When faced with life's challenges,
it is Important to Remember
that although Daniel was saved from the lions,
he was not saved from the Lion's Den.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Alleluia in a Shopping Mall

I have several other blogs that I follow.  One of them is Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  They have wonderful recipes and I have tried many of them.  They also do a Sabbath day devotional that references favorite scriptures.  I always come away feeling uplifted and edified.  They showed this video on their blog for Sunday.  I love it and wanted to also share it with others on my blog.  I hope that you also love it.  I have sang this song so many times in my life and love it.  I love the watch the way the audience just lights up.  It just makes me feel good.

I think that is what makes this season so special for me.  It just makes me feel good!  I love the fact that (most) people are a little nicer, a little friendlier, they smile a little bit more and complain a little bit less.  I hope that each of us remember the reason for this season of Joy.  No matter how we celebrate it, if we can put Him first, it will be a wonderful season of good cheer. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Becoming Acquainted With God

"Of all the illustrations of faith in the Lord, few stories are more powerful than that told of the pioneer who years later stood to defend the decision of the Martin Handcart Company to start for the Salt Lake Valley late in the year of 1856. He had been one of the nearly 3,000 Saints who walked from Iowa and Nebraska to Utah between 1856 and 1860 in one of 10 companies pushing and pulling handcarts loaded with their belongings.
"In a Sunday School class there was sharp criticism of the ill-fated Martin and Willie Handcart Companies, which met with tragedy because of their late start on the trek to the Salt Lake Valley.
An elderly man arose and said: “I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts … give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife … too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.
“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company” (as quoted in David O. McKay, “Pioneer Women,” The Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8).
Our pioneer forefathers were tried and tested in the fires of affliction. By the time these faithful Saints reached the Salt Lake Valley, their testimonies and devotion had been strengthened from the trial of their faith. They had learned what it means to be completely submissive to God’s will."   Ensign, Faith in Every Footstep By Elder Robert L. Backman, Jan. 1997.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Simple Moment - Keeping Warm in the Winter

This moment

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Life hands you lemons, try pressure cooking!

You should know that I love Thanksgiving more than almost any other holiday.  I love the theme of gratitude and the love of family, that go with it.  I love trying to make good food all day long and having the people I love the most, enjoy it.  Most of all, I love spending time with my family.  It is so nice to get everyone together again and remember that feeling of belonging for the rest of the year.
A couple of years ago, we drove down to the valley for Thanksgiving at the home of one of our daughters.  Most of the adult kids were going to be there, along with the grandkids and the friends.  We were so excited to get to spend the day with our family.  We were excited to enjoy the company of everyone. 
My son was bringing the turkey and a fryer.  He wanted us to taste the 'fried turkey' sensation that everyone else was raving about.  So, we drove the three hours to my daughters house and tried to get everything ready.  We had a set time for dinner, we had everything prepared and organized to be done at the same time, everything was assembled,waiting, except for the turkey.  My son and his family finally arrived, an  hour or so late, with the much coveted turkey fryer.  He put the peanut oil into the pan which proceeded to dump the oil back out onto the ground almost as fast as it was being poured in.  Imagine our feelings as our anticipation turned to dread and despair! 
You see, a turkey takes about an hour to fry, but several hours to cook in an oven the conventional way.  It was dinner time with no turkey in sight and no way to cook it. 

So, what do you do when life throws a few lemons your way??   I did what any self respecting guru of a large tribe of kids would do.  I dumped the potatoes out of the pressure cooker, cut the turkey in half, put it inside the cooker and started pressuring it!  We baked our stuffing, put everything else in the oven to warm, and in less than an hour, we were eating our fill of thanksgiving dinner. 
I honestly can't say it was the most beautiful dinner I have ever seen, but I can say that it tasted amazing and we were so grateful to be able to eat everything together, that we really did not mind it. 
For me, Thanksgiving is about family.  It is about working together, playing together, eating together and just being appreciative of everyone's efforts.  For me, it would not matter what time the dinner was, or what we had to eat, as long as everyone shows up.  For me, it is the coming together from our own various activities and lives that make this a special and joyful holiday.  It is finding the time to take the things that matter most and give them priority. 

Today, the memories of this most unique Thanksgiving are what we laugh about and kid each other about.  This was probably (I am pretty sure most definately) our most memoriable Thanksgiving ever!  The kids tease me about pressuring the turkey and ask if I am sure that I don't want to try that this year.  I must admit, it was a lot faster to cook and we did not spend all day waiting for it to finish!  Nor did I have to fight to use the oven, the roaster, or the grill.  However, there is no way to pleasingly present a turkey that has been pressure cooked.  There is just so much you can do with turkey shreds.  It is just cooked turkey.  You make it look the best you can, and you are grateful that you are actually eating a home-cooked turkey and not having to take the entire family out to dinner somewhere else!

No matter how hard we try, we are going to have things go wrong in our lives from time to time.  Somebody is going to be mad, someone is going to get their feelings hurt, someone is going to be sick, someone is going to be late.  There are so many things that could happen, and so many things that will happen as time goes on.  We can't change what is happening to us.  We can't change the things that are just part of life.  The only thing we can change is our own attitude about it and how we will deal with it.  We can't change the past, but we can start today and change our own future.  We can cheerfully learn to deal with our difficulties.  We can learn to laugh every once in awhile.  We can learn to be grateful for all of our other blessings, because, you see, when you focus on the blessings, your whole world changes.  You start to see what your Heavenly Father sees when He looks at you.  Regardless of our faults and failings, we are each aspiring to be more like Christ and giving Him our very best efforts.  As we do that, we get all kinds of fabulous blessings in return, and the good stuff far, far outweighs the bad stuff in the grand sum of life's adventures
So, work today to develop a habit of gratitude, Shift your focus from that one thing you don't have, to all the marvelous things the Lord has given you. As you focus on your blessings and define yourself by what and who you are, you'll be surprised by how much you really do have to be grateful for.

And, no matter what life throws at you, remember that you really CAN pressure cook a turkey!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Today, I know that I have so much to be thankful for.  Sometimes, we can get so caught up in what is "wrong" with our lives, that we forget how many things are really right with them.  I know that Heavenly Father blesses me everyday.  He blesses my family.  He watches over us and guides us.  I know, that no matter how bad things seem, they could be so much worse.  So, for this wonderful thanksgiving day, I am thankful for the many, many blessings which are a part of my life.  I am thankful for my children, both the grown and the not yet grown.  They have truly given me so much joy in my journey.  I am thankful for my husband who loves me unconditionally.  Who never yells at me, or tries to make me feel guilty.  Who lets me be exactly who I am right now, and somehow, that is always enough for him.  I am thankful for the gospel in my life and for the opportunity that I have to serve.  I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that He loves me, that He has provided a way for me to live with Him again.  I am thankful for friends who make the road a little less rocky and who light my way.  Today, I am thankful for my trials.  They give me strength and understanding, compassion and tenacity.  I am thankful for the things that I have had the opportunity to learn.  Sometimes, I have had to learn the hard way, but I have not forgotten the lesson. 
I want to share with you two of my favorite quotes for Thanksgiving.  I think that they express the reason why this is such a sacred day, far better than I ever could. 

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
~H.U. Westermayer~

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."  
~W.J. Cameron~

I am linking this to a blog hop on things you are thankful for.  I hope you enjoy reading about other's blessings.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who do we want to be like?

When I went to Time Out For Women a little over a month ago, I was privilaged to hear Sherry Dew speak.  She was really very amazing.  She shared how important it is to realize that the Lord knows who we are.  The Lord knows where we are, and the Lord knows exactly what we need in order to accomplish our missions.
She talked about the old Candid Camera show that was around when I was a child.  In case you don't know, this was a show were there were people who were "in on the joke" and a person who was completely clueless as to what was going on.  Many of the episodes used that to show how people were easily influenced to do whatever the rest of the crowd was doing.  People don't want to stand out and be different.  They want to blend in.  They want to be "normal".  No matter how ridiculous it might seem.
She asked us "How easily are you influenced?  Who is influencing you?  What kind of influence are you having over others?"  All very good questions and worth pondering today.
Who is it that wants you to believe you are not good enough?  Who has the most to gain by teaching you not to value yourself?  I think it is important to realize that Satan will always tell us that we are not good enough at anything that we are doing.  He wants us to believe that there is no hope for us.  He wants us to give up.

This commercial shows everything done to the model to make an image that is good enough to put on a billboard.  But this image isn't even her.
How impaired are we when what we are comparing ourselves to isn't even real?
Comparison is the fast track to misery.  It is the Satan's way and not the Lord's way.  For this glorious Thanksgiving season, my prayer is that we will each get out of the business of comparison.  It doesn't make sense in today's world.  We can always find someone better, or even someone worse.  And we can even be comparing ourselves to someone who is not even real.  So, when life hands you doubts, remember my favorite part of the Young Women's theme:
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places”...
Remember who you are and where you came from.  Remember that He loves you just as you are, not the you that you are thinking you should be.  He knows and loves the person behind the mask that you wear.  
May we each strive to be a little less influenced by the fake realities of the world and more influenced by Him who truly loves each of us.   

Oh!  That each, in the day, 
of His coming, may say,
"I have fought my way through;
I have finished the work
Thou didst give me to do."  
Oh! That each from the Lord,
may receive that glad word,
"Well and faithfully done!
Enter into my Joy
and sit down on my throne".

This short quote is taken from a very old book, titled, "The Family Minstral".  And is part of The New Years Hymn.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life can be a brick!

I know so many people who are having a hard time this holiday season.  I don't seem able to do enough to help those who need it.  So, today I am going to share one of my favorite stories.  Variations of this story have been around a long time.  I even remember hearing it long before there were computers to keep track of my favorite stories!

The Brick - Anonymous
As a young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door. The angry driver slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. He jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"
The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister ... please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother,' he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."
Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."
Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.
"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger.
Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.
The moral of this story is pretty simple.  
 Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

Think about that for a minute or two.  Are you like the man in the story?  Does someone have to throw a brick at you?  Sometimes, I know that I have had to have a few bricks thrown my way to make me take notice.  Especially when I am so involved in my own problems that I don't take the time to notice those around me.  My family, especially, can take a backseat to my unresolved issues.  Sometimes, I need a brick to remind me of what is most important of all.
Since we are close to Thanksgiving, I want you to take a deep breath, and think of three things right now that you are grateful for. Can you do it? Can you honestly think of just three things?  In all of your life, are there only three things that you have received that you can be grateful for?
Life can be so hard. It can bruise our hearts and our souls. It can bring about pain and grief. Yet, in the midst of all, our Heavenly Father still offers us peace. There is comfort, strength and hope if we only know where to find it.
When my heart is hurting, I have found comfort in remembering my blessings.  It seems as if, when I bother to acknowledge them, my life shifts ever so slightly and I start to realize how much I have been blessed.  When I am grateful for the gifts I have received, I find even more in my life to be grateful for.  I don't understand it, but it seems as if a little gratitude on my part, can quite simply, change my perception of life.  And that change, means that the bricks aren't quite so necessary.  When I am grateful for the things I have been given, I notice more around me.  I see more of what needs me.  I feel closer to those who love me.  And best of all, I become more of the person that I am really trying to be.  

"And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments" (D&C 59:20-21).
This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help. "We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."
--Thomas S. Monson, "An Attitude of Gratitude," Ensign, Feb. 2000, 2

Our task is to become our best selves. One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."
--Thomas S. Monson, "The Will Within," Ensign, May 1987, 67

Monday, November 22, 2010

Try A Little Kindness

Today, I am posting over at Mormon Mommy Blogs as well as my usual post on this site.  I hope you have a moment to go and read it.  Have a wonderful day!

The Daffodil Principle

I was searching the internet  for an idea for a post today and found this story.  It is actually one of my favorites.  I hope that you enjoy the thought and that it encourages you to change whatever needs changing in your life, today.

The Daffodil Principle
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn!
The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!" My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car." How far will we have to drive?" "Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this." After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't the way to the garage!"
"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils." "Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden." We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.
"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well kept A frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. 
The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.
I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun-one bulb at a time-to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time-often just one baby-step at a time - and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.
It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"
So many of us get wrapped into our yesterdays with all of the should'a, could'a, would'a, things that go with that.  We can be so hard on ourselves and our mistakes.  The truth of the matter is that none of us are perfect.  None of us can change the past, we can't change the things we did or the things that were done to us.  But every one of us can start today and change the direction we are going.  We can change our path, and we can even change the ending of it.  We just have to start.  So, start today and do something that will benefit someone else.  Do something that you have always wanted to do.  Plant a few daffodil's in your life and see what kind of beauty you can bring to pass.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, our minds turn to the subject of gratitude. In the most recent General Conference, our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, talked about the importance of gratitude. He started his sermon with a story from Luke 17 in the Bible. This chapter tells of Jesus Christ who encountered ten lepers. They pleaded with him to heal them of their lepresy, so they could return to their previous lives. Jesus instructed them to show themselves to the priests, which they did. They were healed, but only one turned back to thank Jesus for His service to them. Jesus noted the gratitude of the man and blessed him for it.

It was not that Jesus needed their gratitude. It was that the men needed to be grateful. Being thankful and noting that their blessings come from God, not their own doing, helps them to continue on the path to their Heavenly Father. Only when we recognize His hand in our lives can we become everything God wants us to be.
As we start our week of Thanksgiving, let us not forget the give gratitude to those who have influenced out lives and let us remember to be thankful for the small everyday gifts that we receive.  I have found that when I am truly grateful for the small things in my life, I can see and appreciate the other things that are always there if I only take the time to look.  All roads have led me here.  I am so thankful for the place I am in.  

"And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments" (D&C 59:21). 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Simple Moment

This Moment

A single photo (or two) – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Modesty Freckle

Today,  I am going to do a repost of an article I wrote several months ago and it was published on Mormon Mommy Blogs, where I am a regular contributor.  I love to write and do not usually write the same articles on the sites that I write for.  However, this was one of my favorites and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you like it as much as I do. 

My children were just in a play put on by the local college. The play was "101 Dalmations". It has always been one of my favorites. The kids all practiced and worked and auditioned. Anya was a chihuahua, Kayla was a poodle (french, I might add) and Miracle was the woman, Anita, in the play. They each had lines and costumes and they had so much fun! Everyday was an adventure with laughter and smiles, so you can imagine my consternation when Miracle came home one day with tears in her eyes.

"What is the matter, darling?"
"Doesn't look like nothing to me?" (My standard reply to that answer).
"Something happened at play practice today and I don't know what to do about it."
"So, would you like a little help with that nothing?"
She smiled through her tear blurred eyes, and then told me how her costume did not have sleeves.
It was three fingers wide across her shoulders, but there were no sleeves.

Now, I don't know what rules anyone else has in their families. I don't want anyone else to think that I am judging them because their choice is different than mine. I don't know how you feel about sleeveless. I sometimes don't even know how I feel about it. But this is a choice we have made for these little girls.
We have decided that, for our family, it works best if we all have the same dresscode. I believe that if I raise them to go to the Temple, they will go. I want them to have those blessings and not have to buy new wardrobes on that most sacred of days. So, from the time they are born, my little girls have not worn sleeveless dresses or two piece swimming suits. They have not worn shorts above their knees. As you can see, we take our modesty very seriously around here.
This is the difficulty that Miracle found herself in. The costume she was supposed to wear was sleeveless. She asked me what she should do. So, we had a discussion about plays and costumes and how sometimes on stage we had to dress differently than we would normally. I talked to her about the world and how different people had different ideas about what is modest and what is not. Than, asked her how she felt.
She told me that she has a freckle on her arm that no one has ever seen. It is right at the top of her shoulder and is covered by her sleeves. She calls this one of her modesty freckles. Then she told me how she has another freckle just above her knee and how that freckle has never been seen because her shorts, skirts or pants always cover it. She explained to me that both of her freckles could be seen in her costume.
I asked if the hem could be lengthened or if she could wear a shirt under it to cover. She said "no". She told me that the dress was a very dressy dress and it couldn't be altered easily. I asked her what she wanted to do about it and she replied that she did not know and needed to think about it for awhile. I told her that it was up to her and I would support her even if she needed to wear that costume, or even if she ended up with a different part.
Life went on for a week or so, and I did not hear anything more about her freckles or the costume. I am ashamed to admit that I was afraid to ask. You see, I really wanted her to be in the play and I was afraid if she told them she would not wear the costume, they would take her out of that role in the play. I really want my girls to have the experience of theatre, music and dancing. It can bring such joy into their lives.
We went to the play and onto the stage walked my little, young woman, Miracle. Wearing the costume that was originally made for her, with a few alterations.
You see, she is not like her mother. She did not feel good about that dress. So the next day, she went to the director and the costume designer and told them that she did not feel comfortable. That in our family, we don't dress like that. That it is not modest enough for her. Do you know what they did? Those wonderful people (who are not LDS I might add) put sleeves on her dress. They put a ruffle on her slip and it looks like it all goes together. Both her freckles were covered and her face just lit up the stage with joy.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58.)
We can not hide what we are. (Nor should we ever try!) It shines forth from within us. Today, I learned just how how much of a light we can be!
I learned from my sweet young daughter that we all need to stand on a hill and not be hid. We need to wave our lights proudly and with enthusiasm. We need to stand up for those things we believe in. We need to make that stand with nothing wavering, not in our hearts, nor our minds. We need to KNOW that our prayers will be answered and that we are in the right.
We need to know and understand that He will stand by us as we learn to stand by Him. We need to remember that nothing changes unless we are willing to start that change first within our own hearts.
My daughter taught me that, with a little help from a couple of freckles, you can stand up for the things that are most important to you. Each one of us really can make a difference.

Oh yeah, and you have to admit, that she looks so, well, shiny!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Scale is Not My Friend

"Don't step on it.....it makes you cry"

As many of you know, I have become a dieting fiend.  I have been eating next to nothing and losing weight that took me years to put on.  I have lost over 40 lbs.  It has been hard, discouraging work.  I would venture to say that it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. 
Food has always been my way of treating myself.  When we could not afford many things, I could always cook cinnamon rolls from scratch, make up a few cookies, and even experiment with packaged cake mixes.  I love to cook.  I love the smell that wafts through my kitchen when something is baking.  I love the planning, the preparation and the actual event of eating. 
So, dieting has made me change a lot of areas in my life.  It has made me learn patience, tenacity, and will-power.  I still have a ways to go.  I still need to lose some more of the weight before I am through.  I have learned that I will probably have to "diet" all the rest of my life.  It doesn't mean I can never have treats.  After all, moderation should be good in all things!  However, I can't treat myself every day.  I can't eat sugar like it is one of the four food groups.  (And probably the main one at that). 
So, I now have rituals that I go through to give me the motivation I need to continue on this path.  The first one is the weigh in.  As soon as I get up in the morning, I weigh myself on the bathroom scale.  I am always nervous for this part.  Did I eat too much yesterday?  Did I cheat?  Do my pajamas weigh 10 lbs or only 2?  You know, all those fun things that run through your mind.  Yesterday, I stepped on my scale and it read simply "LO".  What????  Seriously??? I have never seen that one before.  Does it miss the days of sagging under my weight?  Why in the world would it say "LO"?  I know that I have not lost THAT much weight.  So, I came to find out that the battery is not working correctly and now I can't weigh myself until I get a new one.  It doesn't show anything except "LO".  What is a woman to do???  I seriously thought about making some Oreo truffels to celebrate.  But, instead, I am still being nearly reasonable.  I only snuck off to Subway for a 6 inch sub!  (Totally not on my diet, but can I just say it was heavenly???)

I think that the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) can be a lot like this little scale.  That so small, quiet inner voice that directs us in the way we should go.  Sometimes it reveals things about us that we do not want to know.  We do not want to face.  We do not want to admit. 
Sometimes, it forces us to see ourselves as we really are and to make changes into what we would really like to be.  Sometimes, that small voice just motivates us to be a little better than we originally thought we could.  It helps us to stretch a littler further.  It helps us to fix what is wrong around us and make it right. 
So today, I am thankful for that quiet inner voice that is willing to lead me, motivate me, and encourage me.  I am thankful that I have been taught to listen and obey.  I am actually thankful that it rarely is silenced.  I am thankful that I have been willing to learn from this peaceful, inner voice.   

At the moment, my motivation to continue this diet is gone.  But I know that I will be heading out to Walmart tonight and looking for a little stinkin battery to put back in the scale.  Because, I have learned a lot from that simple, small appliance that reigns over the bathroom of my house. 
And let me just say for the record, It is so NOT my friend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scars in the Soul

Today, I am exhausted.  Work has been hard, and I have had no time for myself.  My workday started at 7:00am and I did not get home until after 8:00pm.  The joys of auditing.  So, forgive me if I just share a story that I found.  I loved it.  I think it is so very true.  Most of all it stirred my soul and reminded me that His love is the very thing that I need most.  He has the scars for me.  I hope that you find some truth in it too and that you think about the scars He bears for you.
Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother, in the house was looking out the window, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. >From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn't let go." You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, or anything quite so dramatic, but, the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you. If you have Christ in your life, you have become a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins, and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not - and will not - let you go.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lessons in Photography

Oh, how I love photography.  Taking pictures of people and places and things.  Finding the love and the joy in creating something that looks amazing.  I have rediscovered myself behind the lens of my camera in the past couple of months. 
Once upon a time, many years ago, my ex-husband owed me a lot of money.  He did not have it, so he gave me a camera that he did not use instead.  I learned to take pictures.  I learned about composition.  I learned about color and dynamics.  In short, I learned everything I could about this new gift.  It is probably one of the best gifts that I ever received.  I had very few pictures of my kids at that time.  I never had a nice camera.  For years, not even a cheap camera.  So, this was an amazing gift to someone who had never done photo's before.
I took a class and met someone who loved my composition skills.  I started working with him at weddings and learned what type of pictures people want and will buy.  I learned where to take the film to develop it.  I learned how much to charge.  I learned to be good. 
There was a time for many years when I did pictures on my own.  It was my third job that I used to help support the kids and myself through the difficult years.  I have done weddings, funerals, graduations, family events, and my own children's pictures.  I have learned what I like and what I don't like. 
Times change, and I pretty much got out of the photography business.  Equipment changes, and I could not afford a digital.  Film prices sky rocket and I could not affort the expense of the hobby that no longer paid for itself. 
I have wanted a good camera for a very long time.  Finally, this year, I was able to buy one.  It happens to be my Mother's day, Birthday and Christmas gift for the next ten years!  (at least!)  It is a Nikon D200 and I bought it used.  It has more buttons and dials on it than any camera I have ever used before.  It has more meters and gadgits on it then I have ever imagined.  I find myself in the position where I need to relearn everything that I thought I knew about taking pictures.  This camera is not automatic in any way, (well, except focusing, it will do that if I want it to!).  So, I have to admit that I have never been this perplexed with learning anything. 
Still, I have tenacity, and I will learn!  So, I thought about the ways I could go about learning.  I looked on the internet.  I bought books.  I read about other photographers.  And, finally, I started my own separate blog.  It is a blog about photography.  It is a 365 day journey that I am doing as I learn to take pictures all over again.  It is also much harder than when I learned to take them before.  There is much more to remember than I remembered! 
The funny things is that I am actually learning.  I am doing.  When I look at my pictures, even from a mere two months ago, the changes are there.  Small ones, but changes nevertheless.  I can see a difference.  I don't need to edit as much, or take as many pictures before I find "the perfect one".
I think we each have challenges like my photography.  You have probably heard the old saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks".  I have found that to be 100% wrong.  It might be a little harder to teach the 'old dog', but they can change just as well as a new one.
We will each face times in our lives when we will need to change.  We will need to risk, to move, to grow, to have an adventure.  Everyone of us face trials and difficulties in life.  But, we can change.  We can't change the past, but we can start today and change the path we are on.  We can even change the ending of it.  It might take a little (or even a lot) of tenacity, but it is possible.
I think it starts when we visualize the end that we want.  Then we look at where we are right now and draw a new path to get there.  For me, that path has led me back to photography.  It has led me closer to family.  It has led me home.
I challenge you to find something in your life that you want to change.  Something that gives you joy.  That makes you feel.  That gives you comfort, challenge and skill.  Then, go and do it.

By the way, if you want to see any of my pictures, you can check them out over at A Moment in Time
this month, every post I am doing is about black and white photography.  I am getting back to basics and learning as I go.  I miss the color, but I am also learning much more about light and shadow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two Horses

I was browsing the internet today and found this story.  I love it.  It says exactly what I wanted to say.  I hope you love it too. 

Two Horses
Author unknown

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse.
But if you get a closer look you will notice something quite interesting...
One of the horses is blind.
His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made him a safe and comfortable barn to live in.
This alone is pretty amazing.
But if you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. It is coming from a smaller horse in the field.
Attached to the horse's halter is a small, copper-colored bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.
As you stand and watch these two friends you'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting he will not be led astray.
When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, he will stop occasionally to look back, making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.
Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect. Or because we have problems or challenges.
He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.
Sometimes we are the blind horse, being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.
And at other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way.
I think it is also important to add that we each choose how much help we are going to be.  We can choose to stop, wait, and help.  Or we can simply choose to go on without giving of ourselves.  Heavenly Father has given each of us the opportunity to choose what we will do with our lives.  May we each use it to bless others along their way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Gratitude for All Things

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

Today, let us seek to be grateful for what we do have.  My challenge this week is to be grateful everyday for at least one thing.  Focus on what is going right in your life.  Focus on a moment, or a thought, or the answer to prayer.  I have found that the more time I take to be grateful, the more I find in my life to be grateful for.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Simple Moment

This Moment

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The most difficult things

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, 'I was wrong.'”
~Sydney J. Harris

I read this the other day, and it really touched my heart with it's truth.  Especially in the disposable world we live in today.  Think about how hard it is to return love for hate.  How difficult it is to be nice, when others around you are not.  Think for a moment how easy it is to follow the crowd.  How much you want to blend in and not be different.  Think how very embarrassing it is to admit that you were wrong and to do your best to make it right.  All of these seemingly simple things seem to me to be the ones that are most difficult to be true to.  And yet, if we are, how much more Christlike would we be?

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love".  Mother Teresa

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

I love Veteran's day.....

On Veterans Day, Americans honor all living military veterans, including the many working moms who are veterans of military service. Here are some other Veterans Day facts you may not know.

Veterans Day is always observed on Nov. 11 with speeches and parades across the U.S. The holiday began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I.

* In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance.

* In 1938, Nov. 11 became a national holiday.

* In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day in order to honor veterans of all American wars.

 Once known as Armistice Day the modern celebration of Veterans Day has its origins in the end of World War I. Rather than a commemoration of war this mid-November legal holiday is intended to coincide with the historic resumption of peace among nations. Naturally those who did not return from the battle front are the focus of much of the interest but living veterans are honored as well.
  • November 11, 1919 was the first day Armistice Day was celebrated. Germany signed the armistice slowing the hostilities of WW1 in the 11th month, on the 11th day, during the 11th hour.
  • November 11 is both a federal and state holiday.
  • June 1, 1954 was when the United States changed the name to Veterans Day, honoring all military veterans.
  • Between 1971 and 1977 Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.
  • Arlington National Cemetery has a ceremony every year on Veterans Day honoring those who died during war.
  • There are roughly 24 million living veterans.
  • During World War II Disney made films for each branch of the United States government.
  • 400,000 of the United States Armed Forces died during WWII
Hope you liked these fun facts.  Now go out and say "Thank You" to a Vet.  

Bravery doesn't mean you aren't scared.  It means you go anyway.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Bended Knee

A very long time ago, when life was a little harder, I wrote a song.  I have even sang it in public, although I know that I need to rewrite the music someday.  I thought that I would share the words with you today and hope that if you need comfort in your life, you will find what you are seeking.

On Bended Knee
by Patricia A Pitterle

Father, are you listening?
Do you hear the words that I pray?
Can you touch the heart of an anguished soul
Who is uncertain and afraid?
My trials have overcome me.
I can't bear them anymore.
I am seeking for your guidance.
I am knocking at your door.

Father, are you listening?
The need to know is here.
Will you help me walk this storm-tossed sea?
Let me feel your presence near.
On bended knee, with broken heart
I humbly bow my head
I am seeking for your comfort now
I am willing to be led.

Father, I am listening.
I hear the answer to my prayer.
You have eased my pain and suffering.
You have shown me that you care.
When life is or'shadowed with darkness
And light and hope are dim.
I will follow the Savior's teachings
I will walk along with Him.

There is no river I must cross
Or mountain I must climb
That He has not traveled before
Around me His light shines
The darkness parts beneath His gaze.
Life's path once more is clear
Tribulations are more easily born
When shared with one so dear!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cinderella's Slipper

One Shoe Can Change Your Life

I love all things fairy tale.  I love the happy endings and the happily ever afters.  I love how, though the heroine is surrounded by great trials and tribulations, nevertheless, she pulls through.  (Usually after some help from a Fairy God Mother, or Fairies or some other mythical creature).  To this day, Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tales.
I love the fact that the entire world seems to be against her.  I love how she is good and kind to others, even when they are not good and kind to her.  I love how, when she is at her very worst moment, someone else steps in and saves the day. 

Child of the pure, unclouded brow 
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy tale.
                                            Lewis Carroll

Don't get me wrong, I know that fairy tales rarely seem to happen in our world, at least from the outside looking in, but how many times has Someone Else come to your rescue?  When you prayed because you were alone, or afraid, or lonely or disappointed.  Did Someone Else answer your prayers?  Did you learn to see things a little differently?  Did you find just the answer you needed in your scriptures?  Or maybe on a talk you were writing or a tape you were listening to?  Or, years later did you see the hand of Someone Else in your life and finally recognize that He is in charge of your happily ever after?  I know that I have.  I have prayed for many things in my life and come to discover that He usually knows what I really need.  All things are answered in His time.  It might be moments or even years later, but they are answered. 

"Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers".  Hans Christian Andersen

If one shoe can change a life, what small simple things can change ours?  What can we do a little better to be the fairytale in someone elses life.  I have come to discover that God uses willing hands to be the answers to prayer.  He uses willing hearts to lift another up out of depression and despair.  He uses us for His purposes, if we will only let Him, and not only does it bless the lives of others, but it blesses our own as well. 

"Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten".

And that is the lesson that I love the most!  C.S. Lewis once said: "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again".

May you not only read them, but be in them as well and may you go forward and slay your dragons!

Monday, November 8, 2010

All The Water

There is a quote that has stayed with me all the days of my life.  From the time that I first heard it as a youth.  I memorized it and remember it always.  It was told in a Stake Conference where Brother Boyd K Packer was the speaker.  He was talking to the youth and he gave us this poem.

All the water in the world
However hard it tries,
Can never sink the smallest ship
Unless it gets inside.
All the evil in the world
The blackest kind of sin
Can never hurt you one least bit
Unless you let it in.

We have all the power.  We have to choose to let sin in.  It can not come if it cannot find a place there.  I have learned that I can replace the thoughts of temptation, anger, disappointment, or fear with better thoughts.  My chosen way to replace anything is simply with music.
I love the hymns of the Church. They are an inspiration and a protection to me.  I also love good music.  The classics, some contemporary music.  I love Hilary Weeks, Michael McLean, and Mercy River.  There are so many wonderful musicians and composers out there.  Their goal is to help lift you up and bring you closer to your Heavenly Father.  
I know that not all music is good music.  Some can be very destructive.  I have heard songs which I still remember to this day.  I let it in and it does not go away.  Again, it is a choice.  We choose what we let into our ships.  
I find it amazing that Louisa May Alcott was only 14 when she wrote:
A little kingdom I possess, 
Where thoughts and feelings dwell, 
And very hard I find the task 
Of governing it well; … 

I do not ask for any crown 
But that which all may win, 
Nor seek to conquer any world 
Except the one within.

If we would all seek to conquer the world within ourselves, we would ever find ourselves more in tune with our Heavenly Father, more able to follow in His footsteps and more like Him.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Of Things That Matter Most

It seems as if one of my new favorite speakers at conference time is President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  This is an excerpt from his talk given at the October 2010 General Conference.  I hope you love it for this Sabbath day as much as I do.  
The story is told that the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a ritual he performed on the first day of training. He would hold up a football, show it to the athletes who had been playing the sport for many years, and say, “Gentlemen, . . . this is a football!” He talked about its size and shape, how it can be kicked, carried, or passed. He took the team out onto the empty field and said, “This is a football field.” He walked them around, describing the dimensions, the shape, the rules, and how the game is played.
This coach knew that even these experienced players, and indeed the team, could become great only by mastering the fundamentals. They could spend their time practicing intricate trick plays, but until they mastered the fundamentals of the game, they would never become a championship team.
I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.
Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation.
Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: “Come, follow me.”  And He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice.  It is so easy for the basic gospel message to get lost amidst the deluge of information that hits us from all sides.
The holy scriptures and the spoken word of the living prophets give emphasis to the fundamental principles and doctrines of the gospel. The reason we return to these foundational principles, to the pure doctrines, is because they are the gateway to truths of profound meaning. They are the door to experiences of sublime importance that would otherwise be beyond our capacity to comprehend. These simple, basic principles are the key to living in harmony with God and man. They are the keys to opening the windows of heaven. They lead us to the peace, joy, and understanding that Heavenly Father has promised to His children who hear and obey Him.
My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do “all these things . . . in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby . . . win the prize.”
Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world. That is why “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, . . . that [we] may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins.”  In the complexity, confusion, and rush of modern living, this is the “more excellent way.”  Of things that matter most

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Simple Moment

This Moment

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Posting over at MMB

Today, I am posting over at MMB.  It is an article I wrote on the Priesthood.  I hope that you like it.
What The Priesthood Means to Me.

Halloween in the country

 A day of fun activities for the girls (and for me too!)

I love the fact that one of the best ways to strengthen our families is to have fun with them. An important part of living the gospel is doing things together as a family. This has been illustrated to me by the following experience:

One day I asked my daughter to bring her toys inside the house from the front yard. I was astonished when she said she was "too tired." … She was sitting in front of the TV and watching her favorite Disney show.  Then I remembered the previous day, when my daughter had wanted me to play a game with her. What was my answer? I was ‘too tired.’ (I think I was actually doing my blog on the computer).
Days later, I asked my one of my daughters to do the dishes and put them away. She was "too busy." I remembered that I have often been ‘too busy’ to do the things that they want to do.

I have vowed to spend more time with my daughters. Hugging, Kissing and telling them that I love them only goes so far. It doesn't really make them believe it. They needed to play with me too.  They need to see and know that a family can have fun together as well as work together and study together.
Recently we have started playing games together. This is very hard for me as I am not a big game player. (Suffice it to say that it brings back some pretty bad memories).  The current favorite game in my house is called "Spoons". This is a totally crazy card game that they can play anywhere and anytime (as long as we remember to stick extra spoons in the car). They love this game and it means a lot to them that I have started taking the time to play.

With anything that takes effort, a reward comes. My reward came after an especially good half hour with my youngest daughter. She wrapped his arms around my neck, gave me an affectionate kiss on the cheek, and said, "This is the bestest day ever, mom”.
I didn't spend any money, or buy her any presents. I only gave her the thing that she values most of all.... a little bit of my time and attention.

We spend most of our time doing the things we feel are important. Our daily work, our Church callings, our personal time, serving others, home teaching, visiting teaching, and other things that take a lot of time are important. We should recognize that one of the most important things in life is our family, because it is eternal. I know that I have been guilty of expecting my family to understand the constraints on my time. Expecting them to know that I am doing the best that I can do. However, this week especially, I have learned that no matter what our circumstances, we should find time to spend with our families.
I hope that each of us remember to have a little fun with those we love the most!

This past weekend was Halloween and we had a great time together.  The girls all made their own costumes and had a great time doing it.  Creativity was running high in our house for the past several weeks.  Miracle decided to be a little bit morbid this year and be a "Death Ballerina".

Kayla was a ballerina, she did wear tights under her tutu for trick or treat, but she loves wearing her jeans with the tutu for some reason.  She made her tutu and also Anya's.  She did a great job!

Anya was supposed to be a pink ballerina, then she found fairy wings in her closet and so she became a Fairy Ballerina


and now for the cute closeups!

And last but not least, the car! The girls decorated it all by themselves and I was not allowed to look until we arrived at the church for trunk or treat!  They had a great time getting ready for all of this and did so much of it on their own this year.  We all had a really good evening handing out candy, taking hay rides, eating hot dogs and just spending time together. 

Hope your Halloween was just as amazing as ours!