Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 178, June 30

Our earth is a great teacher.  It eaches patience.  It teaches change.  Perhaps most importantly, it teaches the law of the harvest.  We are months away from the harvest season, but those who make their living from the land have long since prepared the ground, planted their crops, and are even now tending them.

We are all involved in some kind of harvest.  My 12 weeks of physical therapy were a kind of preparing and planting for me.  The harvest came when I could walk without pain, when I felt my body grow stronger and more resilient. 

Writers harvest the rewards of their many hours sitting at the computer when they hold a newly published book in their hands.  Business owners realize the results of their work when they see their business grow.

We humans are frequently an impatient lot and sometimes are tempted to take shortcuts.  We want to lose weight by popping a pill rather than putting in the hard work of exercising.  We want to have perfect relationships without working at them.  And so on.

This I know for sure:  the law of the harvest cannot be circumvented.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 177, June 29

Life has a way of humbling us, sometimes when we least expect it.  It did that to me just recently when a story I thought had a good chance of selling (to a publisher) was roundly and unequivocally rejected. 

Over the yaers I've received many rejections.  You'd think I'd be accustomed to them.  And, in some ways, I am.  I've developed a tough skin.  Or so I thought.  But this particular rejection hit me hard.  I wondered why I bother even trying.  Ironically, my feelings were backed up when my husband and I were audited last week.

Upon learning that I had sold 32 books, the tax auditor asked my husband, "How can she (me) have sold thirty plus books and make so little money?"  I ask myself that on a regular basis.

But I keep trying. 

This I know for sure:  I''m a failure only if I give up.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 176, June 28

The other night, as my husband and I were talking, he told me that I was fat.  He's right.  I am fat.  Knowing that, though, and hearing the words spoken aloud by my husband are two different things.  He excused himself by saying that he was only stating the truth.

I can't blame my husband totally for his lack of tact and compassion as his father is the same way.  My father-in-law frequently says unkind things, cloaking them in the guise of "truth."  When my FIL, his unmarried grandson who was struggling with his weight, and my husband and I were out to dinner one night, my FIL said (to his grandson), "Look for an ugly girl.  She'll be so flattered with the attention that she won't care about your weight." 

Not only were the words unkind and hurtful, they were unnecessary.  The grandson knew he was overweight.  He didn't need his grandfather pointing it out in such a spiteful manner.

I wonder how many others use truth to excuse and justfiy mean-spirited remarks.  It is a destructive habit.  Please don't misunderstand:  I applaud the truth.  But I also applaud kindness.  If it's not kind and not necessary, why say it?

This I know for sure:  truth untempered by kindness can turn into a weapon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 175, June 27

"Toughness is in the soul and spirt, not in muscles."  -- Albert Kamus

In previous blogs, I"ve written about going through physical therapy for my new hip.  I worked on strengthening the muscles that had atrophied, and, to some extent, succeeded.  I was pleased with my progress.

No physical exercises, however, can build my soul and spirit.  That is a more elusive  job.  My soul and spirit are often weary.  And I think that I can't take another setback, another crisis, another blow.  My life is no different than that of others:  we all have problems, we all face hardships. 

Building muscles in the soul and spirit requires a humility of spirit, a willingness to listen to the Spirit.   Those qualities are so much more difficult to work on, at least for me, than pushing weights or doing stretching exercises.

This I know for sure:  a tough body is good; a tough soul and spirit are even better.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 174, June 26

"Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does."--William James

Do you ever feel that nothing you do makes a difference?  To anyone?  I do.  In fact I feel that way quite frequently.  I don't like the feeling, but there it is.

My children are raised.  My grandchildren are busy with their own lives, and two of them live far away, making it even harder for me to be involved in their lives.  What is a woman who spent all of her adult life being a full time mom supposed to do?  It's question that has plagued me for some time.

I look for ways to make a difference.  And, too often, fail.  Sometimes I'm tempted to quit my puny efforts and just accept that I have nothing to offer any more.

Then something happened.  A friend was waiting for potentially bad news.  I couldn't affect the news one way or the other, but I could write her a note.  I did.  A day later, I received an email from her thanking me for the note.  That small thing lifted my spirits.  It turns out that the news was good, and I rejoiced with her.

This I know for sure:  I can make a difference, if I care enough to try.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 173, June 25

"The question you have to ask yourself is:  How can I make people better as a result of connecting with me?"

I found this in a book on relationships.  Often, we think of relationships in terms of what someone can do for us.  It's a natural and human reaction.  "What's in it for me?" is a common question, whether or not we say it aloud.

Honestly, I don't often think of how I can make people better as a result of connecting with me.  And isn't that a shame?  My thoughts and feelings are tied up in myself, a very small subject indeed.  I am too busy thinking, "How can this person help me?" rather than "How is being with me helping someone else?"

What are the ways we can make people better by associating with us?

We can teach them something they didn't know.
We can help them feel better about themselves.
We can share a skill or talent with them.
We can listen.
We can provide a shoulder to cry on.

Doubtless you can think of others.

This I know for sure:  when we ask ourselves this question, we grow closer to becoming like the Savior.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 172, June 24

One of my favorite books is "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten."  The author proceeds to list things we learn in kindergarten.

Saying "please" and "thank you"is among those maxims.

When did our culture take on a fast-food approach to manners?  I cringe when I read of brides and grooms emailing their thank yous to guests who took the time to attend the wedding and choose a gift.  Is that better or worse, I wonder, than failing to acknowledge a gift at all?  I flinch at the rudeness shown to those who serve us, with never a "please" or a "thank you" to waiters, salon operatives, store clerks, etc.

Will our manners eventually devolve so completely that we become a nation of grunters, making our needs known with nothing but a roughly delivered demand?

This I know for sure:  the devolution of manners is a symptom of the devolution of society.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 171, June 23

Does  the quest for perfection haunt you?  It does me.  In our church, we are taught "to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect."  Perfection is a goal.  More, it is a process.

My own  personal quest is a series of twists and turns, forwards and backwards, and everything in between.  I awake one morning, ready to conquer the world with my energy, my intelligence, my passion, and my compassion.  The following morning, I can barely pull myself out of bed by 11 am.  And sometimes not even then.

What makes the difference?  Certainly the body's biorhythms play a part.  As do the chemicals that play havoc with my emotions.  But, I can't help wondering if one day I am on fire with the light of Christ and the next, I have lost it.

It is not that His light has disappeared.  It is that I choose to ignore it.  It is a theory that is increasingly consuming my thoughts.  Could I change me, and therefore my world, if I consciously seek His light?  Or is it all a matter of my mixed up hormones and the changing circumstances of each new day?

This I know for sure:  His light is my light when I seek it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 170, June 22

"An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it."--James A. Michener

In school, when we studied the Dark Ages, I wondered what would possess people to act as they did, with cruelty, without regard to human decency and rights.  It wasn't until I was much older that I realized those years were so utterly dark because the light of Christ had been withdrawn from the earth.   He withdrew it because the people refused to look up and see it.

In my own life, I am beginning to make the same connection.  When I am filled with the light of Christ, I feel optimistic, productive, charitable.  When I eschew that light, when I actively push it away, I feel lonely, depressed, afraid.   Why I hadn't made this connection earlier is, I'm afraid, a testatment to my own stubborn and willful nature.

The light of Christ is available to all.  Imagine the indescribable difference in our world if we all embraced the light of Christ.  What kind of world would we have:  one of happiness, joy, intelligence, compassion, beauty, kindness, etc.

This I know for sure:  when we walk in the light, we are on our path back to the Father. When we dwell in the darkness, we are on the path to His adversary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 169, June 21

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."--Iris Murdoch

I love flowers, but I rarely take the time to simply gaze at them and appreciate, to inihale their fragrance, to enjoy the sheer perfection of one of the Father's most magnificent creations.  And I wonder how many other things I neglect to appreciate.  Do I pay homage to the sky, with its broad expanse of blue and the infinite variety of colors it offers at sunrise and sunset?  Do I view the Rocky Mountains which provide a backdrop for our home with awe and wonder?  Or do I pass them off with little notice or regard? 

My adopted state of Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the world, yet I give little attention to the natural bounties and wonders with which it abounds.  After living there for 37 years, I have come to accept and expect the brilliance of the sun which rarely fails to shine.  (How can I be so complacent when I need the sun in the same way I need air and water and food?)  I take for granted the brilliance of autumn with colors ranging from russet to scarlet, from primrose to amber and the tender green awakening of spring.

This I know for sure:  flowers ... indeed, all of the Father's creations ... deserve our homage.  It goes without saying that the Lord deserves our unwavering gratitude.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 168, June 20

This week, my hsuband and I are tending our two grandsons while our son and his bride go on a honeymoon.  A five-year-old and an almost eight- year-old have boundless energy, insatiable curiosity, and the ability to reduce me to a more than usual doting grandma.  Being a grandmother is a heady experience.  It is also a humbling one, as I tend these sweet children placed briefly in my care.

Being a grandmother is also exhausting.  Did you know that energy is a phenomenon of inverse proportion?  The more energy the boys have, the less I have.

I accept that. 

It also reminds me why the Father counseled that we have children while we're young. 

This I know for sure:  a sixty-year-old body was not mean to keep up with those of five and eight-year-olds! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 167, Day 19

Do you remember the game "Mother, May I?" from childhood?  Children line up and a leader, or Mother, says, "Everyone take three large steps forward."  (Or two small steps or one huge step or whatever.)

Of course, you must ask, "Mother, May I?"   The leader then gives permission or denies it to do so.  But if you fail to ask, you can't go anywhere.

I frequently feel like I take three large steps backward for every small step forward.  I start to feel confident in something, that maybe, just maybe,  I'm getting the hang of a learning a new skill or a better way to do something, and find that I've been moving backward the entire time.  It's more than discouraging.

Is it the perversities of fate that cause this?  Or could it be that I've deluded myself the whole time?  Or is it just that the learning curve is steeper than I thought?  Or maybe a combination of all the above.

Whatever it is, I want to fall to the ground and kick my feet up and down.  Pretty soon, I pick myself up (figuratively if not literally) and try again.  And sometimes, I find I'm able to move one small step forward. 

This I know for sure:  one small step, combined with other small steps,  is progress. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 166, June 18

Yesterday, I wrote about the sealing of our son and his lovely wife, Jenny, in the temple.  In a lovely ceremony, they promised to love each other and the Lord.

Even before their marriage, Jenny has been a blessing in Rob's life and that of his two sons, Brigham and Isaac, at a time when they most needed it.   She brought happiness and joy.  She brought fun and laughter.  She brought commitment to the Gospel and to the Lord.

Blessings like that are sacred and all too rare in today's world which too frequently values the superficial and the tawdry.  My husband and I delight in Jenny and in this new union.

This I know for sure:  Jenny is a blessing in the life of all who know her.  Our whole family is blessed with her presence.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 165, June 17

Yesterday, our son Rob and his sweetheart Jenny were sealed for time and all eternity in the Bountiful, Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As in most important things, the ceremony was beautifully simple, with the officiator pronouncing blessings upon them if they remain true to their covenants.

As I reflect back on the day, I recall what my husband frequently says  about a Mormon wedding:  everything important happens in the temple; the rest  is just a party. 

I have been to ultra-fancy weddings, where the parents and bride and groom spent tens of thousands of dollars upon impressive receptions. The ceremonies were indeed beautiful with china and silver, cyrstal and damask linens, fine food and champagne (non-Mormon).  One wedding in particular stands out as  extravagantly lavish.  Unfortunately, the marriage did not live up to the wedding and ended within a year.

It struck me as especially sad, not so much in the waste of money but in the idea that the wedding was more important than the marriage. And I wonder if this is a symbol of our current culture, that form is more important than substance, that display of wealth (or power or social standing or whatever) counts more than keeping vows.

This I know for sure:  in the end, substance trumps form every time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 164, June 16

Yesterday I wrote about the need for appreciation.  Today, partly because of my perverse nature and partly because I like to turn things on their head once in a while, I'm going to write about the flip side of that.

Eliza R. Snow, the Second President of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a gifted author, speaker, and activist at a time when women had little voice.  Among her many writings, she penned this:

"We like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters?  We know the Lord has laid high responsibilities upon us, and there is not a wish or a desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do for ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify for those responsibilities."

What powerful words.  Sister Snow, as always, hits it on the head with her insight and wisdom.

Sometimes, when I feel I'm not being appreciated, I get my nose out of joint and I think, "If that's the way they (husband, children, church members, etc.)  feel, they can just forget about my doing another thing."  Not a noble sentiment.  And hardly worthy of Sister Snow's words.

After I get my priorities back in order and my thinking straight, I (usually) get back to the business of doing what I'm supposed to be doing, whether or not I'm appreciated.  But sometimes that little voice rears its ugly head and, once again, my nose gets out of joint.

This I know for sure:  I should start appreciating all the Father has done for me before I start whining that I'm not appreciated enough.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 163, June 15

In talking with a couple of friends recently, we all expressed our desire to be appreciated.  Another conversation with my husband reinforced that need.  Many years ago, Maslow, a psychologist, outlined a hierachy of needs.  Aside from the basic physical needs, the need to be appreciated tops the list.

I wonder why we deny each other that all-important need.  Why are words of appreciation so hard to give?  It doesn't seem to matter whether the venue be the family, the workplace, church, or other social groups, too many of us withhold those words and actions that tell another, "I appreciate your efforts.  I appreciate YOU."

And so I ask again:  Why do we parcel out these words with stingy hands and selfish hearts?  Could it be because we fear that in giving to others, we  will take something from ourselves?

I've asked myself that question and have not come up with a good answer.  At least, not one that is palatable.

This I know for sure:  if appreciation were more freely given, our lives, our world, would be infinitely better.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 162, June 14

To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.
Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca

A dear friend sent this quote to me.  It is no secret among my friends and acquaintances that I am not a public speaker.  I eschew any and all opportunities for that.  And, in doing so, I sometimes wonder what I'm missing.

Could I find a new strength, a new talent?  Possibly.

More, could I inspire someone to try something that they are afraid of?  Again, possibly.

Finally, could I effect a change in another's thinking, perhaps influencing them for good if I gave voice to my thoughts and feelings?

This I know for sure:  I gain nothing from my silence, except to protect myself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 161, June 13

In reading a book about relationships, I found a sentence that stood out:  "When someone talks about you behind your back, you want them to refer to you as first class."

What a great goal that is, to be thought of and talked about as "first class."  I wonder how many people would refer to me in that way.  Probably not a whole lot. 

How can I expect them to see my efforts as first class when, so often, too often, I give less than my best?  Many times, I think of something I'm doing as "It's good enough for who it's for."  What a lazy and selfish attitude that is.  Why don't I give my best, if not for others, then for myself?

There we are, back to lazy and selfish.

This I know for sure:  if I want to be thought of as first class, I need to give first class efforts.  To everything ... and everyone.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 160, June 12

"A friend may well be reckoned a masterpiece of nature."--Emerson

This is not the first time that I've written about friends; nor will it be the last.  For friends and friendship are an important, even indispensable, part of my life.   My friends are there, in ways both large and small.  They reflect my better self and make me want to be more than I am.  What more could one ask of another--to help her find the best within her?

Another quote:  "A friend is someone who knows the song of your heart and sings it back to you when you can't sing it yourself."  I am fortunate enough to have friends who love me even when I'm not particularly loveable.  They cheer me up when I'm down.  They make me want to keep trying when I am ready to give up.

And, sometimes, I am able to do the same for them.  Not always, because I am imperfect and selfish and small-minded.  But I keep trying.  Because of those same friends.

This I know for sure:  I am blessed with many masterpieces of nature in my life.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 159, June 11

Have you found your sweet spot where all of you is in balance?  The physical, the spiritual, the mental, the emotional, the professional?  If so, congratulations.

I feel like I'm doing well if I can get one or two parts of myself in balance.   It seems that when I work on one part, I end up neglecting the others.  With a hip replacement surgery not far behind me, I have concentrated on my phsyical self, going to therapy twice a week for 12 weeks.  That was great.  However, I let other parts of me go.

My writing took a distinct back seat.  In fact, it didn't even make the back seat.  It had been thrown out the car.  Now that I'm trying to reclaim it, I am struggling.

That wasn't the only thing that was neglected as I worked on getting my new hip to work with the rest of me.  I didn't keep up with friends as much as I would like.  I failed to invite my grandchildren for visits as frequently as I had.  And so on.

This I know for sure:  a life out of balance needs to be re-aligned.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 158, June 10

Yesterday, I wrote about the funeral of a dear friend and mentioned the title of a hymn that was used during the service.  I'd like to quote those words now, for they touched me profoundly.


Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord,
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.

What greater gift does thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christ-like friends whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us near, Lord, to thee.

For worthy friends who lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior's name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.

Doin't you love those words?  When I hear them, I resolve to be one of those persons whose life touches that of others for good.  Unfortunately, my resolve is short-lived and I get caught up in the busy-ness of life, in my own concerns, my own worries.

This I know for sure:  if I want to be someone who touches the lives of others for good, I need to re-align my own life to be in harmony with the Savior.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 157, June 9

A few days ago, my husband and I attended the funeral for a man in our church.  He was 97, nearly 98, years young, a stalwart member of his church, a faithful husband, a loving father.  The funeral was a tribute to him and to his family.  The opening song, "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good," was a fitting one for this great man.

Seventeen of his grandchildren sang.  Stories were told of him, funny, endearing stories that spoke of a man who had lived and loved well, in addition to being well-loved.  As the Bishop, who was conducting the service, said, "We come today with sorrow, not despair."

If you have attended a Mormon funeral, you understand.   Mormon funerals are filled with hope and celebration, for we know that this mortal death is not an end but a new beginning.

Finding hope in death isn't easy.  But it can be done.  It can be done IF that life is well-lived.  For those who have foresaken Christ, who have turned against His teachings, that hope may not be present.  And that makes me think about my own life.

Certainly, my pettiness and selfishness will not bring me closer to Christ.  Neither will my willfulness and disobedience.  Can I align my life to better reflect His gospel?

I can if I choose to.

This I know for sure: life is a matter of choice, for good and bad, for right and wrong,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 156, June 8

What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.

Alan Bennett

It's no secret that I love words.  As a lover of words, I also love books.  I can not imagine a life without books, without the worlds they open.  In books, I am an explorer, a scientist, an astronaut, a ballet dancer, a mountain climber.   I am unlikely to be any of these things in life, but I am through reading.

As a child, I devoured books, checking out dozens each week from the public library.  It was a ritual for my mother, sister, and me to head to the library every Saturday and find new worlds to explore through books.  I read them all--LITTLE WOMEN, NANCY DREW, DANA GIRL Mysteries, and a myriad of others.  My reading tastes matured as I grew.  As a young mother, I tucked a book in the car for those inevitable waiting periods at dentist and doctor appointments for my children. Today my reading runs the gamut from historcal to suspense to romance to non-fiction.  I travel with a book (or three) in  my purse.

This I know for sure:  books are worlds to be opened.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 155, June 7

Resist much, obey little.   Walt Whitman

When I first read this, I wasn't sure about it.  After all, aren't we taught to obey the Father in all things?  As I thought about it and pondered over it more, however, I realized that if I pay attention to the first directive, "Resist much," that I will have little need to obey.  (You may have a different interpretation of this.)

If I resist the urge to gossip about an acquaintance, I will have no need to obey a rule from my childhood about not talking behind someone's back.

If I resist the urge to take something that doesn't belong to me, I will have no need to obey the eighth commandment.  (Actually, I don't have the urge to steal, but you get the idea.)

"Resist much."  I think the Lord would applaud the sentiment.

This I know for sure:  resisting temptation takes constant vigilance. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 154, June 6

Before I had my hip replacement surgery, I met with the surgeon for a consultation.  He looked at my X-rays, then looked at me.  The conversation went something like this.

Doctor:  "Your hip is bad."

Me:  "I know."

Doctor:  "Your hip is bad."

Me:  "I know."

Doctor:  "Your hip is really bad."

Me:  "I know."  Somehow I felt like I should apologize.  "I'm sorry."

It started me wondering what my meeting with the Lord will be when I leave this life and pass on to the next.  Will it go something like this?

Lord:  "Jane, your spirit has been poor."

Me:  "I know."

Lord:  Jane, you haven't obeyed my commandments."

Me:  "I know."

Lord:  "Jane, you knew what you were supposed to do."

Me:  "I know."

I have the tools to do better.  Now I need to choose to use them.

This I know for sure:  I have a new hip;  I can also have a new spirit.  If I choose.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 153, June 5

How do the red giants remain standing with such shallow roots? They grow together in clumps, intertwining their roots with others as far away as two hundred feet. Each one is an individual beauty, yet connected with the others for survival. Even the tallest trees are held up by the smallest ones. By holding hands underground, they hold each other up in the storms of life.

In previous blogs, I've written about friends standing together, arms linked, against the storms of life.  Never have I been more aware of this than in this last year.  I've watched friends watch over each other, upholding each other, and, sometimes, in my case as I recovered from hip replacement surgery, holding each other up.

Some of us aren't particularly talented, yet we reach out in any way we can.  Some of us have little extra strength in reserve, yet we give what we can.  And some of us just give because a friend is in need..  Some dear friends in our church have endured much in the past 18 months.  Friends gathered around them, circling them much as pioneers drew their wagons in a protective circle.  I marvel at the generosity I've wittnessed, the total unselfishness of those who gave with no desire for recognition, only a desire to help.

Like the redwoods with their shallow roots, we connect, each little bit of help strengthening and enriching another. 

This I know for sure:   the redwoods survive because they rely on each other; friends do the same.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 152, June 4

"Do what you say you're going to do--what you say to others, and what you say to yourself."

I found this quote in a book on business connections.  The counsel applies to any relationship, whether it be in the family, in the workplace, in the church.  Most of us have encountered individuals who promise that they will do something, only to later find that they have failed to carry through.

It's disappointing, though not particularly surprising.  Unfortunately, at times, I have been one of those individuals.  I say I will do something, then don't do it.  Sometimes, I have to admit, I never intended to do the thing which I promised.  I just wanted to get out of an uncomfortable situation.  I'm not proud of that and am consciously trying to do better.  In this, as in many things, I remain a work in progress.

My shortcomings notwithstanding, I can't help observe what happens when someone doesn't carry through on a promise.  Usually, the results are not particularly serious, but sometimes, they do carry heavy consequences and others pay the price for one person's failure to keep his word.

This I know for sure:   keeping the promises we make, whether to others or to ourselves, is a mark of our character.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 159, June 11

We've all heard of the BIble Belt, that swath of land that stretches across the South, where there are more churches and Christians than in any other area of the United States.  Were you also aware of the Suicide Belt?  I just recently heard of it.  It stretches across western states, including Utah.

The irony is that Utah is rated as one of the happiest states in America.  It also has one of the highest suicide rates.  How can these seemingly contradictory states exist?

One theory I've read is that when one is depressed in a place where everyone around him or her is happy, it emphasizes

Day 151, June 3

"I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God." -- Max Lucado

I wish I could say that I share Lucado's faith.  The fact is, I don't see problems in such a positive light.  I tend to rant and rail, whine and complain. 

Finding the positive in problems is a trait that we would all do well to possess.  For we will all face problems, large and small, in this life.  Some of those problems will test us in ways we never wished to be tested.  Sometimes we will fail those tests.  Other times, we will triumph.

Observing others as they face challenges both humbles and awes me.  And I wonder how I would handle myself in similar circumstances. 

This I know for sure:  finding ways to see God in whatever cirucmstances we face will move us closer to Him.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 150, June 2

We can trust God to answer our prayers in a way that will do the most eternal good, even when His answers are impossible to understand in the now. -- Linda Evans Shepherd

Do you have difficulty sometimes understanding God's plans?  I do.  When hard things happen, I wonder, "Why did this have to happen?  What was thou thinking, Heavenly Father?"

I'm ashamed to admit that, that I doubt the Father's plans, for me, for others.  Right now, we have dear, dear friends undergoing hard things.  They remain optimistic and certain of the Lord's love for them.  I have always admired this family, but never more so than now, when I witness their suffering.

When I want to rail at the seeming injustice of these good people suffering so, a still, small voice reminds me that the Lord loves them, that He has not forgotten them.

This I know for sure:  the Lord's plans are perfect; it is my own understanding that is imperfect.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 149, June 1

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all, but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess. -- Martin Luther

The older I grow, the more I understand how very unimportant material things are.  Don't misunderstand--I like pretty things, pretty clothes, beautiful purses, nice furniture.  But I realize that they give fleeting pleasure.  More, they bring no true happiness or joy.  Those are found in family, in friends, in faith.  They are found in creating, in serving, in loving.

I could have saved myself much angst decades ago when I worried over our family's finances if I had put material things in their proper place:  at the bottom of the rung.

This I know for sure:  material things have their place, but they will never make the Top 10.