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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Gift of Gratitude

"Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more."  ~David Steindl-Rast

I would be most remiss if I did not speak about one of my favorite gifts.  That is the gift of Gratitude.  It can be found amoung the wealthy or the poor, amoung the sick or the healthy, amoung the strong or the feeble.  It knows no boundries.  It knows no religion or sect.  It is a gift that can be bestowed to many, but they must choose to take it.  I have found that gratitude can be one of the hardest gifts to possess.  It can be one of the most difficult to remember.   But it is also a gift that can literally change your life. 

Someone once said that an ungrateful man is like a pig eating apples underneath the tree and never looking up to see where they came from.  How often in our lives do we take the time to look up and be grateful for our blessings.  How often do we even acknowledge that what we are given IS a blessing. 

President Ezra Taft Benson said:
We need to be more grateful. It’s one of the marks of strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It’s so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation.

When I think of gratitude, I often think of the Prophet Joseph and his time in Liberty Jail.  I think of his trials and tribulations. I think of the mobs, the beatings, the tar and feathers, the humiliations, the cold, hunger, and lonliness.  I think of the stuggling saints who were driven from place to plance all in their search to find Zion.  I think of Joseph in that filthy jail, surrounded by mean, dirty, and vidictive men, not for a period of days or weeks, but months. And finally, when it seemed as though he could stand it no longer, Joseph cried out and asked Heavenly Father why He would not intervene.

The answer came in revelation to the Prophet in these often quoted words perserved for all time in the Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment:
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes”.
Later, the Lord uttered this further statement:
“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
Gratitude requires awareness and effort on our part, not only for the large things, but for the smallest blessings that surround us.  Gratitude can open our mind and our hearts to the love of our Heavenly Father.  As we open our eyes and take the time to look around us, we will find many things that bear witness of Him.  Gratitude inspires happiness in the simple, everyday things that make up our lives.
May the Lord help us to be grateful for our blessings and never to be guilty of the sin of ingratitude in our lives.  May we choose to remember to thank Him for what we have been given and choose to acknowledge His hand in all areas of our lives.  May we look a little harder to find the blessings in our trials, rather than blame Him because we think He does not listen.
“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).
“A happy home is but an earlier heaven. President George Albert Smith asked, ‘Do we want our homes to be happy? If we do, let them be the abiding place of prayer, thanksgiving and gratitude’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1944, p. 32.)”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Gift of Service

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Up to his nest again, I shall not live in vain. -Emily Dickinson.

The Gift of Service is a curious thing.  It can lift the burdens of the receiver, but also bring joy and lift the burdens of the one who gives.  Why would I call service a gift?  I suppose that if you are the receiver, that could be rather obvious.  But what if you are the giver? 
To me, service is always a gift.  When you think about it, service is really the only thing that counts.  I don't slow down enough in my own life sometimes to really see the people around me.  If I open my eyes and look around, there are always people who really need someone to do something for them.  There are often not enough people who are willing and able to do what needs doing.  The thing that makes Serving a gift, is that we are actually doing something the Lord would do Himself if He were here.  It is becoming His hands, if only for a small moment.  It is easing the burdens, strengthening the feeble knees, and lifting up the hands and hearts that hang down.  Serving is a blessing that we get to participate in.  The gift is in being able to see what needs doing and being willing to do that small (or even large) thing. 

Jesus seems to be speaking to all of those who are willing to serve the Lord by serving their fellowmen, and also to those who are the recipients of this selfless service, when He declared:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, 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.” (Matt. 25:31–40.)
My prayer today is that each one of us will seek to develop within our own hearts, this beautiful and lasting gift.  That we may draw closer to our Savior as we seek to be more like Him.  This is one of my favorite songs.  It remind me that there are those in need all around me if I will just be willing to open my eyes and look.  You can listen to the song sung by Hilary Weeks, or scroll down and just read the words.  Either way, I hope they touch your heart today as they have touched mine. 

Somebody's waiting, not too far from here.

Somebody's down to their last dime
Somebody's runnin' out of time
Not too far from here
Somebody's got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here

And I may not know their name
But I'm prayin' just the same
That you'll use me Lord,
To wipe away the tears

'Cause somebody's cryin'
Not too far from here

Somebody's troubled and confused
Somebody's got nothin' left to loose
Not too far from here
Somebody's forgotten how to trust
Somebody's dyin' for love
Not too far from here

It may be a strangers face
But I'm prayin' for your grace
To move me and take away the fear

'Cause somebody's hurting
Not too far from here

Help me Lord,
not to turn away
From Him
Help me not to rest
While those around me weep
Give me your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life
Too steep

Somebody's troubled and confused
Somebody's got nothin' left to loose
Not too far from here
Somebody's forgotten how to trust
Somebody's dyin' for love
Not too far from here

Now I'm letting down my guard
And I'm opening my heart
Help me speak your love
To every need-full ear

Somebody's waiting
Not too far from here
Somebody's waiting
Not too far from here

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not My Present - The gift of Trust

This is our little Sadie Rose

For some unknown reason, she is terrified of tutu's.  Mikayla made her one for Christmas.  She worked very hard on it and made one for both Sadie and Lillie.  Lillie loved hers.  She likes dancing and dressing up, but Sadie opened that box and told her dad, "Not my present!".  She meant it too!  She would not have anything to do with that tutu the entire time she was here.  She would not put it on, she would not take it out of the box, she would not even pick it up.  I am not sure what that tutu represents in her mind, but whatever it is, there is no changing it for her.  It could be such an wonderful gift for her if she would just try it.

I think that sometimes, the gifts we get from our Heavenly Father can be a lot like Sadie's Tutu.  We just can't see the blessing of the gift.  We don't realize what it could mean to us.  We don't want it.  This gift could be anything.  It could be something that seems bad, but really works out to be the best thing ever.  It could be a new job, a move, a lost love.  It could pretty much be anything that has or will happen to us.  How many of us receive a gift that we just don't want?  We do anything we can to get out of it.  How about a calling?  How about a trial?  Sometimes we just can't see the blessing because we are so busy looking at it with our fear. 

For this week, I am going to talk about some of the gifts that we might receive from our very loving Heavenly Father.  I am going to talk about blessings, often in disguise, but blessings nevertheless.  I am going to talk about tutu's in our lives. 

So, my challenge today is to look back and think of some things that have been a real challenge for you.  Something that, at the time, seemed very hard, but has worked out to be exactly what you needed. 

For me, the thing that I really struggle with has been simple trust.  Trusting in the Lord, knowing that He is in control and being willing to do what He asks.  That has all been difficult for me.  Nothing illustrates that principle quite as well as my move up to my mountain home. 
It was something that I thought I wanted, until the time came to actually do it.  Having to go through way too much stuff, having to give so much away, having to find a house, having to change jobs, having my husband be unemployeed, leaving the grown children and moving over two hours away from the majority of my grandchildren.  All of that has been hard.  However, I have always known, from the very beginning, that it was exactly what I was supposed to do. 
Our house sold in a month when the market was not selling homes, someone walked into the Post Office and offered me their house at a price that made it impossible to refuse, John didn' work for three years, but it was exactly what the girls needed at the time.  My grandchildren call, visit, and we go to them.  It is not as good as I would like it, but it is better than it was when I was working 12 to 14 hours every day.  I have discovered that I still have way too much stuff!  I love my job and can't believe that I did not do this so much sooner! 
I have learned, that sometimes the hardest things of all turn out to be the very best things for us.  The blessing of trust is a wonderful gift to be given.  We learn best when we learn to trust Him and believe that He will help us.  My own testimony has grown, deepened, and matured as I have put my life under His care.  It is not easy, but it is so very worth it. 

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish He didn't trust me so much.” 
Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Weekend

My weekend has been totally amazing.  It has been filled with laughter, tears, screaming, arguing, giggling, snickering, bickering, hugging, whispering, walking, running, bouncing, cooking, eating, hand holding, squeezing, wrapping, unwrapping, singing, making, enjoying and fun.
It has been filled with the most wonderful thing in my life.  That is my family.
They bring me the greatest joy and are my most precious treasures here upon the earth.  I have found my own smiles and laughter through them.  No matter how hard the road has been, it is one I would not choose to walk any other way.  They have made every bump and bruise totally worthwhile.
May each of you look around at your own families and find the blessing that they are in your life.  May you see and know joy through their eyes and hearts.  And may you also know love and encouragement in their words, voices and deeds.  When I feel their love for me, I know that I am that much closer to heaven.  I can see just a little bit of my Father shining our of their eyes.  When they love me, I know that I want to be a better person.  A better mother, a better grandmother, a better friend.

There is nothing quite like Christmas when seen through your family's eyes.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

I am posting today over at MMB.  It is about gratitude and how it has changed my life.  I hope you like it.

Breath of Heaven

Today, I am spending time with my family and it is so amazing.  I thought that I would post this as it is one of the things I most love.  Have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

No Room

I am posting over at MMB today.  I hope you enjoy the article.  I needed it myself today.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Her name in lights

Today, I am participating in an (almost) wordless Wednesday over at MMB  Hope to see you there. 
As a quick explaination, these lights were at my Daughter-in-laws house.  My young daughter Mikayla's middle name is Joy.  She couldn't get enough of the fact that her sister put her name in lights on the house.  She spent at least an hour outside admiring the sparkle!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Social Networking

This week, I am madly rushing about, both at work and at home, trying to finish up the last minute Christmas items on all the lists.  Yesterday, in the middle of mass chaos at work, my husband called me and wanted me to go look at what he found on facebook.  He was all excited about it, but of course, there was no way for me to look until after I went home.  I have to say that I was not sure what to think about it, but as I watched it a couple of times, I started to agree that there is something there, something different, something just a little unique. 
I suppose, that in some ways, finding God all around us is what we are really here to do.  Since I have started this blog, I have been amazed at how my vision has increased.  How much more I see His hand in my life and the lives of those around me.  I find that I am so much more grateful today for His love and presence all around me.  When I am feeling very alone, I have realized that it is not because He is not there, rather it is because I will not see. 
We can each open our eyes and look for ways to find the Savior.  Maybe He was not born in these times, but He knows all about them.  I find it interesting that you can even manage to find Him on facebook if you just take the time to open your eyes and look. 
Remember that He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger, but we have to choose to go to the stable of our lives and find Him.  He is there waiting, it is totally up to us whether or not we reach out to Him.

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Going Postal

I should warn you a little before you read this, that I hate labels.  Not the kind on food boxes or clothes, although those can be annoying enough.  No, I hate the labels that people give to each other.  Sometimes, they are given in love and kindness, perhaps a loving nickname or an attribute that your child is showing.  But they can also be given in anger and mean spiritedness.  Sometimes they are given to a person, and sometimes they are given to a group of people. 
As many of you know, I am a Postmaster in a small, rural community.  I know many of the people in town by sight or name or both.  I am constantly redirecting mail to the right places, or the right person, even when it is addessed completely wrong.  I have been dealing with lines out my door for the past week.  It is busy, confusing, happy, angry, frustrated, empathatic, and even slightly crazy around here.  I know that some places are bad, but I moved to a small town and a long line here is 10 minutes and that is only if you get behind several people mailing international, or renting PO Boxes.  (Trust me on this, I had three boxes to rent just this morning and several people shipping overseas).
I have had to listen to several people this morning "kidding" me about "Going Postal".  I take serious offense at that term.  Probably because the US Postal Service is not even on the list of the top 500 companies to possibly have an employee hurt or even killed due to violence.  That means, that you have hundreds of companies that are not as safe to work at as the Post Office.  So, with everyone so intent on belittling me this year, I thought I would share what "Going Postal" really means to an employee of the USPS.
To me, going postal really means,
listening to people gripping, complaining and bickering; trying to talk to a customer who insists on finishing his cell phone conversation before he speaks with you and who holds up the line because he won't step out of the way; helping an elderly widow pack and mail her packages to her children and grandchildren; helping an elderly man address his letters because he can't see to write the address anymore; helping someone save a little money by repacking their box into a flat rate box because I know they are on a fixed income and can't afford it; hearing the same "joke" at least 30 or 40 times each day, "Is is cold enough for you yet?" (this is always asked when it is about 8 degrees outside).
Going Postal means serving people who want to ask me where the UPS drop is; or when Fed-ex will arrive at their house; it means having people yell at me because their expected parcel isn't in my office yet and it was sent a week ago, (parcel post I might add, so it hasn't even hit the target delivery date yet!);  it means having people come in and talk to me because they are lonely, hurting or sad; it means donating my time on a Saturday to come in a hand out parcels so that people can have an extra day to pick up all their Christmas mail; It means going into the office in the evening because one of my older customers needs their medication that is sitting at the post office or going in on a Sunday because one of the Churches needs a box for the children for their Christmas program.
Going Postal means working long hours and doing my best every day. It means being involved in my community, serving the people that I work for, caring for the people around me, and being a good neighbor and a good friend whenever possible. 
Sometimes, an employee might have a bad day, but by and large, the group that I work with are totally amazing.  I have employees who have pulled money out of their own pockets to help a family at Christmas or provide a meal for someone who needs it.  I have employees who have driven someone home becasue they have alzheimers and can no longer remember where they live.  I have employee's who have given up a day off so that a co-worker can have the day for a family event (when the employee had it on the schedule for months and he had to cancel reservations and change his own vacation in order to accomadate the request). 
I have twenty-five years in the Postal Service, and for every bad thing that I have seen , I could counter with at least 50 amazing and true good things.  So, this season, be gentle to your fellow men.  You really never know what kind of harm a "label" can do until you have walked through life in their shoes. 
And, by the way, I am extremely proud to be "Going Postal".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Devotional - What do we see?

"The Christmas season is wonderful in many ways. It is a season of charitable acts of kindness and brotherly love. It is a season of being more reflective about our own lives and about the many blessings that are ours. It is a season of forgiving and being forgiven. It is a season to enjoy the music and lights, parties and presents. But the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty".  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, December 18, 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, December 17, 2010

Busy Times Ahead

It is more easy to be wise for others than for ourselves.
 ~Fran├žois Duc de La Rochefoucauld~

I am still feeling under the weather, but can't indulge myself any longer in bed, so I am busy sewing.  I finished all the hooded bath-towels for the grandkids, and am busy sewing binding on all the soft, comfy, blankets.  I cough and sew and cough and sew all evening and well into the night. 
My daughter, Mikayla, looked at me this morning and said,
"Mom, you need to get well for Christmas!  You need to take a vitamin C drink every day, you know, that stuff you drink.  You need to drink two or three of them and you need to take two showers."
"Two Showers!" I said, "Why do I need two showers?"  (Seriously, I was starting to wonder if I smelled bad or something!)
"Mom, you know you always feel better when you are sick when you take a shower.  If you take two than you wash off all the germs and you can get well!"
I guess, with that infinite wisdom from my daughter, that I need to go and take a shower more often.  After all, I really do want to be well!  A hot, steamy, private, no kids to bother me, shower.  It does sound pretty good after all. 

I have found that one of the hardest things for me to do is to take advice for others.  I am the mom.  I was born to give advice.  I dish it out to my children, my husband, my neighbors, my friends, and pretty much, anyone that I think might benifit.  However, I am really not very good about taking it.  I found this quote today about advice.

The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others.

I think a little more acting here just might be in order.  In Lewis Carroll’s wonderful classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds herself coming to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. She is confronted by the Cheshire cat, of whom Alice asks,

“Which path should I take?”
The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go.
If you do not know where you want to go,
it doesn’t really matter which path you take.”

Unlike Alice, each of each of us really do know where we want to go. It does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life surely leads to the path we shall follow in the next. It matters that we listen to, and take good advice.  It matters that we choose carefully.
My prayer today is that each of us will take a little loving advice from time to time, that we may know which path we should take and which way that we should go.  May we remember that the Lord is reaching out His hand and is always ready and willing to help us on our journey.

Jacob 4:10  Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I am taking part in Wordless Wedness over at MMB.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today is not my day

I haven't been feeling well for a few days now, but have gotten progressively worse over the past couple of days, so I have been spending a lot of time sleeping and not so much writing.  My daughter had a cooking crisis today.  She needed to cook for the kids at school for a couple of parties tomorrow, and she needed to finish a three page report for a grade.  Being the mean mom that I am, the grade came first.  I got up out of bed an hour ago and gave her instructions on how to make our favorite cookies.  I wanted to help her and support her without contaminating them.  I know they don't look like much, but trust me, these are downright amazing.  I think I feel better already!  (I had to test one, didn't I?)
Around here, we call them Gorilla Droppings.  It is the name the boys came up with years ago, and it stuck.  These ones have a new twist.  I hope you enjoy them too.

Gorilla Droppings

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1&3/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Cocoa
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 C Nutella
  • 3 C rolled oats

1.  In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine butter, milk, Sugar, and Cocoa.
     Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and continue to boil for three minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and add Vanilla.
3.  Add Nutella.
4.  Add oats and mix well.
5.  Drop quickly onto waxed paper and allow cookies to cool and set.  

Try really hard not to eat them all.  

Since I have been so busy and overwhelmed for the past week or so, I thought I would keep my spiritual thought simple today.  Remember in the Doctrine and Covenants 10:4 is says:

Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end.

Although the Lord was talking about translating here, I think it pertains to us in our day to day lives.  He knew that we would suffer sickness, adversity, despair, and pain.  I think this simple scripture is also to remind us that He doesn't expect us to do more than we are able to do.  We need to trust Him, follow Him, and keep striving to be more like Him.  This life is a journey toward Him.  It is not a race to the finish line.  Sometimes, I forget that in my desire to be all that I can be.  I forget that I am really trying to be all that He wants me to be.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Are You Awake?

So today, (yesterday actually, but who is keeping track), I am posting over at MMB.  I was out on the ambulance this morning, came home, had a hot chocolate to relax, and checked my email to discover that my article was posting.  So, I thought I would like up to it for the day.  I hope you like it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sunday Devotional - The Greatest Gift

I watched this video this morning and loved the message.  It was short, simple, and very much to the point.  I hope that you appreciate it today.

"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all."
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Simple Moment - Practicing

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, December 10, 2010

A Night of Concerts

"May it be our resolve this year to build a gospel-centered home, a safe harbor from the storms of the adversary".    Elder L. Tom Perry
When challenges come, Satan tells us to abandon our beliefs and go with the ways of the world. He encourages us to leave the iron rod and visit the great and spacious building across the river. He tells us that we don't need to work. He tells us that we deserve the "easy life". He attacks our faith in God and plants the seeds of discouragement in our hearts. That discouragement is whispered to each of us as he tells us that we are not good enough. We have made so many mistakes that we can never come back. That we are worthless and imperfect. That our sins are so aweful God could never forgive us. Satan wants us to give in. He wants us to cast aside the things that matter most in pursuit of the things that don't really matter at all.So, I have been trying to really change my business.  It will be an ongoing process.  It will not be something that I will accomplish easily.  But I will change.  It is important to be a little bit different.  It is important to teach my children that they have value.  That they are gifts that I treasure. 
Last night was the multi-school concert.  It is taking the place of the Christmas concert this year becasue they had an open house for the new performing arts center at the middle school.  Every one of my three girls participated. 
Anya was in the fourth grade choir.  They were able to sing about all the 50 states as well as singing about Christmas trees.  They did a great job and, as you can see, she was singing away and knew all of the words.

Miracle played her flute with the Jr. High band.  She has been taking lessons on the side and has really improved.  You can see how serious she looks.  she is the one in front with the white shirt on.  You might not be able to see her shoes, but trust me, they are killer three inch RED heels.  Life is good when you are growing up!

Mikayla plays the Cello.  She is very serious about it.  We bought her a brand new Cello this year because she has worked really hard and loves it so much.  She totally stressed out because she was going to be late to her assigned room due to the fact that she had to watch me sing with the Community Choir.  Life is hard when everyone (almost) in your family is doing something musical.

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
~Jane Howard~

May you have as wonderful a day with your family today as I did yesterday.  They really are amazing.  Do something fun with them and you might just find out what wonderful people they can be.  May we each try just a little harder today to be a little better than we were yesterday.  May we try to "be there" for our families, as often as they need us and sometimes even when they don't think they do! 
Today, I am going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes.  It is attributed to Barbara Bush and says simply:
"To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there".

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Take a Breath

As I prepared to do my Visiting Teaching last month, I looked through all the conference addresses and settled on Of Things That Matter Most given by President Dieter F Uchtdorf.  The article called out to my heart with the very first words, which were: 
If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.
I started of by reading the entire article, and than reading it again and reflecting on the parts of it that I loved most.  I loved how he talks about the pace of modern life.  How it is so easy to be busy.  How some of us think that the more we increase our pace, no matter what is happening in our lives, the better off we will be.  
This talk reminded me of a speaker at Time Out For Women in Arizona this year.  I don't remember which one, I am sorry, but the names of who spoke what are always the most difficult for me to retain.  I do remember the content though, so I am sorry that I can't give you the name to go with it.  However, one of the speakers talked about how pleased Satan is when he can convince any of the daughters of God to be involved in too many good things. 
When I first heard this, I had to think about it for awhile.  I have spent so much of my life in being involved in good things.  Sometimes, I think that I am hoping that will be the deciding factor for me in whether or not I get to live with our Heavenly Father.  I seem to feel in the very depths of my soul that I NEED to be filled up with doing good things.  This was a new concept for me.  To hear and realize that we can be doing too many good things.  That by filling our lives with good things, we may be keeping ourselves from doing the best things. 
The story of Mary and Martha came to mind.  Martha was not a bad woman.  She was just filled with a need to be busy.  She was filled with the need to do too many good things.  Keeping your house clean is not a bad thing.  But choosing to do that over listening to the Savior was not the best choice she could have made.  Martha and I are very well aquainted.  I think we are probably a lot alike.  She is one woman in the scriptures that I can totally identfy with.  I understand her need. 
One of the other things that President Uchtdorf said was:  It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.
As I read this, I could see myself being the person that he was describing.  I could see how my need for business has become an albatross around my neck, dragging me into the need to keep ever busy, ever over-scheduled.  I do not know what I would do with a peaceful day.  I do not know how to slow down or relax or take it easy. 
There is hope though.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a recent general conference, taught, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”  It is not an easy road to change, but it is possible.  Elder Uchtdorf even gives us the answer to that change when he says:
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. 

He tells us that we need to get back to basics and identifies four things to start our change with.
  1. First is to develop a better relationship with our Heavenly Father.  We develope that relationship by learning about Him.  We find the knowledge that we need in our prayers and in studying the scriptures.  We increase our knowledge of Him by asking for His forgiveness and by seeking to become more like Him.
  2. Second is to place a high priority of the relationships that we have with our families.  We need to nurture those relationships by doing simple things together.  Having dinner together in the evening, talking together, attending church together.  He talked about how love is really spelled T-I-M-E.  I know that this one is so true in my own family.
  3. Third is to develop a relationship with our fellowmen.  We do this one at a time.  We serve each other and those around us.  We make friends.  We bless the lives of others with our own unique talents.
  4. Fourth is to have a relationship with ourselves.  We need to nurture ourselves and be good to ourselves.  We need to remember that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.  We need to learn to see ourselves as our Heavenly Father sees us.   
 Strength doesn't come from frantic activity in our lives.  It comes as we simplify our lives and pay attention to the things that matter most of all.  It comes as we remember our Savior and reach out to grasp His hand.  He is there for each one of us.  Perhaps the thing that I want to remember most about this talk is the very strong impression that I received that I need to simplify so that I can find Him.  Only in slowing down, will I be able to see Him beckon to me.  Only when I am calm and at peace will I hear His voice and be able to listen to His direction.  I can only find Him after I have set aside my need to be everything, and realize that without Him I am truly nothing at all. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Today, I am linking up with with Mormon Mommy Blogs for their wordless Wednesday.  Hope you feel inspired to do likewise.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Goggle Error

I have been feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, frustrated, exhausted and just plain tired.  I am entering my busiest time at work, as well as the normal Christmas rush that happens when you have kids of all ages.  Every year, I tell myself (and all my children) that I am going to slow down.  I am going to spend less, and make Christmas smaller.  All good goals.  However, they are so very hard for me to accomplish.  So, this year, I have been praying about it.  I want my children to feel the sacredness of the holiday.  I want it to mean more that presents and wrapping and commercialism.  I have been praying for help in my own life that I would be able to slow it down and just enjoy my time with my family.
So today, I felt a little pressured with the need to write. I had my article in my mind.  I knew what I wanted to write about.  I have been thinking about what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.  I went to get online and I could not get to my blog!
I got the infamous "Google Error" message that said my webpage was unavailable.  I tried again.  And again.  And again.  I got the same message.  After trying for the better part of an hour, I temporarily gave up and spent the evening with my girls.
They are so excited to do presents for each other.  They have been saving their money and making their own gifts.  I have a lot of craft supplies in my house.  They have discovered the beads, the card stock, the extra material and the buttons.  All of these are a virtual treasure trove for young, creative girls.  We spent the evening talking and laughing and helping each other.
We spent the evening slowing down and focusing on the things that matter most.  I am amazed.  I prayed for an answer and the Lord sent me a different answer than I wanted , but it turned out to be exactly the answer that I needed.  I needed peace.  I needed time with my family.  I needed to slow down.
I got everything that I needed tonight, just not quite in the way I planned.
In Time Out For Women, one of the speakers talked about how Satan would be very pleased if he could get the women of the church to be involved in too many good things.  That really made me think.  How many of us are involved in too many good things?  How many of us spend the majority of our days taking care of everyone but ourselves or our families?
So, I had a forced evening to regroup, rethink, and retake stock in what I really need.  I have rediscovered that my sweet young girls are totally amazing.  They know what is right.  They know what needs to be done.  And they know how to relax and have fun doing it.
Maybe, I just need a few more nights with them as my teachers.  A few more nights of crafting, cleaning, and laughing.  A few more nights of bedtime stories, wrapping and hugs and kisses.  A few more nights of family, laughter and love.  That just might be the best part about Christmastime after all.

"If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most".  President Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Monday, December 6, 2010

See Me

Today I am posting over at Mormon Mommy Blogs.  It is a post on my chickens, but when do I ever write about "just chickens"!  Hope to see you there!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Devotional - What Shall We Give

I found this yesterday and hope that it reminds you of the true meaning of Christmas.  May we each remember, with joy and thanksgiving, He whom this season is really about.

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,
What shall we offer the child in the stall?
Incense and spices and gold we've got plenty-
Are these the gifts for the king of us all?
What shall we give to the boy in the temple,
What shall we offer the man by the sea?
Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising;
Are these for him who will carry the tree?
What shall we give to the lamb who was offered,
Rising the third day and shedding his love?
Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger,
Bathing the infant come down from above.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This Moment - Three Princesses

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, December 3, 2010

Devoted Husband

This is a copy of an article that I clipped out of the Boston Globe Newspaper last year.  I loved it and have kept it to remind me of what a blessing I have in my own devoted husband.  I hope that it touches each of you as much as it has touched me. 

The article was entitled "Will he hold your purse" and was published on October 4th, 2009.  It was written by Robin Schoenthaler.

"As a breast cancer doctor, I’ve learned how to spot a devoted husband -- a skill I try to share with my single and searching girlfriends.
'Everything I know about marriage I learned in my cancer clinic.' I’ve been known to say this to my friends, maybe more than once, maybe even causing some of them to grind their teeth and grumble about Robin and Her Infernal Life Lessons.

I can’t help myself. I’ve worked as a breast cancer doctor for 20 years, I’ve watched thousands of couples cope with every conceivable (and sometimes unimaginable) kind of crisis, and I’ve seen all kinds of marriages, including those that rise like a beacon out of the scorched-earth terror that is a cancer clinic.

It’s a privilege to witness these couples, but the downside is I find myself muttering under my breath when my single female friends show me their ads for online dating. “Must like long walks on beach at sunset, cats,” they write, or “French food, kayaking, travel.” Or a perennial favorite: “Looking for fishing buddy; must be good with bait.” These ads make me want to climb onto my cancer doctor soapbox and proclaim, “Finding friends with fine fishing poles may be great in the short term. But what you really want to look for is somebody who will hold your purse in the cancer clinic.”

It’s one of the biggest take-home lessons from my years as an oncologist: When you’re a single woman picturing the guy of your dreams, what matters a heck of lot more than how he handles a kayak is how he handles things when you’re sick. And one shining example of this is how a guy deals with your purse.

I became acquainted with what I’ve come to call great “purse partners” at a cancer clinic in Waltham. Every day these husbands drove their wives in for their radiation treatments, and every day these couples sat side by side in the waiting room, without much fuss and without much chitchat. Each wife, when her name was called, would stand, take a breath, and hand her purse over to her husband. Then she’d disappear into the recesses of the radiation room, leaving behind a stony-faced man holding what was typically a white vinyl pocketbook. On his lap. The guy -- usually retired from the trades, a grandfather a dozen times over, a Sox fan since date of conception -- sat there silently with that purse. He didn’t read, he didn’t talk, he just sat there with the knowledge that 20 feet away technologists were preparing to program an unimaginably complicated X-ray machine and aim it at the mother of his kids.

I’d walk by and catch him staring into space, holding hard onto the pocketbook, his big gnarled knuckles clamped around the clasp, and think, “What a prince.”

I’ve worked at cancer clinics all around Boston since then, and I’ve seen purse partners from every walk of life, every age and stage. Of course, not every great guy accompanies his wife to her oncology appointment every day -- some husbands are home holding down the fort, or out earning a paycheck and paying the health insurance premiums -- but I continue to have a soft spot for the pocketbook guy. Men like him make me want to rewrite dating ads from scratch.

WANTED: A partner for richer or poorer and for better or worse and absolutely, positively in sickness and in health. A partner for fishing and French food and beach walks and kayak trips, but also for phone calls from physicians with biopsy results. A guy who knows that while much of marriage is a 50-50 give-and-take, sometimes it’s more like 80-20, and that’s OK, even when the 80-20 phase goes on and on. A man who truly doesn’t care what somebody’s breast looks like after cancer surgery, or at least will never reveal that he’s given it a moment’s thought. A guy who’s got some comfort level with secretions and knows the value of a cool, damp washcloth. A partner who knows to remove the computer mouse from a woman’s hand when she types phrases like “breast cancer death sentence” in a Google search. And, most of all, a partner who will sit in a cancer clinic waiting room and hold hard onto the purse on his lap.

I am so grateful for my amazing husband who has never yet hesitated to hold my purse or anything else I might need.  He has never once yelled at me, belittled me, or critizied me.  He loves me just as I am, without reservations and accepts me with all may faults and failings.  (Believe me, there are way too many of them!)Best of all, he cares for me, holds me, nurtures me and blesses me every day that we are together.  May each one of you have someone in your life who will truly hold onto your purse!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two Men

The man came to my counter this morning needing help.  He had a gift to send.  Something he had lovingly made for someone close to him.  It was beautiful and needed extra care in order to ship safely.  I found a box that was bigger than his item, helped him pack it, taped it up and sent it on it's way.  All with a minimum of fuss.  It was easy to serve him.  As he left, he stated, "I have never had as good of service as you just gave me.  Thank you so much for your time and for caring enough to help me get this done". 
The next person in line, (who had waited less than two minutes), said, "Since when did YOU become a packaging store??  That was HIS job to do.  You are supposed to MAKE him pack his own packages".  I told him that we were a small town and that kindness is something that I care about.  He was grudging and rude and I won't say what he said next.  Suffice it to say that the second gentleman was angry because he had to wait a couple of minutes for someone else to be helped. 
I was completely caught off guard.  I hadn't expected someone who really did not wait long at all to be so cranky over my desire to help another.  As I look at this experience, I can't help comparing the the behavior of the two men.  I can't help wanting to help the one over the other.  However, I also can't help finding the need for the Savior's love in each of our lives.  It is easy enough to be pleasant when someone is pleasant with you.  It is much harder to be kind and pleasant when the other person is doing his best to be rude and mean.  I am convinced that the Saviour would not wish me to be rude back. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, truly is not the way He desires us to be.
As hard as it is to maintain calm and peace, that is what was needed today.  It would not have helped the situation for me to become angry and unreasonable.  It would have only fueled the fire and escalated the problem.
I am a firm believer in the old saying, "if you want to change your world, change yourself". I don't have the power to change others or make their decisions for them, but I do have the power to make sure that I am behaving appropriately in the situation. I can control how I respond to those who choose to act inappropriately. A big way of changing my own spot in the world is to not allow yourself to react negatively when others act inappropriately. You get to choose how you are going to respond to the outburst.
Remember that it takes at least 14 days to break a habit. Just in case you think you can't change your small part of the world, think of the difference a flashlight makes in the darkness; think of the difference an EMT can make on that ambulance run to the hospital; think of the difference the good samaritan can make when you are stuck on the highway with screaming babies and a flat tire; And think of the difference a kind word can make when you are hurting inside.
It is possible to change our own little corner of the world. Keep on trying. You can do it!

This is one of my favorite sayings.  I believe it was actually an advertisement for GE lightbulbs, but I could be wrong.  I copied it from a text book and have had it for years.  I love the message and thought that I would share it with you as this season starts and we each are trying to do our best.  Remember that you can make a difference.
Brighten Your Corner

Have you noticed the great difference
between the people you meet?
Some are as sunshiny as a
handful of forget-me-nots.
Others come on like frozen mackerel.
A cheery, comforting nurse
can help make a hospital stay bearable.
An upbeat secretary
makes visitors glad they came to see you.
Every corner of the world
has its clouds, gripes, complainers, and pains in the neck-
because many people have yet to learn
that honey works better than vinegar.
You're in control of your small corner of the world.
Brighten it...You can.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
-- Barbara Bush

If you participate in Wordless Wednesday, don't forget to visit over at Mormon Mommy Blogs and link up.  Also, don't forget to visit the other participants and leave a comment or two!