Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 117, April 30

Last week, a lady in our church died unexpectedly.  It shook all those who knew her and cared about her.  It reminded me that life is fragile and that we need to make the most of every moment.

It also was a poignant reminder to act on good impulses when I have them.  The week before her death, I thought, "You need to do something for Lillian this week."  (For several months, I had been trying to reach out to her, to send her a card or take her a small gift every week.)  That week, I failed to follow through on that impulse.  I excused myself by saying, "There's time.  You can do it next week."

The sad truth was there wasn't time, there wasn't a "next week" for Lillian.  Nor was there a next week for me to act on that impulse.  I fear that regret will stay with me for a long time.  And perhaps that is good--if it serves as a reminder not to allow another urging to do something nice for someone pass by.

This I know for sure:  life doesn't always give second chances.  Seize the opportunity to make a difference when you can.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 116, April 29

Jesus gave many beautiful parables, lessons to teach us in simple and direct ways.  My favorite parable has always been that of the talents.  We all know it:  the master gave three servants, one, two, and five talents respectively.  The servants receiving two and five talents doubled their talents.  The master praised them.  However, the servant receiving one talent hid his away, earning his master's reprimand.

I wonder how much I am like that unprofitable servant.  Do I hide my talent away, afraid to take it out for fear of shining a light on what I perceive as my feeble efforts?  How can I ask the Lord to bless me, to bless that talent if I am afraid of using it?

I can't.

The Lord expects me, expects all of us, to use our talents in whatever way we can.  What we may consider an unremarkable skill or trait may, in fact, be a praiseworthy talent.  Do you have a  knack for building up others with honest praise?  Use that and watch as others bloom as they are around you.  Do you have a way of noticing when another person is hurting and set about to help him or her feel better?  Use it.

Don't be afraid of shining a light on  your talents.  The world, and, more importantly, the Lord, have need of them.

This I know for sure:  talents blossom when taken out in the sun.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 115, April 28

Everyday do something that you fear.--Eleanor Roosevelt

If you're like me, you put off doing the things that you fear.  A big one for me:  for a year, I put off having the surgery I knew I needed.  I put it off because I was afraid.  During that time, I was in pain, sometimes agony, and still I put it off.  Out of fear.

What else have I put off?

In my writing, I put off doing the hard work because I'm afraid of failing.  I put off contacting people who might be able to help me with my career.  I put off submitting a book because it will most likely be rejected.

In my personal life, I put off working on relationships that needed help.  I put off talking about hard stuff that needed to be talked about.  All out of fear.

This I know for sure:  putting off things out of fear doesn't make them--or the fear--go away.  It just prolongs it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 114, April 27

Today is our son Robert's 36th birthday.  Rob is a son to make any parent proud.  He served a mission for our church.  He graduated from college and graduate school--with honors.  More, he acts honorably.

Never have I been more proud of Rob than I have this past year.  His wife of almost twelve years decided she did not want to be a wife, a mother, a member of the church.  So she left.  All of them.

Larry and I flew to Michigan to be with him and his sweet boys, who were six and three at the time.  Though devastated, Rob stepped up and said he was going to take care of his boys and stay close to the Lord.  He has done both.  He told me, "I'm choosing happiness."

He has not only survived; he has thrived.  In the process of doing the right thing, the honorable thing, he met a beautiful young woman  In less than two months, Rob and his Jenny will be sealed in a sacred temple.

This I know for sure:  Rob is happy because he chose it, because he chose family, because he chose the Lord.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 113, April 26

Yesterday, I wrote about a church lesson that counseled about the need for patinece, with myself and others   The Savior stands as the perfect example in patience, as He does with everything.  He accepts me as I am today.  He doesn't berate me when I can't do everything I want to do.  I picture Him cheering me on, indeed, cheering all of us on as we strive to do better, to be better.

It started me thinking that we all need cheerleaders in our lives.  This is not a new theme for me.  Perhaps because I observe, too freequently, what happens when individuals lack cheerleaders. 

I try to be a cheerleader.  For my husband.  My children.  My grandchildren.  My frieinds.  Too often, though, I fall short.  I point out flaws and shortcomings, rather than strengths and talents.  It matters not that I try to couch these words in praise for they still hurt.

This I know for sure:  we all need cheerleaders in our lives. In this, as in all things, we have only to look for the Savior as our example.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 132, April 25

(A note:  Blogger has changed its look and format.  I am trying to figure it out.  If posts occur on the wrong day, please forgive me.  What can I say?  I'm technologically challenged!)

A lesson at church on Sunday reminded women to be patient with themselves.  I appreciated this counsel as I struggle with patience, both with myself and with others.

A recent experience at physical therapy brought home the need for patience, especially with myself.  The therapist has had me using a weight machine, lifting and pushing increasing amounts of weight with my legs.  I had steadily progressed from 60 to 80 to 100 pounds and was feeling pretty good about it.  On that day, I had resolved to reach 120 pounds.

I managed two feeble repetitions and had to admit that I couldn't do any more  My kind therapist said not to push myself and took the weight back to 100 pounds.  Still, I was disappointed in myself, in what I perceived as my lack of progress.  Mentally, I castigated myself, using words I would never use to a family member or friend.  Why couldn't I accept that I am still recovering from a major operation and that it will take a while to get to where I want to be in terms of strength and endurance? 

This I know for sure:  patience is a gift from the Father; if I want to receive it and to give it, I need to find it for myself first.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 131, April 24

Today is one of those occasions that both surprise and flumox me.  It is Larry's and my 39th anniversary.

During those 39 years, we have weathered pregnancies, basement floods, deaths of parents and other family members, and a host of other things.  We have also enjoyed the births of five children and the births of four grandchildren.  

Quite frankly, there were times when it didn't look like we would make it.  When the hurts and stresses of everyday living threaten to overwhelm us and make us forget our love for each other.

Somehow we weathered those as well.  Partly because of the commitment we made in the Salt Lake Temple those many years ago.  Partly because we knew no one else would have us.  Partly because of sheer stubbornness.

This I know for sure:  marriage is hard work that never goes away, but it's worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 110, April 23

A few days ago I wrote about a song entitled "Make Me Whole." It set me to thinking about what "whole" means. One definition is "complete." Another is "without missing parts." You could doubtless name others.

What does whole mean to me? Once again, I came up with several defnitions:

Whole means having integrity, making my outside fit my inside. Whole means being at peace, with others, with myself, with the Lord. Whole means knowing that I am working toward a single purpose, to return to live with the Father one day.

If any of these things is out of alignment, I am not whole. I am incomplete. I have missing parts.

This I know for sure: being whole is not a static state; it is a process of becoming.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 109, April 22

Last night, my husband and I hosted dinner club. Our dinner club consists of five couples who gather every month at the home of members. This month marks 29 years for our get-togethers. We are a casual group, with the host and hostess providing the main dish and assigning appetizers, salads, and desserts.

We have seen each other through the births of babies and the deaths of parents. We have weathered illnesses, including cancer, hip replacements, and others. We celebrate the births of grandchildren and weep over the inevitable sadnesses that beset every life. Always, we do these things together.

Last year, we said a temporary goodbye to one of our couples who left to serve a mission for our church. They are still part of our group, in our thoughts, in our prayers, in our hearts.

This I know for sure: old friends are more precious than gold.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 108, April 21

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel was a woman before her time. From her clothes to her success in business at a time when women had little financial power to her outspokenness, she exuded an in-your-face honesty and vitality that remain an example for us today.

How many times do I squelch giving voice to what I believe because I fear offending someone, saying the wrong thing, making myself unpopular? Too many, I'm afraid.

Though I'm not shy in voicing my opinion in a written venue, I am reticent at giving voice to my beliefs in a personal or social situation. Please don't misunderstand. I'm not advocating being obnoxious. What I am advocating is standing up for what is right, no matter what the circumstances.

On one occasion, I heard a woman excuse a dishonesty by saying, "It's just this once." Others around her nodded.

What she did was not only dishonest, it was against the law. And yet I said nothing. Should I have spoken up?


This I know for sure: when we say nothing, we give our approval.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 107, April 20

A few days ago in church, a young woman sang "Make Me Whole." I wish I could recite the words for they were beyond beautiful. Tears sprang to my eyes, as they often do during musical numbers, at the plea in the song for Christ to "Make Me Whole."

Who else can make me, or any of us, whole? Doctors can address the aches and pains in our bodies. Pyschiatrists can help us deal with emotional problems. But no one but the Lord can make us whole.

Are you struggling with an addiction? Are you heartbroken over a child's choices? Are you struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you? Christ is there. He offers His healing to all who seek HIm.

This I know for sure: there is only One who can make us whole.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 106, April 19

"The world heals from the outside in. The Lord heals from the inside out."--Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What insight President Hinckley showed in this statement.

Have you noticed the proliferation of makeover shows on television? I admit it. I'm as intrigued by makeovers as anyone. Who among us doesn't want to look better? The only problem with these shows is that they focus on making over an individual's exterior or outside. The inside remains untouched.

What would happen if we made over our "insides?" Would we find greater charity? Would we find more peace? Would we discover that we have less need to impress others? And, if we were successful in this quest, would these changes show in our countenance?

I like to think so.

This I know for sure: true makeovers start from the inside.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 105, April 18

Chances are that you have heard about the media flap over a woman (foolishly) claiming that Ann Romney (wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney) never worked. Because Mrs. Romeny chose to be a stay-at-home mother, this woman said that she had no idea of what it is to be a "working mother."


If this woman had gotten her facts straight, she would have known that Ann Romney raised five boys. Five. Any mother who has raised one, two, three, four, five, or more children is a working mother. I raised five children. Those years were among the best of my life. They were also among the busiest as I chauffered children to Little League, football practice, piano lessons, cub scouts, as I helped with homework, nagged over merit badge requirements, and attended PTA meetings.

Was I working? Oh, yes. I was working

This is not meant to be a debate over the virtues of working-outside-the-home mothers versus those of stay-at-home mothers. Decisions concerning that belong with a mother, father, and the Lord. No, that is only to state what should be obvious.

This I know for sure: every mother is a working mother.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 104, April 17

In a previous blog, I wrote about seeing a hypnotherapist in preparation for surgery. One of the things she talked about was erasing "all tension and pretension."

At the time, I didn't zero in on the "pretension" part. Now it stands out as a cautionary sign for me.

I am guilty of pretension, of pretending to be things that I'm not. There. I said it. I pretend to "have it all together" when I'm with others, especially when I'm at church. I pretend that I'm not heartbroken over a child's choices. I pretend that I'm not worried about health problems. I pretend that I'm confident and calm when, inside, I'm a scared little girl.

I wonder if we are all guilty of pretension. And I wonder if we looked past the shell we present, if we could find ways to help each other. If I looked past the seemingly perfect exterior of a friend, would I see that she is worrying over an aging mother? If I looked past another friend's assurances that all is well, would I realize that she has received bad news about a family member?

This I know for sure: pretension fools no one, least of all the Lord.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 103, April 16

"Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but most
importantly, it finds homes for us everywhere." -- Hazel Rochman.

A writer friend sent this to me, knowing it would resonate with me as it did with her. Reading links us in unlikely and unexpected ways.

Not too long ago, I received an email from a man in Syria who had read one of my Chicken Soup stories, complimenting me on it. We will never meet, but words brought two disparate people together.

I will probably never be a corporate executive, a counter terrorism agent, or a ballerina, but I've read books with heroes and heroines in all these--and more--professions. Books have taken me from the Antartic to the Big Sky country of Montana, from Bolivia to Italy, from Alaska to Alabama.

I was, indeed, an immigrant. In reading, I became, for a few precious moments, a native of those places.

This I know for sure: reading is a passport more valuable than any officially issued piece of paper.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 102, April 15

Yesterday I wrote about a friend driving me to and from physical therapy. I didn't finish the story.

Though she struggles with stairs, my friend, Marilyn, insisted upon seeing me to the door. When I unlocked the front door, our kitty, Harley, streaked out. My friend and I scrambled to catch her, but she was too quick for us. Marilyn went after Harley, caught her, then handed her off to me.

I haven't carried Harley since before my surgery and gasped a bit under her weight. Marilyn took my elbow, and, with my free hand, I took hers. We were quite literally holding each other up. Together, the three of us made it inside. I scolded Harley and thanked Marilyn. Again.

For those few moments, when we teetered on the steps, I wondered if we would make it or crash to the ground. Supporting each other, we made it.

Isn't that the way it is with most of life? We can't make it on our own, but, together, we can overcome. Anything. Another friend painted a beautiful word picture when she described all of us holding each other up, elbows locked, legs braced, against the winds of life. I feebly joked that, with my weakened hip, I wouldn't be much good at supporting someone else.

She said, "That's why you have someone on either side."

This I know for sure: with elbows locked and legs braced, friends can and will triumph.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 101, April 14

Kind friends have volunteered to take me to physical therapy appointments. It is a sweet feeling to know that I can call on a friend and know she will be there for me. At the same time, I am struggling with the knowledge that I must ask for help.

For years, I took pleasure in giving rides to an older lady in our church who could no longer drive. We had fun together and enjoyed our errands, whether to the doctor or to the store. We laughed a lot and found we had much in common, despite the nearly 30 years that separated us.

Now I am on the other side of the equation, needing to ask for help. It has been a diffiuclt transition. I realize that my pride is standing in the way. Pride is frequently a bug-a-boo for me, keeping me from doing what I need to, keeping me from being what I want to be.

This I know for sure: pride is a cold companion; friendship is full of warmth.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 100, April 13

It is no secret that my values are conservative. Nor am I shy about sharing them. When I wrote a letter to the editor to our local newspaper, the last thing I expected was to receive a piece of hate mail in return. The author of this letter took the time to look up my address, then composed a diatribe that accused me of being racist and someone who hates "the elderly, women, minorities, etc." The letter continued in this vein for a full, single-spaced page.

It would have been laughable (since none of these things apply) if it hadn't been filled with such vitriolic passion. The writer took pains to conceal his identity, even going so far as to use a Washington DC Chamber of Commerce return address. The fact that he didn't have the courage or integrity to sign his name says much about him.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this incident with you, except, I suppose, that I needed to try to make sense of my feelings. That is one of my purposes in writing this blog, to make sense of my feelings and, maybe, share some of that "sense" along the way with you.
This I know for sure: one of the great things about our country is our freedom to express our opinions, whatever those opinions might be. I still believe that. I also believe that we should take credit and responsibility for those views.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 99, April 12

A dear friend has been going through chemotherapy and related side effects. In the last two weeks, she has had to be hospitalized twice, once for an infection and another time for kidney stones.

Despite all her trials, she has still found time to think about me. Twice, during my recovery, she has visited, bringing beautiful flowers and plants. She sends cards, calls, and works to keep up my spirits.

When I protested that she was doing too much, she said she felt better when thinking about others. What a wise and thoughtful formula for living. What if we all did that? Would not out homes, our communities, indeed, our very world be a better place?

Chances are you are like me and know at least one person who is so totally wrapped up in his or her self that they fail to look beyond the confines of their own circumstances. No one particularly wants to be around this individual. The sad part is that, occasionally, I have been this person. I have been the woman completely consumed by my own problems and worries. What miserable company I must have been during these periods.

This I know for sure: if we look beyond ourselves, we will find a world filled with beautiful people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 98, April 11

Today's subject is an indelicate one. For those who are at all squeamish, I suggest you considering skipping it.

Women of a certain age occasionally develop unwanted facial hair. There. I've said it. These hairs have a habit of appearing out of nowhere.

I have one hair that shows up on my left cheek. It will hibernate for months at a time, then appear fully grown, two feet in length. Do you know what it's like to have a two foot long hair sticking out of your cheek?

Not pretty.

In a way, this hair is like stubborn sins. They, too, will hibernate for months, even years at a time. Without warning, they, too, will find their way to the surface. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

So, I patiently, or not so patiently, working on plucking them out. Like weeds that grow with pernicious tenacity, they resist my best efforts. Sometimes I achieve success. Too often, though, they beat me and I resolve to try again.

This I know for sure: that two foot long hair is a good, if ugly, reminder of the truly unwanted things in my life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 97, April 10

In my "laid-up" condition, I can't do several household tasks. With that in mind, I contacted the mother of a young girl in our neighborhood and church, asking if she thought her daughter might be interested in a job of light housekeeping.

This mother emailed back and said that her daughter would love to help me out on the provision that I not pay her. I explained that I couldn't do that. The daughter countered with an offer of .05 per hour!

What a sweet and loving girl to want to help me this way.

In the end, we settled on an amount. I convinced her to accept the money with the suggestion that if she didn't want to use the money for herself, she could spend it on her family. (She comes from a family of 7 children.)

I always knew that this was a remarkable family. This latest incident only confirms that and speaks of the training this young woman (13 years old) has received and of her own lovely spirit.

This I know for sure: with young people like this in the world, we need not fear for our future.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 96, April 9

Yesterday, for the first time in over a month, I was able to attend church for the full three hours. That it was Easter Sunday made this even more special. Music always touches my soul; Easter music, especially that of the children, reaches in and grabs my heart, then wrings it dry as tears leak out my eyes.

I'm certainly not the exception with this. How can anyone not be moved by beautiful music? It takes a harder heart than I possess to remain unaffected by the blend of lovely music and thoughtful words.

I have frequently wished that I possessed musical talent. Oh, to have a voice (rather than a croak). Oh, to have the ability to write music and put words to it. I have long since resigned myself that my talents lie in the appreciation of fine music.

This I know for sure: music enriches us in quiet, indefinable ways.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 95, April 8

"Come back. Come in. Come unto me."

I can think of no better Easter message than these words of President Thomas S. Monson as he spoke to the church membership a week ago at General Conference.

Come back. Could this apply to a wayward child who has rejected the teachings and values of her parents?

Come in. Could this apply to the individual who has had his feelings hurt and refuses to attend church any longer?

Come unto me. Could this apply to me? To all of us?

Yes. Yes. And, of course.

This I know for sure: we all have need to come unto Him.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 94, April 7

"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you." -- Bumper sticker

Who knew that such wisdom could be found on a bumper sticker?

Only one perfect Person lived on this earth. The Savior. The rest of us have sins. I have more than my share. Fortunately (or unfortunately), mine are more easily hidden than others.

Let's start with the plus side: I don't lie. I don't steal. I don't commit adultery. Congratulations, Jane. Aren't you wonderful?

Now let's look at the flip side. I harbor grudges. I envy others their good fortune. I gossip about others. I judge those whose values and mores don't match my own.

None of my "pluses" give me the right to judge others. Still, I do. I'm weak. I'm mortal. I'm human.

This I know for sure: judging others won't earn me a place in heaven ... or even happiness here on earth.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 93, April 6

"We are sowing, daily sowing
Countless seeds of good and ill,
Scattered on the level lowland
Cast upon the windy hill;
Seeds that sink in rich brown furrows,
Soft with heaven's gracious rain,
Seeds that rest upon the surface
Of the dry, unyielding plain."--Anonymous

This hymn never fails to elicit a response in me. The idea that we are always sowing some kind of seed is both humbling and terrifying. What kind of seeds am I sowing?

I discovered the other day that I was sowing seeds of gossip. These are destructive seeds, serving no purpose except, perhaps, that of helping me feel better about myself as I put someone else down.

Any time I compare my home, my talents, my family, or anything to that of someone else, I am sowing seeds of discontent within myself. What a tragic waste of time.

"Thou who knowest all our weakness,
Leave us not to sow alone!
Bid thine angels guard the furrows
Where the precious grain is sown,
Till the fields are crowned with glory,
Filled with mellow, ripened ears,
Filled with fruit of life eternal
From the seed we sowed in tears."

This I know for sure: the seeds I sow today will come back to reward ... or to chastize ... me tomorrow.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 92, April 5

A few days ago, I had a lesson in humiliation. As are many of life's important's lessons, this was a small incident, but its effect on me was powerful.

Since surgery, I have been wearing white support stockings. (Yes, they look as hideous as they sound.) Thigh-high, they take some doing to get on. And off.

Usually, my husband helps me. But on one afternoon, when I was home alone, I longed for a shower. I removed the left stocking, but struggled to get the right one off. As part of my post-surgery instructions, I am not supposed to bend from the waist. I worked and worked to get the stocking down my leg and finally succeeded in getting it to my ankle.

I couldn't coax the stocking any further. It flopped around my foot, making my already cumbersome walking even more so. Still, I persisted. I thought about calling my husband, begging him to come home and get the wretched thing off me. And, embarrassing as it would be, I could also call any number of friends who had offered their help. I resisted. Surely a fairly intelligent woman could figure out a way to take off a stocking.

We (the stocking and I) continued our battle of wills. Frustrated, I tried to kick it off. I could have fallen and easily damaged my new hip. While I was hopping around on one foot, it occurred to me that maybe I could stand on the loose end of the stocking and pull it off that way.

At last. Success.

What was my lesson? Don't be afraid to ask for help. I could have saved myself considerable time and frustration if I'd swallowed my pride and embarrassment if I had done just that. But, no, I had to do it myself.

This I know for sure: asking for help doesn't make me weak. Sometimes, it just makes me smart.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 91, April 4

"You can't be right when you're doing wrong. You can't be wrong when you're doing right."--Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What a simple but powerful formula for righteous living. As always, President Monson says much in a few carefully chosen words.

Many self-help books have been written, giving us magic elixirs for happiness. While I respect the time and effort it took to pen these books, I wonder if the readers would find their time better spent "doing right" and reaping the happiness that comes from that.

Ancient scripture tells us that "wickedness never was happiness." Again, a powerful message presented in a few words.

This I know for sure: when I am doing right, I am on the path to happiness. When I am doing wrong, I am on no path at all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 90, April 3

A few days ago, my husband and I took a pie to a friend who was going through a difficult time. (Alas, it wasn't homemade. Homemade pies are not my style.) However, we did take the time to pick out our friend's favorite flavor.

When we returned home, we found a basket hanging on our front door. Inside were beautifully decorated cookies--from our friend. (They were homemade.)

While we had been thinking about her, she had been doing the same. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think the Spirit touched our hearts, as it did hers. Certainly, pies and cookies aren't the only way to show love. They are symbols. Remembrances. Pieces of our hearts given freely.

This I know for sure: if I look beyond a seeming coincidence, I will frequently find the acts of angels.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 89, April 2

"Two are better than one--if one falls down, his friend can help him up." Ecclesiastes 4: 9 - 10

A card containing this scripture accompanied a bouquet of flowers that a friend brought to me yesterday. It touched my heart. Perhaps because I am currently unsteady on my feet. Perhaps because I am also unsteady in my resolve to do what's right.

Whatever the reason, the words found a place in my thoughts. How often do I rely on my friends, my family? Every minute. Every hour. Every day.

In my present condition, can I lift a friend up if he falls? Maybe. If I'm looking. If I'm aware. If I think of someone besides myself.

These appear simple things. Look with my eyes. Use my mind ,.. and heart ... to determine a need. And, finally, think outside myself.

This I know for sure: life is hard; helping others up when they fall--and allowing them to help us up as well--is the only way we will get through it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 88, April 1

A Primary song teaches, "Follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet; don't go astray. Follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet; He knows the way."

Apologies to those who are wearied by hearing of Primary stories and songs. The fact is, they play a large part in my life. This song comes to mind on this weekend where our church holds General Conference when the Prophet and other leaders speak to us.

Whether you are Mormon (as I am) or not, our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has something to say to you, something to help you live your life better.

The Prophet does not speak about esoteric things. Instead, he talks of the small and simple things that bring happiness and wisdom. His stories resonate with me for precisely that reason. He knows what matters ... and what doesn't.

Despite my best attempts, I spend too much time focusing on things that don't matter. An unvacuumed carpet doesn't matter. (Nor does a vacuumed carpet.) Dust on the furniture doesn't matter. A perceived slight does not matter.

What does matter?

That varies for each of us. For me, it is, and will always be, friends, family, and faith. If those are in sync, then the rest of my life falls in to place as well.

This I know for sure: if I follow the Prophet, I won't go astray.