I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and discovered many things you are thankful for. November is a good time to sit back and think about our blessings.
December is the months we consider gifts. We think about the gifts we would like to give to others. We are reminded about our blessings and are more willing to share with those not as fortunate. There are a lot of them this year and I hope you are finding many ways to share your good fortune. There are food banks, toy collections and many charities willing to share our time and talents. We should also consider our God given gifts In I Corinthians 12 we read, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing…To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues…. What gifts do you have? Are you patient? Are you kind? Do you work well with others? Are you good to children? Do you recognize someone who has a need? Do you appreciate music or share in the making of it? Can you read? I’m finding that there are many around us who are not proficient or comfortable in doing this one thing that I love and can’t imagine not being able to do. Make a list of your gifts “31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: “
I’ve decided that painting is not a gift I have. It should be. My mother was a painter. Two of my siblings paint. Each of the five of us has a child or grandchild who are very artistic and like to paint. When my mother was approaching the end of her life she said she was going to be one of the angels who did sunsets. Every time I see a beautiful sunset I smile and say “Hi Mom!’
Every ten years or so I take a beginners watercolor class or two,decide I’m not good enough and quit. As I talked to another class member in my current session, who is a successful painter;he mentioned that he painted every day. Apparently we have to practice to get our gifts. Imagine that! If I had a studio set up and ready; if I used it every day I might be a better painter.
Eliza R. Snow, who had served as secretary when Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo, was called by President Brigham Young (1801–77) to travel throughout the Church, helping bishops organize Relief Society in their wards. She taught “If any of the daughters and mothers in Israel are feeling in the least circumscribed [limited] in their present spheres, they will now find ample scope for every power and capability for doing good with which they are most liberally endowed. …”
Do you want to be a better friend? Say hello to neighbors you see in the elevator. Do you want the gift of good health? Exercise every day. Get enough sleep.Eat healthy foods. Do you want to be kind? Offer to help an organization you admire. Do you want more knowledge? Read Do you wish you could paint? Practice! Sing? Practice! Play the guitar? Practice! Do you want the gift of wisdom? Pay attention to what’s happening in your community. And Pray!
2012 is quickly approaching. Take a few minutes and think “What do I always wish I could do, or have, or be? What steps do I need to take to accomplish this desire?” Merry Christmas!
December rolls in quietly A low ceiling of fog hides the cool glowing sun Snow flakes hover, waiting for a chance to fall. Ice c-c-c-cold crystals sparkle and shine on the grass and bare branches. Soft music and happy laughter fill the air. Winter’s coming. The year is ending. Joy In suspense
Have you heard of Susan Boyle? She was a quiet, shy, British woman who made a surprising hit on Britain’s Got Talent several years ago. Her mother kept telling her she had a nice voice and should sing more. This is a song from her latest album that resonated with me. The only credit I can find is Tommy USA. I don’t know if he is the composer or a show. This will be the year The year I learn to take some time to stop and breath it in. The year I keep a promise to myself to finish what I begin. Bad habits stop, no regrets step out of the red. Open arms and open heart to all that lies ahead. And even though you’ve heard it all I know you don’t believe. Let me keep the last thing left for me My faith carries me I’ll keep holding on. I’ll face my fears, what I’ve been doing wrong. I know you don’t believe but just for me can you pretend that you’ll never ever hear me say these words again. I know this time I won’t be late, this time I will arrive. Save my tears, save my doubts, this time I will try. I know I can be better. I promise I’ll be strong . I’ll make them see What I have been seeing all along. This will be the year for me.
I have been taking writing and painting classes this fall because I’ve always wanted to do both. This week I came home from both frustrated and ready to throw my paper, pencils and paints away. I just wasn’t on the same level as my classmates, or the teacher. After all they had sold their work, and or been in shows. I was pathetic. I was complaining to my daughter who always encourages me in the things I do. Her husband over heard us talking and said, “So don’t do it to sell, do it for you.”
In church Sunday, one of our lessons was titled “MISSION POSSIBLE” These two quotes were up on the board.
Your possibilities are immense. Trust the Lord to lead you from what you are to what you have the power to become. –Elder Maxwell If you have desires you are called to the work. I decided that instead of quitting I should intensify my efforts. So I bought a couple of painting instruction books that taught a different approach than I had been taking. I don’t think I’ll sign up for another writing class for a while, but I’d like to teach a poetry writing class for fun. And I started thinking about my goals for 2012. 2011 is the first year that I set a goal that I was determined to keep. I am only one and a half months away from finishing and I know I will do it. I was going to make twenty-four quilts from fabric that I already had. That’s two a month. I have the last three tops sewn and ready to quilt.
For 2012 I am going to follow the lyrics in the song This Will be The Year and change my attitude about me. I’m going to encourage those “Possibilities “ that I have been given. Who knows what we can accomplish when we “Put Our Shoulders to the Wheel and Push Along!’
This November especially, I am thankful that I have the time and peace to be creative. I am thankful for you who listen to my musings. I am thankful for a family who encourages me. I am thankful for a Creator who has given me my “Possibilities”.
What are you thankful for this year? How have you grown? What are your plans? What do you dream about?
The last golden leaves soon fall to the ground. A touch of the breeze sends them sailing around. The last of the geese, is one of them lost? Will he find his way South, and what is the cost? Snow fills the air but touch’s not the earth Fall’s come to stay, Winter’s coming re birth
We decided to walk to the Coffee House on Fairfax to get a drink and sandwich for a picnic at the Berkeley Springs State Park. The Park is about the size of a small city block. There’s a rock lined indention in the ground called Washington’s bathtub. I can’t see our president taking a bath there but I dutifully had my picture taken as a souvenir of our trip through West Virginia.
While eating our lunch we observed a little man coming out of one of the apartments. He was complaining to his dog, a small dust ball of blond hair. I overheard his complaints and had to laugh to myself.
“Get out of here Tom! Why don’t you just get out of here!
And take that dog with you. Take him for a walk—a long walk. You need it! You both are getting a little pudgy. The girls are coming over and I need some quiet!”
“The girls are coming over! The girls are always coming over. The girls are coming for bridge. The girls are coming for tea. The girls are a gaggle of geese, as far as I can see!”
Grabbing the leash he called to the dog.
“ Come on Piggy, Let’s get out of here. We can wander over to the park and watch the kids at the playground.”
“Maybe I can go get a haircut. I don’t like these curly locks. I wonder how she’d like it if I got a crew cut. How about that Piggy?”
“Would you like a crew cut too? That would really show her wouldn’t it!”
He wandered over to the playground and watched the toddlers slipping down the slide into the mud. It looked like fun. “Not something we could do though.” he said. “We’re too old. He stuck his hands into his jeans pockets and watched enviously. A light drizzle made the day colder and definitely damper.
“No Piggy! No Piggy! Get down! Mr. Pie’ger’ come back here right now!”
“No! No! Stop rolling in the mud! Clara gets angry when I get dirty! And you’ve torn my shirt.”
“Not that that’s much of a loss! I hate plaid shirts. Cripes sake my grandfather wore plaid shirts. Now-a days real men don’t wear plaid! “
The rain started falling harder. He was definitely wet now and so was Mr. Pie’ger.
“Maybe I’ll just tie you up here and go into the library. No one would ever know. I could spend time and read the magazines. You wouldn’t care would you Piggy? Good Dog!”
We decided to spend the rainy afternoon in the museum. After a few hours I could see the girls leaving the apartment building across from the park so I figured it was finally safe for him .
“I guess we can go home now.” He muttered, as he walked out of the library and untied the dog.
“We can sneak in with our shoes off and without Clara noticing the shirt. I’ll even give you a bath. No one will ever know.”
“For Cripes sake doesn’t she understand! I’m only five years old!
I never really liked bears, but my Dad did. He loved to take us to the zoo, and sure enough we always gravitated to the bear exhibit first. His favorite was the sun bear, a tall lanky brown bear with a yellow patch on his stomach. At 5 feet at least it looked tall to us when we were younger and shorter. It has large paws with naked soles, which helps it to climb. It has small, round ears and a stout snout. Unlike other bears, the sun bear's fur is short and sleek. Dark black or brown-black fur covers its body, except on the chest, where there is a pale orange-yellow marking in the shape of a horseshoe. Similar colored fur can be found around the muzzle and the eyes. These distinctive markings give the sun bear its name. He has an extremely long narrow tongue for getting into bee hives and is sometimes called a honey bear.
They would stand on either side of the fence and stare at each other. Daring, who would be the first to flinch? My dad always won.
He had a way of taking chances that made my mom mad. One day, driving through Yellowstone Park we saw a black bear on the side of the road. My dad pulled up, rolled down the window and threw jellybeans across the car roof at the bear.
“Don’t Feed the Bears!” Don’t Feed the Bears!” My mom screamed. The bear was on her side and she was the one who would be attacked first. The four of us in the back seat begged him to quit too. We were too young to be afraid of the bears, but we wanted the jellybeans.
I guess it was natural to be carefully comfortable living around bears. We lived in a house in the mountains on the edge of the forest. Wild life was abundant and we learned to live in their neighborhood as they live in ours. It seems that every year we had visits from the bears, especially during the droughts. The apple tree was particularly vulnerable to their munching and it was outside my bedroom window.
Other bears loved to break into the neighbor’s hot tubs for a warm drink.
Janet, who lived up the street a few houses made two apple pies one fall and left them on the windowsill to cool while she went to town. Her daughter Mary came home for a visit about the same time that the bear was ready for a snack. Hearing the noise of the bear entering the house by the window, Mary quietly got up, shut the door and left to call the forest service bear retrieval department from a safer distance.
Another year a neighbor came to tell me that there was a bear sighting. A high school boy was doing his homework at the table in his kitchen two houses down the road from us. Hearing a noise, he looked up and out into the back yard. There on the deck was a black bear trying to get into the house through the screen door. Coolly keeping his head Paul closed and locked the glass door. The forest service arrived and the bear headed quickly to one of the taller ponderosa pine trees at the back of the property. Taking my two-month old daughter with me we walked down to the house to watch. We sat on the deck as the forest service men shot a tranquilizing dart into the bear’s side. The bear turned, looked at the dart, and calmly picked it out of his rump, dumping it to the ground. Three darts later he was still feisty and determined to stay in his tree.
“Give him a lethal dose Joe”, the boss shouted.
One more shot and the bear tumbled to the forest floor. We had been told to head into the house the moment he landed in case he hadn’t been knocked out yet. So we hustled inside, the adventure over. When he was trussed and netted we headed back out of the house to make sure he was still alive and would be transported to another mountain hundreds of miles away to continue his life pillaging a different neighborhood.
My daughter doesn’t remember this adventure, but has inherited her grandfather’s appreciation for honey and bears; at the zoo.
My brother called me a couple of weeks ago during Sunday school class. It embarrassed me that I had left my phone on and interrupted the class. I told him he shouldn’t call me during church, but being a member of the Bishopric in his ward he knows that sometimes you have to do things when they need to be done, not when it’s convenient. My ninety-year-old aunt, who lives in a neighboring town in Utah had fallen and broken her hip. She had been taking out the trash in the back yard when she slipped and fell. Crawling to the fence she called out for help. Fortunately someone walking down to the Stadium for a football game heard her and was able to call an ambulance.
How many times have we had the opportunity to answer a call for help? Are we listening for those chances?
One of my favorite hymns when I was a youth was “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”.( James Montgomery, 1771-1854) I think it was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s Favorite hymn too. I remember asking one of the tenors in the choir if he would sing it at my funeral. That’s how I wanted to live my life. I planned on making that my goal; to a live life like the hymn stated. However I outlived my tenor friend. His daughter, a nurse, was tending him when I called her to ask what to do when my mother died, and found out he had just died that morning too.
When I moved to Virginia, I asked her jokingly to adopt my father, since I was leaving him alone. She agreed and would go over to his house once a week to check on him and have lunch. They developed a warm friendship. There were many opportunities for her to use her nursing skills to help him. And as it turned out, instead of her dad singing at my funeral, she played her violin at my dad’s.
A poor, wayfaring man of grief Hath often crossed me on my way, Who sued so humbly for relief That I could never answer nay. I had not pow’r to ask his name Where to he went, or whence he came; Yet there was something in his eye that won my love, I knew not why.
Then in a moment to my view The stranger started from disguise. The tokens in his hands I knew; The Savior stood before mine eyes. He spake, and my poor name he named, “Of me thou hast not been ashamed. These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou disdst them unto me.”
In Matthew 25 we read …, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
October skies are filled with moonlight Wispy clouds like spider’s webs drift over the edges waiting for bats or old women on brooms to float across the surface. October nights are clear and crisp -- the tingle of ice just on the edge of existence. October days are cool, the sun shining, birds calling, small animals hiding food for the winter. October mornings crunch!
“Brightly beams our Father's mercy,
from his lighthouse evermore,
But to us, he gives the keeping
of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning,
send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling, seaman,
you may rescue, you may save….
Trim your feeble lamps my brothers,
some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
in the darkness may be lost.
Let your lower lights be burning,
send a gleam across the wave,
Some poor fainting, struggling, seaman,
you may rescue, you may save.”
Let The Lower Lights Be Burning
Philip P. Bliss, 1871—
One of my friends on Face Book posted this last week. I liked it so I looked it up to see if there was a story behind it. It is a hymn written by Phillip Bliss a century ago. He wrote it because of a sermon he heard while he was living in Chicago.
A ship was trying to find the Cleveland harbor at night, in the middle of a storm. Seeing the lighthouse the captain called out, “Is this Cleveland?” When the lighthouse keeper affirmed that it was, the captain shouted,” Where are the lower lights?” “They have gone out..” the light keeper replied. “Can you make the harbor?” The captain shouted, “We must, or we will perish!”
Then he sailed the ship into the harbor, past the lighthouse and crashed into the rocks.
The lower lights talked about in the sermon are the lights below the lighthouse which define the shoreline; the lights from our windows that help vessels come into the harbor at night through the narrow channel.
“The preacher concluded his sermon saying, "Brothers and sisters, the Master will take care of the lighthouse. Let us keep the lower lights burning."
Do you shine a light for the world to see?
August gave us many opportunities to let our lights shine. First we had an earthquake, and then a hurricane blew through the area. Many people on the East Coast are without power and roads. Homes had to be evacuated. Businesses were lost. There have been many stories of people who helped their neighbors. One I enjoyed from New Hampshire or Vermont was of a family without electricity who had a disabled husband and father. A neighbor plugged in an extension cord from her own home to give electricity to her neighbor.
On another note, I’ve never been through a hurricane before. Not even an “almost” Tropical Storm.
I didn’t know how to prepare. We went to the grocery store to pick up some drinking water in case we lost our water in the apartment. The shelves were bare, empty. There was a watermelon though. Will that do in a pinch?
Our Bishop announced after we had the earthquake that he had been planning a “ Preparedness discussion in late September. Now we can discuss preparing for a hurricane also.
The county government scheduled a practice exercise to see if they were ready for a disaster. It was canceled so people could take care of the real thing. Now that we’ve tried it—how did we do?
Did you know that September is national Preparedness month
Are we prepared? Are our lower lights on? Do we know what we need to do better?
We have stored drinking water now, and batteries.
And the watermelon was delicious!
My husband bought me an I Phone for my birthday. I didn’t really need one but his phone needed replacing and I think he thought if I learned how to use one, he could get one later. Meanwhile he’d use my old phone. So far I can do the things I could do on my old cell phone plus play Spider Solitaire. Another advantage it has that my old one didn’t is that, I can download my scriptures and hymns. Picture me standing on the street corner singing a hymn! “I don’t think so!
Now that you know that I don’t understand my new phone, a funny thing happened. We were out running some errands last Saturday and my phone was sitting on my lap. I wasn’t touching it. Randomly it started playing a video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.“ Was this a strange electrical impulse rushing through my phone or a message I should pay attention to?
This past week I went to the temple with a friend. Sitting in the Celestial room I was thinking about the message I wanted to give to you. In the silence I could hear a hymn in my mind, “Come thou Font of Every Blessing” (Robert Robinson)
Come, thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of thy redeeming love.
O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above.
As I think back on my life, I am profoundly grateful for the many blessings I have received. I don’t think I am more deserving than others are but am grateful that my challenges in life were ones that I was able to meet. I look at pictures of the children in Somalia. Could I walk miles carrying my children to find them food? I couldn’t in the shape I’m in. I need to exercise more. I listen to the debates in congress. I’m ready to change parties. No I don’t approve of the other side either. What can I do about the politics of our state, and country. I always vote, I pray for our leaders to make the best decisions for our country. What else can I do to encourage our leaders? Eliza R. Snow, second Relief society general president, taught:” Paul the Apostle anciently spoke of holy women. It is the duty of each one of us to be a holy woman. We shall have elevated aims, if we are holy women. We shall feel that we are called to perform important duties. No one is exempt from them. I hope you will think this month, “How can we become Holy Women”
I haven’t gotten a lot accomplished this past week. I’ve just been too antsy, worried, concerned about my friends and family. Eleven years ago in May, our hometown was set on fire because of a controlled burn set by the US Park service. We all told them not to do it. May is the driest, windiest month of the year. But some times agencies “know better” than citizens. Consequently two hundred structures were burned. Four hundred families were left homeless. Neighborhoods looked like war zones. The community pulled together and was strengthened. A new town was built. And governments learned new strategies.
This week history repeated itself. June is the hottest, driest month in Los Alamos. The fire that is burning in the mountains surrounding my hometown is the largest New Mexico fire in history. (103,842 acres) In less than a week more acreage was burned than the total amount in the May 2000 fire. The flames have turned away from the town now and are headed up the Santa Clara canyon towards a sacred site of the Santa Clara Indian Pueblo. More fire fighters are trying to head it off from there. It’s different fighting on a sacred site. I don’t know if just anyone can go fight the fire. Do you have to be a member of the pueblo? Do you have to be a member of the Religious hierarchy? I remember in the 1960’s when my brother was in the navy. His ship caught on fire while in port in Japan. The local fire department wasn’t allowed aboard the ship. They didn’t have government clearance.Security was sacred. I don’t remember if any one was killed, but a number of sailors ended up in the hospital and families couldn’t get any information about them. I think I have two points that I’m headed towards. The first is a favorite quote of my daughters. I think John Lennon said it. “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Are you prepared to accept the divergences? Secondly, In the Family guidebook, James E.Faust writes, "We unavoidable stand in so many unholy places and are subjected to so much that is vulgar, profane, and destructive of the spirit of the Lord that I encourage our saints all over the world, whenever possible, to strive to stand more often in holy places. Do you have a sacred place that you are ready to defend if no one else can. This could be and should include your home . A member of the Washington DC temple presidency told us we should spend more time in holy places.
I would like to encourage to go to the temple. Go back on the left side, facing the front entrance. ‘If I remember correctly from when I went to my nieces wedding some fifteen years ago, there is a wooded area where you can sit in the shade and look back at the temple. It’s quiet. It’s a good place to look up at the spires, reaching into the heavens, and think. What did you expect from your life twenty years ago. What did you hope life would give you? What were your plans? Has any of it happened to you? Or has life intervened? What can you do to put your life back on that track you had planned and dreamed about?
Last month was kind of interesting. People were waiting for the Second Coming, the Rapture, The End of the World, as we know it. It was all over the news, the Internet, even talk shows and comedy routines had the Rapture as a note of interest. Commentators kept mentioning the scripture in Matthew 24:36
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” But just in case I decided not to go to that R rated movie the night before. Now we find out that we have until October 21 when supposedly, the world ‘really will end! I mention this because we have always been encouraged to prepare ourselves for “every needful thing”. Doctrine and Covenants 109:8 “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God…”
Doctrine and Covenants 109:15 “And that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing;”
I use to be ready. I had a dream one night after the birth of my second son. I dreamed that I went to my neighbor and begged for food for my two children. I knew she had her’s. She was the Relief Society President and had told us of the cabinet that her husband had built in the garage to rotate her canned goods. She said, “ No! I should have been prepared to take care of my own family.” In the next couple of months my husband and I started to get the things we needed to prepare our family. I told Sherrie about my dream and she laughed and said that she would have given me food for the babies but not for me. She loved to tease me.
I had planned to be a wife and mother. That’s all I wanted. But life intervened in the shape of the Viet Nam War. My husband was drafted the night our first child was born. Because “We need to be prepared for every needful thing” I got my degree in Home Economics Education two weeks after he died. With degree in hand and buckets of wheat and cans of honey and dried milk, I moved back home with my two boys to enter a new phase in my life. Twenty-six years later my un-rotated stores of food burned in a fire and I needed to start over.
When I watch the news I think, Rapture or not, there are a lot of life changing events happening in our world for which we are not all prepared. Wars, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, accidents, crime, political unrest, and economic downturns are affecting us and the lives around us. Sit down and make a list. What do you need to do? How can you prepare yourself and your family, physically, emotionally, spiritually for what ever happens in your life. Do you have a job, an education, money saved? My husband doesn’t think I should dwell on disasters happening. I tell him, “I’m a Girl Scout. I am prepared. If you think about what you would do when a crisis happens, you’re one step ahead if it does. And you will know how to move forward.
I am dolphins flying over the waves. I am sand washing castles out to sea. I am starfish basking in the sunlight I am crabs creeping along the shore Waiting for the tide I am children running, running, running
I am angel fish and clown fish floating In the blue lagoon I am turtles tumbling among the rocks I am octopi occupied with summer's opulence I am sea horse watching children hatching I am children running, running, running
The birds are talkative today. Bluebirds skulking across the lawn Robins hiding in the trees Hummingbirds zooming through the air Hitting flowers here and there Looking for a drink Is it Spring? Is it Spring? Is it Spring? They call? Finally!
One day my four year old daughter came home from playing with a neighbor.’ Taylor’s mom makes the best cocoa!” she said. “You don’t like my cocoa?”I replied! In her child like wisdom, she consoled me with, “They’re both good. They’re just different. Years later she was diplomatic with me again when we were discussing the merits of both her father’s and her mother’s churchs. “They’re both good, they’re just different. I was thinking of this last night when I was trying to decide on the best way to make a quilt. I’m teaching a couple of my cousins how to quilt on face book. Trying to explain something I know how to do to someone who has no idea how to do it is much easier to do in person. This quilt is one I have only seen a picture of and don’t know the dimensions of any of the parts. Looking at it, I figured out how to do a version of it and made a quilt top. Seeing my directions a friend said it was done another way and we tried on face book to come up with directions. So far we have four methods of doing this quilt. They all come out with a warm cuddly work of art. All are good, just slightly different. This kind of thing comes up a lot in my life. My husband and I are of a different sex, and religion. He’s a Democrat. I’m a Republican. I come from the less populated Southwest and he’s from big city life on the east coast. I have a large family and he’s an only child. But we love each other and our children. We enjoy the things we have in common and tolerate eachother’s idiosyncrasies. And we encourage each other to excel in our individuality. Another cousin was discussing with me the different family lifestyles we had. Our fathers were brothers, so why was our upbringing so different. Is it better for children to have to toe the line exactly or be given a little freedom to grow in a slightly other direction. Thinking of my mother’s love of gardening I can compare this to having a formal Italian garden with everything in precise rows, or a country garden where plants grow around the rocks, and trees, and maybe a stream. Both can be beautiful but different. In one of our conference talks this April, Jean A. Stevens, First Counselor in the Primary general Presidency said,
“It was Jesus Christ Himself who taught us to look to children as an example. The New Testament records His answer when His Apostles disputed who should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answered their question with a small yet powerful object lesson. He called a little child to Him and set him in the midst of them and said:
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).
What is it we should learn from children? What qualities do they possess and what examples do they demonstrate that can help us in our own spiritual development?
These precious children of God come to us with believing hearts. They are full of faith and receptive to feelings of the Spirit. They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive. If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth. “ From my child I have learned that there are many people on this earth that see things differently than I do. I’m trying to love them and accept them as children of God. They are good, even though they are different
4:20 in the morning the fire alarms started blaring again. It seems like we have one every other month. I was already up sitting on a pack of ice because I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder. It didn’t take long to dress and leave the apartment. Unfortunately I didn’t have my keys.
The alarms are off, the cat has settled down again and my husband is back in bed trying for another hour of sleep. Luckily for us he had his keys.
I was remembering the last time we got to sprint down the stairs for an alarm. One of our neighbors, a new resident, had left her apartment in her pajamas without coat, shoes, keys, or the ability at the moment at least to speak much English. Sitting with her I wished I had at least a blanket to give her as she waited for someone to help her. This morning as I left my apartment, I grabbed my little quilt to take with me, but changed my mind and took a wool poncho as well as my jacket. I didn’t see her though. Either she was better prepared this time or has moved on.
I have often thought back about that incident and wished I had at least offered her my warm socks or jacket. I regret having passed up an opportunity for service.
I remember many years ago sitting in a Mac Donald’s in Oxford, England, sharing a burger and fries with my three-year-old daughter. A Homeless woman came up to us and begged our fries. She scared my daughter and made me nervous. I asked the manager to ask her to leave. For many, many years I’ve wished I had given the manager some money and asked him to get her some food. More regrets.
I remember going to a single adult conference one year and listening to a motivational speaker. I only remember her first name, Lillian, but I remember what she said. She told us that she believed that we are each given a number of doors to open, to help others. Each door is meant for us, but the choice is ours. Will we open them and help, or ignore them. She told us about one she had opened gladly, one she had opened reluctantly and one someone else had to take that should have been hers. She related the joy, the repentance, and the sorrow she felt for each of her actions I wonder often, if in my selfish life, the noise I spread around me keeps me from hearing the knocking on my doors. How many opportunities for service have I missed? The Church News has an article about our stake in it. The McLean stake had a service Expo in March. It was a grand time. Four hundred people got to enjoy a couple of hours of service to help our fellow men. I’m glad that this year I took the opportunity to share. I’m already excited to start preparing for next March. Hope I see you there.
Teach me to feel another’s woe, To hide the faults I see, That mercy I to others show That mercy show to me.
The cat won’t stay off my lap. It seems like anytime I sit down so does she-- on me. Even at night her favorite place to sleep is on my hip, especially if I have been away for a few days. I am her security. The rabbit was the same way. When the cats started chasing her she would jump into my lap and cry. I even had a little dog that would hide her eyes in my armpit when the fireworks or thunderstorms started. I don’t understand why they all didn’t go to my husband or children. Was I more comforting or just sitting more often? I know my children would come to me when their worlds were getting chaotic. They still call when things are going on in their lives just to talk and get some comforting feedback. I miss my Mom and being able to call and tell her things. She was always my security, bolstering my own independence and confidence.
I remember sitting in the car outside the church during an evacuation for a forest fire. Traffic wasn’t moving and we were essentially parked for the night. Luckily we were in front of the church which was open for bathrooms, donuts, updates and comforting arms. In the car we listened to the radio saying that our whole neighborhood was burned to the ground. My daughter cried and we talked about how we had the important things. We had our family, our pets and we were all safe. At dawn the cars on our street were able to move onto the main street and we met up with my husband and son and were able to caravan to Albuquerque and meet up with my parents. The radio report was wrong and so far lower Arizona Ave. had not burned. The fire stopped across the street from our house.
I remember a radio program that played on our local station when I was growing up it started with the announcer saying “Be still and know that I am God” As I was sitting in the temple the last time I went, I was thinking of all the chaos going on in the Middle East. I looked around the room. It had no windows. You couldn’t see the world outside and I remember thinking “I am not out in the world. I am safe and secure. That’s why I love to go to church on Sunday. For a few hours I am safe and secure—away from the world. What makes you feel secure? What is your safety? I asked my husband thinking he would say having a job and money saved makes me feel secure. He said, "Prayer." Knowing God would listen makes him feel secure.
In the scriptures there are many references to man’s yearning for security and safety
Job 11:18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.
Moroni 1:3 And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whither soever I can for the safety of mine own life.
Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
She loves her words, Everything crisp in black and white. Using similes, metaphors, hanging participles- Students Raging with anger Rolling with Fear, longing, humor and romance Use words to Command the universe Nurture a family Teach the next generation. A poet, a teacher, a writer Words Rule.
February 2011 and the world’s gone crazy! What ever happened to love?
Through the years I have been making quilts for all of my mother’s grand children at her request. The one I finished last month was for my son Michael. While I was quilting it the other day, I was listening to a CD of religious music. Suddenly, “Love One Another” by Luacine Clark Fox started playing. It was the theme for Michael’s mission.
Back then we still had Missionary Farewells at church. He asked his little six-year-old sister to play the hymn on the piano and sing it during the meeting. She had only been taking lessons for a year but she agreed to do it because she loved him. That morning we found out that one of the speakers for the day was ill and wouldn’t be coming. So Michael asked his sister to also tell the story of Jonah and the Whale. She didn’t think she knew the story well enough, but he convinced her to tell the story as I sat on the floor behind the railing, coaching. We loved Michael, and wanted his day to go well. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh and tried to run away. But eventually he was convinced to go and call the people to repentance.. Then he sat back and waited. He was going to watch them be destroyed because he knew they would not repent. But the people believed him and repented.. And the Lord loved Nineveh and spared them. Naīnuwa;i Persian: (Nineveh) was an ancient city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in ancient Assyria. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq. As I read about it’s history I made note of all the times it was at war, how many times it was destroyed and how many times it’s people have regrouped and started again. I hope that this time the area will be able to survive peacefully. I know that in spite of being at war in Iraq, there are many soldiers who have learned to love the people of Iraq as they have worked with them. But that area of the world is still in turmoil. It seems to get worse every time I turn on the news.
Here at home we also see many stories of man’s anger against his family, his neighbor, his government. What has happened to the world’s love of and for humanity?
Because Valentines Day is in February I hope you will think about love. What are you doing about it? Do you feel it? Can you help it? What ever happened to love? And What Are you doing about it? I challenge you to do a loving act each day for our brothers and sisters; for our neighbors and friends; for the world in which we live . Do it from the time you read this letter till the last day of the month. That’s less than 28. Have a wonderful month!
This year we will be studying the history of Relief Society. Julie Beck , Relief Society general president says “ Understanding our history is not only important, it is essential. An understanding of our history inspires us to be the women of God we need to be. Our history teaches that the same principles that existed in the early church are our foundation principles today. As we value our history, we can better share our spiritual heritage. Understanding our history helps make us an effective part of the future of relief Society.” President Spencer W. Kimball explained, “We know that women who have deep appreciation for the past will be concerned about shaping a righteous future.”
I guess that the older I get the more I enjoy history. For the past year I have been reading about the countries of the origin of my ancestors, Scotland, Germany and Northern England. I’ve read letters and diaries of my father’s brothers, and uncles. I recently heard that my brother found my mother’s childhood diary, which I am just itching to get hold of.
I dreamed I was at a funeral—People were reminiscing about the life of their loved one. I wondered as I do whenever I go to a funeral, what people would say at mine. I look at the things my family has accomplished, and I admire them. Most of the time I feel like a slug on a log. I guess living with me day in and day out I don’t see the things I do. I was pleased when given a compliment from a friend to see that I have done something notable in my life. It’s nice when someone cares enough to give a lift to another’s soul.
In reading a book about the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce I read this quote. It made me contemplate my current existence. “Life should mean achievement in great things and small, Without achievements, life is merest existence, of neither virtue nor relish.” Bishop Lamburton in Robert the Bruce The Price of the Kings Peace Nigel Tranter
Bishop Lamburton and King Robert were contemplating the end of their lives, grateful that they had been able to accomplish their dream of a free and united Scotland, and the rebuilding of the great St. Andrews Cathedral.
In the last year of my father’s life we would begin each day thinking about what we would do for that day, and at the end we felt it was a good day if we had managed to do one thing. In his case that one thing might just be to get out of bed. Being thirty some years younger I felt I had to do better than that. But still some days making the bed is not the only thing I do, but the only thing I finish. I tend to flit from thing to thing not being able to settle down and finish. There are so many books to read, people to talk to, quilts to make, paintings to paint, and poems and stories to write. I don’t know where to begin. I find myself longing to leave my history somewhere, in some way--proof that I existed. As we enter the New Year, what’s calling to you? What do you want to add to your history?
Frosty is what I think of today Frosty breaths in the passing crowds Frosty sidewalks catching walkers unaware The exhaust from the cars rising in the cold air Chrystal ice gleams from the branches of trees Light shimmers in the atmosphere Laughing people making their way about their day The new year Holding its breath
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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