Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 214, July 31

Do you ever get your feelings hurt?  Have you ever been offended?  I do and I have.  More often than I'd like.

I found the following story in a book about church history that reminded me of the dangers that can occur when we allow hurt feelings and offense to color our judgment.

Simonds Ryder was converted to the Church in 1831.  Later, he received a letter signed by the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, informing him that it was the Lord's will, made manifest by the Spirit, that he preach the gospel.  Both in the letter he received and in the official commission to preach, his name was spelled Rider instead of Ryder.  Simonds Ryder "thought if the spirit through which he had ben called to preach could err in the matter of spelling his name, it might have erred in calling him to the ministry as well, or, in other words, he was led to doubt if he were called at all by the Spirit of God, because of the spelling of his name.

It seems a small thing, a silly thing even.  But no smaller nor sillier than some of the things which I've allowed to hurt my feelings.

So, for today, I am grateful for those individuals who do not take offense.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 213, July 30

"Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about."

This was in a list of quotes a friend sent to me.  To be truthful, I didn't love this quote.  It cut too close to home for me, as am I a great "comparer."  Try as I will, I compare myself to my friends and family members.  No surprise--I always come up short.

I am fortunate enough to have scores of talented, compassionate, lovely, beautiful, and brilliant friends.  Why can't I be like them, I frequently lament.  They do everything right.  Their lives are perfect.  They are perfect.

And then I realize that I do them a disservice by assuming that their lives are perfect, that they are perfect, that their journey is without pain.  In doing so, I discount any problems or heartaches or hurts they might have.  (And don't we all have problems, heartaches, or hurts at some point in our lives?)

Maybe I need to start seeing with spiritual eyes rather than envious ones.  Maybe I need to offer something of myself rather than hoarding away any talent I might have.  Maybe I need to be more like the Savior.  (No maybe about it.)

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I quit comparing and start loving.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 212, July 29

A week ago, I related the story of Thomas B. Marsh, who, with his wife, left the church over a dispute over a pint of cream.  Later, I learned the rest of Brother Marsh's story, which I'd like to share with you here.

Nineteen years after he left the church, years filled with anger and bitterness, Brother Marsh made his way to the Salt Lake Valley and asked President and Prophet Brighm Young to forgive him and permit his rebaptism into the church.

He wrote to Heber C Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency:  "I began to awake to a sense of my situation ... I know that I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight."  He then described the lessons he had learned:  "The Lord could get along very well without me and He has lost nothing for my falling out of the ranks.  But O what have I lost?  Riches, greater riches than all the world or many planets like this could afford."

So, for today, I am grateful for those who can put aside their anger and pride.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 211, July 28

A friend recently related a story that so touched me that I knew I had to share it here:

A litter of kittens was dropped off at an animal shelter.  The shelter didn't have the means or staff to hand feed the kittens, so a wise individual took the kittens to a mother dog.  The dog immediately embraced the kittens and began to nurse them.

One of the kittens fell into the dog's large water dish.  She would have drown if the dog hadn't picked her up and delivered her to safety.

That nurturing is inherent in most women.  Whether or not they are mothers, they care for, protect, nourish, and provide for children.  Mothers or grandmothers, aunts or teachers, they give love because it is their God-given nature.  Sadly, there are a few women who discard their children as they would a used tissue.  I cannot but feel that they are also discarding that part of them that is divine.

So, for today, I am grateful for the nurturing love in women that is ordained of the Lord.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 210, July 27

The other day in saying my prayers, I found myself telling the Father (Can you imagine?  I was TELLING Him something), that if He would take care of a certain problem, I would take care of the rest.

I stopped short.  Who was I to think I could take care "of the rest?"  The fact is, I can't take care of anything, at least not without the Father's help. 

I suppose it represents a bit of progress on my part that I stopped myself from completing the thought, that I realized how arrogant and childish I must have sounded. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I recognize that I am nothing and can do nothing without the Father.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 209, July 26

Can you bear one more post about pionners?

As always, my thoughts and sympathies are drawn to the women, those mothers who made the arduous trek to Utah.  For the most part, these were gently bred and raised women of the east, many of whom had enjoyed a comfortable if not lavish lifestyle.  They were educated in the art of being ladies.  Yet they sacrificed everything to follow a prophet and follow the Lord.

They had no experience in survival in a wilderness, of catching game or handling a team of oxen.  They did not know how to pick up cow patties to use as fuel.  (Even writing that, I shudder.)  They did not know how to cook over a campfire.  They certainly did not know how to bury a child under a pile of rocks and then leave him there while they journeyed on.

But they did all that.  And more.

So, for today and everyday, I am grateful for strong women.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 208, July 25

My thoughts are still very much on the Mormon pioneers.

Our family has made many trips across Wyoming, from our home in Colorado to Utah where we have extended family.  The trip seems a long one, generally taking around eight hours.  Inevitably I complain about sore muscles, heat, cold, what-have-you.  And then I think of the men, women, and children who crossed the plains, from Illinois to Utah, with none of the comforts I take for granted.

Women gave birth on the trek.  They buried children and husbands and still kept going. They did this with little food, limited water, and were plagued by sickness, the elements, and Indian raids

And I am shamed by my complaints.

So, for today and once again, I am grateful for stalwart pioneers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 207, July 24

Today is the anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. 

Sometimes we tend to romanticize the poineers' trek across the plains.  The fact is, there was nothing romantic about it.  It was brutal, hard work that claimed too many lives, including those of infants and children.  Those with enough means traveled in covered wagons.  Others pulled handcarts.  All gave everything they had.

Families uprooted themselves from comfortable homes in Nauvoo, Illinois to follow the Prophet Brigham Young's leadership to a barren land.  Nothing greeted them in the new land but an unforgiving desert nestled between equally unforgiving mountains.  Men and women alike set to planting crops.  Before even building homes, they put down roots--literally.

My ancestors were among those pioneers.  I revere them even as I stand in awe of them.

So, for today, I am grateful for the courage and faith of pioneers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 206, July 23

"No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up."

I found this in a list of "life guidelines" a friend sent to me.  Immediately, I knew I needed to include it in this blog.

Get up.  Somedays, I have a hard time getting up.  When the dark days come upon me, I struggle just to get out of bed.  So, the advice to "get up" immediately resonated within me.

Dress up.  Another one of those things that I sometimes fail to do.  Too often I'm content to stay in my "grubbies," those ratty clothes I wear when working in the yard.  This is especially sad when I realize that I feel better when I'm nicely dressed.

Show up.  That is probably the most valuable part of this quote.  How many people these days fail to show up for life?  They don't show up for work.  They don't show up for parenting.  They don't show up for church assignments.  Sometimes they have excuses, sometimes not.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who get up, dress up, and show up.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 205, July 22

Last week in Relief Society (our church's women's organization), we had a lesson on tithing.  I absolutely have a testimony of tithing.  The  blessings we receive from tithing to the Lord (and after all, doesn't everything we have belong to Him in the first place?) far outweigh any financial sacrifice.

When I think of tithing, I can't help remembering my dear friend Dorothy.  A widow in her 80s, Dorothy lived on a small, fixed income.  Yet she faithfully paid her tithing every month.  Her banker tried to convince her that she couldn't afford to pay tithing.  Dorothy told him, "I can't afford NOT to pay tithing."

So, for today, I am grateful for the blessings of tithing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 204, July 21

In discussing his Sunday School lesson which he is to give today, my husband read part of a story to me from church history. 

Thomas Marsh, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the early days of the church, ended up leaving the church because of an argument his wife had with another sister.  The argument occurred over, of all things, a pint of cream.  The Marshes shared a cow with another family.  They were to share the milk and other products equally.

Sister Marsh kept back a pint of cream.  When the other sister called her on it, Sister Marsh denied her actions.  Her husband backed her up.  They went to church authorities who reprimanded Brother and Sister Marsh.  Tragically, the Marshes left the church.  Even more tragically, anger and pride led Thomas Marsh to denounce church members.  Eventually this led to Governor Boggs's order of extermination from the state of Missouri and the murder of many members of the church.

None of us are exempt from pride, especially me.  My pride has caused me hurt and anguish.  Still, I struggle to give it up.   Even knowing what it is doing to me, I struggle.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who triumph over pride.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 203, July 20

Today is my sister Carla's birthday.

Carla and I have always been closer than sisters.  We are each other's best friends.  We are there for each other, facing together whatever life throws at us.  And it has thrown us some doozies over the years.

There was the death of Carla and Rolf's infant daughter from crib death, and, much later, the death of her beloved Rolf.  I was there for her, as she is there for me in disappointments, health challenges, and everything else.

That's what sisters do.  More, that's what best friends do.

Our friends and family will tell you that Carla is the nicer, sweeter sister.  What can I say--it's true.  I tend to be a bit feisty, well, really more than a bit upon occasion.  She centers me and I do my best to off-center her.  What else can a loving sister do?

So, for today, I am grateful for Carla.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 202, July 19

Last week Larry and I had the assignment of cleaning the church building.  (In the Mormon Church, members contribute by taking turns cleaning the building.) 

We were relieved and happy to find that five other people were there as well.  The job was quickly and efficiently done.  Occasionally, when we've been assigned to clean the building, we've been alone, turning it in to an all day job.

I get it.  Things happen.  Life gets in the way of carrying through on plans.   Still ...

So, for today, I am grateful for people who carry through.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 201, July 18

The news is full of the turmoil in Egypt. I admit to knowing very little about the uprising there. My heart aches for any people who are fighting for freedom, though.

It reminded me of our own country's fight for freedom. America was and is blessed by the Lord. He told us that America would always be great if we choose to follow Him. That is the promise. Along with that is another promise: that America will lose those blessings if we choose not to follow Him.

So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's blessings upon America. I pray that we do not lose those blessings.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 200, July 17

The truth seems in short supply these days.  Politicians lie to their constituents.  Athletes lie about their drug use.  Media personalities lie to everyone.

So, when I hear the truth, I sit up and take notice.

A week and a half ago, a testimony was borne in our Fast and Testimony Meeting about the living Christ.  The speaker's voice held such conviction that I found myself blinking back tears. 

Christ lives. 

He is not, as some would try to tell us, just a great teacher who lived 2000 years ago.  He is not a mythical character made up so parents can teach their children moral principles.  He is a real Personage who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, make up the Godhead.

So, for today, I am grateful for the truth that Christ lives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 199, July 16

I recently read an article about a woman who, before she attends her Sabbath meetings, prays for spiritual eyes to see those who have a special need.  At church, she observes the brothers and sisters and children in the congregation.  Often she will receive a nudge as to who might need an extra hug, a word of encouragement, a phone call.

What a wonderful example this sister is.  Instead of waiting to learn of someone's circumstances through another person, she actively seeks out those persons, praying for the insight and wisdom to recognize them.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who see with spiritual eyes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 198, July 15

When I was moaning to my husband about running out of things to blog about, he said, "Have you thought about the obvious?"

Instantly I knew he meant himself.  (We haven't lived together for 40 years without learning a little something about each other.)

I played along.  "What should I say?"

"That I'm wonderful, of course," he said without missing a beat.

The truth is, Larry and I have had our share of spats, quarrels, and some downright brawls over the years.  Still, we manage to stay together.  Partly because we love each other.  Partly because of vows we made in the temple.  And partly because we know no one else would have either of us.

Another truth is that he is pretty wonderful.

When our kitty Harley needed an expensive operation, Larry didn't hesitate.  When my sister's husband died, Larry was there, helping her through the grief and urging me to stay with her as long as she needed me.  When my niece was going through a divorce, Larry was there again, acting as he thought her own father would.

So, for today, I am grateful for my husband.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 197, July 14

I am always impressed by strong mothers, those who make teaching and guiding their children a priority.  In a small newspaper, I read about one such mother.  With three children, ages 4, 2, and 5 months, she makes time for holding the children in her lap and singing such songs as "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" to them.

When it would be much easier to go grocery shopping by herself, she finds the patience to take her children with her, letting them help her select the items for the family's meals.  She recognizes that her children learn by observing her and strives to make her example a worthy one.

So, for today, I am grateful for mothers who teach, by word, by example, by love.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 196, July 13

I had another post planned for today, but circumstances caused me to postpone it and write this one instead:

As yesterday's post related, it was the one year anniversary of Dave Lancaster's passing.  I still grieve, not for him,for I know he is in heaven with the Father and the Son,  but for the family and friends he left, family and friends who still miss him terribly.

Today, my doorbell chimed.  To tell the truth, I was tempted not to answer it.  I had just come home from garage sailing and looked a fright.  (More of a fright than usual, that is.)  However, I did answer it.  Jeannie Lancaster stood there, holding a lovely box of homemade cookies.  (Jeannie bakes cookies; I buy them, just one of the ways I wish I could be more like her.)

The box held a note which I'd like to copy here:

"Today is the one year anniversary of Dave's passing.  As you might imagine, it is a difficult time.  But we decided that we needed to try to focus once again on the good we had during his illness of finding joy even in the midst of adversity.  So we decided to think about you and the other dear people who made such a difference in his and our lives during his journey with leukemia and in the year since.  Thank you for your kindness, your support and your example.  Thinking about your service brings us great joy."

It was signed "Jeannie, Torri, David, and Sean."

On the day when I should have been taking something to Jeannie and her children, she brought something to me and others.  How like Jeannie that is.  And how like her to focus on her blessings.

I felt like a fraud in accepting the box of cookies, because, in truth, I didn't do very much.  I tried to be a good friend, but often felt powerless to help my dear friend and her family in their time of need.

So, for today, I am grateful for friends who find blessings in adversity.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 195, July 12

Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of a great man, Dave Lancaster.  Dave was and is a man of integrity.  He is a man of service.  He is a man who was devoted to his family and to Lord.  He is a man whose absence is still felt among all those who knew him.

I cherish the 36 year friendship we enjoyed with Dave.  He taught us much about how you handle the "Plans B, C, D, etc" of life when Plan A doesn't work out.  He taught us about grace and humor under trial   I imagine him in heaven urging his family and friends on in their quest to return to the Lord. 

So, for today, I am grateful for friendship with a great man.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 194, July 11

A few days ago, my husband and I were standing in line in the grocery store.  In front of us was a lady buying a number of juice packets, saying that she was getting them for her church's Vacation Bible School.

It transported me to years ago when I took our children to the VBS of different churches in our town.  Our children loved the stories about Jesus, the crafts, the music.  (And I loved a few moments of quiet during otherwise hectic and noisy summers.)  I admired the teachers who gave of their time and energy so freely.  I know enough about teaching in church to understand that the lessons and crafts did not come without effort.  These teachers did it for love, love of the children and love of the Lord.

So, for today, I am grateful for Vacation Bible School teachers and leaders.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 193, July 10

A dear friend sent this quote to me, from President John Adams to his daughter Abigail whom he called "Nabby."
"Regard the honor and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no other riches but those of the heart. An honest, sensible, humane man, above all the littleness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, laboring to do good rather than be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy."
As I read and re-read this counsel, it occurred to me that it was good advice for everyone in their own personal conduct.
"Greatness of the soul ..."
"No other riches but those of the heart ..."
"Honest, sensible, humane ..."
"Littleness of vanity and extravagnaces of imagination ..."
"Laboring to do good rather than to be rich ..."
"To be useful rather than make a show ..."
"Living in a modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations ..."
So, for today, I am grateful those individuals who "make themselves and all about them most happy."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 192, July 9

I found this quote by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"We will on the Day of Judgment stand before the Savior, face to face.  It will be a time of joy for those who have drawn close to Him in His service in this life.  It will be a joy to hear the words: 'Well done, though good and faithful servant.'  I so testify as a witness of the risen Savior and our Redeemer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

As I pondered these words, one phrase in particular jumped out at me "... a time of joy for those who have drawn close to Him in His service ..."

This puts it pretty plainly.  If we want to draw close to Christ, we serve.  We serve our families.  We serve our community.  We serve those we know and those we don't know.  We serve."

So, for today, I am grateful for inspired words by a wise man.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 191, July 8

Yesterday my husband, Larry, taught a lesson in Sunday School about the Word of Wisdom.  (For those of you who are not Mormon, the Word of Wisdom is a health code given by the Lord to the people.)  Among other things, the Word of Wisdom counsels us against smoking, drinking, excesses of all kinds.

At the time it was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, in the 1830s, the dangers of smoking and alcohol were not known.  Smoking and drinking were common practices, accepted by members of the Church and others.  Only much later, in the 20th century, did we learn of the dangers of using tobacco and alcohol.  It is a testament of the Lord's love for His people (of all faiths) that He warned against these practices.

So, for today (and for every day), I am grateful for the Lord's counsel.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 190, July 7

I love the smells of summer.  Burgers and hotdogs grilling.  Fresh lemonade.  Newly mown grass.

Each takes me back to long ago summers when my sister, Carla, and I were growing up.  There were no video games, computers, or Netflix.  There were no malls or mega-stores. 

We learned to entertain ourselves.  One of our favorite past-times was to make our own paper dolls.  We cut pictures of models from the Sears catalog to use as dolls, then set about finding clothes (from that same catalog) to fit them.  Our small hands were constantly busy as we dressed our dolls with the latest fashions from Sears.

Another favorite activity when we visited our mother's people in eastern Tennessee (in the south, family is never referred to as "family" or "relatives" but as "people") was to go crawl-dad fishing in the nearby creek.  Using a stick, we urged the crawl-dads into a can.  Proudly we carried our catch to show to our parents and Mamaw (our grandmother).  After the resulting oohs and ahhs, we took the crawl-dads back to the creek and released them.  I'm certain we caught and released the same poor crawl-dads, resigned to their fate, day after day.

So, for today, I am grateful for memories of summer.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 189, July 6

Yesterday I wrote about the hymn "America the Beautiful."  As I read these beautiful words, I noticed that God was mentioned no less than four times in the verses:

"God shed his grace on thee...
"God mend thine ev'ry flaw ...
"May God that gold refine...
"God shed his grace on thee...

The author felt that God played such an important part in the founding and building of our country that she referenced Him in each verse.

When I think of the current trend in our society to remove references of God from our schools, our places of business, our holiday celebrations, and other venues, I weep inside.  How dare we try to remove God from anywhere?

So, for today, I am grateful for Katherine Lee Bates, who acknowledged God in her tribute to America.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 188, July 5

I love patriotic songs.  One of my favorite is "America the Beautiful," by Katherine Lee Bates. 

Ms. Bates' use of language stirs me to tears every time I hear or read the words.  In particular, I am touched by the first line of the fourth verse:"Oh, beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years ..."

I believe her words to be inspired, just as our founding fathers were inspired to dream of a free country, built on dreams and hard work.  The men and women who fought for a free America then were truly patriots, just as are the men and women now who fight for a free America. 

So, for today, I am grateful for the dreams of patriots.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 187, July 4

I thought it appropriate to copy this portion of the Declaration of Independence on this revered day.

CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So, for today, I am grateful for inspired men and an inspired document.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 186, July 3

I've written before about my Aunt Mae.  Please forgive me when I return to one of my favorite people and favorite subjects.  Today is her 89th birthday.

Aunt Mae lost her husband and her sister (my mother) on the same day, the same hour.  Her grief was great, but she carried on, serving wherever and whenever she could.

At 89 years young, Aunt Mae continues to send cards to anyone she believes needs an extra dose of love.  She writes to a young man who is currently serving time in prison.  She writes to people she's never met but has heard are suffering.  At Christmas time, she sent over 100 cards to America's service men and women, writing despite having arthritis in her hands   In an age where a hand-written card is nearly obsolete, Aunt Mae shows us that a card or letter can make a difference.

Whenever I think I'm too old to do something for someone else, I think of my Aunt Mae.

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 185, July 2

A friend wrote that she and her husband had attended the temple a few days ago.  In the Lord's holy temples, worthy members perform ordinances for those who did not have an opportunity to perform the ordinances for themselves while in this mortal sphere.

Occasionally, I ponder upon the wonder of that.  The Lord is the ultimate in fairness.  In a world that sometimes seems unfair in so many things, it is refreshing to remember that there is fairness in the most important.  He wants everyone to have the chance to partake of these ordinances and has provided this way, a proxy, if you will, of allowing everyone to receive them. 

So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's fairness.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 184, July 1

Last weekend, I saw a garage sale sign.  Naturally, my car automatically turned in that direction.  To my (and my car's) delight, more signs led the way to the sale, saving me from having to drive around looking for the address in an unfamiliar neighborhood. 

I love signs to garage sales.  They save time, effort, gas, and frustration.

The experience set me to thinking about a different kind of sign.  Heavenly Father has given us signs on to how to return to Him.  What are these signs?  Scriptures.  Counsel from parents and teachers.  Counsel from the Prophet and other leaders.  The Holy Spirit.  Our own consciences.  If we fear we are headed in the wrong direction, we have only to look for these signs.  They will lead us in the right direction.

So, for today, I am grateful for signs, both for garage sales and for returning to the Father.