Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 294, October 31

"When a man takes an oath... he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water." ~ Robert Bolt

It frequently seems as though integrity is in short supply today.  The idea of honoring one's word is too often perceived as old-fashioned.  And isn't that sad?

At this election time of year, jokes are told about dishonest politicians.  As is true in many cases, the jokes have an element of truth as we hear politicians misrepresent themselves and the facts.  This is not exclusive to politicians, however.  Many of us are prey to the temptation to stretch the truth.  How refreshing it is to hear someone own up to a failing and not gloss it over.

Joy for today:  honoring ourselves and others with the truth.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 293, October 30

Last Sunday, a young man leaving for a mission spoke in church.  We have known Parker since his parents moved to our ward 19 years ago.  (And doesn't that make me feel old?)

Parker spoke in simple but eloquent terms of his love for the Savior and his desire to teach the Gospel.  It was beautiful and touching and humbling and so much more.  I marvel at these young people--men and women--who sacrifice two years of their lives to serve others and the Lord.  They do so at their own expense.

At a time in life when many youth are planning for additional schooling, careers, marriage, they postpone these things to do as the Lord asks.

Joy for today:  standing in awe of a courageous and faithful young man.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 292, October 29

Last week, my husband and I voted (by mail).  We don't take this lightly.  We discussed the proposed amendments and the candidates.

There is much wrong in our country.  But there is much more right.  Sometimes we forget that.  Sometimes I forget that.  And then I listen to news stories of life in other countries and I remember how blessed we are, those of us fortunate enough to live in America.

We have the right to vote.  We have the right to dissent.  We have the right to make our voices heard.  We have the right to move from one state to another.  We have the right to worship as we see fit.

Joy for today:  being an American.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 291, October 28

I admit it:  I'm a softie when it comes to children.  Two days ago, I had the opportunity to watch the practice for our church's Primary Sacrament Meeting Program.  (Every year the congregations or wards in our church  hold a special program where the children present the songs and talks.)

Their sweet voices lifted in praise rival even those of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  What these voices lack in training, they make up for in enthusiasm and love for the Savior.

Joy for today:  listening to the purity of children's voices.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 290, October 27

"In a world of such beauty as birds in flight, surely I can come to feel at home again, even after my loss." ~ Martha Whitmore Hickman

One of my favorite Primary songs talks of the beautiful world Heavenly Father created for His children.  Surely this time of year bursting with vibrant color is proof of the Father's love for us.  Why else would He have designed such beauty?

Still, when my heart is grieving, I have a difficult time remembering that.  When I question "Why?" I sometimes forget to look out the window.  When I do, I rejoice, not only in the reds and golds and greens but in the balance of the colors, each in perfect harmony with the other.

And I remember that my life, too, has balance.  When it seems that grief outweighs everything else, I look to that harmony in nature and feel a measure of my own restored.

Joy for today:  finding the Lord's harmony.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 289, October 26

Yesterday, I blogged about fabrics and lives. Sometimes our fabric tears, tears so badly, in fact, that we fear it will disintegrate altogether.

When someone dies, there is a tear in the fabric.  Several friends and I have experienced the loss of loved ones in recent months.  My fabric ripped apart; indeed, I felt that my life had ripped apart.  How do we repair those tears?  For it is our job to re-weave the strands, to strengthen the fabric again.

By honoring the memory of your loved one; nurturing those memories by writing them down in your journal is one way. Creating a scrapbook of photos and journal entries could be another. Painting, drawing…however you can express the memories best. One of my ways is to tell stories about those who have passed on to the next life.  I love stories, especially humorous ones.  In telling these stories, I remind myself and others of that dear sister, mother, friend who has left us for a short while.

The strands are all there: to the memory nothing is ever lost." ~Eudora Welty

Joy for today: strengthening fabric, strenghtening memories, strengthening love.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day 288, October 25

Do you remember the myth of the three fates?  They spin threads together, creating a beautiful fabric.  The fabric of our lives is composed of our relationships, those whose lives we have influenced, those who have infuenced our own.

Whether our fabric is  beautiful or ugly is largely determined by the kinds of relationships we have spun.  A life of greed and dishonesty will likely yield an uncomely fabric; a life of love and service will yield a fabric of untold beauty.

Joy for today:  spinning lives of beauty.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 287, October 24

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

I think Harriet Beecher Stowe's words can apply to tears shed over those who have passed on and those who are still among us.  Chief among my regrets are the kind words and deeds I haven't said or done.  (I have plenty of regrets for things I have said or done, but not nearly as many as those left unsaid and undone.)

You would think that at my advanced age that I could figure it out.  Say it now.  Do it now.  Don't wait.  Don't postpone to a more convenient time.

Joyu for today:  saying and doing.  Now.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 286, October 23

"Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become love. That is the mystery." ~ Katherine Mansfield

I had to read and re-read this quotation several times to gain even the slightest understanding of it.  When I saw the word "change," I wanted to stop reading.  I don't like change.  I don't adapt well to it.  I resent changes in my life.

When my sister died, I had to adapt to the biggest change and challenge in my life.  I had to find a new way to live, to accept, to love.  The mystery is that I've done as well as I have (which isn't really very well at all, but it's all I have).

Joy for today:  accepting change.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 285, October 22

 “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”--Winston Churchill

Yesterday I wrote about the relationship between failure and success.  I suppose there are those few among us who have never experienced failure; for the rest of us, it is part of life. 

On one bleak day, when the rejections had piled up and my courage and energy were waning, I decided to give up writing.  I decided I'd try something else (becoming a special ops soldier came to mind).  And then I realized that writing was a part of me.  I could no more give it up than I could give up one of my children.  (Yes, I've considered that before as well.)

Have you ever decided to give up something because the failures had become too frequent, too painful?  Did you go through with it?  If so, don't beat yourself up over it.  We have only so much time, so much energy, and we can't do everything.  If you decided to keep trying, what caused you to change your mind? I've been on both sides of the fence.  

Joy for today:  stumbling from failure to failure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 284, October 21

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six  times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”--Michael Jordan

When a friend sent this to me, I knew I had to include it in a blog.   It is incredible to me that basketball icon Michael Jordan believes he has failed.   But he doesn't end there; he credits that to succeeding.   Could not all of us benefit from his insight?

I used to joke that I could paper my house with all the rejections I've received.  Currently, rejections come in electronic form, but the "joke" remains the same.  One year, I figured that I had received over  12 book rejections, with dozens upon dozens of rejections on short stories and articles.  And still I kept trying.  Part of the reason is sheer obstinacy on my part, and part is the belief that I could succeed if I just kept trying.

Joy for today:  failing ... and succeeding.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 283, October 20

"Anyone who tells a story speaks a world into being." ~ Michael Williams

Do you remember the days of storytelling?  Grandchildren, cousins, parents, aunts, and uncles gathered around the storyteller, usually a grandparent, and listened, enthralled, to stories of "the olden days."  I loved those times.  I loved the feeling of family as much as the stories themselves.

I didn't mind a bit of some of the stories were exaggerated.  In fact, I preferred "tall tales," a sign of the storyteller's creativity.  Perhaps this is where my love of reading and writing comes from, because, in the end, aren't books just storytelling written down?

Joy for today:  telling stories, true and otherwise.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 282, October 19

Last week's Relief Society lesson was on "Being in the World, But Not of the World:  In other words, being firm in keeping the commandments.  The teacher gave an interesting definition of the word firm:  not yielding to pressure.

We find pressure in every aspect of our lives.  Whether it is to dress as the fashion mavens tell us is stylish (never mind modesty), or to live beyond our means, or to give up paying tithing in favor of buying something "fun," we experience worldly pressures.

The trouble with these things, of course, is that they do not bring happiness; they may bring a momentary pleasure, but that is all.

Joy for today:  being in the world, but not of it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 281, October 18

Last week, my husband and I drove to Denver to attend the LDS Temple there.  Early morning fog obscured the road for much of the way, causing me to clench my teeth and pray for our safety.  Larry navigated it with his usual skill, and we arrived safely.

As we drove through the fog, I was reminded that a different kind of fog can obscure other roadways in life.
The fog of wanting worldly success and rewards can blind us to true success and rewards:  that of living a Christ-like life and returning to live with Him someday.  The fog of wanting material possessions may cause us to treat others dishonestly.  The fog of criticizing others to make us feel better about ourselves can canker our souls.  And so on.

Joy for today:  navigating through the fogs of life.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 280, October 17

"Experience is a good teacher, but her fees are very high."--W.R. Inge

I can be a stubborn person.  It frequently takes me years to learn a lesson.  One would think that a reasonably intelligent person (which I am most of the time) could learn from experience.  But, no, I have to learn the same lesson over and over (and over).

What a sad commentary.  Try as I will to "get it," the Lord has to put me in positions to learn what He wants me to know.

Joy for today:  getting it the first time.  (Or the second, third, fourth, or fifth.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 279, October 16

I've written before about my sweet daughter Alanna.  Alanna is a role model to me in many ways.

Her daughter, Reynna, started seminary this year.  Seminary is an early morning church lesson.  Teachers volunteer their time, to prepare and to teach the youth (ages 14-18) gospel principles.  This is no easy matter.  Seminary starts at 6 am, going until 6:50, when the kids leave for school.   Those stalwart men and women who teach seminary receive no compensation and precious little recognition.

Why am I telling you about seminary teachers (other than to make you grateful that you aren't one)?  I share this with you to help you understand why Alanna is my role model.  She told me that she had the impulse (see yesterday's blog) to send a thank-you card to Reynna's seminary teacher.

Alanna crafts beautiful cards, each a miniature work of art.  To receive one is to receive a cherished gift.  I can only imagine Reynna's teacher's delight and surprise to receive such a card.

Joy for today:  finding a role model in my daughter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 278, October 15

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know:  the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."  Albert Schweitzer

I have regretted many things in my life, most of them being missed opportunities, especially those to show love.  I've recounted before how I berated myself for not taking the time to visit a lady in our ward.  When she died unexpectedly, I grieved, not just at her passing, but that I hadn't made the time to go see her.  A missed opportunity, to serve and to love.

I suspect that most of us have had the experience of having an impulse to do something for someone else and then life got in the way.  Sometimes, we can make that up, and sometimes, like in the above, the chance to fulfill that impulse is gone forever.

Joy for today:  finding opportunities to serve and to love.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 277, October 14

"The universe pays every man in his own coin; if you smile, it smiles on you in return; if you frown, you will be frowned at; if you sing, you will be invited into cheerful company; if you think, you will be entertained by thinkers; if you love the world, and earnestly look for the good therein, you will be surrounded by loving friends, and nature will pour into your lap the treasures of the earth."  Mike Lea

This quote reminds me of the law of the harvest:  we reap what we sow.  Sometimes that reaping is immediately apparent, as in the above.  A smile reaps another smile; a frown reaps a frown in return.  And so on.

Sometimes what we reap does not make itself known until years later.  Such is the case with my writing.  I have spent more than three decades practicing my craft.  The rewards, at least financially, have been minimal.  But I kept "sowing," knowing that I would not reap anything without putting in the work. Lately, I've experienced some success and rejoice in it.

Of far more importance is my relationship with others, including the Lord.  Sowing seeds of love and friendship and loyalty has reaped blessings without number. My life would be poor indeed without these precious connections, with family, friends, and the Lord.

Joy for today:  sowing, reaping, and loving.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 276, October 13

"Education should prepare people not just to earn a living but to live a life--a creative, humane and sensitive life."--Charles Silberman

Decades (or eons) ago, I graduated from college with a degree in sociology, with a minor in psychology.  Three days later, I was married.  Our first baby came along ten months after Larry's and my marriage.  We decided that I was needed at home more than I would ever be needed at the workplace.

What does this little recap have to do with the above quote?  It's easy.  I never earned a living with my degree.  And some wondered why I didn't, if I had wasted my education.  I like to think that the learning I did in college and beyond prepared me to "live a life."

Am I always creative, humane and sensitive?  No.  But I try to be upon occasion. I try to find ways to create, to give, to understand.  This blog is one of those ways.

Joy for today:  using what I learned.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 275, October 12

A friend sent the following to me:

Powerful Prayers for Troubled Times by Stormie Omartian.

Columbus wrote in a book called Book of Prophecies that he could not have reached the shores of America without prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In his own words he stated, "It was the Lord who put it into my mind ... I could feel His hand upon me ... the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies ... All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me ... There is no doubt that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit... No one should fear to undertake a task in the name of our Savior if it is just and the intention is purely for His service."

Isn't that inspiring?  To know that the Lord Himself compelled Columbus to search out America, a promised and blessed land?  

Joy for today:  recognizing the Lord's hand ... in everything.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 274, October 11

Did you know that you are entitled to personal revelation?  Yes, you and I are entitled to receive revelation from the Lord.  This is not just a tender mercy; it is a miracle.  If we accept it.

When I understood this, I had an "ah-ha" moment.  That I--unworthy and too often unrighteous--was entitled to revelation was both humbling and empowering.  If I pray and listen, I can receive counsel from the Lord about my life, my family, my stewardship here on earth.

Joy for today:  accepting the miracle.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 273, October 10

"I brake for butterflies."

I found this on a bumper sticker.  (Have you noticed that I read everything--from books to bumper stickers to slogans on little girl T-shirts?)

Maybe we should all brake for butterflies.  This is a new take on "stop and smell the roses."  If we took time to better appreciate the beauties of this world, the wonders and miracles of it, the butterflies and roses, we would undoubtedly be happier.  And maybe, just maybe, the world would not be so filled with conflict.

Joy for today:  braking for butterflies.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 272, October 9

"Be calm and wear a tutu."  I found this piece of sage advice on a little girl's T-shirt.

It made me smile.  More, it made me think.  I decided I would do well to follow this counsel.

I am a world-champ worrier.  The trouble is, worrying doesn't solve or improve anything.  If I heeded the advice to "be calm," I would approach things with a more peace-filled and hope-filled heart.

As for the "wear a tutu" part:  just the idea of wearing a tutu makes me smile.  And even if I can't find a tutu to fit me, I can enjoying the picture it conjures up in my mind.

Joy for today:  being calm and wearing a tutu.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 271 , October 8

"Everyone has lost, or will lose, someone they love. The sense of solidarity which comes with the recognition of this fact is powerful. The fine gifts of understanding, empathy and love are rich rewards for the sufferings of grief.

"No matter the color of our skin, the country of our birth, we are all one humanity. For that, I am deeply grateful."  Taken from a funeral home pamphlet.

The media is satiated with stories of all that separate us.  Whether it be wealth or poverty, black or white, Muslim or Christian, Democrat or Republican, or whatever, the focus is on our differences.

The above quote reminded me that loss is a common denominator.  We have all lost or will lose someone whom we love.  Our grief is the price for loving.  It is a high price, sometimes, we believe, too high, but we can gather strength from those who have experienced similar feelings.  And, in doing so, our differences melt away.

Joy for today:  finding what brings us together (rather than what divides us).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 270, October 7

"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." ~ Carl Jung

Scriptures teach us that there must be opposition in all things.  Lately, I feel like I've had more opposition than I needed, certainly more than I wanted.  "Why does everything have to be so hard?" I asked my husband one evening.  "Why can't anything ever be easy?"

Even as I said the words, I realized that I wouldn't fully appreciate something that came easily. In dealing with my pain over the loss of my dear sister, I rejoice on those days when the grief doesn't ambush me.  On those days when it does, I hunker down and resolve to get through it anyway I can.  Sometimes this means having a good pity party and then getting up and trying again.

Joy for today:  experiencing the bitter so that I might better know the sweet.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 269, October 6

Don't you love hearing stories about Prophet Thomas S. Monson?  During the recent general conference, I learned a new story about him.  Following World War II, Elder Monson (this was long before he was President of the Church and Prophet), he visited Germany.  At this time, Germany was a land of chaos, where poverty was so overwhelming that even hardened soldiers wept at the hunger and need they witnessed.

Elder Monson was so moved by the plight of the people that he gave away his second suit and all of his white shirts but one. (I suspect he would have given away his other suit and white shirt if he hadn't needed something to wear home.)

On the flight home, he was wearing a pair of house slippers because he had given away his shoes.  What compassion and generosity.  And what an example for the rest of us.

Joy for today:  loving our Prophet even more than I already did.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 268, October 5

For the last two days, members of the Church and others have had the opportunity to "come listen to a Prophet's voice" during General Conference.  We have been fed and instructed and, occasionally, exhorted to do as the Lord commands.  Doing as the Lord comands is not only a guide for living but a path to happiness.

When I find myself discontent, dissatisfied, and all those other "dises," it  is usually because I'm not doing what I should be doing.  I'm complaining.  I'm justifying.  I'm criticizing.

Joy for today:  doing as the Lord commands (or, at least, trying to).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 267, October 4

Elder Marvin J. Ashton had a small sign placed on an ofice door that read, "Come in without knocking and leave the same way."

Elder Ashton noted that the word "knock" has two definitions:  to strike something with a sharp blow and to find fault or criticism.  "This sign served as a reminder to me to come into the office without finding fault and to leave at the close of the day the same way," he said.

In a few short words, Elder Ashton gave us a fairly comprehensive guideline for living:  to refrain from finding fault in our comings and goings.  What a kinder and gentler world it would be if we could all do this on a daily basis.  As I look back on a typical day, I am chagrined and ashamed to realize that I spent many words in finding fault and voicing it.  What a sad commentary.

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

Day 266, October 3

I have a number of friends who are going through difficult times, as they worry over family members who are suffering.  And because my friends love these family members, they, too, suffer.  I send cards.  But the only real help I can give is to pray for them.

When I mentioned to a friend that all I can do is pray for my friends, she wisely pointed out that praying is the best thing we can do.  It is "all" in the best sense of the word.

Joy for today:  praying for my friends.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 265, October 2

I love this time of year.  I want to gather the days and make an autumn bouquet of them.  Wouldn't that be beautiful?  A bouquet of scarlet, saffron, amber, and all the colors that the Father has seen fit to bestow upon the fall season.

I love the snap to the air, the breeze that ruffles without blustering, the smell of woodsmoke that takes us back to earlier times.

Joy for today:  gathering a bouquet of fall days and tying them up with a ribbon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 264, October 1

As I re-read yesterday's posting, I realized that the quote could be taken in another way.  Let's break it down into its components.

 "Do what you can."  I sometimes decry the fact that I can't seem to do very much for others.  But that doesn't excuse me from doing something--what I can.

"With what you have."  What do I have?  Two strong (sort of) hands.  A good (most of the time) mind.  A willing (sometimes) heart.  That's plenty to do the above something.

"Where I am."  I am no longer a young, busy mother.  I have time and opportunity to serve in many ways, if I choose to.  That's the key:  if I choose to.

Joy for today:  Doing what I can, with what I have, where I'm at.