Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 202, July 31

Today is my birthday, but I am not writing about that.  Instead, I want to write about something more important, something that weighs heavily upon me (like my hips).

I've written before about my difficulty in forgiving.  However much I struggle to forgive others, I struggle even more to forgive myself.  Past sins--grievous and painful--come back to haunt me, to taunt me, to say, "You'll never get beyond what you've done, what you are.  You'll never be anything more than a miserable toad."

What an ugly picture that is.  A toad, covered with warts and scaly skin and overall repulsive.

Then I found a quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"There is something in many of us that particularly fails to forgive and to forget earlier mistakes in life ... It is not good.  It is not Christian.  It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and magesty of the Atonement of Christ.  To be tied to earlier mistakes is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist."

Yuck.  Do I really want to stand in opposition to the Atonement?  Of course not.  But how do I forgive and forget those sins that haunt and taunt me? How do I let go of them and find hope for the present and the future?

The answer, as always, is to believe in the Savior, to believe the Savior.

Joy for today:  finding hope in the Atonement.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 201, July 30

In my reading, I came across the following quote by Wayne Brickey:

"Oddly enough, our vision sometimes improves when our conditions worsen, creating an occasional windowpane or window of pain, in the veil.  A paralyzing problem can bring the stillness that causes us to pause, and, for a change, reverently look at the whole scene, which is the smallest scene we can trust."

Of course the writer in me loves the play on words of "windowpane" and "window of pain."  I have been in my own window of pain, trying to find my way past the grief that grips my heart and soul.  I admit it--I'm not doing very well.  But as I struggle, I gain brief glimpses of the "whole scene, which is the smallest scene we can trust."  And maybe, just maybe, I'll find the path beyond grief and into joy.

Joy for today:  looking at the whole scene.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 200, July 29

We have all heard of the crucible of fire.  I am going through my own crucible of fire, feeling the refining of my heart and soul  as I said goodbye to my dear and much loved sister last week.  Carla had undergone her own crucible of fire, being refined as she battled ovarian cancer for nine long years, enduring 25 chemotherapy sessions--surely that is too many for one individual to endure.

It occurred to me when I typed the word "refining" that it differs only in one small consonant  from the word "refiring."  Perhaps in being refined in my grief, I am also being refired as the the Father purifies and humbles my hardened heart and rebellious spirit.  I liken it to a piece of pottery being fired in a kiln so that it can withstand the daily use to which it will be subjected.

Joy for today:  being refined and refired.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 199, July 28

I found the following in my son Rob's blog:  

"'Belief gives you the power to achieve the extraordinary."--Chris Powell

 "For a long time I guess I have felt extra ordinary. I have always been fascinated by the word. How did the word come about? The absence of the space changes the word entirely. We all have the capacity to be extraordinary because we are sons and daughters of God. We have a divine destiny. But this blog is not about 'we' but about 'me.' I am a son of God. I have a divine destiny. I am born of a noble birthright. I have made covenants and will one day receive a whole slew of blessings. So today I am choosing to believe in me. I am going to believe me when I tell myself that I can do this."  (Robert Choate)

Can you see why I'm so proud of Rob?  I've told him that he should be the writer in the family.  His strength and perseverance continue to amaze me ... and to humble me.

Joy for today:  learning from a son.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 198, July 27

"When you see your own weaknesses more clearly, you are coming closer to the Savior."--Bruce C. Hafen

I don't know if I've quoted that exactly, but you get the idea.

Lately, I think I must be coming closer to the Savior because never have my weaknesses, my sins, my frailities been more clear.  I see them, I feel them, I taste them.

Perhaps the Savior thinks that I have grown cocky, arrogant, proud, so He is opening my eyes to my many shortcomings.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I have been awakened to things that need correcting.

Joy for today:  coming closer to the Savior, whatever route that may take.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 197, July 26

Have you seen the public service announcement on television showing a young boy at a piano concert?  The little boy "escapes" his parents and finds his way to the stage where a grand piano awaits.  To his parents' chagrin, he climbs up on the bench and beings playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

The featured pianist steps behind the boy, places his hands upon the piano, and says, "Don't quit.  Keep playing."  The master starts playing an accompaniment, an obligatto, his large hands surrounding the much smaller ones of the boy.

I imagine the Father telling me, "Don't quit.  Keep playing."  I like to think He is encouraging me, even when recognizing that my efforts are puny when compared to His.  I like to think of His arms surrounding me when I am tempted to give up.

Joy for today:  keeping playing.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 196, July 25

Yesterday I wrote of my pioneer ancestors, including my grandfather Don Carlos McBride.  Don Carlos was a remarkable man.  With his family, he worked a small farm in Pima, Arizona.  The Gila Valley was known for gila monsters, cacti, and a constant struggle for water.

When he was a husband and father of two small children, Don Carlos was called to serve a mission to Samoa.  Though this cost his family much sacrifice, his wife supported him.  He arrived in Samoa with only a few dollars.  He subsisted on grubs (a small shrimp like substance he found in the sand) but was determined to teach the Gospel to the people he quickly grew to love.   After he returned home, he and his wife had another child when again Don Carlos was called on a mission, once more to Samoa.

Shortly after he returned home for a second time, his wife died, leaving him alone with three small children to care for.  Don Carlos didn't give up, though.  He met the woman who would later become my grandmother, had six more children, and raised his family in righteousness.

Joy for today:  learning faith from those who have gone before.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day 195, July 24

Today, July 24th, is Mormon Pioneer Day.  This  is a big day in Utah, a celebration rivaling and even excelling that of July 4th.  It was on this day in 1847 that the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

I am proud to claim pioneer ancestors.  A brief history:  The family of Thomas McBride, who was killed at the massacre of Hawn's Mill in Missouri, moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in the late 1830s.  Thomas's son James McBride later migrated to Utah with the body of the Saints.  There, he built a brick home in Santaquin.  Later, he and his family were called by the Prophet to settle the Gila Valley in Arizona.  Still later, his son (my grandfather) Don Carlos McBride was called to leave his wife and children to serve a mission, at his own expense, in Samoa.

With each call, the family responded in faith.  What a wonderful legacy they have left me and other members of my family.  When I am ready to give up, to say "I can't do this (whatever it is) any more, I remember this legacy of faith, courage, and service.

Joy for today:  remembering pioneer ancestors.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 194, July 23

In Israel of this day, an issue of blood is considered a physical impurity that requires the purification sacrifice at the altar.

Knowing this, we migiht assume that the woman was required to endure a cleansing ritual.  Jesus's statement, however, telling her that she has been made whole and that she can go in peace has given her a "clean bill of health."  She did not need to make a sacrifice or undergo a cleansing ritual.

Likewise, through Christ's Atonement, we are given a clean bill of spiritual health.  We may also "go in peace," knowing that His sacrifice has atoned for our sins, our weaknesses, our frailities.

Joy for today:  knowing that we can "go in peace."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 193, July 22

(Continuation of yesterday's post)

Jesus stops in the crowd, looking for whoever touched Him.  The woman slips from her hiding places and comes to fall down before Him.  She confesses that it was she who touched Him and bears testimony that she has been made whole immediately.

She explains this to the Savior.  He tells her, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith has made thee whole."
(Comfort here also refers to the Greek word for courage.)

Nearly simultaneous to the moment of the woman's testimony, Jesus receives word that Jarius's twelve-year-old daughter has died.  His response to the messenger:  "Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole."  Jesus hurries to the girl's home.  In another miracle, He raises her from the dead.

But the miracles haven't stopped here.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to understand more of what Christ has done.

Joy for today:  knowing that faith can make us whole.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 192, July 21

Do you remember the Biblical story of the woman with the "issue of blood?"  In ancient Israel, an "issue of blood" was considered unclean.  The woman suffered from this disease for twelve years.  For twelve years, she is considered unclean.  Worse, according to Jewish tradition, she is not only impure to herself, she also contaminates others, even those who just happen to pass by her.

Her isolation must have been terrible.  Here she is suffering, and then others fear to come near her.  Somehow, she has a bit of money, but, at the end of twelve years, her funds have run out.  As have her options.

Except one.  She has faith.

Through the Israelite "grapevine," she hears stories of Jesus and His ministry.  News of His miracles has spread through the community, and she knows that if she can touch his garments, she will be healed.  In Matthew, we learn that she "said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole."  She manages to do this.

Jesus stops and insists He's felt power leave Him, power that heals.  "I perceive that virtue is gone out of me."  (Luke 8:46).  The word virtue comes from a Greek term meaning "force, power, abundance, or strength."

Instantly, the woman's issue of blood is "dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."  (Mark 5:29)

We will finish this story tomorrow.

Joy for today:  knowing that healing power exists through faith.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 191, July 20

Today is my sister Carla's birthday.  Carla and I have always been closer than sisters, more intimate than best friends.  We rely on each other.  We are there for each other.  We simply are.

Though we have much in common, we have some differences as well.  She is quiet and reflective, while I tend to be outspoken.  She is quick to forgive, while I hold onto a grudge like a drowning man holding onto a life preserver.  She is thin, while I am not.

I love her anyway.

The last years haven't been easy for Carla.  The death of her husband, health problems, and just yucky times have challenged her.  But she is still striving, still living righteously.

Joy for today:  loving Carla.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 190, July 19

While at my sister's house, I found a sparkly crown belonging to her seven-year-old granddaughter.  On a whim, I put on the crown and was instantly transformed.  (Well, not really, but I felt transformed for that moment.)

I was a princess.  A beautiful, lovely princess with the world at my fingertips.

I took off the crown, and I was me once more.  But those feelings remained.  Wouldn't it be great if we could all wear a crown for a few moments every day?  If we don't have a crown, maybe we could make one out of paper and glitter.  Or maybe we can just put on our "imagination caps" and see ourselves as princesses.

Better yet, maybe we could lift another up, making him or her feel like they are wearing a crown.  I've written before about lifting others up.  We can do it with a smile, a word, a kind act.

Joy for today:  wearing a crown and helping others do the same.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 189, July 18

I set a goal to walk a nearby hill every day.  Sometimes I made it, sometimes not.

What I noticed, though, is that the more I walk it (albeit huffing and puffing), the easier it became.  That is not to say that it's easy.  I still huff and puff.  But I'm not huffing and puffing as much as I once did.

It reminded me of President Grant's quote:  "That which we persist in doing becomes easier; not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but that our ability to do it has increased."

My ability (miniscule) as it is to walk the hill has increased.  With each step, each breath I took, the task became a little bit easier.

Joy for today:  taking steps, taking breaths.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 188, July 17

I found this on my son's blog:  "I am me and for today that is enough."

I love that for several reasons.  First, it resonates deep within my heart and soul.  How often have I said, "I want to be Janet" or "I want to be Amanda" or "I want to be Jeannie" or "I want to be Laurie" or "I want to be Nora Roberts?"  (For those who don't know, Nora Roberts is a mega successful NYT bestselling author.)

The list of people I "want" to be is endless.  In these people, I see all the qualities I lack.  I see talent, determination, compassion, faith, courage, etc.  (What's more, their thighs don't jiggle!)

The trouble is, I'm NOT any of these people.  I'm just me.  And that should be enough because that's who Heavenly Father created.

Joy for today:  being me, warts and all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 187, July 16

Yesterday I wrote about addictions.  As I thought more on the subject, I realized that an addiction is anything that takes me--or anyone--away from the Savior.

The person addicted to pornography has taken steps away from the Savior.
The person addicted to drugs has, likewise, taken steps away from the Savior.
The person addicted to alcohol or tobacco has taken steps away from the Savior.
The person addicted to being unable to forgive (that's me) has taken steps away from the Savior.

Joy for today:  taking steps back TO the Savior.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 186, July 15

Have you ever watched someone do something that they and you know is bad for them?  Don't you want to just shake them and say, "Don't do that.  It's bad for you."

A suggestion that perhaps they should give up this habit is frequently meant with defensiveness, anger, self-justification.

I've been in that situation many times.  I get frustrated, even angry.  And then I had an epiphany.  I have my own addictions, though I am loathe to name them as such.  I am defensive about giving them up.  I am angry if someone suggests that they are hurting me.  I justify those addictions, because, of course, my addictions, are understandable.

In short, I am proud of them, even love them.  How pathetic is that?

Joy for today:  recognizing addictions, the first step in giving them up.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 185, July 14

A few days ago, I received a junk phone call, asking me if my foundation were cracked.  I'm assuming they meant the foundation of my house, not my much lauded hot pink bra.

Actually, my foundation is cracked, but it's not that of my house or that of my hot pink bra.  It's my spiritual foundation, for sometimes it is cracked.  It is cracked by depression, discouragement, guilt.  It is cracked by pain, fear, loss.  It is cracked.

The only way to save this all-important foundation is to turn to the Savior, to not only believe in Him, but to believe Him.  To believe that He can save me, the most unworthy and foolishly proud of His children.

Joy for today:  saving my foundation.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 184, July 13

I found this quote on my son's blog:  "Don't wait to be proud of yourself until you reach your goal; be proud of each step you take along the way."

Isn't that great counsel?  Celebrate each small victory or win.  In my writing, I celebrate pages written each day.  I can't write a book in a day, but I can write a couple of pages.  In my exercising, I celebrate those days when I get out and walk, when I did more than I did the day before.  In my spiritual growth, I celebrate those times when I have been able to let go of a hurt.

Joy for today:  celebrating steps along the way.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 183, July 12

I borrowed the following from my son Rob's blog.  Rob is going through his own journey:

"In the diet world people are always saying that they will take it "one pound at a time" or "one day at a time". Chris Powell says that thinking needs to be tweaked to "keeping one promise at a time". In this process people try to set goals. And goal setting is important. But that seems like it is a lower plane than keeping promises. I can set a goal, but it lacks the built in commitment component. It will be easier to break a goal then it is a serious promise to oneself. 

"This got me thinking that life in the gospel really boils down to making and keeping covenants. Covenant making is serious business. It is on an even higher plane than just mere promises. Covenants are a two-way street with God. For now my promises are more just something made by me to me."

Doesn't he write beautifully?  I was so impressed with this passage that I earmarked it so that I can refer to it whenever I want to.

Keeping covenants isn't easy. Breaking covenants is.  As we look at our world today, we see just how easily covenants are broken.  Wives and mothers leave their husbands and abandon their children. Husbands and fathers give their allegiance to drugs and other women.  Politicians betray their countries for "perks" and prestige.

The keeping of covenants is regarded as out of date.

Joy for today:  learning from my son and keeping covenants.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 182, July 11

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: “You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed with, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: ‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.’”

Visiting teaching need not be confined to members of the Mormon Church.  Tending to those in need, visiting those who can't get out, helping another in need, is the mission of everyone.  When we take a meal ... or a smile ... to someone, we are acting as Christ would.  When we tend someone's children, we are acting as Christ would.

Joy for today:  acting as Christ would.                              

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 181, July 10

One more story about courage, this time from an eight-year-old child:

"A lot of people in my class were taking the Lord's name in vain.  During a class meeting, I asked everyone to stop doing that.  It took a lot of courage for me to do that.  Some people still take the Lord's name in vain, but I know the Lord is happy with me."

Once again, I am touched by the courage and faith of a child.  Imagine the strength it took for this little girl to stand up to her friends and classmates, to say, in effect, "This isn't right.  Using the Lord's name that way is wrong."

Joy for today:  learning from the example of a child.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 180, July 9

Yesterday I wrote about doing the right thing.  I then found this short passage written by a seven-year-old boy:

"One day I was playing with my friend, and he wanted to watch a movie that I didn't think we should watch.  I called my parents to ask, but no one was home.  We did not watch the movie.  I feel good when I choose the right."

Isn't that a great story?  As a much older adult, I lack the courage this small boy showed.  Sometimes I am unwilling to stand up for what is right because I fear what others will think.  I go along with something because it is easier to do that than to uphold my principles.

Joy for today:  doing the right thing ... again.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 179, July 8

"Courage includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid."--President Thomas S. Monson

The right thing is usually not the easy thing.  In fact, doing the right thing nearly always requires more effort, more time, and, frequently, more money than doing the wrong thing will.  And sometimes it requires more courage.

Take me.  I know the right thing for my writing is to take some risks, to put myself out there even when it means rejection.  Sometimes I do.  And sometimes I'm not willing to take those risks.

Doing the right thing for others is also hard.  We want to direct them, to tell them what they should be doing even when we know that to do so is to violate their agency. It takes courage to remain quiet.

Joy for today:  doing the right thing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 188, July 7

In visiting at my sister's home, I had the opportunity to spend some time with her grandchildren.  I had brought small gifts for each of the children.  They came up to me, thanked me, and hugged my legs.

I was touched, not just by the sweetness of their actions and words but by the good manners they displayed.  In a world where manners are often thought to be out-of-date and out-of-style, these children's good parents took the time and effort to teach their children how to say thank you.

A small thing?  I don't think so.  What if each of us used our best manners--all of the time?  Wouldn't our homes, our workplaces, our communities, our worlds be better and happier places?  I refuse to apologize if that sounds naive for I believe that good manners would solve many of the problems that beset our society today.

Joy for today:  witnessing good manners from God's children.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 187, July 6

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our capacity to do has increased.”  

President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Heber J. Grant was fond of quoting the above.

Heber's life wasn't always easy.  Like most of us, he faced challenges, as a child and then as an adult.  As a boy, he wanted to play baseball for the team that would play in the Utah Territorial Championship.  However, none of the other boys wanted Heber on the team because he couldn't throw a ball from one base to another.  (He sounds like me!)

Heber determined that he would make the team.  First, he got a job and saved his money until he could buy his own baseball.  Then he practiced, throwing the ball against the barn door over and over.
He made the team and the team went on to win games all over the western United States.

I love this story about President Grant.  I love the example of persistence and determination he showed.  It gives me strength when I fear I can't do something and reminds me to keep going, to take one more step.

Joy for today:   keeping on keeping on.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 186, July 5

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to my friend Janet that I wished I had petunias planted in our front flower beds.  (Ever since my hip relacement, I find it hard to get down on the ground and crawl around.)  Three days later, Janet showed up with flats of dozens of pink and purple petunias and said, "Jane, I'm here to plant these for you."

I was stunned.  I shouldn't have been, for I have known Janet for over 37 years and know what a truly generous person she is.  Still, this was "above and beyond," even for her.

Janet, who serves as Relief Society President of our ward (the Relief Society is our church's women's organization), gives of her time and energy and means freely.  She is always busy, whether it be cleaning a sister's house, helping another sister move, taking a meal to a family with a sick member.  She does all this and more.  And still she found time to plant petunias for me.

Joy for today:  having Janet as a friend.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 185, July 4

I love America.  I love the story of how America came to be. I love knowing that America was divinely ordained as a land of God, a land of freedom, a land of opportunity.  I love America, despite the problems that beset her, despite her sometimes corrupt leaders.

I know:  I'm being sappy.  I can't help it.  Each Fourth of July, I watch movies about patriotism, courage, and
heroes. I carry the images in my mind of my father in his Navy uniform when he served in the Pacific Theatre in Worldl War II.  I think of the brothers he lost during the War.  And I revere those who served and are now serving our country, to defend us from our enemies, to preserve our way of life.

Joy for today:  being an American.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 184, July 3

Today is my Aunt Mae's 90th birthday.  I've written about Aunt Mae before.  She is one of my favorite persons.  Her perseverance in spite of health problems, the frailities of old age, and the deaths of loved ones is a true example of "enduring to the end."

Up until recently, Aunt Mae kept up a large correspondence, sending cards to her friends, members of her congregation, strangers whom she had heard needed an extra dose of love, and those incarcerated in prison.  She participated in a prayer list, opened her home to those who needed a meal, and generally brought joy to all those with whom she came in contact.

Aunt Mae has given her all and continues to give simply by being herself.

Joy for today:  knowing and loving Aunt Mae.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 183, July 2

In my bedroom hangs a picture of the Savior by one of my favorite artists, Greg Olson.  The picture shows the Savior in profile, His coutenance one of love and compassion.  I gaze at His likeness when I retire for the night and when I awake in the morning.

It reminds me that if I want to be whole, if I want to repair the broken pieces of my heart and soul, if I want to find solace from this world's cares and concerns, I need to look at Him, to look to Him.

Do you remember the story of the Israelites as they traversed in the wilderness?  They were beset by poisonous serpants.  Moses nailed a serpant to a cross and told the people that they had only to look upon it to be healed.  Because of the simplicity of the task, many people rejected it, and, thus, died.

And are we not occasionally similar to these wayward Israelites?  We refuse to accept the Savior's Atonement, His saving power, because it seems too simple.  We want to make it complicated, when it is not.

Joy for today:  looking to the Savior.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 182, July 1

I have a couple of generous and talented writing friends, who are always there to help me.  Amanda, an accomplished writer in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market, consistently offers to critique my writing, to offer ideas and suggestions to strengthen my prose, and to make it more sellable.

Leslie volunteered to set up a writing blog for me, creating headers, adding links, and all the things which I, who am technologically challenged, am flumoxed by.  I practically had to beg her to accept the pittance of compensation I gave her.

Both these ladies helped out of the goodness and generosity of their hearts.  In doing so, I believe they are following the Savior's directive to "Come Follow Me," offering their service simply because someone needed their help.

Joy for today:  watching the Savior's love through loving friends.