Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 181 June 30

Last week, Larry offered to cook the main dish for our friend's funeral. (Cooking for a Mormon funeral is not an insignificant matter.  As I am fond of saying, Mormons don't smoke, drink, or fool around, but we sure can eat.)

When Larry was telling our sweet friend Marilyn Lowe about this, Marilyn immediately asked, "What can I do to help?"  Larry's wife--that's me--did not make a similar offer.

Making this offer is so like Marilyn.  She is among the first to give help to anyone in need.  She is the first to bring a meal, to babysit children, to visit someone in the hospital. Never does she draw attention to her service.  In fact, she eschews public notice of all that she does.

Joy for today:  knowing Marilyn.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 180, June 29

I realize that the last two posts have had a common theme--friendship.  Saul and David were close friends; then that friendship was tainted by jealousy.  Torah Bright and Kelly Clark were also friends; their friendship, however, was strengthened by love and support.

I realize that I have not always been a good friend because friends want the best for each other.  Sometimes I allow jealousy (as with Saul and David) to keep a friendship from growing and flourishing.  When a friend achieves a writing goal that I am still working toward, am I happy for her? When another friend moves into a large, fancy home, am I pleased for her?  Sometimes ,,, and sometimes not.

Joy for today:  being a good friend.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 179, June 28

In last week's Sunday School lesson, we discussed Saul's jealousy of David, when the young maidens sang "Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed ten thousands."

Saul chose to throw away his covenants because of pride.  Isn't that sad?  And then I think of my foolish decisions to throw away things of importance because of my own pride.  Saul's circumstances are, of course, different than mine, but that very human failing of pride transcends generations, ethnicities, gender, and everything else.

It reminds me that I shouldn't be so quick to criticize Saul, not when I am guilty of the same sin.

Joy for today:  throwing away pride rather than eternal values.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 178, June 27

I found the following story in a talk by Bishop Gary E. Stevenson as he recounted the incident of Olumpian Torah Bright encouraging Kelly Clark.

"She (Torah Bright) noticed that American snowboarder Kelly Clark, who had a bad first run on her final round, appeared to be nervous about her second run.  'She gave me a hug,' Clark recalls.  'She just held me until I actually calmed down enough and I slowed my breathing.  It was good to have a hug from a friend.'  Kelly Clark would later join Torah on the winners' podium as a bronze medalist.

"When asked about this unusual act of kindness toward her opponent, which could have put her own silver medal at risk, Torah simply said, 'I am a competitor--I want to do my best--but I want my fellow competitors to do their best, too.'"

Isn't this a beautiful story?  Imagine one competitor stopping to help another, to spend that time and energy and compassion to offer encouragement and support.

Joy for today:  wanting others to succeed.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 177, June 26

I recently ran across the term Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken or damaged pottery with golden joinery. The word itself means "golden joinery."

Amy Curtis, in a presentation at BYU's 2014 Women's Conference, says of Kintsugi, "It is an art form ... pointing to valuing the history of something that has been broken and has been made whole again with a new identity.  The new reformed whole contains both the remembrance of what has been before and what is now.

"The Savior is the master mender and the joiner of souls.  His infinite Atonement has the power ot help us become strong in broken places."

Have you ever felt that you were broken or chipped or cracked?  I have.  At times, I have felt that I was all three--broken, chipped, and cracked, and I wondered if I would ever be whole again.

Fortunately for me, and for all those who feel that they are broken inside, we can partake of the Savior's Kintsugi or Atonement.  Through Him, we can be whole again.

Joy for today:  being made whole by the power of the Atonement.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 176, June 25

"People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them.....their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word....they can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in the miracle of ink on paper, is a kind of magic."

A friend who recently completed writing her parents' histories, sent me this quote.  It seemed especially appropriate to print it now, when Larry and I have recently lost a dear friend. 

I will remember our friend when I read something that shows compassion, kindness, strength, and humor.  I will remember our friend when I read something of intelligence, faith, and service.  I will remember our friend when I read the scriptures, for he loved the them with all his heart.

Joy for today:  remembering a friend through words.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 175, June 24

Today we will attend the funeral of a great man, Jim Freeman.

In thinking about Jim, I realized that he reminds me, in many respects, of my father, though a generation separated them.

I wrote the following poem at the death of my father.  I think it applies to Jim as well.  (I've substituted Jim's name for my father's.)


... was an ordinary man
who did extraordinary things.
He knew, better than most,
that the praise of man is but fleeting,
and that true approbation is found in the
Father's eyes
Service was his hallmark;
compassion his watchword.
And we are all the better for having known him.

Joy for today: having known Jim.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 174, June 23

You know what?  Sometimes life sucks.  It just plain sucks.  We watch people we love suffer and endure pain and heartache and we wonder why.  At least I do.

Then I remember that way, way back, we signed up for these hardships.  When I understood this principle, I thought, "Really?  I signed up for this?  Others signed up for this?  Come on.  You've got to be kidding."

But it's true.  In the pre-mortal existence, we signed up for what we would face in this mortal life.   And Heavenly Father promised us a Savior to help us, to make sure that we are never alone.

Joy for today:  remembering that we are never alone.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 173, June 22

A few days ago, we learned of the death of a dear friend.  Fortunately, Larry and I were able to see Jim before he passed away.  We talked with his sweet wife Maggie and reminisced about good times.  Then we said our goodbyes.

I did my best to hold back my tears, but they kept popping out anyway.  Tears have a way of doing that.  While I grieve for Maggie and for all of us who knew Jim and loved him (it wasn't possible to know him and not love him) and mourn his passing, I don't grieve for him, for I know Jim has been received into the arms of our Savior.  Many years ago, Jim made his covenants and then set about keeping them.

And that is the essence of the Gospel:  making covenants and keeping them.  Of course, that isn't always easy.  Nor should it be.  Making covenants is serious business, keeping them even more so.

Joy for today:  making covenants and keeping them.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 172, June 21

I learned of a story of a high school girl who was brutally bullied by her classmates.  The kids taunted her, some of them even thowing garbage at her.  Her mother was deeply concerned and asked a boy in her daughter's class to try to find out who was instigating the bullying.  This fine young man decided that he could do much more.

A football player, he asked his teammates to help stop the bullying.  They invited the girl to sit with them at lunch time, spent time talking with her, and gave her the kind of attention she had never before received.  Later, the boys said that the girl gave them much more than they had ever given her.  What humility they showed.

Joy for today:  remembering the compassion of these fine young men.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 171, June 20

We have a sweet family in our ward (congregation) who epitomize everything that is right in today's families.  I admire many things about this family.  One of the things which most captures my respect and admiration is the parents' dedication in seeing that their seven children, especially the five girls, dress modestly.

In a day when public figures, from movie stars to sports figures to the wives of politicians, dress immodestly, it is refreshing to see a family who places a high premium on modesty.  I am in awe of these parents who take the time and effort to teach their children eternal values and principles.  Some may say this is a small thing, but, as in many small things, it reaps large rewards.

Consider the effects these teachings will have upon not just these children but all those who watch them and learn from them.

Joy for today:  watching a worthy family in action.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 170, June 19

I write romances and, thus, spend a lot of time thinking of heroes and heroines.  The world has its own definition of heroes and heroines; these people grace the covers of magazines, are found in movies, and find  their way into our homes via TV in sporting events and other entertainment.

While many of these people are talented and accomplished, they are not my heroes and heroines.  Mine are found in the homes, the mothers and fathers who quietly lead and guide their children with love and wisdom.  Mine are found in the schools, teaching our most precious commodity--our children.  Mine are found visiting those who can't leave their homes and performing sweet acts of service.  Mine are found serving in the church, the community, the schools.

Joy for today:  finding heroes and heroines in everyday places.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 169, June 18

"A man without ambition is dead.  A man with ambition but no love is dead.  A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive."--Pearl Bailey (1918 - 1990)

Though I like the first two sentences of this quote, it is the third that really resonates with me.  The words "... and love for his blessings here on earth ..." are beautifully stated.

A few days ago, two friends and I had lunch and, in the course of our conversation, talked about the Lord's tender mercies.  Those mercies or blessings are all around us ... if we but look.

Joy for today:  having love for my blessings here on earth.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 168, June 17

"Often we want to be somwhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are.  We tend to compare ourseles constantly with others and wonder why wer are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as genrous, or as saintly as they are.  Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous ... We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of here and now.

"We will never find happiness by trying to figure out whether we are beter or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do.  Be yourself!"--Henri Nouwen, from BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY

I found this passage in the beautiful and poignant book SHE SAID YES, The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by Misty Bernall.

Cassie was one of the students killed in the Columbine, Colorado killings in 1999.  Her mother penned the book to tell Cassie's story.  Before her death, Cassie had undergone a transformation which had turned her thoughts, indeed, her life to Jesus Christ.

In her readings, Cassie underlined the above passage.  It obviously had meaning for this seventeen-year-old girl.  It also has meaning for this 62-year-old woman.  I have spent too much of my life comparing myself to others .. and always coming up short.  What a waste.

Maybe I should be comparing myself to myself, seeing if I've progressed any from last year, last month, last week.  And maybe I should stop comparing and just start doing.

Joy for today:  stop comparing and start doing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 167, June 16

Recently I watched a DVD movie "Hawn's Mill," about the massacre of Mormons in Hawn's Mill, Missouri in 1838.  There were many stories of heroism.  One which deeply touched me was that of Amanda Barnes Smith.  Sister Smith had lost her husband and a son during the massacre, with another son being severely wounded.

Several days afterward, members of the mob forbid the Mormons from praying at all.  This was too much for Sister Smith, who said that being unable to communicate with her Lord was even worse than the night of the massacre.  She went into a cornfield and, there, hid among some cornstalks and poured out her heart to God.

I have difficulty even conceiving of the courage it took for this woman, who had lost so much, to defy the orders of the men who held the power of life or death over her and her remaining family.  Her courage is equaled only by her faith.

Joy for today:  being strengthened by this example of courage and faith.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 166, June 15

Last week in Sunday School class, we had a lesson about ways in which we put others or the world before God.  Class members offered ideas.  As they did so, I thought of one serious way in which I put others and the world before God:  when I have the opportunity to stand up for the right and say something is wrong, I frequently do not take it.

Why?  Because I fear offending others.  Because I'm afraid of appearing to be a "goody-goody."  Because I'm afraid I'll sound stupid or self-righteous or any number of other things.  None of these are sufficient reason to push the Lord aside and to cater to the precepts of the world.

Maybe it's time I stood up for what is right, for what is true.

Joy for today:  standing up and standing firm.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 165, June 14

Today is the 25th anniversary of when our daughter Ann came to our home.  Born on May 31, 1989, Ann was two weeks old when she was placed with us as a foster child.  Our whole family immediately fell in love with her, the children vying over whom would get to hold her and feed her.

Nearly three years later, we adopted Ann and had her sealed to our family for time and all eternity in the Denver Temple.

Things haven't always been smooth.  Ann has a strong personality, one that often clashed with my own, but she was loving and sweet and added much to our home and family.  Today she is a beautiful, accomplished young woman.

Joy for today:  loving Ann.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 164, June 13

A few days ago, I mentioned the Biblical "mote and beam" scripture.  It didn't occur to me until later that I should have included the words of a hymn that describe this comparison so beautifully.

by Eliza R. Snow

Once I said unto another,
"In thine eye there is a mote;
If thou art a friend, a brother,
Hold and let me pull it out."
But I could not see it fairly,
For my sight was very dim.
When I came to search more clearly,
In mine eye there was a mote.

If I love my brother clearer,
And his mote I would erase,
Then the light should shine the clearer,
For the eye's a tender place.
Others I have oft reproved,
For an object like a mote,
Now I wish this beam removed,
Oh, that tears would wash it out!

Clarity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother's failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now, I'll take no further trouble;
Jesus' love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.

(Verses 3, 4, 5)

The author's words exactly describe my own situation, feeling compelled to point out another's fault without recognizing my own.

Joy for today:  concentrating on the beam in my own eyes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 163, June 12

Last week on the news, I heard a story that profoundly touched me.  A high school senior had just lost his father.  The boy's mother had died several years back.

Each year, the graduating class collected money to give to the principal who would then donate it to a charity or worthy cause.  This year the class did the same, the boy contributing all that he had.  Unbeknownst to him, the money was being collected for him and was then presented to him on graduation day.

What a magnificent thing for these young people to do, to think of their classmate and his difficult circumstances.  When we hear, as we too often do, that today's young people are selfish and immature, I will remember this example of compassion and love.

Joy for today:  being reminded of the goodness of today's youth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 162, June 11

Life has a way of humbling us, especially when we most need it.  One such example that occurred recently to me was looking in the mirror and wondering who that old woman was.  Surprise, surprise.  It was me.


That is a small example of my being humbled.  A more serious example is finding that I am still holding on to hurts from decades ago.  What is it with me, anyway, that I can't let go of things?  I justify myself by saying that these were egregious hurts and that no rational person could overlook them.  Perhaps a truer statement would be that no rational person could hold onto them for so long.

So I am trying again.  (And again and again and again.)

Joy for today:  being humbled ... well, almost.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 161, June 10

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog with a quote to the effect that we each have enough weeding to do in our own garden and gave my interpretation of it.  A dear friend wrote and suggested that perhaps it could also refer to the "mote and beam" scripture in the Bible.

Upon reflection, I decided I preferred her interpretation.  Don't most of us have enough "weeds" to pull out of our gardens without worrying about the weeds in the gardens of others?  I certainly do.  To name a few:  gossiping, holding grudges, being selfish, entertaining mean thoughts.  And the list goes on.

Joy for today:  pulling weeds from my own garden.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 160, May 9

“Heavenly Father taught you before you were born about the experiences you would have as you left Him and came to earth. You were taught that the way back home to Him would not be easy. He knew that it would be too hard for you to make the journey without help.

"You have been blessed not only to find the way to make those covenants in this life but also to be surrounded by others who will help – who, like you, are covenant daughters (and sons) of Heavenly Father."  Henry B. Eyring

When bad things, tragedy, beset you, do you ever think or perhaps say aloud, "Hey, I didn't sign up for this. I didn't know I was going to have to go through this."

The fact is, we did know.  And somehow we signed up anyway.

But we are not alone.  With the Father and the Savior, we are also surrounded by friends and family who help us navigate the pain and hardships of this world.   Without these friends and family members, I'd be more of a mess than I already am.  With them, I'm less of a mess.  (A bit of unintentional poetry there.)

 "I have seen what you have seen as covenant sisters (and brothers) keep that commitment to comfort and help – and do it with a smile. . . Heavenly Father smiles on you as well whenever He sees you help a daughter (or son) of His move along the covenant path toward eternal life. And He is pleased every time you try to choose the right. He sees not only what you are but also what you may become. ”  

Joy for today:  knowing that we are not alone.         

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 159, June 8

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who served in  the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1971 - 1994, had a sign on his office door that read "Come in without knocking and leave the same way."

An interesting play on words.  Elder Ashton explained that, according to the dictionary, the word "knock" has two meanings:  "to strike something with a sharp blow" and "to find fault with harsh and often petty criticism."  The sign provided a reminder for visitors to enter the office without finding fault and to leave the same way.

What great advice.   I wish I would practice it more often, to leave whatever criticisms I might have outside and not bring them inside with me.

Joy for today:  coming in without knocking and leaving the same way.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Day 158, June 7

"What you dislike in another, take care to correct in yourself."--Von Hill

Isn't that great counsel?  I find, when I am complaining to my husband about somebody else, that what I am complaining about is often something I do.  

What about the person who doesn't carry through with something she said she'd do?  Have I done that?  Sadly, yes.

What about the individual who speaks unkindly about another?  Have I done that?  Guilty again.

And so it goes.

Joy for today:  correcting yucky things in myself.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 157, June 6

Last Sunday was Fast & Testimony meeting in our ward (congregation).  In Fast & Testimony meetings, members go to the pulpit and bear their testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like Moses, I have no power of speech.  I am distinctly lacking in that skill, so I do not bear my testimony aloud.  But I do have one.  I believe fervently in the Gospel of our Lord.  I believe that following Him is the pathway to happiness, and, conversely, that rebelling against Him is the pathway to pain.

So, there it is.  My testimony.

Joy for today:  believing Christ and believing in Christ.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 156, June 5

"Try to be the rainbow in somebody else's cloud."--Maya Angelou

Isn't this a lovely image?  To be a rainbow for someone else?  I am often not a rainbow.  In fact, sometimes I  am the dark cloud.  That's not a pleasant admission, but there it is.

I tell myself that I will do better, and maybe I will.  Maybe I can be a rainbow, if not for always, at least for a  minute.  If I give a friend a sincere compliment, am I being a rainbow?  If I send a card, am I being a rainbow?  If I take chocolate to someone, am I being a rainbow?

I hope so.

Joy for today:  being a rainbow, if only for a moment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 155, June 4

It is a time of birthdays in our family.  Today is our grandson Isaac's seventh birthday.  Isaac is a sweet, intelligent little boy who loves all things CARS, dinosaurs, vacuuming, and going to garage sales.  (He got that from his grandma!)

Isaac came to our family by way of adoption, so he is a child of the heart rather than of blood.  How he came to us doesn't matter; what matters is that he is sealed to our family through temple blessings and love.

Joy for today: loving Isaac.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 154, June 3

Today is my nephew David's birthday.  David has always been special to me.  He has seen his family through some rough times and does it with grace, humor, and practicality, a rare blend.

Many years ago, when my sister's and my mother was dying, David cared for her and did it with such tenderness and gentleness that the memory still brings tears to my eyes.

His sensitivity and compassion were demonstrated again at the time of his father's death.  Once more, he came through while many of us (myself included) were falling apart.

Joy for today:  loving my sweet nephew.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 153, June 2

Have I confessed before that I'm a nerd?  In fact, I was a nerd before the word nerd existed.  Looking back to my school years, I understand that, though I didn't at the time.

Though it's been a long time since I was in school, I'm still a nerd.  I still love reading and doing vocabulary quizzes and competing against the Jeopardy contestants.  (Alas, I don't do very well in that arena.)

One of the stories in our family lore centers around my buying a vocabulary quiz book to take on a trip to Utah.  Our then 12 year old granddaughter was with us. When I pulled out the book, she rolled her eyes and gave me that exasperated look that only a budding teenager can give to an out-of-date grandma.

Later, she told her father, "You won't believe what Grandma thinks is fun."

Joy for today:  being a nerd.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 152, June 1

A few days ago, Larry and I attended a school event for our granddaughter Reynna, who is graduating from eighth grade.  (It will surprise no one to know that Reynna is the star of any event in which she participates.)

I noticed posters throughout the school with the acronym BARK.  I looked closely to see what it stood for and found the following:

Be responsible.
Act with kindness.
Respect others.
Be safe.

Aren't those great directives?  And wouldn't our families, our churches, our communities, the entire world be better, happier places if we all followed them?

I particularly like the second one:  act with kindness.  It seems that the subject of kindness, whether in words or in deeds, is much on my mind these days.  Perhaps because I am not always kind.  Sometimes I am small and petty, even mean-spirited, and so I was grateful for this reminder.

Joy for today:  finding wisdom in a middle school.  (Who knew?)