Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hit Pause!

No matter what's happening, if it's something that I don't want to miss a moment of, I'll say, "Hit Pause!" as if my life is playing on a DVD.  It could be not missing a rainbow in the sky, stopping in the middle of fun to do a chore or when my kids interrupt me for a moment of undivided attention.  I always hit pause.  

All day long today I wanted to hit the pause button to slow things down a bit, but I couldn't.  I did sneak in a moment or two with the pause button on, but it was only a moment.  What I would have given for an hour of peace earlier today.  We are still short handed, but we had an extra body to help out today.  We were up to 4 and a 1/2 out of 11. That's huge!  Thankfully we only have three more days of this and then things get a little bit better, at least for me that is.  

We've all been "up in arms" over being short, but there really isn't much we can do about it.  One person flat out asked when someone was going to be brought in.  The only answer she got was, I don't know. 

Then I thought I had saw it all, until this afternoon when at the end of her say, that same person who asked about getting some helped, walked away determined to get some answers from the ""powers that be" only to have to turn away from their office when she noticed someone else beat her into their office.  We were so hopeful for some answers finally, only to be let down.  Even so, we applauded her efforts to help us all out and her determination to get to the bottom of things.  Even though we never dreamed she would carry it that far.  Go girl!  Tomorrow we live to "fight" another day! ~wink, wink~

As I was relaying this all to my husband this afternoon I noticed that we were not interrupted by any of our kids.  That was amazing to me.  We usually get at least one of them rushing in to tell us something.  And then it hit me and the thought came to my mind, "Are you ready for this?"  And to my own shock, my tears started to fall!  I couldn't believe it!  What was happening to me?  I've been looking forward to my kids growing up and leaving the house one at a time ever since 1988!  I don't do this!  I celebrate my freedom!  When my kids were little I longed for six hours a day of a clean house with my music and my whatever I wanted!

And then that feeling hit me hard!  I realized that these days of kids everywhere, laundry piles, and their messes everywhere are slowly fading away.  This really is a huge benchmark in our life!  My so called, "round at mommydom" just took a new turn today.  No more parent-teacher conferences, it's all about big kids now.  Do I stop calling them kids now?  NEVER!  But they are officially "big kids" now!  

As I pulled into the drive-through at the pharmacy today, my car was stopped behind a couple women in their 60's and 70's.  I was a bit embarrassed.  Trying to hide my tears.  (It was still bright outside and the sun was shining)  I looked downward and one of the women rolled down her car window.  "This is one of the hardest days in motherhood, isn't it?"  How she knew exactly what I was feeling, I do not know.  I nodded, smiled through my tears and kept an eye on the line in the drive-through as she drove on away from the drive-though line.  I realized at that moment, life's moving forward and we are all growing up and it's all good.  It may not be what we expected, but it's all good.  In my mind I'm still "pushing the pause" button.  This was a moment that I do not want to forget.  Enough said 

The best thing about growing older....
Image result for the best thing about growing older is that it takes such a long time.

Guess what??!!  The glasses worked today.  I don't have sore eyes today.  Yay!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ten VERY random and SHORT thoughts!

I'm keepin' it very short and sweet tonight.
  1. My pillow is screaming my name!  Oh my word work has been crazy busy these past couple of days.  Today and last Friday 3 1/2 of us did the work of 11 people.  That meant on top of my new added "assignment" there was a ton of extra dumped on me and my co-workers and we aren't even to our so called "busy" season yet.  Yikes!  Today one of my co-workers said she was making an appointment with the VP to talk about staffing issues.  Oh my!  I'm not sure that's such a good idea, but we'll see what happens in the days to come.  All of us are hopeful for good news.
  2. I wanted to share a party idea I had with you all tonight, but that's going to have to wait until tomorrow since I can barely see right now.  More to come on that.
  3. I'm loving coming home and being able to watch my fall shows again.  Madam Secretary, Scandal, Lethal Weapon, NCIS, Bull and Designated Survivor.  It's great!  I still need to catch up on a few of my shows for the week.  
  4. Braces have really stopped me from most of my snaking habits, but today I think my braces will keep me from pretty much all of my eating habits, at least during the day.  I had my braces tightened today and now I have two rubber bands connecting the top and the bottom together.  When the tech showed me how to put them in I told her that I couldn't do it and she was going to have to come home with me and help me every time.  Well, it only took one time doing it myself in front of my mirror at home and I had no problem.  Lucky for the tech.  She won't have to move in with me.  LOL!  I think these bands are going to keep me from eating anything solid while I'm at work though.  So, a smoothie it will be in the mornings from now on.  I honestly think these bands are just a pre-cursor to the dentist wiring my jaw shut in the months to come.  Ha HA!  JK.
  5. I never made it to my friends hat/scarf party this weekend.  By the time I was done preparing my lesson for Sunday and taking care of my family I was worn out and decided I needed to be home instead.  Plus I have a new rash all over my arms and legs that I'm not 100% sure of the cause, so I didn't want to chance getting my friend with stage 3 breast cancer sick since here immune system is pretty fragile right now while she goes through chemo.  I'll get her hat over to her in the next day or two.  
  6. I'm very tired and my right eye is driving me nuts!
  7. My kids keep teasing me about the way I talk or the things I say.  Darn kids!  They are just lucky I'm so tired and unwilling to give it right back to them these days.  {sad face/happy face}
  8. It's been a very LOOONNNNGGGG day! 
  9. The weather outside isn't cooling down as fast as I need it to.  I'm ready for opening the windows at night and letting in all the fresh air!  Bring it Mother Nature, please!  
  10. Have I mentioned that I'm exhausted?  OK, I have clothing set out for tomorrow, I've set my alarm, the doors are locked, I will turn out the lights in just a bit, the porch light is on, and I even got a few things picked up around the house tonight!  There.  I've done my best and now it's time to rest. 
Good night!  
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Carried Through

Have you ever had one of those times in your life that was so totally overwhelming and then you looked back on it after it was over and thought, "Wow, I was carried the whole way through it!!" ??  

That's how I feel about a lot of things in my life lately.  Things like when our youngest daughter had to have open heart surgery at the age of 5.  I was a different person back then and I didn't know a lot of the things that I know today.  I know without a doubt my Heavenly Father literally carried us all through that, and our lives and the life of our little girl was changed for the better because of it.  

Now, all these years later we have gone through another traumatic experience.  One that we are still going through and no doubt will continue going through for many years to come.   And most likely things will not get better but worse for my husband and his spinal cord injury as he gets older and his body gets older too.  After all, getting older is never "fun" for those with a healthy body so I'm sure it's not going to be a fun experience as Kevin and I both get older and have to face the many challenges his spinal cord injury will bring.  Honestly, the thought of what is to come scares me to death, but the one thing I try to remember is that my Heavenly Father has been with us throughout this entire experience and I know He will not leave us alone as we move forward having faith in Him and trusting that He will always keep His promises and NEVER let us down.  That knowledge brings so much comfort!

Today I faced a slightly different challenge.  I was asked to teach in Relief Society today.  (For those of you that are not LDS, Relief Society is the woman's organization in the church.  We meet together every Sunday for a spiritual lesson.)  My lesson was to be about 35 minutes long and thankfully it was from the lesson manual and not a conference talk. (I've taught Relief Society before and my assigned lessons were from General Conference talks.  That was hard.)  As soon as I accepted the request to teach, I got on my knees and asked my Heavenly Father to let me say those things that He would want me to say and I asked that He help guide my efforts as I planned and prepared those things.  As soon as I got up from my prayer, I printed out the lesson and began the process of studying it out.  All week I have had countless experiences come to my mind on the topic, I've been placed in situations that have made me think about how I should act while keeping this topic in mind, and I really felt that I was carried and directed to certain things the whole way through.  I don't know if you have ever experienced this kind of thing personally, but this is the part about teaching that I absolutely LOVE!  I felt carried the whole way through it!  That's how my entire week has gone.  It's awesome.  Simply awesome.  

As I prepared my lesson the missionary experience I had as a young girl came to mind.  When I was 16 years old I gave my best friend a copy of the Book of Mormon with my testimony written inside.  My friend eventually was baptized but her and I ended up going our different ways and eventually my family moved to from California to Arizona and I never saw my friend again.  Well, what an amazing thing technology is.  Eventually Facebook came to life and I signed up for it in 2009.  At first I wasn't very active on Facebook and didn't plan to be until I received a friend request from someone I knew back in high school and eventually I found myself friending more and more friends from high school, old wards and stakes and even other states we had lived in.  

On one particular day I was feeling pretty alone and down on myself.  I can't remember why I was feeling that way, but I recalled going to my Heavenly Father in prayer and comparing myself to my husband who was from a long line of LDS family members and I just knew he had to have countless numbers of folks pulling for him from the other side of the veil.  Plus my husband served a full-time mission so I knew he had to have people he didn't even know pulling for him because of his missionary efforts and the family members that he touched while serving in the mission field.  I just knew that because I didn't serve a full-time mission and because my family were converts to the church that I was all alone and didn't have that added strength of countless folks pulling for me and helping me along from the other side of the veil.  

Well, an interesting thing happened to me a few weeks after that prayer and my Heavenly Father decided to show me just how my efforts had touched the lives of those I knew here on earth and then he reminded me that there were indeed others on the other side of the veil pulling for me too.  

 I found myself searching for my old high school friend.  When I found her I sent her a friend request and she immediately replied and accepted my request.  Shortly there after we ended up talking through messenger and she said she was about to start a church-wide search for me because she had been looking for me.  As we talked a bit she then expressed her thanks and appreciation for the Book or Mormon I gave her some 34 years ago.  (I was 16 when I gave it to her and now I'm 50)  She said I was the one that started her interest in the church and it was my testimony that keep her looking.  Since she has joined the church she has gone to the temple, her son has served a mission, and both of her kids were sealed in the temple too.  She also mentioned that her father had past away and that she needed to get his temple work done.  (My proof of someone beyond the veil pulling for me.  Not to mention my countless relatives who are also anxiously waiting for their temple work to be done too.)  So, in a sense that one book has influenced the lives of many, not just the one.  

Then there was my friend at work who's husband works for the company that installs, replaces, and repairs all the accordion doors in each church building across the country.  Because of the job that he does he comes in contact with lots of LDS people, and his boss is LDS.  My friend and her husband believe that most LDS people are good people.  However, she relayed an experience her husband had had just last week with a pushy LDS person who would not back down.  She said he kept asking her husband if he was baptized.  She said they bantered back and forth for a bit and eventually the conversation ended with each agreeing to discuss scripture the next day with one LDS person sharing the Book of Mormon and my friends husband sharing the Bible.  In my opinion, this was an example of what not to do when it comes to missionary work and because the conversation became confrontational the Spirit left.  Most LDS people know that it is the Spirit that is the true teacher when it comes to missionary work and I pointed this out to my friend that day.  There was so much more that I wanted to share but I felt prompted to let it go and not continue simply because I didn't want something that was already in irritant for my friend and her husband to continue down that path.  

Later that night my friend and I were texting and she wanted to know if I was upset that she brought that up that day at work.  (I think she thought I'd be upset because it put my church in a bad light.)  I told her I wasn't upset that she brought it up and that I was agreeing with her that this person should not have done that.  In my opinion this friend is a good person and although I haven't met her husband I also know that he is also a good person.  I also think that the Lord puts people in your life for a reason and the fact that their family is rubbing shoulders with so many LDS people tells me that someone (I believe it is our Heavenly Father) wants them to make some changes in their lives.  I remember when I first met this co-worker and we talked a bit about religion.  I recall telling her that I believed her and her husband would make excellent Mormons.  I don't know how she took that little comment, but I really do believe that and I think our Heavenly Father knows this too.  At the same time, I know that the time will come some day when something will peak their desire and interest and when it does look out because many lives will be changed, not just my friends and her husband.  I just hope I'm around to see this and will be able to celebrate with them.  I can't wait!!!

A few other things happened this week.  First was another conversation I had with another co-worker.  One that is also not of the same faith.  She is another amazing person who works very hard to stay close to her Heavenly Father and tries daily to do those things that He wants her to do.  She said that she really tries to be like Him.  And I can tell you from what I see of her at work each and every day, this is very true.  Her and I talked a bit at the end of a particularly difficult day about being the type of person that when others see you and the way that you act makes others want to be like you and have what you have because you are trying to be like Christ.  (Here comes the Primary song running through my head....."I'm trying to be like Jesus.....")

Here is the rest of the words to that song....

Lyrics to I'm Trying to be like Jesus....

  1. 1. I’m trying to be like Jesus;
    I’m following in his ways.
    I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
    At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
    But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
  2. “Love one another as Jesus loves you.
    Try to show kindness in all that you do.
    Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
    For these are the things Jesus taught.”
  3. 2. I’m trying to love my neighbor;
    I’m learning to serve my friends.
    I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
    I try to remember the lessons he taught.
    Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:
  4. “Love one another as Jesus loves you.
    Try to show kindness in all that you do.
    Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
    For these are the things Jesus taught.
Here is another version (or the complete song) of the same song.......

Both of these experiences, and both of these co-workers and friends inspire me.  They inspire me to try a littler harder and to want to be a little better at being the kind of example I know I can and should be.  

Today my lesson in Relief Society was about the miracle of missionary work.  Missionary work indeed is a miracle!  Not just for the person receiving, but also for the person giving, but missionary work is not just about talking about the gospel.  Missionary work is so much more.  It is friendship, fellowship, service, kindness and LOVE.  This week I learned a little bit more about missionary work.  I was reminded that I made covenants with the Lord to share the gospel to everyone around me or in my "sphere of influence" and to emulate the Savior in everything I do each and every single day.  I learned that if I can do this that that is the essence of missionary work.  Now, this isn't something I didn't already know, but this week it became something I want to try and do more than ever!  

As I thought about this I realized that everyone I come in contact with is watching me because I am LDS and because I know my Lord and Savior.  They are watching to see if I practice what I preach and proclaim to be.  They are watching to see if I will mess up and make mistakes and turn out to NOT be the kind of person I say that I am.  To give you a good idea of what that is like, it reminds me of raising kids.  You may ask why I say that.  Well, if you have raised children you know that they watch everything you do, say, don't do, don't say, and they try to do the same.  In fact, if you're not careful kids become like little tape recorders and will repeat every thing you say at precisely the worst possible moment and they will do those things you don't want them to do at precisely the same worst possible moment as well.  They will also surprise you and do and say exactly what you do that is right and true.  So, you have to be very careful because you influence everything in their little world.  If you don't like something, then they won't like something.  Trust me, I had a hard time when I wouldn't eat cooked vegetables while my kids were growing up. (I still can't stand cooked veggies.  I prefer them raw and even then I am still pretty picky about which ones I like and don't like.) Well, I don't believe that those watching the LDS people will do all the wrong things we do, BUT they most certainly are watching to see how we will handle ourselves and it's not just LDS people.  It's anyone who proclaims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Plain and simple.  

So, now that I know this and have learned a little bit more about the things that I do and the example that I set, I now feel that I have a lot that I need to improve upon.  BUT, that's always a good thing.  I'll just have to work at it a little here and a little there and hopefully before long I will just get better and better.

When I found that song, "I'm trying to be like Jesus," I picked that YouTube video because I loved the story behind the song.  If you noticed as the woman sang that song some things changed for the people listening in the restaurant.  It was the spirit that song brought that changed their hearts and I just loved that message.

Then as I searched a bit more I found this song..."Have I Done any Good in the World Today".  Interestingly enough, as the song is being sung the people in the yellow vests are those LDS volunteers that went out helping hurricane victims in Texas and Florida.  I also love the fact that the male singer brings up the fact that the song is about good in the world and he puts his spin on the song in a way that others in the world can appreciate.  It's a good song too.

Then there was this little segment also found on YouTube that basically stopped me in my tracks because it was the story of another spinal cord injured individual.  
As I have mentioned before Kevin and I and our family have learned so much from his injury about ourselves, our marriage, our family, other people, our faith and our trials and future trials.  I have often said that I know that my Heavenly Father has been with me every step throughout this ordeal, but I also know that He will continue to be with me, my husband, and my family as we move on to new and different trials too.  I find that I don't stress out the same way I used to when hard times come or when life gets hard.  Anyway, I've tried for a very long time to express this to others and even on this blog, but I think this young lady says it best.  Kevin and I feel the same way she does.  Please listen as she explains....

I've kind-of gotten away from things here....

I was home from work on Friday and right after dinner I was immediately working on my lesson.  I actually went to bed at around 10:30PM and was up early yesterday morning working on it again.  By about 10AM, I had the lesson to the point that I could relax for the rest of the day and I planned to just skim through the lesson before church.  When I gave the lesson, I knew that it would be a challenge to teach this lesson on "The Latter-day Miracle of Missionary Work" without being emotional.  It's such a personal and important topic.  I felt so good about it all when I was done...not because of my presentation but because of the SPIRIT that was present while I taught it.  That is the best part about teaching!!!  I absolutely LOVE that part and when this happens that tells me my Heavenly Father has sent his spirit to be with so He can be the truth teacher and to confirm the things that I am saying and sharing.  This also tells me that I did what I set out to do and that is evident because that sweet spirit was with me.  What better confirmation do I need than to know that my Heavenly Father was pleased with my efforts??  I just cannot say enough about how much that means to me!!  I so love the experience of teaching in Relief Society simple because I learn so much as I prepare and study the lessons!

Now.  To sum up the weekend....I truly feel humble by a few things this evening.  I was to the point of tears of gratitude last night as I went to bed and said my prayers.  A few of the things I'm feeling grateful for today:

  • Great friends, who, not only support me, but help me in all of my wild and crazy ideas, projects, and activities.  You know who you are.  You ROCK!
  • A husband who is just as supportive as can be when he knows that my plate is already overflowing and full, and then I say YES to more.  I cannot get over how supportive of ME he has been since his SCI.  It blows me away every time I think about it.  I love that man!  
  • Kids who are willing little helpers, even when they would prefer not to help.  I can't get over how much they do to brighten my day each and every day.  
  • Living in a community with so many awesome neighbors and friends.  
  • Feeling guided in every step of the way throughout all of my running all week and then being able to feel such a calm peaceful spirit when it was time to slow down and focus on the most important thing of the weekend...my lesson.  
  • Living in such an awesome ward!  
  • Being right-brained and creative and healthy enough to keep up with my high-speed brain ideas!
  • Being blessed with the opportunity to teach the gospel.  I'm so glad I said Yes to subbing in Relief Society.
  • Being blessed to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and being one of the people that gets to share the good news of the gospel!  That is a "joy beyond measure" indeed!!  
The list goes on but I've said more than enough.  Tomorrow comes very early for me and I have to get a few things ready for the day and the new work week ahead.  This afternoon and evening, family time as we cook dinner and spend a little time together.  Tonight, I'm taking it easy.  I'll work on getting the house back in order tomorrow.  (something had to give and it was the house this weekend as I tried to get things prepared for my lesson.  I wish I could say I was Super Woman, but truth be told, I'm not!  So, tomorrow it is.)  My goal for this evening, a sprite, a blanket, my spot on the couch, and either a good book to read, I'm still trying to read that book from my friend, and/or Madam Secretary.  I love that show.  Life IS good!!!  No doubt about it.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sunday Sundaes

The times they are a'changing! Or evolve, if you will, like most things in life.  For some, change is like the whip cream topping on the delicious sundae.  Here are a few things that have "changed" around our home, let's count them down....

10.  Beanie Wienies.  How is it possible that my youngest two kids ages 22 and 18 have just tasted beans and franks for the first time?!  Lately I've been budget crunching and trying to come up with meals that are easy to make or heat up on the days I work.  So, we've had Ravioli, grilled cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese, hot dogs, and then we had beans and franks.  I thought my kids would love them.  Oh no!  Not at all.  Back to the drawing board I go for more ideas.  

9.  "How can I earn some money?" is a commonly asked question in our home, especially by one child who shall remain nameless.  There is plenty to do around here and I have left lists or given assignments.  I'd even be willing to pay the kids a nominal fee to help me with the work that needs to be done.  Even so, everything comes down to money.  "How much are you going to pay me if I....?"  Time for a real job I think.  

8.  Curtis's 22nd birthday came and went.  He refused to tell me what he wanted.  Whenever I would ask he would say, "I want nothing!".  Next time my kids tell me they want nothing this is what they are going to get.  

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I think this is perfect!  Don't you?  That'll teach em! 

7.  Note to self:  When you stay at your local Wal-Mart until around 1:00AM one night and they had to open a register just for you because your cart was full to the brim and self check-out was not an option.  Especially since there was a line of people behind you with one or two items in their hands at self check-out.  DO NOT go back to the same Wal-Mart the following evening and fill your cart again.  Even if you did forget something for the meal you are cooking that night.  The employees WILL indeed recognize you and make comments about how many people you are actually shopping for.  So embarrassing!  (No there are NOT 20 people living in our home.  I'm just trying to stick to a budget and plan for two and a half weeks at a time until next payday.)

6.  Lexi has her future all mapped out.  At least as far as the opposite sex is concerned.  She says she isn't EVER getting married and that she is going to live with us forever!!  (Kevin said, "Yeah right!  Once she gets in college and makes a few friends we won't see her except to sleep and eat.")

5.  Kevin was reminiscing about all the fun he and the kids had right after Kyle got home from his mission.  Our kids got Kevin to step into a very large black garbage bag and then they sucked the air out of the bag with a vacuum. 



Then there was the purchase of these crazy suits.  They even went outside in them.  Then they got Kevin to get into one too.  OH MY WORD!!!

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Then there was the tumbling on the trampolines.  My boys wear mismatched socks all the time and gym shorts and t-shirts are their go to articles of clothing and have been since their football playing days so there's no changing them now.  


4. Kevin is literally a kid in a candy store.  He enjoys a nice trip to Sweeties Candy Store in Chandler more than most people usually do.  I'm sure.  I don't think I've ever seen someone more excited to find mass quantities of waxed lips in my life!  I just don't get it.  He loves those thing.  Always has.  Always will.  I offered to give him the wax in my kit from the orthodontist because I never use it, but he said it wasn't the same.  I tried.  

3.  Dove ice cream.  Have you tried it?  I got some just the other day for a mere .50 cents with my coupons and it was so good!  Rich and creamy and topped with a layer of smooth Dove chocolate ganache.  Try it.  Seriously.  Yum!

2.  Kids say the darnedest things!  The other day while I was at the grocery store  and waiting in the check-out line this mother had her daughter in the cart and they were in line in front of me.  The mother kept helping the little girl wipe her nose because it was quite runny.  After the mom wiped it about 10 times, the little girl looked up at the Mom and said, "I usually just eat that."  File that under too much information Mom!  That did it for my appetite for the night.  Gross! 

1.  Lexi is 18.  When I told her she could be married and expecting a baby by this time next year she about knocked me out for saying that.  It's true.  It COULD happen.  Not that I want it to, but it could.  What!??  Crazy!! Isn't it??

Well there you have it!  Come back tomorrow to see what new "flavors"  we're offering up.  Don't be stuck with just a scoop when you could be enjoying the whole darn sundae!  
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Random Acts of Kindness

Oh my gosh!  I went back and re-read this post in the evening and discovered all kinds of errors!  That's what happens when I type a sentence, rush back to my desk at work, do some work, then rush off for a quick break to write another sentence or two, and back to work again.  No wonder this post was such a mess!  I apologize in advance for any and all errors.  (I'm sure there will always be some kind of error.  It's part of life.  What can I say??)

A few days ago, good friend, Joanne announced on Facebook that she was recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  This announcement really stopped me dead in my tracks.  Kind of the same way it stopped me when I found out my Mom was diagnosed.  I'm not sure why Joanne's announcement hit me so hard, because I have had other friends recently go through the same thing and their news didn't hit me the way these two announcements hit.  I think this hit me hard because Joanne is always doing something nice for others and is always funny and friendly even to people who aren't always nice to her.  Recently Joanne shaved her head since all the treatments for her cancer are going to make her hair fall out.  Well, as most people do right after Joanne has been looking at hats, scarfs, wigs, and all possible options.  When Joanne saw a couple little girls with the cabbage patch hair hats she mentioned that she wanted one of those, and since I happen to have a SIL that can pretty much make anything with yarn, I asked her to make a hat for my friend Joanne.  My SIL had it done in no time at all and I ended up telling my friend about the hat and showing her a picture yesterday.  After Joanne raved about how cute the hate was, next thing I know I was being invited to a hat party for her this Saturday.  I'm thinking I'm going to go to this party.  They are having it at their ward building.  I'm excited to go and see some people I haven't seen in quite a while.  Not to mention see my friend in her cabbage patch hair hat too.  Joanne has an awesome attitude and a sense of humor that is perfect for the cabbage patch hair hat!  I'm sure she is going to make the hat totally hers!  I was in tears after Joanne invited me to the hat party.  I feel so blessed to have such amazing friends, and to be able to brighten one of my friends day with something as simple and as silly as a cabbage patch hair hat.  

This morning when I walked into my office a co-worker shared an experience her husband had had with another Mormon.  You see, her husband works for the company that installs, repairs, replaces all the accordion doors in every LDS church building across the country.  He has had this job for about two years now and the job has taken my friends husband all over, including Hawaii.  (my friend and her children went along on the Hawaii trip.)  My friends husband's boss is LDS, and he works with several other LDS people on a regular basis as he takes care of these doors.  (I counted, each church building has approximately 10 of these doors)  Well, this company hired a temp worker who also happened to be LDS.  This temp worker was giving my friends husband a hard time about NOT being LDS and would not let up.  He kept questioning my friends husband over and over again.  At the end of this back and forth the temp worker said, "Well, tomorrow you and I are going to talk about the Book of Mormon!"  He wasn't asking or being nice.  He was just being pushy.  Well, my friend/co-worker had questions for me about why this guy was acting like this.  She said she told her husband, "My friend Sondra isn't like that and is really nice, and all of our other Mormon friends are nice too.  She let her husband know that she didn't know why this guy was being so pushy."  My friend and I talked about it for a while and I said, "well, the guy kind of blew it when he made things confrontational. Let's face it, this guy isn't going to be able to convince anyone, much less your husband, to do anything because the real teacher, the Holy Ghost, left as soon as he made it confrontational."  My friend agreed and we left it at that.  After hearing all of this I went up and gave my friend a big hug because I was tickled that she thought that I was a nice person (this was such a nice thing for her to say) and more importantly a nice Mormon too.  
Truth be told, what I really want to point out to my friend sometime is that "Heavenly Father really thinks a lot of her and her husband and this is why He keeps putting LDS people in your life.  Just the mere fact that your husband works for an LDS company is proof of this.  Heavenly Father wants you to become LDS too"...BUT, I am going to leave it alone for a while.  I just didn't feel impressed at the time  to bring this up.  I also think if and when she becomes LDS this very thing will be something she picks up on.  She is a very smart girl and she notices things like this.  ~smile~smile~

Then tonight my son and I ran to the grocery store.  My son wanted to pick up a few things so he could take his lunch to work, and I needed a few things for dinner.  Well, when I got to the car with the things I had bought I put them in the car and was getting ready to walk my cart over to the cart corral.  I had just shut the door to my car and this older woman walked up to me and offered to take my cart.  At first I thought she was headed into the store, but apparently she was walking to her car and the corral was on the way.  This random act of kindness just touched me so, because it came in such a spontaneous way and at a point in my day when I was worn out, my back was hurting, and I really would have preferred to not go to the store at all.  Of course, I thanked this older woman for taking my cart.  I wish I could thank her again today because she made my day.  I sure hope her random act of kindness towards me also made this woman feel good too.  

I mentioned before that I was asked to teach the lesson in Relief Society soon.  Well, as I was researching my lesson I came across this quote.  (My lesson is on missionary work, but I think this would apply our topic of random acts of kindness as well.)

"The attitude with which we live each hour of our life is the essence of missionary work.  Can you imagine the power and influence for good we could witness if millions of Saints lived each hour of their day with the goal of emulating the Savior?  How would that change the communities in which we live?  How would that change how people perceive the members of this church?  How much good would be accomplished each and every hour of the day all over the world if every member of the Church remembered to serve others as Christ serves us, which is always?"

It is my opinion, in most cases, that when someone renders a  random act of kindness they are emulating the Savior.  I can only imagine how things would change all over the world if we did this?  It's amazing to me.  These small random acts of kindness made my week!  The first act, I was merely trying to do something nice for a friend and she turned it around and did something nice for me!  She knew how much I would enjoy seeing old friends.  I couldn't have been any more thrilled if she'd given me a pile of money!  The second meant the world to me because I really don't get much positive feedback.  I think that's part of being a mother sometimes and right now my husband is more focused on himself with his spinal cord injury and I totally understand that.  Plus, there have been some very unkind things said about me that have rocked me to the very core said by people who I thought loved and cared about me no matter what.  I'm a little "on guard" more than ever before now.  So, when someone says something nice like this it means the world to me.  It brightens my day in ways I never dreamed possible and I treasure their words.  

Then the stranger that didn't know me at all.....that one.....if Curtis wouldn't have been in the car with me I totally would have broke down and had myself a good cry.  The tears would have been happy tears, of course.  That one made my week!!!  I kid you not.  It was awesome.  

I've written about kindness before and I know that I'll write about it again.  There's nothing so wonderful as a simple act of kindness or a small gesture of love and friendship.  It doesn't take much!  Looking for those little opportunities and acting upon them can bring more happiness than just about anything I can think of!  I just had to share.  BTW, here's another act of kindness, a recipe......

Fresh Apple Cake

Beat together:
 - 2 cups sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - 2/3 cup oil
 - 3 cups flour
 - 4 cups chopped apples
 - 1 tsp. cinnamon
 - 1 tsp. salt
 - 2 tsp. vanilla

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and sprinkle with:
 - 1 cup brown sugar
 - 1 cup nuts
 - 1/2 cup flour
 -1/2 cup butter

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes 

Image result for kindness is more than deeds. It's an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wishful Thinking. I think.

I had an amazing paradigm shift yesterday and although it reveals another of my many weaknesses, I feel impresses to share this experience.  (This is another long entry.  Sheesh!  Why do the more personal and deeper thoughts always end up so long??)

Before I continue, if you are reading this and you are not LDS, here's a quick explanation of how things work in the church.  In the LDS church, all service is voluntary.  All service is rendered for free and willingly.  There is no paid ministry.  No paid musicians.  All service is donated service.  The Bishop leads the ward (congregation).  He along with two counselors (all who have full-time jobs outside of their church service to support their families.) prayerfully determine who serves in which positions.  You are called to serve where you are needed and for the most part, this is always a position that we end up growing and learning to love.  Each organization (the men, the women, the young women, the young men, the children, the Sunday School) has a president and two counselors,  who discuss and prayerfully submit names for available positions needing to be filled to the Bishopric, who then, in turn, prayerfully decides if this is where you will serve at this time or if you are still needed where you are currently serving or if there's a better place for you at the moment.  The Bishop or his counselors "Call" you to the position.  You may say no but for the most part, we serve where we are asked.  There's no campaigning for a calling because, quite frankly, it wouldn't do you any good.  This method of leadership and callings works.  Amazingly, wonderfully well, it works.  

So.  Anyone who knows me knows that my most coveted calling in the church is NOT to teach in Relief Society or Sunday School.  (If someone even hinted of Sunday School I'd probably run screaming from the building never to return again!  No joke.)  Relief Society is the Women's organization of the church.  We meet weekly on Sunday for an uplifting lesson, teachings and words of encouragement about faith and family.  There are usually three teachers "called" to rotate these lessons, plus a member of the Relief Society Presidency teaches once a month.  Some might call this a "cushy" calling simply because lesson prep and presentation happens only once a month and it's not that demanding on your time, unlike other callings that require weekly lessons or even weeknight activities while working with the youth.  However, the "cushiness" of this calling is not what matters to me, because honestly, it has never felt cushy in the least.  The reason that I would not love to teach is purely out of sheer fear and anxiety on my part!  I absolutely love love love to hear others teach because I love how good they are at doing it and I secretly wish I could be more like them, but I have never considered myself a good teacher.  Sure with every teaching opportunity the teacher learns the most and I love to teach because it gives me a purpose to study and delve into topics that I enjoy learning more about.  But, when I am asked to teach I stress over it and over analyze and over do it.  Sure I love to come up with creative ways to present the lessons and I sharing the parts of the lessons that I get most excited about.  BUT, the fact still remains that I do not love to be the teacher.  

Ever since General Conference I have wanted to come to recognize and know what my spiritual gifts are.  I have prayed about it and I have asked a handful of times, yet I still do not know for sure what those gifts are.  I feel that I share some of the same spiritual gifts that my children have.  One of our mutual spiritual gifts is the ability to teach by the power of the Holy Ghost.  (Moroni 10:9-10, and also D&C 46:18)  To be honest, I love this gift.  In fact, I want and need more than ever to have the Holy Ghost with me each and every time I speak or teach simply because I know I need all the help I can get.  So, the first thing I do each and every single time I prepare the speak or teach is to get on my knees and ask my Heavenly Father to allow His spirit to be with me as  I plan and prepare, and then to also be with me as I present the material in a talk or lesson.  It doesn't matter if I'm teaching primary children.  I always pray first and each time I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams to receive inspiration and to feel that sweet spirit as I teach.  It's an awesome feeling and I do love it.  Even on the days when I have come home right after teaching to throw up because my nerve got the better of me.  

As I mentioned before, I prayed and asked my Heavenly Father to reveal what my spiritual gifts are.  Well, yesterday I was asked to teach the Relief Society lesson this next Sunday.  I'd like to say, yay....happiness!  But, my stomach has already started to rumble and I can feel my nerves starting to get out of sorts and the anxiety begins to build.  While I do love planning, preparing, and teaching with the spirit.  I do not like the rumbled stomach and nerves.  I wish I could say teaching Relief Society was my most wanted/coveted calling in the church, but that would most certainly be a lie.  Don't get me wrong, I do love teaching the gospel, especially with the women because we can relate it all to parenting, marriage, and sisterhood.  And I absolutely love the opportunity to study with a specific purpose in mind.  BUT, if I could do all the studying and research and turn it all over to someone else to present, I'd be the happiest woman alive!  LOL.  I guess that's why I get the chance to teach in Relief Society again.  Because I need all the practice I can get.  If you know what I mean.  So, I apologize in advance to everyone who will be attending Relief Society in our ward next Sunday.  I apologize because you will have to listen and watch me struggle along as I try to convey the words of a past prophet while sharing his words and thoughts on the subject of missionary work.  See what I mean?  It's a lot of responsibility being placed on me to do this and I really try to do a good job and present these things in a way that my Heavenly Father would be please with.  I'm telling you, teaching in church is much more stressful than doing presentations at work for our clients.  Much more stressful indeed!!!  

Each time this position is changes, I breathe a sigh of relief that someone else is given the opportunity to teach in Relief Society and Sunday School.  Alternatively, each time things change in Young Women's I am hopeful that it will finally be "my turn".  However, I've finally learned that it's not my decision to be made!  When the member of the Relief Society Presidency asked me to sub, I told her that I always get nervous about teaching, but I would do it anyway.  I've finally accepted that my calling in life is learning to do things I don't necessarily like to do because I'm not comfortable doing it. (I need to become comfortable with these things so I get new experiences)  I shared how I felt and that I was thankful that they called me to be the sub.  Again, I love the study opportunity, not so much the presentation part.  

I firmly believe that the Lord puts us in places that will challenge us and help up grow.  However, I must admit that being a visiting teaching supervisor was a little strange in the beginning, and because I accepted the calling, it's become a great privilege and learning experience for me.  Two years later, I love hearing from the sisters in our ward and have decided that some of these older sisters aren't old at all!  I'd call them experienced, not old now. Love it!  

In thinking about callings so much currently, I realize that it's not where you serve.  It's how you serve.  This morning, I'm grateful for opportunities to serve in the church, wherever they may be.  I'm grateful for the callings that I've had in the past 30 plus years, which have helped me to grow and learn much and have helped me, immensely, to become much of who I am today.  

And.  I'm thankful for those that I've served with because many of my closest friendships have developed as a result of the callings that we have served in together.  Friendships are truly one of the greatest blessings of callings.  I have a pretty "cushy" calling as it is...In fact, I'd say it's very much in my comfort zone.  I can choose how tedious or time consuming it is.  I am basically in charge of myself and get to do what I feel needs to be done.  You could say, I'm in calling heaven!  I think everyone has one calling that they'd love to try.  The Lord knows what we need to grow and learn.  He presents us with those opportunities in the strangest ways at times....ways that we don't always understand or "get" at the moment.  But, our patience and understanding, our faithfulness in our trials, no matter how trivial they may be (and this, to many may seem trivial, but to me, at this time, it matters) is a necessary part of our growth.  

And here's my other huge paradigm shift.  Ok I'll tell you.  My coveted calling was always Young Women's.  I only got to serve in Young Women's for about six months.  That was when my oldest daughter just became a beehive.  I always wanted to serve with my girls but never got the chance.  So, the other day I was talking with our visiting teaching coordinator and she gave me my new route and the list of people who will now report to me as their visiting teaching supervisor and then she had to rush off to young women's.  This sister serves as a counselor in the young women's and as visiting teaching coordinator!  Holy cow.  Those are two big callings!  Not to mention this dear sister's age.  She was quite a bit older.  (can you sense the hint of jealousy?  I couldn't help it.)  However, my calling and being able to attend Relief Society has helped me realize a few things about those older men and women in our ward.  They have had so many amazing experiences in their lifetime, and have already learned and grown from those experiences.  Some may sit on the back row at church quietly and never say a word or make a comment or participate, but they are always there, faithfully.  These women are still as valuable and important as the 30/40/50 somethings that we see leading our ward today, that we see in the workplace, in the schools teaching our children.  Their minds are sharp.  Sometimes, they are easily overlooked just because of their age.

I've really been pondering this!  Ironically, I had a conversation about this just last week with a close friend, who's approaching sixty.  I thought I got it, but it wasn't until after this little paradigm shift that I more fully understood my friend.  I hope and pray that no one ever "puts me out to pasture" because my body is old in years!  

So, the other part of this paradigm shift for me was the reminder that I need to accept where I am in life without whining or wishing it away, to focus on where I am and what I am doing today.  I was given a gift yesterday.  I was reminded that I am where I need to be for a reason right now.  I'm blessed to be working with these sisters in Relief Society.  There's much to be learned from them.  I don't need to be or to have every calling or the calling that I want.  Maybe, just maybe, the day will come that I am the amazing seventy-something year old great-grandma that's asked to be in Young Women's and share my own wisdom and insights on life and the gospel.  That being the case, for now, I just need to focus on being my best at where I am today.  I've never been a sit quietly in the back row kinda gal.  Somehow, I don't think that's going to change...now even when I'm in my "wiser" years.  

So, today, I'm appreciating this reminded to enjoy the journey a bit more, to learn as much as I can from others who are a bit further in this journey than myself and to apply their wisdom in my own life as much as I can!  We don't always know what's best for us, but if we roll with what the higher power, our loving Heavenly Father has in mind, what He, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has in mind, we might just find a lot more joy in the journey.  And that, in the long run, will put us in harmony with God's intentions for us.  Enough said.  
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Testing One, Two, Three

I've had a front row seat view to the intimate issues that different families are experiencing....this includes my own family.  I won't share all the details.  They are personal and private, and not mine to share.  What I will share from my observations is that I believe:

  • The troubles and challenges we are dealt in life are tailor-made to each of us because our Heavenly Father knows what we can handle and what we need for reasons only He knows.
  • That our trials are given to us as a gift (that's right I called our trials a gift) to help us grow.
  • That our troubles should help keep us humble and to help us remember the purposes for which we came to this earth in the first place.
  • That His hand is in all things and if we knew what was ahead, we would definitely be more understanding of what we are dealing with today.  
  • That the way we deal with out struggles is probably the biggest part of the test we experience here in this life.
  • That whining about our challenges and waiting for them to go away won't help at all.
  • That taking action ourselves and being as pro-active as possible will, so we might as well spend our time solution-seeking.
  •  That expecting others to cure the problem for us is NOT the point at all.  It may offer a temporary solution, but the only one who can learn the lesson that needs to be learned is us!
  • That we should be thankful for the struggles that we have because we always come out ahead after the challenge...maybe not the day after but in the long run.
  • That we should be thankful for each and every trial we are given because trials truly are a blessing.  (This one has taken me a very long time to comprehend.)
That said, it's not easy to watch others struggle.  Trust me, it's been very difficult to watch my husband as he struggles every single day.  I read an obituary and came across a commonly used post-mortem phrase, "After a valiant battle with cancer".  The word cancer could be replaced with just about any struggle.....After a valiant battle with depression, drug use, obesity, debt, raising teens into adulthood, parenting, and addiction or struggle....and they don't have to end in death.  They win in learning in growing.  

I'm watching these families, closely, as they go through their own personal battles in three very different manners.  One family is going through their challenges valiantly.  It's impressive.  It's hard to watch the other two struggle so, especially when you care so much and want to help.  But, it's not mine to take away their problem.  All I can do is pray for them and help in small ways, when possible.  What I'd really love to do is say, "Wake up!  Don't you know you have to help yourself?!"  Ask, "What can we learn from this?  How can we make the best of this? How can we turn this into a positive?  If you do, you just might get through it much quicker and be happier at the end!"  But, It's not always that simple.  Nothing ever is.  Anyway, this afternoon, it hit me and it hit me hard....."Valiantly" means instead of asking, "Why me?", facing life's challenges head on, accepting them and realizing that they are for our own good, and remembering to say, "WHY NOT ME?!" when life's challenges come our way.  That said, going through the battle not so valiantly is like a cancer of it's very own. 

Below is one of the quotes I try to remember as I watch my husband struggle and as I struggle to deal with the changes in my own life.  I find myself constantly reminding my husband that I know that the Lord still has work for him to do. Some days it's easier for him to believe, other days not so much.  BUT, I know that our Heavenly Father is not done using my husband to influence, teach, and prepare others.  I know this with all my heart because I know the kind of influence my husband has been to everyone around him.  Now all we need is for my husband to believe in himself and trust in his Heavenly Father's plan for him.  That is where we struggle.  This is what we all have to keep reminding Kevin.  He knows this.  He has been taught this all of his life, but now is the time for him to practice what he knows and even what he preached to all the youth he has had the chance to serve over the years.  I know my husband and I know once he puts his mind to something it will happen and I have faith in him and in our Heavenly Father, and I know between the two of them this will come to pass and Kevin will become an instrument in the Lord's hands again.  Maybe not in the same way, but an instrument none-the-less. 

As I mentioned before I've been reading a book by a dear friend of ours who was stricken with polio at he age of 14 and spent 2 YEARS in an iron lung.  (I cannot even imagine what that must have been like)  She said a few months before she contracted the illness she felt impressed to hurry and go see her bishop to start the process of receiving her patriarchal blessing.  She said as she laid in that iron lung the words of her blessing came to her mind during her darkest moments.  She said she remembered wondeing why the Lord did not just let her die.  "She said she would rather be dead than live the rest of her life in an iron lung totally paralyzed and unable to do anything for herself." She said her dream of being married to a loving husband, surrounded by precious children, seemed like a fragile decorative vase, broken and shattered into a thousand pieces, to be swept up and thrown away."  She said, Why, oh why didn't Heavenly Father just let me die?  She said as she lay there in the darkness of her hospital room unable to sleep with the usual hospital noises and a small shaft of light coming through the partially open door, the thought came into her mind "OK, why didn't He let me die?  My life is in His hands and I certainly had every opportunity to die; and yet I'm still alive.  There must be a reason why I'm still here!"  She said that one thought seemed to open the closed door of her mind, and suddenly a sweet, peaceful and warm feeling came over her as she thought of her Patriarchal Blessing."  She said without understanding exactly why she thought about her blessing, a specific phrase of the blessing came to her mind, "Your supreme mission in life is motherhood in an honorable way."  She said her first impression was, "I'm sure that is going to happen with me laying here in this iron lung unable to move or breathe for myself!"  She thought surely those words must have been a mistake.  She said that after that thought a warm rush of conviction and peace swept over her as she remembered the reassuring words at the end of her blessing which stated that the promises Heavenly Father had promised her in her blessing would come to pass as she made the blessing a part of her life and relied on the fact that "His words would not fail!"  She said those thoughts lifted her ever so gently from the depths of despair she had been experiencing, to the reassurance of hope.  She said she then knew that she must have faith and put her trust in Him!  She said it was as if the door had been flung wide open and light surrounded her as she felt and knew for a surety that He loved her.  He knew her circumstances and He was the Great Physician!  She said if she would connect her soul with His, and submit to His will, anything would be possible.  She said as that sweet comforting rush came over her, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness to her that everything was going to be OK. 

I absolutely love this dear sister!  Just so you know a little able the rest of my dear friends story.  She did go on to marry an amazing man.  Together they had seven children.  I know some of the rest of this sister's story.  My mother-in-law use to tell me about when this dear sister's children were very young.  She couldn't carry her children in her arms so she would wrap them in a blanket and put the ends of the blanket in her mouth.  She would then crawl to get to where she needed to go with her children secured in the blanket in her teeth.  Talk about amazing!  I don't think I could do that more than once, much less seven times!!  Then later in life this sweet family lost two of their children to a wrong way drunk driver as they were with a group of scouts coming home from a scout trip up at the Grand Canyon.  This sweet family nearly lost their father too.  He was in bad shape and had several broken bones, including a broken hip.  This dear sister could not bare seeing her sweet husband suffering and from what I understand, she prayed asking her Heavenly Father to take away her husband's suffering and give it over to her.  Not long after her husband's hip miraculously healed and she broke her hip.  Talk about faith!  I cannot imagine first experiencing the loss of two of their children and then taking on such a physical burden as well through all of this.  This dear sister is amazing to me!  What an example! 

I'm barely through the first few pages of this book and now I can't put this down.  It's always interesting to read inspirational books such as this, but it means so much more when you read them and actually know the author first hand.  I knew Jan Loar was an awesome and amazing woman, but now I know it more than ever!  I am so glad my other dear friend let me borrow the book to read.  The only problem is, I'm going to need a copy of my own because I'm going to want to refer to it from time to time.  I'm sure, I'll figure something out.  I know the publisher so I can always contact them for a copy, and if that doesn't work I will try something else.  Anyway, I know I will want a copy of this book for my personal library, I'm certain of that.  

One of my recent so called "struggles" (minor compared to my dear friend Jan's struggles, of course.) has been having to attend church all by myself.  Kevin isn't able to be out and about yet.  (Soon we hope, though)  All of our kids are old enough to attend the singles ward so I can't rely on them to go with me anymore.  Now, I have to go all by myself.  However, I know that I need to go and I know why I need to go.  Yes, it's to honor and remember my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  But it's also because I need to strengthen my own testimony and not rely on anyone else.  Sure, it's not easy to sit alone in meetings, but I've also noticed that there are many women in our ward that do the very same thing I do.  Some because they are the only members in their families, some because their husbands work on Sundays, and some because they are widowed, and some because they never married.  So, I am never really alone.  It's all in how you look at things.  I will say that I am very grateful that I am in this particular ward at this time in my life where there are so many in similar situations such as mine.  I love these women for their determination, testimonies, endurance, and examples.  They show me that going to church alone is not a big deal.  And they show me that I am now a part of an exclusive group of wonderful women that are there to be on my right hand and on my left and will help to bear me up.  These women have literally become the Lord's hands in my life and I will forever be grateful to them for all that they do for me.  What a blessing!  Enough said. Image result for god prepares great men for great tasks by great trials
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