Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 122, April 30

As so often happens, it appears that I'm not finished with yesterday's subject.

"Creativity takes courage."  I would like to reverse that to "Courage takes creativity."

In our ward (congregation) are several families whom I greatly admire for their courage and their creativity.  Each of these families has a large number of children, with the mothers electing to remain at home.  Money is tight, but these families make do.  Could they survive without the courage and creativity they exhibit?  I doubt it.

Living on a modest income isn't easy, but these families make it look so.  Savvy shopping, couponing, bartering, a willingness to do without luxuries--these families do it all, including paying tithing and fast offerings.  And they do it with a willing heart.

Creativity and courage come in all shapes and sizes.

So, for today, I am grateful for families who are courageously creative.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 121, April 29

"Creativity takes courage."--Matisse

I love this quote.  I love the boldness of it, the absolute certainty of it.  I am not a particularly brave person, but when I write something new, whether a blog, a story, or a book, I am being courageous.  When an artist friend sculpts something new, he is being courageous.  When a young mother works with a child to help him learn to read, she is being courageous.

For without courage, that creativity in each of these endeavors probably would not exist. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those individuals who are creative and courageous.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 120, April 28

Last fall, I pruned our rose bushes, cutting them way back.  No gardener, I feared I had cut them too far, perhaps even killing them.  Over fall and winter, I fretted that I had indeed killed the bushes I loved so much.

This spring, shoots of green appeared on the bushes, reassuring me that they would bloom again.  My relief was immense, as was my appreciation for the pruning process.  Last week in Sacrament Meeting, a woman gave a talk on the Lord's pruning of His people.  We are pruned when we face hardships, when we overcome challenges, when we discover that we are weak where we long to be strong.  The pruning, painful as it is, makes us stronger, more reslient.

So, for today, I am grateful for the pruning process.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 119, April 27

Today is our first son, Rob's, birthday.  Rob has always been a joy.  As a baby, he was always happy, giving smiles to everyone.   As a boy, he worked to excel at sports, at school, at scouting.  He earned his Eagle Scout rank at barely fifteen years old.

At nineteen, he served a mission for our church, devoting two years of his life to the Lord and proclaiming His gospel.  His testimony grew with every day.  He never took credit for himself for any baptisms in which he participated, but, instead, gave credit to the Spirit, and, of course, to the Lord. 

At twenty-three, he married in the Lord's House.  When his wife abandoned him and their two sweet boys, Rob did not harbor bitterness.  He cared for his sons and redoubled his efforts to serve the Lord and to listen to His voice.

Today, Rob is married to a lovely young woman, and together, they work to rear their boys in righteousness.

So, for today, I am grateful for Rob.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 118, April 26

"Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

A friend sent me this quote.  It immediately resonated within me.  As I think of my friends and family, I cannot think of one who is not fighting a battle of some kind.  Health, financial, emotional, family problems--we are all struggling in some way.  Struggle is part of the human condition. 

I am ashamed to admit that I am not always kind, much less kinder than necessary.  I am frequently impatient, judgmental, even mean upon occasion.  The kindness that I want to give eludes me in my own selfishness and laziness.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who are kinder than necessary.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 117, April 25

Last week, our area was hit by a tremendous snowstorm.  In the middle of April, we had more snow than we'd had all winter.  A good foot of snow covered our yard.  I was certain that my tulips, which had nearly reached the budding stage, were dead.  The snow melted, and there were the tulips, bowed but unbroken.

Their stalks lay flattened on the ground, the leaves bent double, but the buds were still intact.   I've written before about the resilience of flowers.  Like strong people, they weather life's storms, emerging stronger and more vibrant than ever.  What a lesson for those of us who aren't as strong, who feel beaten up by the challenges thrown at us.

So, for today, and again, I am grateful for flowers that withstand nature's storms.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 116, April 24

Today is Larry's and my 40th anniversary.  How can that be?  (After all, I am only 29.  Never mind that I have three children older than that!)

Larry and I have survived pregnancy, childbirth, and teenagers.  (Really, I did the surviving of the first two.)  We have survived flooded basements, car accidents, and the deaths of parents.  We have survived in-laws, out-laws, and tax laws.  In short, we have survived.

Much of the reason for that survival is that we were sealed in the Lord's holy temple.  Those sealing powers, exercised by a worthy Priesthood holder, gave us reason to keep going when things looked most bleak.

So, for today, I am grateful for the sealing powers found in the Lord's house

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 115, April 23

One morning, as I knelt by my bed and poured out my heart to the Father, I realized that I was switching pronouns in addressing Him.  At times, I addressed Him as "Thee," using the prayer language I had been taught as a child.  At other times, I addressed him as "You," using more familiar language.

The writer in me was intrigued at my unconscious switching of the pronouns and I couldn't help wondering at the cause.  Then it came to me.  I use "Thee" when addressing the Father as my Father in Heaven.  I use "You" when addressing Him as my dear and constant friend.  That He is both, at one and the same time, seemed to make no difference in my prayers.

Isn't it wonderful that He can be both, for me, for everyone?  However we address Him, He is the Father of us all and He is our dear and constant friend.

So, for today, I am grateful for the Father, always.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 114, April 22

This past week, which I spent at my sister's house in Sandy, Utah, I had the opportunity to witness service in action.  Scout leaders and scouts appeared at her house with rakes, bags, and strong backs.  In unseasonably cold weather, they raked and cleaned her yard, preparing it for fertilizing and mowing.

There was no tangible reward for their hard work, only that of knowing they had performed a much-needed service.  I thought of the dedication of the leaders in providing this opportunity for the boys in their stewardship.  I thought of the parents who had raised sons who were willing to spend several hours in freezing temperatures and wind helping a widow in their ward.

So, for today, I am grateful for good leaders, good parents, good boys.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 113, April 21

I am home again after being gone for more than two weeks.  I love the phrase "home again."  Home is that special place, where memories and love blend into a comfortable and sweet familiarity.  Home is having my husband return after ten hours at the office.  Home is having my cat sit on my lap and give me her rough-tongued kitty kisses.

Larry and I are at the point in our lives when we could afford a bigger, fancier house.  You know what I discovered?  I didn't want bigger or fancier.  I want the place where my children grew up.  I want the place where I helped my daughter learn to make her letters.  I want the place where I worked with my sons on cub scouting and then earning their Eagle Scout.  I wanted home.

So, for today, I am grateful to be home again.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 112, April 20

Do you ever suppose that you will ever "get it right?"  I wonder about that all the time with myself.  Will I get something--anything--right?  Ever?

At times, it seems pretty bleak.  A couple of days ago I wrote about my growing list of imperfections.  Perhaps imperfections is too kind a word for them.  Weaknesses.  Frailities.  And sins.  (That's the biggie, those sins.)

I want to give up, to throw in the towel and say, "Father, I'm too weak, too frail, too sinful to do anything right."  Even those things which I want to do seem beyond my reach.

Then the Father reminds me, "Child, you're still growing.   Be patient with yourself.  As I'm patient with you."

So, for today, I am grateful for the Father's patience.   (Heaven literally knows how much I've strained it.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 111, April 19

I've spent the last two weeks in Utah, visiting with my sister, her family, and my son Steve and his wife Melinda.  One night, the whole clan was gathered at my sister's house.  There was noise and confusion, laughter and teasing.  Most of all there was love.  Love for each other.  Love for the Savior.

For who can love family without including the Savior?

One of my sister's little granddaughters said a blessing on the food before we dug in.  (That is what Mormons do, with great gusto and enthusiasm:  eat.)  The sweet words of this child touched me.  Her innocent but certain faith in the Father and the Savior reminded me that faith is not born of great knowledge or learning.  It comes from the heart.

So, for today, I am grateful for family and the sure faith of a child.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 110, April 18

"Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven which is perfect."

This past Sunday, I attended Relief Society (our church's women's organization) where the lesson, given by my niece Alisa, centered around this scripture.  I've always felt intimidated by this scripture.  Perfect?  Me?  Absolutely not.

The older I get, the longer my list of imperfections seems to grow.  Perhaps it is because I am getting a bit wiser and am more aware of those imperfections.  Whatever the reason, I feel them keenly.  And if I grow lax in acknowledging them, my family leads the charge in reminding me of them.

Perfection is not possible in this life with its mortal frailities, but the quest for perfection is possible.  That is perhaps the greatest of life's ironies, the directive to seek perfection even as we know that achieving it is impossible.

So, for today, I am grateful that the quest for perfection is possible.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 109, April 17

I have always been fascinated by hands.  Large hands, small hands.  Hard hands, soft hands.  Strong hands, weak hands.  For hands show, more than any other feature, the kind of individual one is.

My father's hands and those of his brothers and sisters were sun-spotted, work-hardened.  There were no manicures in the Arizona desert where his family farmed in the early decades of the twentieth century.  I doubt my father  knew what a manicure was, even many years later.  For him, for his sister and brothers and parents, there was only work.  And more work.  There was milking the cows and weeding the garden.  There was repairing fences and tending the animals. 

My hands have known no such rough work.  But they have not been idle.  They write.  They clean.  And they, sometimes, serve others.

So, for today, I am grateful for hands that work.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 108, April 16

I am currently in Utah with my sister who lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  One day, as we drove east, the mountains appeared to open up, a passageway to Heaven, it seemed, to my awed gaze.

And I thought of the Mormon pioneers who came here to make their homes more than a century and a half ago.  What must they have thought of this wildernness ringed by mountains?  Their unflinching courage and determination made the desert blossom as a rose, just as the Prophet Brigham Young had promised. 

I am always awed by those who fulfill promises.  The pioneers brought with them very little; indeed, they scarcely had food enough to sustain them.  But they made a home there, in the desert, a home for themselves and for generations to come.  And isn't that what all pioneers do?  Make something that lasts, not just for themselves but for their children and grandchildren and those beyond?

So, for today, I am grateful for pioneers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 107, April 15

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. -- Leo Tolstoy
Knowing that I love good quotes, a dear friend sent me this.  How often do I complain about something, or, more probably, someone, wanting that thing or that person to change, without realizing that it is I who need to change?  The answer, of course, is too often.
If I want a better marriage, I need to be a better person, rather than waiting for my husband to change (even if he needs to!).  If I want better relationships with my children, my friends, and others, I'd better look at myself and see where I need to make improvements.  If I want a better relationship with my Father in Heaven, I'd better find more humility so that I can accept His words.
So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I want to change myself. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 106, April 14

"If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place."--Eckhart Tolle

This quote reminds me of a story I heard years (and years) ago when I was in college.  A little boy pestered his father to play with him.  The father took a picture of the world and cut it into pieces, telling his son that when he could fit it together, they would play.  Unbeknown to the father, the back of the picture held another picture, that of a man.

The boy quickly put the puzzle together and presented it to his father.  Amazed, the father asked his son how he put the picture together so quickly.  The little boy innocently replied, "I put the man together, and the world took care of itself."

It's a perhaps trite story, the moral obvious.  Yet it stuck with me these years (and years) later.  If I put myself together, maybe the world, or at least my world, will take care of itself.

What if we all put ourselves together?  Would our world take care of itself?  I think it would go a long way to making the world a better, kinder, gentler place.

So, for today, I am grateful for people who put themselves together.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 105, April 13

A couple of days ago I wattched the movie Les Miserables.  The beautiful music was the backdrop of a story of redemption, of mercy, of justice. 

Justice and mercy--the twin edges of one sword.  I have always struggled with justice, believing it should be paid in full.  But mercy, the Lord's mercy, answers the demands of justice.  For those who have wronged my family, I want justice.  Try as I will, I had and have no mercy for them. 

But how can I profess to beleive the Lord, to believe in the Lord, if I deny the mercy which He gives me, each and every single day?  The short answer, the only answer, is that I can't.  And that is where the third component of this beautiful story comes in:  redemption.  For when I give mercy, I am redeemed.

So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's redemptive powers, which tempers justice with mercy ... for me, for everyone.

Day 104, April 13

Several days ago, while I was watching General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I heard the phrase (which I'd heard before), "Where ere thou art, act well thy part."

Isn't this a wonderful directive?  That whatever we are doing we do to the best of our ability?  I wish I could say that I always do this.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true.  I don't always act "well my part."  Too often, I'm selfish.  I'm whiny.  I'm lazy.  None of those falls under "acting well my part."

I can think of many people, including my friends, who act well their parts.  They do what is necessary, when it is necessary.  They don't complain.  They don't whine.  They just do it.  But even the best of persons don't always act well their parts.  In fact, I can think of only one individual who was and is always acting well His part.  He, of course, is the Savior.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I act well my part.  I am always grateful for the Savior who never fails to act well His part.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 103, April 12

Show me the way,
     not to fortune and fame,
Not how to win laurels
      or praise for my name--
But show me the way
       To spread "The Great Story"
That "Thine is the Kingdom
        and Power and Glory."--  Helen Steiner Rice

I have no talent for poetry and am always impressed by those who do.  Helen Steiner Rice was one of my mother's favorite poets.  When I found this poem, I knew I had to share it, to honor this poet and my mother.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who touch our hearts with beautiful poetry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 102, April 11

One day I'd received some upsetting news.  I hadn't wanted to share it, but a friend's shoulder was handy and I found myself literally crying on her.  I don't know about you, but I don't cry prettily.  I cry in heaving sobs with shoulders shaking, hands trembling, nose running, and eyes blotchy.  In short, I'm a mess.

I apologized to my friend, and she said, "Don't be silly.  Don't you think I cry?"

I knew she did.  How could she not?  My dear friend had lost her husband last summer.  I still can't imagine her grief and loss, but she was there for me, as she has been for almost 37 years.

So, for today, I am grateful for Jeannie.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 101, April 10

It wasn't until I did a bit of research that I discovered that it was on this day,  April 10, 1866, that the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was established by Henry Bergh. 

Isn't it wonderful that even in the harsh realities of the 19th century that someone realized that our animal friends need our protection and care.  My heart is always torn when I see public service announcemts on television depicting animals who have been mistreated, abused, or neglected.  I admit to crying freely over such things.  In fact, I frequently have to change the channel because I can't bear to see these innocent creatures in distress.

In this blog, I've talked about my cat, Harley, many times.  She is my constant companion and loving friend.  Last year when I was laid up for several weeks after my hip replacement, it was Harley who came and sat on my lap, letting me pet her and giving me her sweet kitty kisses.

So, for today, I am grateful for those people who care for and love animals.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 100, April 9

Finding something to write about each day, specifically something for which to be grateful, is not always easy.  It should be, for our world is filled with beautiful and joyful things.  It is my perception that is frequently skewed, when a poor attitiude prevents me from seeing what is good and lovely in the world.

How often do I take for granted my loving husband and wonderful children?  Too often, I'm afraid.  How often do I neglect to give thanks for sweet friends who are always there for me.  (Same answer as above.)  How often do I forget that my Father is always there, ready to hear my prayers, comfort my fears, wipe away my tears?  Once again, the answer is too often.

So, for today, I am grateful for all that is good and lovely, for there is, indeed, much.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 99, April 8

I am currently in Utah, visiting my sister.  Utah has had a long, hard winter this year, with unrelenting snow and ice, freezing temperatures and dreary skies.  But spring has come to Utah, reminding me of a verse from the "Song of Solomon."

The flowers are springing up
and the time of the singing
of birds has come.
Yes, Spring is here.  (2:12)

So, for today, I am grateful for Spring.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 98, April 7

For Easter, a dear friend sent me an e-card.  A picture of a rather barren looking forest appeared.  The instructions were to click on the vine growing up a tree.  When I did so, the vine spread, leaves on the tree grew, and a meadow of flowers of all descriptions came into view.  The barren forest was no more.  In its place was a beautiful garden, much like I think the Garden of Eden must have looked to Adam and Eve. 

The picture continued to expand until finally it made up a stained glass window of a chapel.  Next to it were the words "He is risen."
Three simple words, four small syllables, yet they say everything.  Christ the Lord is risen.  He broke the chains of death and appeared as the resurrected Christ to His disciples and others.

When I feel that I'm in a barren place, a place where no flowers, no trees can grow, I try to remember these words. 

So, for today, I am grateful that He is risen.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 97, April 6

"Come listen to a prophet's voice and hear the word of God ..."  So go the words of one of my favorite hymns.

Today and tomorrow, we have the opportunity to "to a prophet's voice and hear the words of God" through General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   There, we can listen to President and Prophet Thomas S. Monson and to other authorities of the church.  There, we can hear what the Lord would tell His people today.

How remarkable is that?  And how wonderful that we can do it, via television, satellite, even the internet.  Many years ago, I remember my father traveling to Salt Lake City to attend General Conference.  Having it available on television was still in the future.  And being able to watch it on a computer (really?) was a not-yet-thought-of idea.

So, for today, I am grateful for the blessing of being able to "listen to a prophet's voice and hear the word of God." 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 96, April 5

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them--every day begin the task anew."--Saint Francis De Sale

Don't you love this quote?  It gives me courage in remedying my own many imperfections.  And it reminds me to have patience, not just with others, but with myself. as well  I've shared some of my imperfections with you in posts in this blog.  The fact is, I have many, many more.  I frequently grow impatient with them, with myself.  Then I read something like the above, and I resolve to try once more.

So, for today, I am grateful for patience..

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 95, April 4

I'm continually amazed at the strength of the young people, of our ward (congregation), of our church, of our nation.  While the media persists in highlighting the negatives and weaknesses of the youth, I see goodness, a willingness to serve, and hope for their--and our--future.

In re-reading the posts of the last week or so of this blog, I counted no less than four that talked of teens and young adults.  It is not that I set out to laud this age group, only that I found much to be proud of in them.

In our own ward are teens who serve others with a willingness that puts me to shame.  These same teenagers get up every morning from Monday through Friday to go to early morning seminary (starting at 6 am and going until 6:50).  The  boys work to earn Eagle rank in Scouts, the girls to earn their Personal Progress Awards in Young Women.  Each involves commitment, persistence, and long hours.  Several of these young people have already made the decision to serve a mission for the church.

So, for today, I am grateful for the youth of our church and of our nation.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 94, April 3

Our son Rob and his wife Jenny are working with their two sons to help the boys learn to save and manage their money.  Savings are marked for missions (for the church) and a trip to Disney World.  In a society where immediate gratification is rewarded and saving is seen as incidental, even foolish, Rob and Jenny's desire to help their boys develop this trait is more than admirable. 

Many years ago my husband and I worked with our children to help them to learn to budget their money.  I had all but forgotten this until Rob said that his family was employing the same system.  Upon hearing this, I felt a rush of pleasure.   Maybe some of our parenting had "stuck"  after all.

Frequently parents don't see the results of their work until years, perhaps even decades, later.  Sometimes those results aren't good; sometimes they are.

So, for today, I am grateful for Rob and Jenny and righteous parents everywhere.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 93, April 2

Last week in church, a thirteen-year-old boy gave a beautiful talk about the Holy Ghost.  His humble testimony shone through with every word.  Though he admitted to being a bit nervous, he spoke eloquently and with power about that personage of the Godhead whom we refer to as the Comforter.

Having no public speaking abilities myself, I was awed by this boy's ability to speak in front of a full congregation.  Whatever portion of nerves that were his were vanquished in his willingness to do as he was asked.

So, for today, I am grateful for a boy's example of courage and faith..

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 92, Apri 1

Today is my nephew Nicholas's birthday.  Nick is the second son of my dear sister, Carla.  He is full of fun and has a lively sense of humor.  But there is much, much more to Nick. 

At age 27, he was called as Bishop of his ward.  Though this is not unheard of, it is somewhat unusual for a young man of that age to be called as Bishop, a position where he counels and, at times, calls to repentance people many years his senior.

When his father died, Nick took over even more responsibilities, including advising Carla about financial matters and helping her wade through the morass of papers and forms with which she must deal.  More, he is an emotional support to her (as are her other three children).  Many times, she has said to me, "I don't know what I'd do without Nick." 

So, for today, I am grateful for Nicholas.