Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 59, February 28

I've written before about my father's early years, growing up in the small Mormon settlement of Pima, Arizona.  Times were hard when he was a boy (during the Great Depression years), yet Dad never dwelled on what his family lacked.  Instead, he rejoiced in what they had.  The following is taken from his personal history:

"As I  have said, much of our food was bread and milk. My mother would make jams, preserves, jellies, etc. from the fruit of the orchard. Often, we did not have enough money to make jelly from the fruit, so my mother would put up in jars the juice from the fruit. Then if we later got a little money, she would make jelly out of the juice. Jelly required a lot of sugar to make it, and often we would not have the money for sugar.

"I remember well the delicious and beautiful lovaes of brown light bread my mother made, which we would break into pieces into big bowls filled with milk, take some jam, preserves or jelly in a spoon, dip it into the bread and milk, and this became a fine evening meal in the summer, especially. Also, we would eat the bread and milk, taking bites of onions or radishes, which we grew, and found this fare to be delightful to eat. We grew a garden, although this project was not always successful. In the winter, we had pork from the hogs and beef from one or more of the steers which we would kill (steers, being castrated male animals, which otherwise, would have been bulls.) "

His attitude of abundance shames me when I complain about what I don't have, about what is wrong in my life.  My father and his brothers and sisters looked at life with gratitude in their hearts.

So, for today, I am grateful for warm milk, homemade bread, and jam.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 58, February 27

When I was a mother, I had to say "No" plenty of times.  Too many times, perhaps.  "No" to an extra helping of dessert.  (And why didn't I say "Yes" then?)  "No" to an expensive pair of new shoes.  And countless other "Nos."

Now that I'm a grandma, I get to say "Yes."  When our two grandsons visited a couple of weeks ago, I had a small present for them for each day.  Isaac, who knows how to get around his grandmother, asked, "Grandma, can I have one more present now?" 

"Of course."

"Grandma, can I have just one more present?"

"You bet."

And so it went.  At the end of the visit, my daughter-in-law Jenny said, "Jane, next time you need to practice saying 'No' more."

I don't think so.  Saying "Yes" to grandchildren is a grandmother's perogative.  Her privilege.  And her pleasure.

So, for today, I am grateful for times I can say "Yes."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 57, February 26

Today is the 211th birthday of Victor Hugo, born February 26, 1802.  Hugo was widely regarded as the premiere French romantic writer of his time.

Perhaps his most well-known and beloved creation is Les Miserables, which continues to touch our hearts.  Who can resist the story of Jean Valjean?  Who can deny the impact of this tale of courage, sacrifice, and redemption?  Who has not been moved by the music inspired by this story?

So, for today, I am grateful for the genius of Victor Hugo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 56, February 25

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. --Isaac Newton, 1676

When I was a child, the only giants I had read about were Goliath of David and Goliath and the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk, in other words, bad guys..  It was only when I was a bit older, that I understood that giants could also be good guys. 

I have many giants in my world.  There are those of history--Abraham Lincoln, a true giant among men and one of the good guys.  Joseph Smith, who was the conduit in bringing forth the restored Gospel. 

And there are those in my personal life:  my husband, who takes care not only of me and our family but my sister and her family as well, my children who everyday make righteous choices, my friends who bless my life in so many ways.

So, for today, I am grateful for giants.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 55, February 24

I love being a grandma.  I love the names by which grandmas are known.  One friend has her grandchildren call her
Grammie.  Another is referred to as Meemaw.  When my sister and I and our cousins were small, we called our grandmother "Mamaw."

I'm just "Grandma" to my grandchildren.  And that's fine.  I take it as a badge of honor.  My grandchildren are good about overlooking my flaws, my lacks, my being woefully behind in all things technology.  They accept me as I am.  One day my granddaughter Reynna looked at the skirt I was wearing (Coldwater Creek, no less) and said, "Grandma, you have an interesting fashion sense."

I just nodded and said, "Thank you."

So, for today, I am grateful for grandmas everywhere.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 54, February 23

Today is our daughter Alanna's birthday.  I won't tell you how old she is as that would negate my claim to being 29.  Alanna is precious to us for many reasons, not the least of which is the giving and generous spirit with which she has been blessed.

Alanna makes beautiful cards.  And then she blesses the lives of others by sending them to those who need an extra dose of love, a pick-me-up, a note of cheer.  She also shares them with me, allowing me to send these lovely cards.   Whenever anyone compliments me on these cards, I admit, albeit reluctantly, that I have not made them, but that my talented and sweet daughter has.  (I bask in reflected talent.)

Alanna is rearing her children in righteousness, making sure they are taught the Gospel.  Then she practices what she teaches in how she lives her life.

So, for today, I am grateful for Alanna.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feb 22

Many of my posts have been about my Mormon heritage, from my father's side of the family.  My mother was not a member of the church until some years after she married my father, but her heritage is just as rich.  (My mother is my Aunt Mae's older sister.)

Times were rough when my mother and her siblings grew up.  The Great Depression was upon them.  Work was scarce, as was any extra money. Their mother and father sacrificed  for the four children to remain in school. 

Shoes were among the few things the family bought at a store.  To save wear-and-tear on these precious commodities, the children tied the laces together and hung them around their necks on the way to school.  Once there, they slipped the shoes on.  This process was repeated on the way home.

I remember my mother telling me that she and her sisters had two dresses apiece.  One was for school, one for church on Sundays.  There were no washing machines, necessitating washing clothes by hand.  School dresses were carefully sponged off at the end of each day and pressed to be worn again the following day

So, for today, I am grateful for frugal and practical ancestors.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 53, February 21

Forgive me while I return to one of my favorite subjects:  my Aunt Mae.

I've written about her before and will probably do so again.  In talking with her a few days ago, I learned that her doctor had told her she must use a walker.  Never one to complain, she confessed to having a hard time with this.  

"How will I get to church?" she asked.  "No one's going to want to take me and have to load and unload the walker."

I tried to assure ther that lots of people would be willing to help her.  Still, she was reluctant to "be a burden" on anyone. 

"Everyone's already so busy," she demurred and switched the subject.  "Are you giving anything up for Lent?"

I started to give my customary response of "I'm giving up smoking."  (I don't smoke.)

But Aunt Mae was serioius.  What could she possibly give up?  She has no vices.  "I'm giving up cornbread, greens, and peanut butter."   (Aunt Mae is Tennesse born and bred.  Cornbread and greens are staples in a southerner's diet.)

Her humble offering to the Lord touched me.

So, for today, I am grateful for Aunt Mae.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 52, February 20

"No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." (To General S.B. Buckner) --Ulysses S. Grant, 1862

Grant, of course, was directing his comment to General Buckner during the Civil War.   When I found this quote, however, my thoughts went not to the War Between the States but to my personal battle to surrender my will to the Father.  And it is a battle.

I battle with pride, with willfulness, with the ridiculous idea that I know best.  How can I surrender to the Father when I'm encumbered with these sins?  The simple answer is, "I can't."

Every day, I struggle to find the humility and meekness of heart that allow me put aside my sins and to say, "Thou knowest what I need."

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I surrender. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 50, February 19

I believe in angels.  I believe in heavenly angels who watch over us.  I also believe in earthly angels who also watch over us.  What would I do without the angels in my life?

I'd be in a whole lot of trouble.

There was the time (actually several times) when my mind drifted as I was driving.  Only heavenly intervention saved me from causing a serious accident. 

Then there are the times when earthly angels step in to make my life better.  These angels come in various guises.  There is my sweet daughter Alanna, who is always ready to send a card to a friend or family member who needs an extra dose of love.  There is my writer friend Amanda, who puts aside her own writing to critique a project for me.  There is Laurie, who shared her talents to decorate for our son's wedding reception.  And there are dozens of others, all are angels who bless my life.

So, for today, I am grateful for angels, both heavenly and earthly.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 49, February 18

Being a mother is hard work.  In fact, it may be the hardest work I've ever done.  I cannot imagine how much more difficult it is to be a step-mother.  Yet that is exactly what my grandmother did.  And it is what my daughter-in-law Jenny is doing now.

Two years ago, our son Rob found himself a single father to two small children.   Six months later, he met a lovely young woman, Jenny.  They quickly fell in love, married, and Jenny became a mother to Brigham and Isaac.

With Rob, she cares for these precious spirits, putting their needs before her own, making sure they receive the physical and mental, emotional and spiritual care they need.

So, for today, I am grateful for Jenny ... and for step-mothers everywhere.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 48, February 17

Yesterday I wrote of my grandparents' courtship and marriage.  I referred only briefly to my grandmother becoming  a step-mother to her new husband's three small children.

Following is a passage from my grandmother's personal history of her experience in mothering these children:

"That first night before we went to bed, Fannie was sitting on her Papa's lap, and I was fixing things and getting the beds ready. Fannie said, 'Papa, let's always stay home now and never, never move again." Her papa told her with tears in his eyes that Aunt Emma (the name Fannie, Mildred, and Donald called me) was going to make a home for us and if they would be nice, she would always stay and do the best she could to be a mother in the home.

"I must say that they all did everything they could to do their part. I never can express how glad I am I have had the opportunity of being blest with them as children. They have expressed their love for me. Mildred gave me a present when she first earned her money and gave a little message like this: 'To the noblest and best mother I ever knew.-'"

So, for today, I am grateful for my grandmother, a noble and compassionate woman.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 47, February 16

Pride is one of those bugaboos, for me, and, I suspect, for others.  Putting aside pride is more than difficult.  It requires a humility and meekness of heart  that frequently eludes me.

In reading from my grandmother's personal history, I came across an incident that reminds me of the importance of setting aside pride.

(A little note here:  my Grandmother McBride, referred here as "Sister Hubbard,"  met my grandfather when he was a widower with three young children.)  The following is in her words:

"The Bishop had told him (Don Carlos McBride, my grandfather) there was a Sister Hubbard ... So that was my first introduction to Don C. McBride. I knew him when I saw him and had for a long time, but he never even knew I existed. He, as a stake officer, and I, as a ward officer, became quite well acquainted, and by December, 1913, were planning to get married. Then through a little misunderstanding we quit keeping company for about two months. I surely found I wanted him, and he said he was convinced he needed and wanted me. We finally put our pride in our pocket and made up. I might say that was our last trouble or mmisiunderstanding. We came to know each other better every day and became nearer to each other until it seemed he knew my desires and I his before we mentioned them to one another and acted accordingly. On June 6, 1914, we boarded the train to go to Salt Lake City, Utah to be married in the Salt Lake Temple. We were married June 11, 1914."

Though I've read this passage before, I had not paid much attention to the incident about the "misunderstanding" and that they had "quit keeping company."  What would have happened if my grandmother and grandfather had not "put their pride in their pocket" and made up?  The loss of eternal companions.  The loss of the six children they would have gone on to have.  The loss of the children of those children and their children and their children ...  The losses quickly mount up.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who "put their pride in their pocket." 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 46, February 15

Our small town of Loveland, Colorado made the national and international news last week.  An administrator at an elementary school found a small boy throwing imaginary grenades at an imaginary box filled with imaginary "bad people."  A zero tolerance policy at school resulted in the little boy being suspended, or, as he put it, "despended." 

"Why am I despended?" he asked.

Why, indeed.

I agree with the policy of zero tolerance for violence.  However, an imaginary grenade thrown at an imaginary box filled with imaginary people hardly qualifies as violence.  I could not help but wonder if the school also had a zero tolerance for common sense.  The political correctness atmosphere that has so infected our nation has brought us to this.

So, for today, I am grateful for people who use common sense.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 45, February 14

I admit it.  I'm a believer in the good luck of found pennies.  So whenever I see a penny, I pick it up.  And I make a wish on it.  In a flashing moment of understanding, I realized that I was not so much making a wish on the pennies as I was using them as a sign that I should say a prayer.

Does that sound sacreligious?  I hope not.  For I am a fervent believer in prayer.  I pray in the mornings, kneeling by my bed.  And I pray in the evenings, also kneeling by my bed. In addition, I pray countless times during the day.  I pray when I see a disturbing news story on television or while reading online.  I pray when I'm driving.  I pray while I'm writing this blog.  Opportunities ... and reasons ... for prayer abound.

Pennies are only a reminder of the need for prayer and the power of prayer.  I have dozens of names on my personal prayer list.  Some are family members; some are friends; some are friends of friends for whom others have asked me to pray.  I pray for each individual by name with specific requests.

So, for today, I am grateful for pennies.  And for prayer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 44, February 13

A few days ago, my husband and I attended the funeral of a young woman who passed away unexpectedly in her sleep.  Her death rocked our area ... and our hearts.  Touching and funny stories were shared about her at the funeral.  Two phrases stuck in particular stuck in my mind. 

The first:  "Saints made goodness look attractive."  Angela was and is a saint in the best sense of the word.

The second:  "Angels go to heaven because they take themselves lightly."  Angela was and is an angel.

Tears were sniffled back and wiped away, my own, included.  But through it all, there was a spirit of hope.  And certainty.  Certainty that Angela will be resurrected.  Certainty that this is not an end, but a beginning.  Certainty that the Father is even now embracing her in His loving arms.  Certainty that Angela's family and friends will be reunited with her.

So, for today, I am grateful for the Father's perfect plan.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 43, February 12

Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  I have always respected, even revered President Lincoln.  Many years ago, I had heard a story about Lincoln's pardon of a young soldier.  I did some research and found the following story:
A Congressman went up to the White House one morning on business, and saw in the anteroom an elderly man, crouched all alone in a corner, crying as if his heart would break. The Congressman passed into the President's room, transacted his business, and went on his way.  
The next morning he was obliged again to go to the White house, and he saw the same old man crying, as before, in the corner. He stopped, and said to him, "What's the matter with you, old man?" The man told him the story of his son; that he was a soldier in the Army of the James - General Butler's army - that he had been convicted by a court-martial of an outrageous crime and sentenced to be shot next week; and that his Congressman was so convinced of the convicted man's guilt that he would not intervene.  
"Well," said Mr. Alley, "I will take you into the Executive Chamber after I have finished my business, and you can tell Mr. Lincoln all about it."
"Well, my old friend, what can I do for you to-day?" Lincoln asked. 
'The old man then repeated to Mr. Lincoln what he had already told the Congressman in the anteroom. Sorrow came over the President's face as he replied, "I am sorry to say I can do nothing for you. Listen to this telegram received from General Butler yesterday: "President Lincoln, I pray you not to interfere with the courts-martial of the army. You will destroy all discipline among our soldiers."- B.F. Butler."

Every word of this dispatch sent a fresh wave of despair to the old man's newly awakened hopes. Mr. Lincoln watched his grief for a minute, and then exclaimed, "By jingo, Butler or not Butler, here goes!'" Writing a few words and handing them to the old man.  
The soldier's father broke down when he read, "Job Smith is not to be shot until further orders from me". - ABRAHAM LINCOLN.'

"Why," said the old man, "I thought it was to be a pardon; but you say, 'not to be shot till further orders,' and you may order him to be shot next week"   
The president smiled at the old man's fears, and replied, "Well, my old friend, I see you are not very well acquainted with me. If your son never looks on death till further orders come from me to shoot him, he will live to be a great deal older than Methuselah.."
              So, for today, I am grateful for the compassionate legacy of a great man.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 42, February 11

Did you know that on this day, February 11, in 1752, the first hospital in America, The Hospital of Pennsylvania, opened its doors?  I didn't.  I've always accepted--and expected--there to be medical care available when my family or I needed it.  Rationally, I suppose I knew that there was a time when hospitals in our country did not exist, but I have taken for granted the excellent care that most hospitals offer.

Many years ago, our first son, Rob, suffered from a bone infection in his leg.  Thanks to the skilled doctors and hospital staff, he recovered, with only a scar to remind him and us of the ordeal.  What would we have done without the care he received?  Robert might have lost his leg, or we might have lost him, both possibilities horrendous.

So, for today, I am grateful for hospitals and the dedicated men and women who serve in them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 41, February 10

Yesterday we talked about cheerleaders.  Because there must be opposition in all things, we also must endure those who seek to bring us down.  I call these people the naysayers.  They are the ones who tell us, "You can't do that.  You're not smart enough.  You're not good enough.  You're not talented enough.  You're not pretty enough." 

The list goes on.  I have a few naysayers in my life.  With sly digs and skeptical looks, they make me doubt myself and my abilities.  Ironically, I'm the biggest of the naysayers.  I tell myself, "I'm not smart, good, talented, pretty, (or whatever) enough" to do what I want to do.  And how sad is that?

That is when I depend upon my cheerleaders.

So, for today, I am grateful, once again, for cheerleaders.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day 40, February 9

A few days ago, my family was deeply involved in the Super Bowl, rooting for their favorite team.  Not a football fan myself, I can still, however, appreciate the cheerleaders.  They bolster their teams' spirits when they're down; cheer them on when they're ahead.

I'm fortunate enough to have cheerleaders in my life.  Cheerleaders appear in many guises.  There's my husband, who's always there.  My children, my sister, my friends.  Each, in his or her own way, lifts me up when I'm down, and each cheers me on when I'm ahead. 

And then there's my Heavenly Father.  He, too, lifts me up when I'm down.  He, too, cheers me on when I'm ahead.  He's there, quietly holding my hand even when I'm not aware of His presence.

So, for today, I am grateful for the cheerleaders in my life.  All of them.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 39, February 8

I am continually amazed by the men and women who protect our country, who serve us in ways we cannot possibly understand.  In doing some reading in preparation for writing my other blog (The Patriot Pages), I learned something about the formation of America's Navy and Marines.  What remarkable men.

Today, men and women serve our country, frequently foregoing opportunities for more lucrative employment.  They serve for a variety of reasons, but, most of all, because they love America.

This touches me, especially as some make the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to protect fellow servicemen and women, civilians, and American lives.  I honor them, today and everyday.

So, for today, I am grateful for the men and women who wear our country's uniforms.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 38, February 7

When our grandsons were here visiting, I took the youngest, Isaac, 5, on a walk.  Because we live on a cul-de-sac, we walked around the court several times. 

"Grandma, are we walking in circles?" Isaac asked.

"Pretty much."

"Grandma, WHY are we walking in circles?"

I had no good answer to that, so I smiled and told Isaac, "Grandma's silly sometimes."

He gave me a considering look, then nodded wisely.

So, for today, I'm grateful for circles.  I'm always grateful for Isaac.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 37, February 6

"The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions--the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within out hearts--the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Chirst.  As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade."--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I admit it:  I don't always have the pure love of Christ in my heart.  Too often, my heart is filled with "the cold of animosity and envy."  I have unkind thoughts toward others.  Criticism seeps into my thoughts and my words.  Criticism is rarely, if ever, productive.  It doesn't evoke change, only anger.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when my heart is broken enough to invite the pure love of Christ into it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day 36, February 5

In reading about the Mormon pioneers, I ran across an interesting story.  Lorenzo Snow, who would later serve as President of the Church, was put in charge of a group of pioneers.  Food was running low; children cried as they were put to bed hungry.  Sickness had swept its way through the camp, claiming many lives.  Spirits were low.

Elder Snow recognized that the people in his charge needed to keep their spirits up.  With that in mind, he organized the building of a log meeting house.  There, the pioneers performed for each other, providing recitations, singing, and other wholesome entertainment.  However, the building was dark and caused Elder Snow and other leaders to ponder over how to provide lighting.

Inspiration came in the form of turnips.   The most evenly shaped turnips were chosen, hollowed out, then fitted with small candles.  These improvised candle holders were then hung on the walls of the building.

So, for today, I am grateful for turnips ... and for the ingenuity of pioneer ancestors.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Day 35, February 4

I grew up in the era of Brownie cameras and black-and-white snapshots.  Yes, that was what we called them.  Snapshots, for they were a snap of life, a moment caught in time.

My grandchildren have no idea of these primitive pictures.  In this digital age, they are accustomed to virtual pictures.  If you don't like the image, delete it.  In many ways, I approve of this.  Having taken some real duds of pictures, I like the idea of wiping away unwanted images.

However, a part of me will always be tied to those old black-and-whites, with my mother and grandmother holding my three-year-old self and my baby sister, another with our kitty tucked in my arms, still another showing my proud father on the day he graduated from law school.

So, for today, I am grateful for black-and-white snapshots.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 34, February 3

Yesterday our son Hyrum was sealed for all time and  eternity to his sweetheart in the Denver Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  For Mormon families, having a child sealed to his or her eternal partner is a pinnacle.

Hyrum and Cara made promises and convenants, both with each other and with the Lord.  Could there be anything more important?  These promises and convenants are only the beginning, for these newlyweds will experience joys they cannot imagine.  They will also be tested in ways they cannot imagine. Both are part of this mortal existence.  Because they have been sealed together by Priesthood authority, they will emerge stronger and the better for it ... if they cling to each other and to the Lord.

So, for today, I am grateful for the sealing powers of the temple.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 33, February 2

We leave early this morning to go to the temple.  On the way there, we will pick up our son Steven and his wife Melinda who will join us.  We are dressed in our "Sunday best," as befits the temple.  Steven and Melinda will also be dressed in Sunday clothes.

I grew up in the era when girls and women wore dresses to church.  And I still wear dresses when I attend church.  Does that sound old-fashioned?  I suppose it is.  For me, dressing in "Sunday best" is not only right, it is a sign of reverence.  It shows love for the Lord and respect for the taking of the Sacrament, the real purpose of attending church.

Do I believe the Lord would turn me  away because I am not wearing a dress?  Absolutely not.  Do I believe that I behave and think differently when I am dressed for church?  Absolutely.

So, for today, I am grateful for "Sunday best."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day 32, February 1

A young woman in our ward, Caliana, left this week for the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah.  There she will study the Russian language in preparation for serving a mission in Russia.

(Young men and women serve missions at their own expense.  They take time away from schooling and work to devote themselves to teaching the Gospel to those who have not yet had a chance to hear it.)

We have known Cali since she was a year old.  We've watched her grow, from a baby to a girl to a young woman.  She exhibits beauty and grace in everything she does.  Her choice to serve a mission came as no surprise , as it is but one more part of her willingness to serve others.

So, for today, I am grateful for Cali.