Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 59, February 28

"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
(Unfortunately I don't have the attribution for this quote.)

For many years I dreamed of writing and selling a book.  Eventually I did.  But it didn't come without doing the work involved.  I started by writing short stories and articles.  That was the "necessary" part.  Then I wrote one page of a book.  And then another and another.  That was possible.  Finally I had a complete manuscript.  That book never sold.  Nor should it.  It was, quite frankly, terrible.  But I had done the impossible.  I had written a book.

Years passed before I sold that first book, another impossibilty.  And more years passed before I sold the second.  But the "necessary" steps had evolved into the "possible," which finally resulted in to the "impossible."

Joy for today:  doing the impossible.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 58, February 27

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the luckier I get."--Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson had more than his share of "luck."  An author, a landowner, an inventor, a politician, and, finally, the President of the United States, Jefferson was indeed "lucky."  Would luck have smiled so fondly upon him if he hadn't put in the work to make these things happen?

I don't think so.

Jefferson made his own luck by hard work, persistence, and more hard work.  He wasn't content to rest after a success but got back to work.  This is in contrast to myself, who after experiencing a bit of success wants to sit back and let more success come without putting in the necessary work.

Joy for today: working hard.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 57, February 26

I admit it:  I'm not a big fan of the Old Testament.  It seems to be filled with a lot of begatting, beheadings, and bemoanings.  However, some of the stories in it are among my favorites, especially that of Hannah.

A quick recap:   Hannah could not conceive and beseeched the Lord that she might bear a child, promising Him that she would give her son to His service when the boy was old enough.  Eventually she conceived Samuel, and keeping to her promise, she gave him to the Lord.

It is interesting that Hannah's story begins with a cry of distress and ends with a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving.  But the "happy ending" didn't come until Hannah had endured a trial of faith.  Isn't that the way for many of us, that we cry to the Lord for His tender mercies and He tests our faith before allowing us to enjoy the fruits of that faith?

Too frequently, my faith is lacking.  I want the happy ending without having to endure the pain and heartache of being tested.

Joy for today:  finding faith and then enduring.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 56, February 25

A few weeks ago, our area was hit by a snow and ice storm.  My snow shoveling days are long over, and so I asked the children of some friends if I could hire them to clear our driveway.

These sweet children came over and worked on the driveway far longer than they should have been outside in the bitter cold. To my chagrin, I didn't realize how long they had been out there chipping away at the ice.  When I looked out, another "child" had joined them.

The mother, bundled up with a hood over her head, had come to check on her children and started to work on the driveway as well.  I couldn't help but think, as I have so often in the past, what a remarkable family this is.  The parents have not only taught their children how to work, they SHOW them how to work.

Joy for today:  watching the Kubie family in action.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 55, February 24

Several Sundays ago, Larry and I were on our way to church shortly before 9 a.m.  The sky was overcast, with a light snow falling continually.  I lamented to my husband about the lack of sunlight, and I looked about for some bit of beauty.

As though God heard my thoughts, a cotton tail rabbit appeared, bounding across the street.  His enthusiasm and exuberance immediately lifted my spirits. Perhaps I am attributing qualities to this rabbit that he did not really possess, but to my beauty-starved eyes, he was an answer to my unspoken prayer.

God, in His infinite wisdom, created a world filled with unexpected glimpses of beauty.  Our town of Loveland, Colorado is especially blessed as we come upon everything from a cotton tail rabbit to small herds of elk and, occasionally, a magnificent eagle.  And I am reminded of His love for all of His creatures.

Joy for today:  smiling over the antics of a cotton tail.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 54, February 23

Today is our daughter Alanna's birthday.  Alanna was born with a head full of silvery blond hair, blue eyes, and an infectious smile.  She was also born with a generous spirit, one that translates to all those around her.  Wherever her father and I took her, people remarked upon what a beautiful baby she was.  Proud mother that I was, I preened a bit every time someone told us that.

At the same time, I wanted to tell them that she was beautiful on the inside as well.  That beauty has only grown over the years.  Aside from caring for two lively children who are involved in a myraid of activities, Alanna holds a full time job and volunteers in several organizations, including a victims' advocacy group.  She serves in her ward (church) and makes hand-crafted cards that she shares with her craft-impaired mother.

She does all this and more, giving of her talents and time and energy to her family, her friends, anyone fortunate enough to be around her.

Joy for today:  loving Alanna.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 53, February 22

"I will go forward ... I will smile at the rage of the tempest, and ride fearlessly and triumphantly across the boisterous oceans of circumstance ... and the testimony of Jesus will light up a lamp that will guide my vision through the portals of immortality."--Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow was a pioneer poet, leader, teacher, and advocate of bringing culture and learning to the Salt Lake Valley, where the Mormon pioneers had settled.

Sister Snow had stared down mobs, made the trek west, and edited a magazine in an era where many did not read, much less write, all with grace and style and, most of all, gratitude to the Lord.  She did all this and more.

The above quote reminds me of the courage she displayed and the fearlessness with which she faced all that life threw at her.  When I "grow up," I want to be like Eliza R. Snow.

Joy for today:  finding strength in a remarkable woman.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 52, February 21

Currently I am in Utah.  It is the land of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, lime Jello salads, and the inversion effect, where a brown cloud often hangs over Utah Valley.

I'm not a fan of the brown cloud.  In fact, I've been known to complain about it whenever I visit in the winter.       When the sun comes out, it is a cause for rejoicing.  And I realized that I ought to rejoice even when the sun isn't "out," for it is always present, we just sometimes can't see it or feel its warmth.

In that way, it is much like the Son.  He, too, is always present.  And though we can't see Him, we can always feel His warmth, if, and this is a big one, if we are in tune with Him.  Sometimes I am more in tune than others.  Those times when I am in tune are usually the same times when I am quiet and thoughtful and listening.  They are the times when I am compassionate and kind and forgiving.

Is it any wonder that I am not always in tune with the Savior?  Is it any wonder that I bemoan the lack of the sun when I cannot feel the Son?

Joy for today:  rejoicing in the sun ... and in the Son.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 51, February 20

Can you bear one more post about Emily Dickinson?  (Can you tell that when I find a subject I like, I tend to    stick with it for a while?)

Miss Dickinson was not a wealthy woman; nor was she particularly well-known during her lifetime.  Her quiet and gentle words, however, make her come alive.  She expressed love through her letters, which live on today.

"My letter as a bee, goes laden.  Please love us and remember us.  Please write us very soon, and tell us how you are ..."

Would you not love to receive such a lovely missive in your mail?  Would it not be akin to finding a rose among a bush infested with thorns to find such a thing of beauty nestled among the bills and junk mail that comprise most of our mail?

Joy for today:  send a flower of words to a friend.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 50, February 19

It appears that I'm not finished relating stories of Emily Dickinson.  She was a recluse but found companionship through her poetry and letters.

She penned to one friend:  "It is cold tonight, but the thought of you so warm, that I sit by it as a fireside, and am never cold any more.  I love to write to you--it gives my heart a holiday and sets the bells to ringing."

I love the simple beauty and purity of these words.  More, I love her description of friendship.

Joy for today:  reading the words of an exquisitely talented lady.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 49, February 18

Hand-written notes are as rare as hen's teeth these days. (Don't you love that expression--hen's teeth?  I learned it from my mother, who probably learned it from her mother.)  With email, texting, instagram, Facebook, and a host of other social media keeping us in touch, who has time for a hand-written note, carefully folded into an envelope, and sent through the mail?

I do.

Though I love the ease of email and other forms of instant communication, I also love to send and to receive cards.  Even in the 1850s, when letter writing was a common place activity, the arrival of a letter or card could still cause wonder and delight.

Upon receiving a note from a friend, Emily Dickinson wrote, " ... which came on Saturday night, when all the world was still; thank you for the love it bore me, and for its golden thoughts, and feelings so like gems, that I was sure I gathered them in whole baskets of pearls."  This extraordinary woman and poet expresses what I'd like to say when I receive a card or letter in the mail.

Joy for today:  finding beauty in hand-written words.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 48, February 17

A friend has a plaque in her home which reads "The most important things in life aren't things."

I love that.  I love the reminder that the things of this world, things which we've worked hard to acquire, are unimportant when compared to the truly important things:  family, friends, faith, purpose.  The purses that I love are baubles, pretty to look at, but they hold no real significance.  The room that we added to our house is wonderful, allowing us to hold all all of our family at one time, but, it, too, holds no real significance.

As I re-read the above, I realize that I recently wrote another post about this subject.  I thought about deleting this one, then decided against it.  It appears that I need constant reminders not to be caught up in the things of this world.

Joy for today:  reflecting on what's important ... and what's not.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 47, February 16

A couple of weeks ago in Fast and Testimony meeting, a man bore his testimony about his journey in learning to love his father.  The man and his father had not had a close relationship during the man's boyhood.          Father and son had never learned to connect.  In praying for a better understanding between them, the man understood that he needed to see his father as God saw him, to see him as a child of God.

This testimony so touched me that I scribbled down some notes to use in this blog.  What if we all looked at our brothers and sisters and tried to see them as God sees them?   Surely our eyes would be opened and our hearts softened.  Would there be less greed, less strife, less hatred?  Certainly.

In the last months, I have prayed specifically to ask God to soften my heart toward a couple of individuals.  I've prayed for this in the past, but I'm afraid my prayers weren't sincere and that God knew that.  With more maturity and more humility, I'm trying again.

Joy for today:  seeing someone as a child of God.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 46, February 15

Recently I read an article entitled "A Pattern for a Joyful Life."  In it, the author compares making a life to putting together a quilt, matching and contrasting fabrics and colors.  I love the analogy.  I also love the quote she used, this time comparing making a life to weaving, another kind of needlework.

"Each of us is like a small piece of thread that contributes to the weaaving of a very large and very beautiful tapestry."--Mary Neal

I am unskilled in needlework and sewing, but I can still appreciate the metaphor of creating a life to creating a beautiful quilt or tapestry.  Each requires skill, patience, perseverance, time, humility, and, in the case of my own dubious sewing skills, a large dose of humor. 

Joy for today:  creating, whether a quilt, a tapestry, or a life.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 45, February 14

Today is Valentine's Day.  However, I am not going to write about romantic love.  We have sufficient reminders of that every time we walk into a store.

I'm going to talk about a different kind of love, the love that Christ has for each of us.  Recently I had an occasion to read a scholarly article about the scriptural story of the man at the pools of Bethesda.  This man was afflicted with a disease that left him crippled.   He longed to partake of the healing powers of the pool but couldn't lower himself into it.  Each time he tried, someone got there before him.

When Christ appeared, the man explained his predicament.  With infinite love, the kind only the Savior and the Father possess, Christ healed the man.

Joy for today:  remembering the healing powers of the Savior.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 44, February 13

Today marks the 41st anniversary of the day Larry proposed to me.  We were married a little over two months later.  The heady love of youth gave way to the more mature love of two people who had grown together ... and grown up.

The years haven't always been easy.  We've suffered through depression, flooded basements, the deaths of loved ones, the inevitable hardships that all of us face.  Yet we've endured.

Sometimes, when life throws us curves, all we can do is to hold on and endure, to pray for the Lord's tender mercies until the hard times pass.  Through it all, we have clung to each other, to the Lord, to the commitments we made in the temple.  And somehow we made it through.

Joy for today:  clinging to each other and to the Lord.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 43, February 12

Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  I've written about Lincoln before, about his struggles with depression, his desire to do the right thing even in the face of great criticism.

One of Lincoln's greatest traits, I believe, was his humility and his ability to forgive.  In the darkest hours of the Civil War, where he received criticism from friends and enemies alike, Lincoln found the time to listen to a mother's plea for her son who was sentenced to die by firing squad for falling asleep on duty.

Lincoln's heart was touched, his compassion stirred.  He stayed the execution order.

Joy for today:  remembering a great man.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 42, February 11

A sister in our ward recently shared a quote with the congregation:  "We (on this earth) are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience."

As we navigate this mortal sphere, some of us (me included) lose our way.  We fail to remember our spiritual roots, that we existed as spirits before we came to this earth.  Because we do not remember that time, it is easy to forget that all-important spirit, that part of us that is eternal.

If I think of myself as a spirit (or intelligence) that always existed, I would probably conduct myself differently.  I would spend less time worrying over the things of this world and concentrate more on the things that have eternal significance.  What are they?  Growing closer to the Lord.  Nurturing relationships.  Developing inner strength.

Joy for today:  remembering my spiritual roots.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 41, February 10

"One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up to get it."--Sidney Howard

This quote grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me hard.  I have a list of things I want.  When I started to list them, I realized that I had an accompanying list of what I must give up.  The trouble is, I don't want to give those things up.

A couple of cases in point:

I say I want a more giving heart.  What must I give up?  How about the grudges I carry against others?
I say I want a slimmer, firmer body.  What must I give up?  How about cheesecake, pie, and cookies?
I say I want to be a better writer.  What must I give up?  How about the time I spend in watching television and reading.  (Actually I can't give up reading, but surely I can give up a few hours of television.)

Joy for today:  knowing what I must give up.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 40, February 9

"It is not so important how many valuables you may have, how much property you may possess, and how many of the honors of men you may acquire, and all those things that are so desirable in the world.  The thing that God has given you that is worth more than all the rest is the opportunity to obtain eternal life in the celestial kingdom and have as your companions, throughout the ages of eternity, sons and daughters, husbands and wives with whom you have associated here on earth."--Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Conference, April 1948

Early in Larry's and my marriage, we worked hard to acquire a home, a car that runs, and a few other things.  As our income grew, so did our possessions.  However, we quickly discovered that our happiness, our joy, was not connected with these possessions.  We were more comfortable; we were more secure, but the possessions did not equal happiness.

A belief in the Lord, a purpose, and love for family brought joy.  I still need to be reminded of this lesson occasionally, for it is easy--to easy--to be caught up in the things of this world.

Joy for today:  remembering that happiness doesn't lie in things.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 39, February 8

A dear friend sent me a butterfly-festooned greeting card with the verse:

Let your true colors show
Change can be beautiful
Take yourself lightly
Look for the sweetness in life
Take time to smell the flowers
Catch a breeze
Treat yourself like a Monarch!

The writer in me immediately responded to the evocative word pictures, as the artist (that I wish were in me) rejoiced in the delicate drawings of the butterflies.

Let's examine the phrases one by one:

Let your true colors show.  How many times do we try to hide who we are?  Far too many for me.  I often hide the part of myself that is vulnerable and sensitive.

Change can be beautiful.  I tend to resist change.  I like my comfort zone.  Whether it be with friends or with situations, I stick to the familiar.  And what do I miss as a result of that?  An opportunity to make new friends?  A chance to develop a new interest or talent?  Yes, change can be beautiful.

Take yourself lightly.  This directive puts me in mind of Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  President Hinckley always took the gospel seriously.  But he poked gentle fun at himself and wasn't afraid to laugh, at himself, at the absurdities that find their way into our lives.

Look for the sweetness in life.  Let's face it.  Life can be downright hard sometimes as we face illness, financial setbacks, heartache, and the deaths of loved ones.  I think of my sweet friend Jeannie Lancaster, who has faced more than her share of hardships.  Despite this, she still manages to find the sweetness in life and share it with others.

Take time to smell the flowers.  I like that the author of this verse didn't say "take time to smell the roses."  Not only is that a cliche, it dismisses the rest of God's beautiful flowers.  And if we expand the definition of flowers to all things beautiful, we find that we can "smell" beauty all around us.  Don't you love the smell of a baby who's just had his hair shampooed?  Or the scent of freshly mowed grass?  Or the less pleasant but nonetheless sweet smell of a little boy who has just come in from playing outside?

Catch a breeze.  These words remind me to run toward life and embrace it, catching a breeze on my way.  What is a breeze?  It can be a smile, a kind word, a glimpse of heaven such as an 80 year old man helping his wife down the stairs.

Be a Monarch.  I think the author saved the best for last.  The Monarch is a brilliant butterfly.  Shouldn't we all try for brilliance in some form or other?  Some of us won't be brilliant in our coloring, but perhaps we can be brilliant in our kindness or compassion.  Look for your brilliance.

Joy for today:  finding brilliance in ourselves.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 38, February 7

The mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Lucy Mack Smith’s counsel to the first Relief Society sisters is more relevant today than ever before: "We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together."

This counsel applies to all of us, whatever our circumstances, whatever our faith.  Where would we be without family and friends to cherish us, to watch over us, to comfort us, to instruct us?  Where would we be if we did not have that goal to "all sit down in heaven together?"


I know I would be truly lost without family and friends and, of course, the Lord.  I would be wandering in a wilderness with no direction, no purpose, no reason to put one foot in front of the other.

Joy for today:  cherishing one another, watching over one another, comforting one another.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 37, February 6

Recently my thoughts have turned increasingly to the past, specifically those who have gone before.  I've written before about my ancestors, both those in Tennessee (my mother's people)  and those in Arizona (my father's family).

These ancestors waged war, against hostile environments and wilderness and poverty.  They waged a different kind of war against hatred and bigotry.  And, many years later, their children waged war against those who would take away our country's freedom (World War II).

In the midst of these struggles, though, these valiant men and women, brothers and sisters, managed to live, laugh, and love.   They did not allow the harships of their cirucmstances to dictate their happiness.

Joy for today:  turning my thoughts and heart to the past.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 36, February 5

It is still winter, but we have glimpses of spring, including a few days so warm that we were able to go out without coats.  I love the sunlight.  I love the feel of it on my face and arms.  At the same time, I have to be careful of getting too much sun, even in the winter, because my fair skin burns easily at these altitudes.

Isn't that the way with many good things?  Too little and we feel the lack.  Too much and are overwhelmed with it.   It's frequently that way with technology.  I love the ease and connection with others that computers allow me, with email and blogging and other forms of communication.  At the same time, I know it can overload me.

Worse, technology can  be used for harm as more and more people fall prey to scams, invasions of privacy, even pornography.  What must the Lord be thinking when He sees His children turn what is a good thing into something evil?  Is He dismayed?  Does He weep for us, for the waste of our time and talents?

I think so. I think He grieves for us, just as we grieve for our children when they make poor choices.

Joy for today:  using God's abundance wisely.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 35, February 4

At the same stake conference, which I wrote of yesterday, my husband and I had the pleasure of sitting by a young family, a beautiful mother and handsome father with two small children.  I delighted in watching the children find contentment in the things their parents had brought to keep them busy during the two hour meeting.

There were "paper" dolls, made with flannel backing.  There was a "quiet book" with activities to remind the children of gospel principles.  There was a church magazine with stories written especially for children.

I thought of the care and love that went in to the parents' preparation to bring two active children to stake conference, where the talks and music are aimed toward the adults.  It is no mean feat.   It requires patience and determination and, most of all, love.

Joy for today:  watching love in action.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 34, February 3

A couple of weeks ago, the members of the church in our area had the opportunity to attend stake conference.  (At stake conference, wards gather together to hear counsel from stake leaders.)

President Crane, the stake president, reminded us that the gospel need not be complicated, nor should we try to make it so.  The gospel, the pure love of Christ, is beautiful in its simplicity.   One time I asked my husband, does the "pure love of Christ" mean loving Christ or loving like Christ.  Wisely, he said, "Both."

Can I love like Christ when I have hardness in my heart?  No.
Can I love like Christ when I fail to forgive?  No.
Can I love like Christ when I am immersed in depression?  Once again, no.

The wonderful thing is that I can change, that we can all change.  We can find that ability to change in His love and in our love for Him.

Joy for today:  finding change in Christ.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 33, February 2

I enjoy watching the Inspirational channel on television.  During many of the programs, there is an "advertisement" put out by  These always touch my heart.  One in particular talks about a woman who started a movment to collect purses and give them away to women at the Denver Rescue Mission.  The advertisement end with the words "A purse is a terrible thing to waste."

Of course, I love anything about purses (I have a few myself).  I also love the unexpected twist on words, substituting the word "purse" for "mind."

I wondered, could I change someone else's life by giving her a purse?  What would this imagined recipient think?  Would she think I was criticizing her choice of purses?  Or would she see it as an act of love?

I've given purses to my daughters-in-law, to my nieces, to a couple of friends, but I've never given one to a stranger.  Do I have the courage to do so?  Do I dare?  I am asking these questions, not of you, but of myself.  So, we'll see.  And maybe I'll report to you later if I find the requisite courage.

Joy for the day:  contemplating giving a purse away.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Day 32, February 1

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”—Theodore Roosevelt

Recently I've been working on an article about "failing successfully" for RWR (Romance Writers Report).  The idea of failing successfully intrigues me on several levels:  1.  The dichotomy of the words.  How does one fail successfully?  2.  The idea that we can succeed even in the face of failure.

Writers know a lot about failure.  At least, this writer does.  I have been at this crazy business for more than 30 years and have yet to make a "living wage."  I'm not sure what my wage qualifies at, but it sure doesn't meet the government's standard of a living wage.  Yet, I persist.  Partly because I'm a stubborn old woman.  Partly because nobody is going to tell me that I can't write.  (And believe me, a number of editors and agents have said precisely that over the years.)

Chances are you know something about failing as well.  Did the job offer you wanted fail to come through?  Did the weight loss you wanted to achieve fail to happen?  (Been there, done that.)  The important thing is not that you failed, but that you tried and that you keep trying.

Joy for today:  failing successfully.