Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 355, December 31--New Year's Eve Day

Dear friends,

We're here.  The end of the year.  We made it.  Well, in my case, sort of.

For a while, at least, this will be my last posting.

To those who followed "Joy in the Journey" this year, thank you.  And for those who have followed the full four years of "The Gratitude Project," thank you and congratulations.  You stuck in there as I muddled my way through the intricacies of blogging and struggled to find my voice.

A writer's voice is unique to him/her.  But we are not always aware of what it is until we start writing.  I've decided my voice is what I am, a Mormon woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend.  It is not a "fancy" voice, just as I am not fancy.  It's a plain, down-to-earth voice honed by strengths and weaknesses, joy and pain, faith and fraility.  For better or worse, it's my voice.

Joy for today:  finding my voice.. and finding joy in the journey.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 354, December 30

Today is the second to last day of the year.  Did you ever think you wouldn't make it through?  I did.  I have.  And yet somehow here I am, still standing, still writing, still putting one foot in front of the other.  And sometimes that's all we can do:  put one foot in front of the other.

At the end of the year, it is customary to take inventory.  My husband, a business owner, takes inventory at the end of every year.  It is much the same with me.  I'm taking inventory of myself.

What have I accomplished ... and what have I failed to accomplish?  What have I learned ... and what have I failed to learn?  What brought me joy ... and what brought me pain?

The last is easy to answer, the others less so.

Maybe you are performing the same process, asking yourself the same questions.  I hope you find answers.

Joy for today:  taking inventory.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 353, December 29

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." ~ Amelia Earhart

I believe the Lord arranged for me to find this quote to share.  It fits so beautifully with yesterday's blog.  My friends' kindness prompted me to try to be kind.  And perhaps that prompted someone else to do the same. Who knows where a single act of kindness stops?  Maybe it doesn't stop at all but continues until it is spread all around the world.

The same is frequently true of an act of unkindness.  Small and petty acts spread virally, sowing seeds of discontent, envy, anger, and pain.  I know because I have been on the receiving end of both kinds of acts.  Unfortunately, I've also been on the giving end of performing small and petty acts.  Ironically, the person they hurt the most was me.  In debasing myself this way, I felt my soul shrivel and my heart harden.

As in so many things, I resolved to do better.  And, as in so many things, too often I failed.  I picked myself up and tried again.  That is what I'm doing now:  trying again.

Joy for today:  picking myself up.  (Darn.  I should have skipped the eggnog this year!)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 352, December 28

"Where there is love, there are always miracles."--Willa Cather

I found this quote on a Christmas card given to me by a dear friend.  It seemed appropriate to share today as it goes along with yesterday's post.

I wrote about my sweet friends who gave me such a thoughtful and loving gift, but I didn't tell you the rest of the story.  The gift arrived a couple of weeks before Christmas.  In those two remaining weeks, I felt my attitude shift, my heart soften, and my spirits lift.  There was the miracle I had been needing but hadn't known just how much I needed it.

I resolved to climb out of my hole of pity and try to do something for someone else.  A lady in our ward had lost her husband a year earlier.  What could I do for her?  Funds were limited, but I visited her more often, sent cards, and even managed to purchase a modest gift for her.  I wrote my aunts and expressed my love for them.  These were small things, but they were given from the heart.

Joy for today:  remembering a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 351, December 27

Before and after Christmas, much attention is given to gift-giving etiquette.  What do you give to your neighbor, your boss, the postman, friends, and, of course, family?  One of the favorite subjects addressed on morning talk shows is "the worst gift you've ever received."

I don't want to talk about the worst gift I've ever received (a duster--cleaning tool accompanied with the suggestion that I needed to use it) but to tell you about one of the best gifts I've ever received.  Yesterday I wrote about my granddaughter's loving letter to me.  That is definitely in the best-gift-ever category.

Another gift stands out in my mind.  Seventeen years ago, I felt (as I did this year) that I had little reason to celebrate Christmas.  My mother had died only a few months before, and I was still grieving.  Larry's fledgling engineering business was faltering.  We were living on $10 an hour, rice, beans, savings, and a whole lot of prayer.  

Enter my two walking buddies Marian and Tami.  One dreary December morning they showed up at our meeting place with wide smiles on their faces. They handed me a beautifully decorated box and told me to open it right then and there.  Eagerly, I did so.  

Inside was a treasure chest of things I love:  handmade greeting cards, stamps, three angel pins, and chocolate.  I was overwhelmed and so touched that I started blubbering.  Blubbering in the cold and snow and ice is not a pretty sight, but there I was, red nose, red eyes, and a heart full of gratitude.

I don't know if Tami and Marian remember that gift or its effect on me.  I only know that 17 years later, I remember it and am still reduced to tears by that memory.  They had given me the best gift of all:  love. 

Joy for today:  remembering a gift of love. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 350, December 26

It's been a hard year.  It's been a hard month.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I just wanted Christmas to be over.  How could I celebrate when my sister, the other part of me, is gone?

On Christmas, I resolved to be happy.  Larry and I were spending the morning with our daughter's family.  We had an enjoyable time.  Everyone received way too many gifts.  As we started to pick things up, my granddaughter Reynna (15) presented me with one more gift.

I opened it and found this letter:

Dear Grandma,

Merry Christmas!  I love you so much and I'm glad that I have you in my life.  For the past month I've been trying to figure out what to get you.  About a week ago, I realized that maybe I shouldn't get you something physical.

So I decided that I was going to make my present a little more meaningful this year.  I know you love to write and it's something that makes you very happy.  For for your gift, I've given myself the goal to write you a hand-written letter like this at least once a week.

 I'm not very good at writing, but I'm going to try.  In my letters I can talk about anything you want me to, from school to church or just to tell you that I love you.  I really hope that we can both bond from this.

I love you, Grandma, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.



As you can imagine, my heart filled, my eyes filled, and my heart filled again.  How could I be sad when I have such a granddaughter?  Reynna is my light, as she is a light to so many others.

Joy for today:  having Reynna in my life.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 349, December 25--Christmas Day

More about the Messiah:
Handel composed his masterpiece in a three-part structure with the "parts" subdivided by Charles Jennens into scenes.. Each scene is a collection of individual movements which take the form of recitatives, arias, and choruses. 
In Part I, the Messiah's coming and the virgin birth are predicted by Old Testament prophets. The annunciation of the birth of the Christ is represented in the words of Luke's Gosepl. Part II covers Christ's passion and His death, His resurrection and ascension. 
Part III begins with the promise of redemption, followed by a prediction of the day of judgment and the general resurrection, ending with the final victory over sin and death and the acclamation of Christ. Jennens feared that the audiences of the day would not understand all of the allusions to scripture.  For their benefit, he printed and issued a pamphlet explaining the reasons for his choices of scriptural selections.
Though I lack the musical skil and talent to participate in the playing or singing of the glorious words, I still am enchanted each time I hear the words of this glorious work.
Joy for today:  thrilling to music about Christ. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 348, December 24

Did you know that George Frideric Handel originally composed the Messiah as an Easter offering?.  I hadn't realized that until I did some research.

The Messiah burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience grew to a record 700.  Ladies were asked by management to wear dresses "without Hoops" in order to make "Room for more company." Handel was not the only draw; many also came to glimpse the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then embroiled in a scandalous divorce.
The men and women in attendance sat enthralled from the moment the tenor followed the string overture with his poignant opening line: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point when the words "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" were sung.  So moved was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!"
The Hallelujah chorus is perhaps the most well-known of the three part work as Handel quotes from the Prophet Isaiah in describing Christ:  Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God ...
More than 250 years after Handel composed his masterpiece, audiences still thrill to the moving music and words.
Joy for today:  rejoicing in Christ through music.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 347, December 23

It is two days before Christmas.  Do you feel the excitement in the air?  The rustling of wrapping paper as children (and some of us older children) shake presents, caught up in the mystery and delight of the season.

There is another kind of excitement, that of remembering the reason for the season:  the birth of Christ.  Though we know that the Savior was not really born at this time, we celebrate His birth, His life, His Atonement at this time.

That is the real gift of Christmas:  the Atonement. The knowledge He has paid for our sins, has paid for our weaknesses, has paid for our tears and pain and heartache.  That is the miracle of Christmas.   That is the miracle of life.

If we take upon ourselves His name, if we forsake the worldly trappings that we are too frequently caught up in, we can return to live with Him and the Father at some time.

Joy for today:  accepting the Miracle of the Atonement.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 346, December 22

I've written before that I am not a fancy person.  Those who know me well will attest to that.  My home is not fancy; my clothes are not fancy; my car is not fancy.

And that's okay.  My home, my clothes, my car and everything else about me are servicable.  That seems a bland word, a boring word, but a good word all the same.  I like to think that I, too, am servicable.  That I can do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.  Sometimes I falter and fail, then I start again.

Joy for today:  being servicable.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 345, December 21

Today is the official mark of winter.  In thinking of it, while I sit in my warm house with plenty of food and heat and all the comforts, I cannot help but think of the pioneers.  Is that strange to ponder about at this time of year?  Surely I should be thinking of Christmas things.  But there you have it--my mind likes to go off on tangents.

The Mormon pioneers left their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois after being driven out by mobs of angry, ignorant men.  The pioneers had little in the way of preparation to face the coming months as they traversed the frozen Mississippi River and made camp in Winter Quarters.

Children were born ... and some died.  Along with mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers.  Still, the faithful Saints kept moving forward, looking with faith to a new land where they could practice their religion without fear.

They sang; they prayed; they buried their dead.  And then they took up the reins of their oxen (those who were fortunate enough to have wagons) and began again, putting one foot in front of the other.

When I get discouraged, depressed, I think of their example and remind myself that I, too, can put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Joy for today:  learning from pioneers.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 344, December 20

Yesterday I wrote about Joseph.  I found the following song in the Primary Songbook:


When Joseph went to Bethlehem I think he took great care
To place his tools and close his shop and leave no shavings there.
He urged the donkey forward then, with Mary on its back
And carried bread and goat cheese in a little linen sack.

I think there at the busy inn that he was meek and mild
And awed to be the guardian of Mary's sacred child.
Perhaps all through the chilly hours he smoothed the swaddling bands
And Jesus felt the quiet strength of Joseph's gentle hands.

And close beside the manger bed, he dimmed the lantern's light
And held the litltle Jesus close upon that holy night.

Are those words not perfect to describe the gentle man Joseph must have been?  What a tremendous responsibility and honor he had to take upon him the care and protection of the Christ Child.

Joy for today:  thinking of Joseph.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 343, December 19

My favorite Christmas songs and hymns are those that focus on Mary.  Our Primary songbook contains an especially lovely song "Mary's Lullaby" that brings me to tears each time I hear the children sing it.

However, my thoughts turn to Joseph as well.  Sometimes he is the forgotten man at Christmas.  Yet he played a pivotal role in Christ's birth and upbringing.  It was Joseph who took care of Mary when he might have well turned her away or had her stoned.  It was Joseph who found shelter for the pregnant Mary.  It was Joseph who taught the young Jesus how to work with his hands in carpentry.

Joy for today:  remembering Joseph.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 342, December 18

It is one week before Christmas.  And I'm pretty much at peace.  Did I get everything done that I wanted to?  Of course not.  Did I get the things done that meant the most to me?   For the most part, yes.

When I was a young mother, I was frantic.  I had to make Christmas presents.  (I'm still not sure why, as no one liked what I made anyway, but there you have it.)  I had to bake cookies with my children.  I had to decorate my house with crafts I had made myself.  (I look back in abject horror at some of my crafting attempts.)  The list continued.

Are those bad things?  No.  But wisdom and a whole lot of years under my belt (or in my bra) have given me a different perspective.

Joy for today:  not being frantic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 341, December 17

At this time of year, we often take stock, reflecting on what is ... and what isn't ... important in our lives.

Here is a partial look at my list:


Handwritten Christmas cards with a personal message.


A beautifully decorated house.


Being able to help our grandchildren wtih braces, special classes, etc.


A new car.  (Mine is circa 2000.)


Paying tithing to the Lord.


Expensive clothes.  (I am queen of garage sales.)


Loyalty to my friends.


Wordly awards.

Doubtless you have other things on your list.  Take a moment or two and decide what belongs on your important list and what you can let go.  It may surprise you.

Joy for today:  evaluating my priorities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 340, December 16

I found this on a Christmas plaque:


Would have asked for directions,
arrived on time,
helped deliver the baby,
cleaned the stable,
made a casserole,
brought practical gfits,
and then
there would be

Perhaps it's a bit facetious, but it makes a certain sense.  I think of my women friends and can see each of them in these "Three Wise Women."  My friends see a problem, step in without fanfare or ceremony, and take care of it.  All of this is done with no thought of gratitude or reward or recognition.

Joy for today:  having many "Three Wise Women" as friends.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 339, December 15

Today is our son's Hyrum's birthday.  I won't say how old he is; I will just say the it makes it increasingly hard for me to claim to be 29.  For years, I had my grandchildren convinced that Grandma was only 29.  When their mother reached that age and more, the grandchildren became skeptical of Grandma's claims.

But enough of that.

Hyrum is a son any parent would be proud of.  Larry and I are no exception.  Hyrum has a sharp mind, an engaging personality, and a cute, if sometimes naughty, sense of humor.  (Where did he get that from?)  He also has a strong sense of morality and integrity.

When his older brother was going through a really hard time, Hyrum invited him to go on an all-expense paid trip to Mexico.  They had chocolate wraps, ate fine food, and didn't miss their mother at all!

Joy for today:  loving Hyrum.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 338, December 14

Yesterday I saw a cottontail rabbit in a friend's yard.  Such was his coloring that he blended in seamlessly with the brown and gray landscape.  It caused me to think of the perfection of the Father's creations.

Rabbits are prey to many other animals and birds, foxes, hawks, even an eagle.  They have little defense mechanisms, but the Great Creator gave them the ability to "hide in plain sight."

Sometimes I find myself questioning God's plan.  Why did He take my sister and others, who were so beloved and needed by so many?  I have no answers, at least none that make sense.  In the afterlife, perhaps I will be privvy to His plan.  In the meantime, I can only marvel at the details of His creations, His attention to even the protection of bunnies.

Joy for today:  finding joy in the Father's plan.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 337, December 13

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity: but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."--Washington Irving

I like to think that I have a "spark of heavenly fire."  Occasionally, I get a glimpse of it--or what it could be if I allowed it to "beam and blaze."

Too often, though, I put out the fire before it has a chance to take hold.  I run away from it.  I ignore it.  Or, worse, I'm not even aware of it and allow it to wither away and die. How sad is that.

I believe we all--men and women alike--have a heavenly fire within us.  Our job is to find it, to feed it, and then to act upon it.  We need not wait until the "dark hour of adversity" for it to beam and blaze.  We can use that fire to better our lives and those of others.

Joy for today:  nurturing the heavenly fire within me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 336, December 12

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. -- Calvin Coolidge

Knowing that I love inspiring quotes, a friend sent the above to me.  Isn't it beautiful?  

Using President Coolidge's words, we can carry the spirit of Christmas with us throughout the year, just as Dickens's Scrooge promised to do.  How do we "cherish peace and goodwill?"   Cherish is to hold dear to one's heart, to revere, to adore.  If I truly cherish peace and goodwill, I will refrain from getting angry at the driver who cut me off in traffic.  I will refrain from gossiping.  I will refrain from finding fault with my husband.  

Are there positives I can do as well?  Certainly.  I can visit my friend Cathy (who lives in a care facility) more often and take her small but meaningful gifts.  I can write to my elderly aunt who doesn't hear very well and enjoys letters more than phone calls.  I can pray for not only my friends and family but for all those who need an extra dose of the Lord's healing and love.

Joy for today:  cherishing peace and goodwill. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 335, December 11

"Christmas is a time of reflection on what we can become because of God's sacred gift.  As we discover the gift, we learn of the immeasurable love of good and our absolute need for a Savior. As we embrace the gift, we strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and desire to become more like Him.  As we share the gift, we follow the Master's footsteps, who invited all to hear His message."--Russell M. Nelson

What a powerful message, this reminder to share our belief in the Savior and our love for Him with others.  How do we do that?  By preaching?  No.  By serving, by giving, by loving.  This blog is my way of sharing.  What I can't say in the spoken word, I can try to say in the written word.

Joy for today:  sharing His message.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 334, December 10

Once again I am quoting my son Rob:

"We all want to go out and get just the right gift for our loved ones.  Why don't we start with giving the PERFECT gift.  Start this season by giving yourself the FIRST gift and then go share His gift with all."

When I saw this on Rob's facebook page, I knew I had to use it, for he has given us the recipe for a perfect Christmas.  Too often in the past, I have fallen into the trap of thinking I had to spend X amount of dollars on each child, give the most expensive gift I could afford, whether that be $5 or $500.  The trouble was, gifts didn't bring happiness.  Love did.

And love of the Savior, love for the Savior, is the most precious gift we can possibly give.

Joy for today:  giving the perfect gift.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 333, December 9

Colorado's weather changes faster than a teenage girl's moods.  Bright and sunny one day; cold and gloomy the next.  As I was pondering upon this, I realize that my own moods undergo lightning-quick changes.  Like the weather, I am "bright and sunny" one day, "cold and gloomy" the next.

What makes the difference?  Part of it is brain chemistry.  Part of it is the weather itself:  when the sun appears, I am more likely to be upbeat and happy; when the sun disappears, my happy self disappears as well.  And part of it is my attitude.

I mentioned attitude in a recent post.  What power it has.  Given that only I can determine my attitude, why do I seem determined at times to have a poor one?  I excuse it, telling myself and others that life is hard and that I'm entitled to my bad attitude.  That is, to use a phrase from decades ago, a cop-out.  As I have little patience for those who have an air of entitlement, claiming that the world owes them a living, I should have little patience for my own sense of entitlement.  Yet one more thing where I need to improve.

Joy for today:  banishing excuses for a poor attitude.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Day 332, December 8

If we are not happy and joyous at this season,
for what other season shall we wait and
for what other time shall we look? ~Abdul-Baha

I believe the above can be taken in several ways.  "This season" can refer to the Christmas season, which is upon us.  It can also refer to the current season of our lives.

I tell myself that surely I can be happy at this season of the year, when we celebrate the birth of the Savior.  If I could only keep that at the top of my mind, rather than allowing it to be pushed aside by other things, I would do far better.  Unfortunately, I let other stuff clutter up my thoughts:  Will I get my package mailed to my far-away son and his family in time?  Have I bought gifts for everyone on my list?  Is the house clean enough?  And so it goes.

And what about my season in life?  A few days ago, my husband and I took our cat Harley to the veternarian.  A chart showed Harley's age in "people years."  It turns out that Harley and I are about the same age, which was listed as "geriatric."  Both Harley and I were offended at the classification.  But there it was.  So I'm at the geriatric season of my life ... it is both humbling and freeing.  Humbling in that I have to accept that I can't do some things as well as I once did.  Freeing in that I realize I'm pretty much beyond living up to the expectations of others.  If I don't decorate my house for Christmas, it's okay.  If I choose to eat cold pizza for breakfast, it's okay.  If I send goofy, even naughty, cards to my friends, it's okay again.

Joy for today:   being happy at this season, the holiday season and my season, geriatric as it is.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 331, December 7

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts! None of us yet know, for none of us have been taught in early youth, what fairy palaces we may build of beautiful thoughts, proof against all adversity; bright fancies, satisfied memories, noble histories, faithful sayings, treasure-houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb, nor pain make gloomy, nor poverty take away from us; houses built without hands, for our souls to live in.” --John Ruskin, 19th century writer

I love the imagery of "nests of pleasant thoughts."  I picture happy, industrious birds gathering bits of twigs and straw and angel wings, fashioning nests to shelter their families from a cold world.  We, too, can craft nests.  What thoughts would I put in such a nest?

My gratitude that our tiny (3 pound 1 ounce granddaughter) is now home and growing stronger.
My joy in meeting another granddaughter for the first time.
My pleasure in spending time with my friends.

With so many pleasant thoughts from which to choose, why do I spend so much time and energy on unpleasant ones?  Any answer I come up with is an indictment of my lack of gratitude and my poor attitude.  I resolve to change both.

"The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts: and the great art of life is to have as many of them as possible." ~ Montaigne

Joy for today:  building nests of pleasant thoughts.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 330, December 6

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels.
We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds. ~Anton Chekhov

Where do you find peace?  When do you hear angels?  When do you see the sky sparkling with diamonds?  Chances are likely that our answers will be as unique as snowflakes.

I find peace in my home cuddled up with my cat.  I find it when I attend church and partake of the Sacrament.  I find it when I gaze upon pictures of my newest granddaughter.

What about hearing angels?  I hear angels when I attend concerts where my grandchildren are playing an instrument and singing.  I hear angels when I listen to the voices of the Primary children as they sing about Jesus.  I hear angels when I listen intently after giving a prayer.

And the sky sparkling with diamonds?  Crystaline snowflakes dancing in the air outshine any diamond as does the glint of the sun on a glass-smooth lake.

Joy for today:  finding peace, hearing angels, seeing the sky sparkle with diamonds.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 329, December 5

" ... to recognize Him as the Creator of the earth, the Redeemer of mankind, the Only Begotten of the Father, the King of kings, the Prince of Peace."

Did you count the number of titles referring to Christ listed in the above?  There were five:  Creator of the earth, the Redeemer of mankind, the Only Begotten of the Father, the King of kings, the Prince of Peace.  There are more names for Him, of course:  Messiah, Counselor, Almighty God, Mediator, Everlasting Savior, Alpha and Omega, the Lamb, and others.

Each of these titles or names refers to Christ's role in saving us, in bringing us back to live with Him and the Father when we have finished our mortal probation here on earth.

Joy for today:  recognizing Him.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 328, December 4

"As we draw nearer to Him, we truly begin to find Him and to recognize Him ..."

How do we draw nearer to the Savior?  One of the best ways is to serve His children. Service is often most effective when it is done privately, without fanfare, without drawing attention to the act.  Christ singled out the    
forgotten people, the woman with the "issue of blood," the lepers, those people who were shunned by mainstream society.

We emulate His example when we serve quietly and humbly.  It's great to help our friends and family; it's even greater to help those who cannot give us anything in return.

Joy for today:  drawing nearer to Him.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day 327, December 3

"As we engage our faith and commit our energy to draw closer to Jesus Christ, we begin to understand more fully who He really is.  As we seek Him diligently, we gain a deep and abiding testimony of His matchless love, His perfect life and example, and the blessings of His great atoning sacrifice.  As we draw nearer to Him, we truly begin to find Him and to recognize Him as the Creator of the earth, the Redeemer of mankind, the Only Begotten of the Father, the King of kings, the Prince of Peace."--Craig C. Christiansen

For the next couple of days, we're going to take apart this quote and examine the pieces.  For today, let's talk about the first part:  How do we "seek Him diligently?"  One way is through prayer.  When we pray to the Father through the Son, we gain a greater appreciation for Christ as our Mediator to the Father.

Another way to "seek Him" is by studying His life.  Through study, we learn that Christ was not about grand gestures, but focused on small acts that had grand results.  Most of us will not have the opportunity to perform grand gestures, but we can each make small acts.

Joy for today:  seeking Him diligently.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 326, December 2

One cannot tell when he is going to be healed, so do not try to set an exact time limit. Faith, not time, will determine when the cure will be effected. ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Do we not all need to be healed in some manner?  Whether we are grieving over the death of a loved one or we are trying to come to terms with an abusive childhood or we are hurting because of the cruel actions of another, all of us need the healing power of the Savior.

As I read the above quote, I struggled with it, wondering if the author meant that if we have faith enough, we will be healed faster.  I don't think that was his intent.  I believe he meant that faith will bring us healing in the Lord's time and in the Lord's way, which are perfect.  The trouble is, we don't understand what His time and His way are.  Our understanding is finite, that of spiritual children who are trying to run before they can walk.

I know my understanding is that of a child.  I see a problem and I want to direct the Lord in how to fix it.  How arrogant.  How foolish.  How naive.  What I see what my mortal eyes is such a tiny part of the larger eternal picture.  I am trying to "let go and let God."

Joy for today:  being healed in the Lord's time and in the Lord's way.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Day 325, December 1

Today is December 1.

For many, New Year's Day is a day of reflection, of goal-setting, of trying to get your life on track--again.  For me, this process starts in December.  In trying to figure out why this is, I came up with a couple of answers.

One: The busy-ness of December can cloud priorities and values.  Though it sounds counter-intuitive, making time to reflect on those priorities and values can restore a measure of peace to the days and deflect some of the busy-ness.

Two:  The buying of gifts causes me to do some self-evaluation:  what do I want in life and what do I want my children and grandchildren to have.  Material gifts are fun, but gifts from the heart matter far more.

Third:  And most important.  Remembering that the Savior should be the center of our activities and thoughts (as He should be throughout the year) requires me to focus on what is truly important ... and what is not.

Joy for today:  reflecting, evaluating, remembering.