK Mommy let’s do it!”
“Ouch! Oh goody there’s another pebble elf. Hurry and take it out and let’s go home."
Quietly I followed them to see what happened next, and soon saw them standing outside a little two room shack in the shade of a sycamore tree.
“Ok Mommy, What do we do now?”
“Let’s give the pebble a drink. They get awfully thirsty as pebbles. Now we’ll toss them out the window and into the trees.”
"Why do we want to put them into the trees?”
“When we put them into the trees they will slowly turn back into elves and can jump into someone else’s shoe.”
“But if they just got back to being elves, why would they want to be pebbles again?”
“Well that’s how they travel to see the world; hopping from shoe to shoe, wherever life and children take them. Where do you think this one came from? He’s all red and named Jasper….."
I enjoyed the exchange between mother and daughter. It brought back memories of my own talks with my daughter. She loved to ask me questions and sometimes I made up stories to satisfy her curiosity when I didn’t know the answer. This is what made me want to be a writer I think. I just have to remember to tell people this is fiction not history.
We continued down the road to the next town, Crow, West Virginia. I wonder what story I could find there.
“Do you want to go?” asked my husband.
“No way! Didn’t you see that sign?”
NO RETURN TO HIGHWAY IN EASTERN DIRECTION.
We’d get in there and never be able to return!”
“I wonder what happens to the people who go there? Do they eat them? Do extra terrestrials haul them off to another planet?" Laughingly reminiscing our favorite ' Twilight Zone' stories we continued our journey. But that’s another story for another day.
I was sitting in front of my computer this morning listening to a couple of the CD’s that I had brought back from my dad’s after the funeral. He liked cowboy music and songs of faith among many others; but these two were out next to his CD player. They were two of the last CD’s he listened to. I was listening to “Someone To Care For You” by Jimmy Davis, and I was in tears. I don’t know if they were tears of sadness because I was remembering my dad; tears of joy because of the song’s message, or tears of laughter, because my cat was singing along. Part of the song says, “When your disappointment comes And you feel so blue, There is someone who cares for you… He’ll come down from the skies And brush the tears from your eyes You’re his child and he cares for you.”
It was interesting, being back in New Mexico under these circumstances. My dad was a quiet, pleasant, interesting man. We knew him as a father, as a leader in church, as a scientist, as a scouter, as a neighbor. On this trip I learned about him as a member of the community he lived in for fifty-nine years. As I went around town people would stop me and comment about what a nice man my father was; how much they enjoyed being with him; and how much they had learned from him. Just my mentioning his name brought on their stories.
This brought to my mind a story about one of our church presidents, George Albert Smith.
What Have You Done with My Name?
When President George Albert Smith was young, his deceased grandfather George A. Smith appeared to him in a dream and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.” In his October conference talk, Mervyn B. Arnold said,
” Someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name.
Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. If we are willing to do so, we are promised that most wonderful blessing—that His Spirit will always be with us.
Just as President George Albert Smith had to account to his grandfather for what he had done with his name, someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name.
The importance of having a good name is spoken of in Proverbs, where we read: ‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold’ and ‘The name of the just is blessed.’” I know not everyone has been blessed with the kind of parents that I was, but I believe that there is some good in every man. We should look for that good and appreciate it. And what ever is happening in our lives, our loving father cares for us. Someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name.
I love autumn. I love the soft, warm sunshine I love the crisp cool air in the mornings. The fiery sunsets and misty rainbows coloring the skies. The sunflowers waving in the breeze. I love the leaves turning red and golden The geese flying noisily to their winter home Apples and pumpkins ripening sweetly. I love the peaceful sounds of the year Slowly growing older. And I love you too.
In October General conference, President Monson said something that caught my attention. He said, “The English author Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” “We often take for granted the very people who most deserve our gratitude. Let us not wait until it is too late for us to express that gratitude. Speaking of loved ones he had lost, one man declared his regret this way: “I remember those happy days, and often wish I could speak into the ears of the dead the gratitude which was due them in life, and so ill returned.” After conference finished I sat down and wrote a letter to my dad who was in failing health.
Dear Dad I’m sorry to hear that you are in the hospital. I hope they are making you comfortable. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate having you as a father. Thank you for taking care of me, during the wild ride up to Salt Lake when I was two, And standing by me while I was in the hospital. Thank you for teaching me to enjoy learning; learning to work hard, and study well. Thank you for all the adventures we went on as a family, the Grand Canyon, Estes Park, Yellowstone, Disneyland and many more. Thank you for loving Mom and taking care of her; for showing us how a loving family should behave . Thank you for going to church, taking us with you, and making us get up for Seminary.
I appreciate the times you had to take in me and my boys; the times you came up to the house at all hours to fix things that broke; the time you drove all the way to Santa Fe because I locked the keys in the car. I appreciate you teaching me to drive, and change the oil and a tire. Thank you for letting me help fix the roof, work in the garden, lay tile, and paint the rooms. Thank you for putting your arms around me when Bruce died and then Michael, and let me know that I was loved. Thank you for being a good father and a great example. I love you very much. Thank you for loving me.
President Monson continued, “The loss of loved ones almost inevitably brings some regrets to our hearts. Let’s minimize such feelings as much as humanly possible by frequently expressing our love and gratitude to them. We never know how soon it will be too late.
A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
My dad died Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, fifteen days short of his ninety sixth birthday. My brothers, sister and I, as well as several of his grandchildren were able to say good bye.
I’ve been thinking about Nitrogen this week. Did you know that many industrially important compounds, such as ammonia, nitric acid, organic nitrates (propellants and explosives), and cyanides, contain nitrogen? Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford discovered the element nitrogen in 1772. Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms. It is a constituent element of amino acids and thus of proteins, and of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). It is used for many things, for example-- * As a modified atmosphere, to preserve the freshness of packaged or bulk foods * In ordinary incandescent light bulbs as an inexpensive alternative to argon. * The manufacturing of stainless steel. * Use as a propellant for draught wine, and as an alternative to or together with carbon dioxide for other beverages. (Wikipedia) And you thought Nitrogen was boring – an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas. Well I’m here to tell you that not only did it brighten my life recently; it even led into a spiritual lesson. First of all Nitrogen composes 78% of the atmosphere of our favorite planet – Earth. It also has the very helpful ability to freeze at a temperature that is not too much colder than our good old freezer. Why have I given you this mini lesson in chemistry? Well, I spent a couple of weeks last month with my favorite chemist—my dad. While I was there a friend brought over to my dads house a chemical experiment to show us. He mixed milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a stainless steel bowl. Then while mixing with an electric beater, he added liquid nitrogen. WOW! Ice cream! Really good Ice cream! It’s hard to imagine that something which can be used to drive a race car, light up light bulbs, and make our DNA in another form freezes ice cream. Not only did I enjoy the ice cream – it made me think: Some days we feel like we are Nitrogen. We don’t think we make much of an impact on other people's lives. Have you ever felt colorless and unwanted? I have. And second, some things are both good and not so good, depending how we use them. With the same efforts we can create explosive feelings, or sweet loving ones. We can create explosive heat, or ice cream. In his book The Remarkable Soul of a Woman (2008), Dieter F. Uchtdorf urges us to remember that we are treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth. “To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they are…. This can lead to frustration, exhaustion and unhappiness.“ “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.” I was talking to my daughter last night. She has graduated from college. She quit her job to give herself a couple of weeks to get ready to go to graduate school. Finished with classes and workdays, she had an urge to create something, anything. My friend in Los Alamos has retired from the laboratory and has started making Nitrogenized ice cream. My dad, though 95 and getting weaker, still likes to plant tomatoes in his garden. I hope you have a creative and satisfying month.
Summer is fleeing. far, far too quickly! Autumn, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" Comes gently, slowly-- I love the cool, crisp air in the evenings and early mornings! I love the changing of the seasons; changing of the leaves, going back to school, Football season, wearing sweaters. ...It’s not too hot to turn on the oven and make fresh baked chocolate chip cookies! September comes Bring on the fall!!!!
How do you explain to someone who has never been to the temple, what an impact it can have on their lives? It seems like the events that have been the most frightening in my life have led me to the temples. For example, last month I finally got up the courage to go to the doctor to discuss some symptoms that have been bothering me for the last couple of years. She suggested that I have some tests and a biopsy. The weekend before the biopsy I went to the temple with some friends, hoping for some peace and comfort. As I sat in the Celestial room, in a moment of quiet prayer, I didn’t ask for a miracle, I just asked for a calm feeling. Whatever was going to happen, I wanted to be able to accept it with peace. And I received that blessing. I was calm waiting for the biopsy. I was peaceful waiting for the results. I was filled with gratitude for the friends that stood by me waiting and rejoiced with me when the negative results came in.
I remember a song we learned while my children were going to Primary.
I Love To See the Temple
I love to see the temple, I’m going there some day. To feel the Holy Spirit To listen and to pray. For the temple is a house of God, A place of love and beauty. I’ll prepare myself while I am young. This is my sacred duty Janice Kapp Perry
I’ve sung this song many times as my children grew up, However, I never thought about the last line. “I’ll prepare myself while I am young. It is my sacred duty.” Even if we can’t go to the temple, we should prepare ourselves by living righteously. It is what a loving father wants us to do so that we can live with Him again.
I remember when the church’s policy was not to encourage single women to go through the temple unless they were getting married or going on a mission. They also didn’t encourage women married to non- members to go through the temple. I could sense my mother-in-law’s sorrow at not being able to go to the weddings of her children, or going through the temple with her grandsons before their missions. But, when the time came that policies changed—she was ready.
I heard a television evangelist once say, “ARE YOU READY TO MEET GOD?” I’d have to say no. I want to spend more time with my family. But, preparing to go through the temple is a step on the road that I’m glad I have taken.
In the meantime I’m off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (also known as a retired chemist in New Mexico) I’m going to visit my dad, who is my wizard.
Well, the year is half over! I have at least started the last of my goals I set for 2010. That is a first for me. How are you doing? My last two goals were to read Bleak House by Charles Dickens and to start writing my personal history.
I chose Dickens because I read a BBC list of one hundred books of which most people would only read six. I have read thirty-nine of them Most of them are Classics, and I decided I needed to upgrade my reading habits.
My second goal was harder. How do you sit down and start writing about your life? I’ve been to several funerals over the past few years where children have read out of their parent’s journals. What will my children know of my life? Not much from my journal. So many times since my mother’s passing I have wished I had asked questions when I still had time. My sister and some of my nieces have been trying to interview my ninety five year old dad to find out about his life.
One story that he told about his first job was amazing and interesting to me. A neighbor lady came over to see if anyone could climb up in her cherry tree to harvest the cherries. Every one else was off in the fields and neighboring farms gathering crops. My dad said that he could do it, so she hired him. He was five.
Looking around on the Internet I discovered a list of fifty questions that can be used to interview a family member to help them gather their history. I have started answering one question a day for my own history. The questions are below in case you want to start writing your own history.
Last time I was back in New Mexico, my sister gave me a set of photographs, which she had found at my Dad’s and copied for me. Some were to frame and make a five-generation picture of the important women in my life. It starts with my daughter, then me, my mother, grandmother and my great grandmother. There was also a brief history of my great grandmother, printed in the Provo Herald as she approached her hundredth birthday. How I wish I knew more about her. Other photos were of my dad’s parents, and brother’s, which I will either put into a scrapbook or a collage frame.
I have also enjoyed over the last two years connecting again with my cousins. There are still more who I have never interacted with and I am looking forward to getting to know them too.
I can feel the promise of Malachi 4:6 “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
As we think this month about strengthening our families and homes, what better way is there than to get to know them better?
1. What is your full name? Why were you named this? Did you have a nickname? 2. When and where were you born? 3. How did your family come to live there? 4. Were there other family members in the area? Who? 5. What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones? 6. Were there any special items in the house that you remember? 7. What is your earliest childhood memory? 8. Describe the personalities of your family members. 9. What kind of games did you play growing up? 10. What was your favorite toy and why? 11. What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)? 12. Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite? 13. Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it? 14. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College? 15. What school activities and sports did you participate in? 16. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes? 17. Who were your childhood heroes? 18. What were your favorite songs and music? 19. Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names? 20. What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend? 21. Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper? 22. Who were your friends when you were growing up? 23. What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family? 24. Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods? 25. How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions? 26. How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child? 27. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them? 28. What do you know about your family surname? 29. Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather? 30. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors? 31. Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family? 32. Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members? 33. Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family? 34. Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family? 35. What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents? 36. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates? 37. What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel? 38. Where and when did you get married? 39. What memory stands out the most from your wedding day? 40. How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them? 41. What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage? 42. How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time? 43. Why did you choose your children's names? 44. What was your proudest moment as a parent? 45. What did your family enjoy doing together? 46. What was your profession and how did you choose it? 47. If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice? 48. Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable? 49. What accomplishments were you the most proud of? 50. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?
I love the buzz that greets the air On early summer morns. It makes me think of childhood, The picnics and the storms The hikes up in the mountains And fishing at the lake The bike ride for an ice cream The day I lost my brake. From weeding Mother’s garden To mowing Daddy’s lawn I loved the summer evening I loved the cool sweet dawn.
We got to go back to New Mexico in May to attend our daughter’s graduation. It was fun and we are proud of her. The next week though she was feeling like she had nothing to do. After working so hard to finish her classes, taking finals, and making sure that all her paperwork was in—she had nothing to do. I told her to write a poem and to use the word balloon. This is what she wrote.
BALLOONS My life is a hot air balloon. It’s been sitting on the ground For quite a long while It’s been pretty, And Impressive. People admired it But ultimately It did nothing. The basket was full, Of sand bags, And a picnic basket, And me. The sandbags all had names: Difficult classes, Difficult teachers, Depression, Guilt, Loneliness. One by one, I threw the bags away. I flung them out. They were heavy, And I felt triumph every time. I remembered my grandma And told each and every one To "go jump in the lake!" There are no more bags of sand To hold me down, To hold me back. I'm high in the air And I have a picnic, But absolutely no idea where to fly.
Lots of days I feel like she did. There are many things I could or should be doing. I just don’t know What! Where! When! Why! How! There are too many choices and no direction. I met a friend of hers while I was visiting. As we talked, he told me about his philosophy. Every Week he tries to do one thing he has never done before. It could be trying a new food, or going someplace he has never been; studying a new subject, or using a new vocabulary word. I think this would be a fun exercise. There are, after all so many things that I have never done. I have a friend who just started a blog. A niece has started writing a poem or a story each week. One of my neighbors has never taken her kids to the Public library.So what new and adventurous thing am I going to do? Last week I sat down and had a conversation with a stranger. This is something I’ve not been comfortable with, especially when it involves politics or religion. Next week I’ll go have a colonoscopy. This week I’m going to learn how to scan photos onto my computer. What new adventure are you going to do this week? Do you ever get horripilants
At the same time we should plan things which will add to our lives and the lives of others. Neal A Maxwell cautioned us against a “frantic heedless busy-ness… that often crowds out contemplation and.. leaves no room for renewal.” He likened thoughtful intervals between our tasks to the green belts of grass, trees, and water that.. interrupt the asphalt,” and he said that when we “plan some time for contemplation and renewal,” We will feel drawn to our work instead of driven to it. Hope you have a great month.
Just look at that kite fly
Under the clouds, over the trees
Nearer, farther, nearer, farther
Ever higher flying free.
I love the longer days,
Summer brings new games to play
Happy children running in the sun
Restless teens wandering aimlessly,
Happy to dream.
Happy to be.
It’s raining today. I looked out my window at the depressing grey morning. What am I going to do today? Well, I won’t have to water the 62 containers in my garden! I love the rain. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my life living in an arid state. Sometimes though, I wouldn’t know it was raining here in Virginia if I didn’t see the wet cement on my patio. Virginia rain is a lot quieter than New Mexico rain. Living in the mountains of Northern New Mexico meant living in the lightning belt. Rainstorms were loud and bright with multiple lightning strikes and thunder booms. And the raindrops were huge. It was like being hit by large wet nickels. I remember taking my daughter up to my bedroom where two walls were window walls. Tall pines were swaying in the wind and we felt the electricity all around us. We lay on the bed and I read stories to her. Now she loves thunderstorms and finds a place to read during them. It brings back memories. I laugh at people with umbrellas. It doesn’t seem like the rain is hard enough to bother. A few seconds out in it before ducking into a building and I hardly get wet. Of course, I don’t have to race to the Metro and off to work. My husband loves his umbrella! When I visited Hawaii, it rained every day and I didn’t even notice. Suddenly I was just wet. The sun didn’t even get clouded over. A light mist descended and then disappeared. I think of adversity like rain. Sometimes we get hit with big wet nickels. Sometimes it’s bearable and if we hurry to get out of it, it doesn’t bother us much. Sometimes it affects us lightly and then is gone. Sometimes it floods and we’d better hike to higher ground. But like the mist in Hawaii, the small solid drops of continuous rain in Virginia, and the drenching slaps of water in New Mexico; adversity makes things grow. A couple of weeks ago we had a Relief Society lesson from this April’s Conference It was All Things Work Together for Good By Elder James B. Martino Of the Seventy “We may never know in this life why we face what we do, but we can feel confident that we can grow from the experience.” Elder James B. Martino said, “When I was young I looked forward to the spring of the year. As the weather warmed, I was ready for baseball to begin. Like most young boys, I would wish that I could become a great baseball player. I am reminded of a story about a very young boy with similar dreams. With the desire to become the next mighty ballplayer, he decided to go outside and practice. He held the baseball in one hand and the bat in the other, and he threw the ball into the air. With a wish to hit the ball as far as he could, he took a great swing, but the ball fell to the ground without even touching the wood of the bat. Not to be denied, he went at it again. As he was about to throw the ball in the air, his determination grew as the thought of a powerful hit came into his mind. But alas, the results were the same. The ball lay on the ground. But as any good ballplayer knows, you have three strikes before you are out. He concentrated even more, threw the ball in the air, and gave the mightiest swing he had ever attempted. As the ball again fell to the ground, the tears began to swell in his eyes. Then all of a sudden a great smile appeared, and he said, “What a pitcher!” Each of us will face trials and tests, and as in this simplistic example, it is how we react to those difficulties that will determine our success and happiness. Each of us will face adversity no matter where we are. We are taught in the scriptures that there “must needs be . . . an opposition in all things.”1 We will each face times of difficulty, and the question is not when we will face them but how we face them. The Apostle Paul taught an interesting lesson only a few years before the Saints in Rome were to face some of the most violent persecution of any Christian era. Paul reminded the Saints “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Our Heavenly Father, who loves us completely and perfectly, permits us to have experiences that will allow us to develop the traits and attributes we need to become more and more Christlike. Our trials come in many forms, but each will allow us to become more like the Savior as we learn to recognize the good that comes from each experience. As we understand this doctrine, we gain greater assurance of our Father’s love. We may never know in this life why we face what we do, but we can feel confident that we can grow from the experience. As we pass through the trials of life, let us keep an eternal perspective, let us not complain, let us become even more prayerful, let us serve others, and let us forgive one another. As we do this, “all things [will] work together for good to [us] that love God.” I bear a solemn and certain witness that our Father loves us and He sent His Son to show and pave the way for us. He suffered, He died, and He was resurrected that we might live, and He desires that we “might have joy,” even in our trials of life. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” In his poem, A Rainy Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes, ‘Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall Some days must be dark and dreary. Enjoy the sunshine,
I have completed my second goal for the year. This is the first year I have actually completed two of my goals this early in the year. Making them short, specific and doable really works!
My second goal was to paint a painting. My mom was a good painter. So is my sister. I remember in college feeling very untalented because my mom and sister painted. My dad and brother carved wood. My youngest brother carved stone. And all my brothers played the guitar and could speak multiple languages. I was totally worthless.
A councilor asked me what things was I good at? Well I could cook. I could sew. I was patient. I could listen to other people’s fears and disappointments. I didn’t think these were talents. He assured me that these were indeed talents.
Later that year I had my Patriarchal Blessing which told me that I had many talents and gifts. That if I used them for others they would grow and more would be added. Working as the Homemaking leader in a California ward, I shared my Home Economic teaching skills with my Relief society sisters.
A number of years later I returned home, married, widowed and with two small boys in tow I had a chance to do this. I decided that I would take an oil painting class and learn to paint, like my mom and sister. Two days before the class started—it was canceled. The school arbitrarily put me in a water color class and assured me I would enjoy it. I did and ….I was good at it! It opened up my world. When found my medium, and was happy with it, I found so many other things I could try and do adequately. My Patriarchal blessing was my personal revelation—Things I could work on to make my life happy, worthwhile and acceptable to the Lord. It was my goal guide.
Another guide it gave me was that I would have sons and daughters. I had two boys. I needed to find my daughters. The Lord promised me sons and daughters. I was going to hold Him to that. In the scriptures we read that if we do as He says—He is bound. I was determined to have that blessing and not just in the next world as some would have me believe. I became the Beehive leader in the ward and had twelve daughters. I became a Girl Scout leader and had eight daughters. I became Achievement Day leader and had sixteen daughters. I gave birth to a beautiful little girl and the world opened up to me. She has a wonderful musical talent that has brought much joy into our lives. When she came to visit for her Spring Break, we went to the National Gallery and then we came home and spent a day painting.
HOW CAN I SEEK PERSONAL REVELATION? “We prepare to receive personal revelation as the prophets do, by studying the scriptures, fasting, praying, and building faith. Faith is the key. Remember Joseph’s preparation for the First Vision: “’If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. … “’But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.’” Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “Prayer is your personal key to Heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil. “But that is not all. To one who thought that revelation would flow without effort, the Lord said: “ You have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took not thought save it was to ask me. “’ But, behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore you shall feel that it is right’” President Boyd K Packer.
There are many times in our lives when we could use a little help from the Lord. “Try it! You‘ll like it!
Frustration!! I shouldn’t let little things bother me. It makes my blood pressure go up. I spent most of the afternoon yesterday trying to straighten out a problem from a misdirected e-mail. It wasn’t even my problem. I just felt like it was important enough that the right person get the message. So why did a little thing like that frustrate my whole day? I let it!
Last month my husband asked me to make pancakes for breakfast. My small mixing bowl hadn’t been washed from supper the night before. (just a little thing). I quickly washed it and turned around to get a dishtowel to dry it. Water fell to the ceramic tile floor (just a little). The next thing I knew I was flying through the air in my small kitchen. First I landed on my knees, then I bounced back hitting my head on the refrigerator door. But with all that excitement—the thing that hurt the most was landing with all my weight on my left pinkie finger. Who would ever guess that jamming a couple of the body’s smaller bones could hurt so much, and for so long. Who would think that the smallest finger on the less dominant hand is so important for many daily activities. And we began two weeks of my husband having to put my socks on me, and tying my shoes.
I was trying to think of some stories from the scriptures that show the importance of little things. My husband reminded me of the story of the mustard seed. A tiny seed grows into a large plant. Faith can grow from a small beginning. So can anger and hurt.
Little things-- Be they good or bad Make us surge with joy, Or just get mad.
A single rose On a snowy day A call from someone That’s far away
A paper cut A cold hard stare A flippant word When you thought they cared
May the little things That come to your mind Be filled with joy— Not the other kind.
In a popular old song, “Little Things Mean a Lot” by Kitty Kallen she says, “Give my your hand When I’ve lost my way Whether the day is bright or gray, Give my your shoulder to cry on. Give me your heart to rely on. Send me the warmth of a secret smile, To show me you haven’t forgot. For always and ever, now and forever Little things mean a lot.”
I guess this is kind of jumbled. What I’m trying to say this month is, we are all affected each day by little things which can irritate us and make us angry or unhappy. We should try to overcome them. On the other hand we are all given little opportunities to be a positive influence in other people’s lives—to bring them joy. As one of our prophets said “DO IT” Little Things Mean a Lot
The March wind Blows through the Meadow Reaches for blossoms Still dreaming of being. The March hare Nibbling shoots Trying to break through Frozen ground. It’s not really Spring In March. It just thinks it is.
Happy Valentines Day and Presidents day! The groundhog says we are in for another six weeks of winter. We’ve been doing a good job with the winter we’ve had. I ‘m ready for spring! Well! I have completed my first resolution for 2010. I used some of my favorite batiks and made two quilts, and gave them away. The recipients were pleased. How are yours coming? I’m in the middle of having a funny e-mail conversation with a cousin I haven’t seen since childhood and I don’t remember that. But we have connected because he was writing letters to my parents. He wanted to send a book to me, which he read and enjoyed. However, he had the wrong address and it came back to him. So we’ve been having an exchange trying to get the address straight. He was only off by one letter and one number, but that’s enough to stop the mail from going through. To emphasize the wrong number and missing letter, I wrote it in very large, bold type. According to my daughter, this, in texting, is the same as yelling at someone in person. Now my cousin is texting in larger, red, bold type. I replied in even larger, bolder, capitals. Are we having a fight? Are we angry at each other? We probably are not. We’re probably just having fun with each other. Sometimes though, I feel the frustration that is close to anger. How easy it is to make assumptions, which can lead to angry feelings. I have had friends and family members over the years that have let these angry assumptions fester till they were not speaking to other family members. In one case a wife and husband stopped speaking from the time a child was three till he grew up and left home. What a loss of loving comfort that family had. This weekend I was uploading some music onto my computer. A couple of the songs got my attention, and touched my spirit. One, “Lord, I Need You Again Today” by the Oakridge Boys, says, “I don’t say it enough. I don’t pray enough, I don’t love my neighbor, as I should enough. If I try to make it by myself, I say Lord I need you again today.” Others were “It is no Secret What God Can Do” “You’re Not Alone” “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” I wish I could sing them all to you. But the lessons I got were 1. Whatever happens in our lives, God can help. 2. Other people around us affect our lives for good. 3. We need each other 4. We can help each other We have seen all the help people around the world have given to the people of Haiti, because of the earthquake. I think it’s too bad that sometimes it takes a catastrophe to reach out and help. There are so many opportunities all around us, every day. How are we going to love our neighbors today?
Well, my cousin and I have figured things out and are writing in small print again, and the book is on its way’
“Meow!” said the cat To the dog on the step. I thought for a moment That I’d overslept. Violets are blooming in pots On the shelf I’m ready for spring I keep telling myself Then out of the blue came Those little white spots Covering the flowers With tiny white dots. I guess it’s still winter She said with a sigh— I’m going to sleep. Wake me up by and by.
I’m sitting in front of a blank canvas and I’m afraid to paint on it. I have a couple of yards of a beautiful batik fabric and I can’t decide what to do with it. I have fifteen empty journals on my shelf and I’m afraid to write anything. IF I CHANGE MY MIND I’LL HAVE SPOILED THEM! I read a book once that made a statement that I have never forgotten. I haven’t changed the way I think about things. However, I know what my problem is. The book said that some people can’t make a decision, because having made a choice you have eliminated the chance of doing the other choices. So for my New Year’s resolution this year, I am going to paint that picture, I am going to choose a journal and start writing in it. I am going to take that fun fabric, make a quilt, and give it away. Also, I’m going to read Bleak House by Charles Dickens because I’ve only read 49 of the “1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die”
My son has a childhood friend, who is one of my face book friends. Every week he says “I Hate Mondays!” I replied that I loved Mondays because then I have a whole, fresh, new week to mess up. Now, Monday, January 4, 2010, I not only have a whole new day, week, and year to mess up, I have a whole new decade. And if I do, I will go buy a new canvas, pick out a new journal, and forgive myself. I hope you will too. I’ll be reporting my success or failure to you so that we’ll make sure I do it
What are you going to do this year? In our Relief Society lesson yesterday we decided we should make our resolutions or goals, short, quick and doable. In a book I’m reading, GETTING THINGS DONE, the author says, “ Make a list of things you want to do in your life. Then you should make a list of things you want to accomplish in your career. Be specific, and make them short, quick, and doable. Choose three on each list that you really can begin this week and start doing them.
My husband’s lesson at his church talks about Spiritual goals The lesson encourages us to place our goals and hopes for the New Year on a more spiritual basis. For example to strive to be more loving and thoughtful and less centered on our personal desires. We treat the New Year as a signal for renewed hope and dedication to God’s plan. Two of his chosen scriptures are,
Ps. 33: 1-3 Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. Doesn’t this sound like we should increase our God given talents?
Isa. 61:1-3 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified,
“As we live providently and increase our gifts and talents, we become more self-reliant. Self- reliance is taking responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal welfare and for those whom Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care. Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others. “It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self- reliance". Elder Robert D. Hales.
This month I hope you will plan some goals that are short, specific, and doable. I hope you will take a spiritual look at your goals. I hope you will give unselfish service to others. I hope you will have a very good and blessed New Year.
I am a retired old woman trying to learn new things. I've decided that since my children are grown I would start some new adventures in life. So I moved across the country to a big city.
I'm blogging in hopes that someone will read and enjoy my writings. Next I'll get out the old paintbrush!
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